What to Know if You Were Injured on Public or Government Property
If you’re injured on county property, there are significant limits to the compensation you can pursue. The laws surrounding county property injuries are vastly different from private property injuries because the owner of the property is a public, governmental entity. The process is much more difficult as you will not be submitting a claim against the entity’s insurance company.
Due to a law known as sovereign immunity, the law essentially says that private citizens cannot sue the government for many different types of tort lawsuits. However, even though sovereign immunity applies in many cases, there are certain circumstances where private citizens can bring a tort claim against a governmental entity. If a person is injured on public property or by a public employee, you may have the right to seek compensation for damages. Read on to find out whether your case may fall into the category of the right to a tortious claim.
What are the Most Common Injuries that Happen on Hillsborough County Property?
There are many personal injury laws that apply to victims of accidents on Hillsborough county property or in the state of Florida. These include negligent hiring and/or supervision, personal injury by motor vehicles, accidents on public roads or highways, accidents that result in death or serious injury, and assault and battery. Some of the most common injuries that occur on Hillsborough county property include:
- Slips and falls due to negligence
- Car accidents caused by poorly maintained roads or traffic signals
- Car accidents where government employees are liable
- Injuries on public transportation property
- Assaults and deaths in public schools or other buildings
- Public pool drownings caused by negligent lifeguards
- Injuries and damage from fallen power lines
- Injuries from poorly maintained public park equipment
- Injuries and damages from county-owned trees
- Injuries from faulty handrails or guardrails
Some of the most common places these accidents occur in every type of public building or property, such as post offices, libraries, public housing complexes, courthouses, and more.
Is There a Limit to the Compensation I can Receive from a Public Entity Injury Lawsuit?
As with any type of personal injury case, the amount of compensation you can receive will depend on a multitude of factors. If it is established that a public entity failed to maintain safe conditions when it is legally required to, then it could be considered negligent and liable for damages. If this is the case, you may be able to pursue compensation for damages such as:
- Medical bills, including any out-of-pocket expenses
- Loss of wages
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of quality of life
However, some county property injuries may be subject to local legal limitations on the amount and type of compensation you can receive. This means you may only be able to claim financial damages, not emotional damages. Additionally, unlike injury claims against a private entity, you are not able to pursue punitive damages against a governmental entity.
Should I Wait to File an Injury Claim Against a Government Entity?
No. There are very strict time limitations in which you are able to file a personal injury claim against a public entity. This can vary from county to county and may be different if the public property was a county, state, or federal property.
In private entity injury claims, the injured person would normally file a claim with an insurance company, then proceed to a lawsuit if the claim was denied. The difference in filing a claim against a public entity is you must first immediately file a claim with the agency that is responsible for maintaining the property.
Each agency has a specific form and filing process that is required. You must ensure that you use the right form, fill it in properly, and send it to the correct entity within a very narrow timeframe. If you make a mistake, you may lose your opportunity to re-file the form before the time limits expire.
Therefore, the best thing to do is to immediately contact an attorney that is experienced in public entity injury claims. Ideally, you would want to contact an attorney within the first 24 hours after the accident occurred. Waiting any longer could result in delays that render your claim void.
How Can I Prove Negligence by the Government?
Regardless of whether an entity is public or private, there is a certain level of duty of care that each must abide by. When a public entity fails to provide this level of safety, it could be considered negligent. In order to prove negligence by the government, the condition that created the injury must have existed long enough for the entity to reasonably assume it to be a hazard. They also would need to have known about it and did not remedy the situation before someone was injured.
If the accident occurred due to something the entity could not have foreseen or had time to address, you may not be able to claim damages against it. Also, it would also need to be proven that you were not acting in a reckless manner that would have created a hazardous situation.
To sum it up, to prove negligence by a public entity, you must show:
- The agency that you filed the claim with owned or controlled the property you were injured on.
- There was a hazardous condition that existed on the property.
- The public entity either knew or reasonably should have known that the hazardous situation could lead to an injury.
- There was a reasonable amount of time to remedy the hazardous situation, but the government took no action to correct it and prevent an injury.
- You were not behaving in a reckless manner or had anything to do with causing the hazardous situation.
How Can I Begin the Process of Filing a Claim against Hillsborough County?
If you have suffered an injury on county property, do not try to fight through the legal system on your own. Instead, speak with an attorney who will fight for your rights and file a personal injury lawsuit on your behalf. An experienced personal injury attorney will know all of the appropriate channels to pursue. If you decide to file a claim for wages lost, pain and suffering, or physical disability, you will need legal advice. It is important to hire an attorney who has experience dealing with the Florida public entity claims system.
At the law firm of Darrigo & Diaz, we have expertise in representing clients against Hillsborough County personal injury cases. We’ve been serving the Tampa Bay area for more than 20 years and successfully recovered millions for our clients. We can provide a free consultation where we will discuss your case in confidence. For a free, no-obligation consultation regarding your case, contact us 24/7 by calling (813) 774-3341 to discuss your legal options right over the phone.