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Pursuing Justice: Filing a Personal Injury Claim Against a Government Entity

Often, the defendant in a personal injury claim is an individual who acted in a negligent manner and caused the plaintiff’s injuries. However, sometimes a plaintiff has to file a personal injury claim against a government entity, such as the US government, a state government, or a city. 

If you have suffered an injury due to the negligent or wrongful actions of a government agency or government employee in Indiana, you may be able to file a personal injury lawsuit against the government.

A personal injury attorney can help you determine if you can seek compensation from a government entity. 

Consult with a qualified attorney to ensure you're following the correct procedures in filing a personal injury claim

Examples of Lawsuits Against Government Entities 

Here are some examples of situations in which a person could sue a government agency:

  • A car accident caused by a government employee driving the vehicle in the scope of their employment (e.g. mail truck delivery driver)
  • A slip, trip, and fall on sidewalks or property that fails to meet safety standards (e.g. uneven government office building steps, pieces of park equipment)
  • Injuries resulting from dangerous conditions of government roads and highways (e.g. lack of guardrails, uneven pavement, debris)
  • Exposure to toxic substances or contamination from a government site (e.g. harmful materials from a military base)
  • Medical malpractice by doctors/nurses at government hospitals and VA centers that violate the standard of care
  • Police misconduct injuries (e.g. excessive force, police brutality, false arrest situations)
  • An attack by an improperly supervised animal in a government facility like a postal office or military canine unit
  • Injuries to visitors and inspectors at correctional facilities from detainee attacks or uncontrolled environments
  • Assault on school grounds due to lack of adequate security measures
  • Building code violations for government structures that result in injury (e.g. collapse, components falling)
  • Child abuse injuries that child protection agencies failed to take reasonable steps to prevent
  • Inadequate maintenance and safety measures taken for public parks and recreational areas

Personal injury attorneys can represent injured parties whether they are suing individuals or government entities. That said, the process of a lawsuit against the federal or state government requires a different approach than a lawsuit against a regular citizen. 

What follows is a step-by-step overview of the process. 

Step 1: Determine the Proper Defendant 

First, you will need to determine if a government entity can be considered responsible for the injuries, according to the court. This could include an individual or group of people who behaved negligently while carrying out the duties of their government job(s). 

If the injury occurred due to the actions of a city, county, or town government, that specific municipality should be named as the defendant. 

For state government agencies and employees here in Indiana, you would name the State of Indiana as the defendant. 

Finally, for federal agencies and employees, the named defendant is the United States of America. 

In order to be a defendant in a personal injury suit, the following conditions must be met: 

  1. The person or entity being sued owed a duty of care to the injured party, which means that they had an obligation to act reasonably and not put others at risk. This includes government employees who are responsible for keeping you safe and protected from hazards. 
  2. The person or entity breached that duty of care and failed to act appropriately. They did something they shouldn’t have done or they failed to act how they should have. 
  3. The breach of duty caused your injuries, property damage, and other suffering.
  4. The harm caused by the injuries is quantifiable, such as medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, etc. 

Step 2: Comply with the Federal or State Tort Claims Act

Claims against federal, state, and city governments are governed by a series of Tort Claims Acts. Here is some information about these acts and related policies: 

The Tort Claims Act requires that you submit a notice of your intent to file a claim within 180 days of the incident in which you were injured. This notice should describe the event, the nature of your injuries and damages, and your intention to file a lawsuit.

The purpose of this notice is so the intended defendant can conduct its own investigation and respond to your claim. An attorney can help you file this notice. 

Step 3: File within the Statute of Limitations

For a typical personal injury lawsuit, you have up to 2 years from the date of the injury to file a lawsuit. However, lawsuits against the government are different. 

After you file your notice with the state within 180 days of the incident, the defendant will likely deny the claim. Sometimes, they fail to respond at all. Regardless, it is only at the point of denial or a lack of response that a citizen is permitted to file a personal injury lawsuit against the government. 

Collect evidence related to the accident and your injuries

Step 4: Navigate the Government’s Immunity Defenses

Government entities often claim broad civil immunity from lawsuits. However, there are exceptions under federal and Indiana law if your injuries are due to things like: 

  • negligent operation of a vehicle
  • dangerous property conditions
  • negligent actions of public employees

The best way to navigate the government’s attempts to sidestep responsibility for your injuries is to hire an experienced personal injury attorney who knows how to respond to these defense claims and prove where the liability really lies. 

FAQs About Filing a Personal Injury Claim Against a Government 

Here are some questions and answers about filing a claim against a state, local, or federal government with the help of an experienced personal injury attorney. 

What types of compensation can I seek?

Compensation in personal injury claims against the government typically includes both economic and non-economic damages. Economic damages cover quantifiable losses including: 

  • medical bills
  • lost income and benefits
  • property damage
  • loss of future earning capacity

Non-economic losses include things like: 

  • pain and suffering
  • loss of enjoyment of life
  • scarring and disfigurement
  • PTSD
  • emotional distress
  • wrongful death

How can hiring a personal injury attorney help my claim? 

A personal injury lawyer will handle all aspects of investigating your claim. That includes:

  • negotiating with government defense lawyers
  • filing the lawsuit paperwork
  • gathering evidence like medical records and expert testimony
  • appearing in court
  • trying to reach the best settlement or court award outcome for you 

They understand the complex laws and help prove negligence occurred and hold the appropriate party responsible. 

Can I file a personal injury claim against the government without a lawyer?

You have the right to file a claim yourself without legal representation, known as filing pro se. However, pursuing compensation against large government entities poses many legal complexities best handled by an experienced attorney. Having a lawyer vastly improves your chances of success! 

How much does hiring a personal injury attorney cost?

Most personal injury lawyers work on contingency, meaning legal fees are a percentage (33-40%) of the final settlement or award if your case succeeds. There are no upfront fees or charges to hire them. This means quality legal help is affordable for those injured.

How long will my case take to resolve?

Each personal injury case has unique aspects, but resolving claims against the government often takes 6 months to 2 years depending on the need for discovery procedures, settlement talks, and trial dates. Having an attorney ensures efficient case progress.

Personal injury attorney can provide guidance, help assess the strength of your case, and advise you on the best course of action.

Yosha Law Firm – The advocate you need when a government representative causes you harm

Yosha Law Firm has been advocating for personal injury victims in Indiana for decades, and that includes getting justice for those harmed by government agencies or employees. We have extensive experience navigating the complex laws and procedures involved with claims against governmental entities at the city, state, and federal levels.

If you or a loved one suffered an injury due to the negligent actions of a government worker or dangerous property they are responsible for, you may have a right to significant compensation.

Contact Yosha Law Firm for a free case evaluation! You deserve justice, even if the party who wronged you was a government entity.

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