Hayes, Williams, Turner & Daughtry, P.A.

Yes, you can sue City Hall

Have you ever heard the old adage, "You can''t sue City Hall?" It turns out that yes, you actually can.

It used to be that all government agencies were protected by the ancient doctrine of sovereign immunity, which protected governmental bodies from almost all lawsuits. But that is no longer the case, and today, when the government is at fault, premises liability and personal injury litigation can be filed against them.

Sometimes a lawsuit can stem from a car accident with a city- or state-owned vehicle being driven by a civil servant in the course of his or her job duties. Other times a government-owned property may not have been properly maintained and in its present state of disrepair, it created a hazard that led to a person's injuries.

But there are other types of lawsuits that have nothing to do with dented fenders or trip and falls. These types have to do with wrongful termination and harassment lawsuits and also for agencies being remiss in their duties to provide certain services of protect citizens' rights.

With personal injury litigation, those who have been injured can initiate lawsuits citing agencies for negligence just like they do with other defendants. There are some differences, such as the statute of limitation may be shorter with these defendants than private businesses.

Other distinctions may include the necessity of filing administrative claims before taking the case to court. If your claim is denied at the administrative level, you may then proceed to the civil court system.

Litigation against government bodies can have damage caps that are lower, and in some instances like claims of medical malpractice against government-owned hospitals, you could face other challenges.

Because these cases are viewed differently than most civil litigation, it is especially important to seek the counsel of an experienced attorney who can advise you and guide you during the process.

Source: FindLaw, "You Can Sue City Hall," accessed Oct. 14, 2016

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