At one time, sovereign immunity laws provided full protection for governments against civil claims. The federal government and each state government still maintain sovereign immunity laws, but revised legislation added exceptions to the original rules. In some cases, under certain circumstances, governments can be held accountable for accidents resulting in personal injuries and wrongful deaths.
There are no uniform nationwide standards for government immunity in premises liability cases. Immunity laws are state specific. In Massachusetts, for example, local governments may be liable forsnow or ice-related injuries or defects on public property, provided a plaintiff can show the defendant was negligent.
Keep in mind, many states set damage limits in government liability cases that don’t apply to other, standard claims Some states also lower the bar for the government’s duty of care — the responsibility to ensure others are reasonably safe on government property. There are certainly advantages to making up your own rules!
Slip and fall accidents claims against a government are quite different than lawsuits filed against individuals or non-government entities. Government claims are rife with procedural requirements and alternate time frames for filing notices and claims. For example, in Massachusetts, a town, city or county government must be notified of snow and ice injuries on public property within 30 days of an accident.
An individual lacking legal advice could get lost in the details of government liability regulations. Attorneys are capable of navigating the nuances the laws contain and realize the importance of following the rules closely. Any filing or procedural mistakes could jeopardize a lawsuit.
The first concern following an injury on federal, state or local government property is whether a claim is valid. Following successful claim assessments, premises liability lawyers guide victims through the requirements, limitations, advantages and disadvantages of a legal claim against a government. The decision to pursue compensation is left up to a fully-informed client.
Source: FindLaw, “Premises Liability Claims Against the Government” accessed Mar. 06, 2015