You slip and fall on an uneven sidewalk in an area that is clearly the responsibility of the city, can you sue the city of Los Angeles? You can always sue, but whether you will be successful is another thing. Also, filing a suit against a city, state, or any government body comes with an extra set of rules and procedures. You need to know what the rules and the timelines are.
When Can I Sue After a Trip and Fall?
You are always permitted to sue if you fall and injure yourself and your fall happened due to another’s carelessness or negligence. You must show that the owner of the property created the dangerous condition that led to your fall, that they were aware of the dangerous condition and chose not to fix it. Or you must show that the dangerous condition was around for such a long period of time the owner should have been aware and should have fixed it.
This next issue is the extra set of conditions and rules that exist when the property owner is a government entity. These rules are in place to protect state and local governments.
What You Need to Know About Suing the City
Deadlines For Filing Are Shorter
A deadline for filing is referred to as the statute of limitations. A person who suffered a personal injury typically has anywhere from one to 10 years to file against the party at fault. If the party at fault is a government entity the time frame is usually reduced to 1 to 3 months. Many injured parties don’t realize this and miss the deadline to file a claim against a municipality.
There Are Unique Filing Procedures
A government entity may have a specific office to which one has to send the notice. If you send it to the wrong office it may get bumped around from office to office or sent back. It is not unusual that by the time you get the notice returned your filing deadline has expired.
Limits on How Much Money You Can Get
Some municipalities may cap recovery for damages as low as $10,000. This is a negative for the injured party and an attorney working on contingency (meaning they get paid a percentage of your award). It could mean that you may not be compensated sufficiently for your injuries. It may also discourage attorneys from taking on your case. This also means you may not be able to find an attorney who will take the case on.
Governments Are Generally Immune From Personal Injury Lawsuits
In California, government entities can be immune from certain types of liability. This is sometimes referred to as “Sovereign Immunity.” There are exclusions to this type of immunity, for instance, when the government had notice of the dangerous condition but failed to make repairs. This is something you would want to discuss with an attorney.
The best thing you can do after suffering an injury is to get in touch with a personal injury attorney. An experienced attorney will know where, how, and when to file a legal action. Although there are additional hurdles when suing a municipality, if you have an injury you have the right to pursue an action regardless of who the responsible party is.