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You Can Sue City Hall

Years ago, you couldn't sue city hall or almost any government agency. The old legal doctrine of sovereign immunity freed governments from most lawsuits unless they consented to be sued, but times have changed.

Today, if you are hurt or injured and the government is at fault, you can sue them for damages. The decline of sovereign immunity has opened up the door to personal injury lawsuits and premises liability lawsuits against government entities.

Government-Caused Accidents and Injuries

State governments maintain offices and facilities that people visit every day. They hire city employees to drive official cars and trucks. Government employees can make the same kinds of mistakes as everyone else. This can lead to a fair share of accidents. Government workers can cause serious injuries to others and property damage.

When governments are responsible for your accidents and injuries, you may be able to sue them. This can include personal injury lawsuits for auto accidents. It also includes premises liability lawsuits for slip and fall injuries.

wrongfully terminated or harassed employee can file an employment lawsuit against their government employer. Parents and students can sue school districts for failing to provide educational services. People can also sue police agencies for violating their civil rights. You should consult an attorney to discuss these laws that can change from district to district and city to city.

What To Do if You're Injured

You can seek to recover compensation when a municipality is responsible for the injuries. The federal government and most states have laws that allow tort claims for a wide range of negligent conduct.

First, see a lawyer as soon as possible. Provide the names of witnesses, medical reports, estimates of damages, and any other helpful information. You may not have as much time to file a lawsuit against the government as you would against a private business.

Things To Remember When Suing the Government

There are distinctions between suing the government and suing a private party. You may have to take some extra steps. Many states require people to file an administrative claim on an accelerated schedule with a government agency before they can file a civil case in court. If that claim is denied, then you can appeal or file a civil case against the government. Check your state laws to determine the next steps if your claim is denied.

There is often a limited period of time in which to file the claim and the lawsuit. This is often a much shorter time than you would have to sue a private party.

For example, state law may outline a two-year statute of limitations for injury victims to file a personal injury claim after a car accident. However, a claim against a government agency may require you to file a notice of claim with the government in a much shorter time limit, such as six months.

A failure to meet this requirement is fatal to your claim. You should not waste any time before consulting an attorney.

Many states cap the amount of damages that you can recover from the government, Depending on the state, certain types of lawsuits, such as medical malpractice actions against a government hospital, may not be available. An attorney should be able to guide you through these and similar obstacles.


Below, we have answered some frequently asked questions about legal rights when suing a municipality.

Can I Sue the City Government To Cover My Medical Bills After an Accident on Government Property?

Yes. You can sue the city government to cover your medical bills if you were injured due to negligence on government property, but the process might differ from a standard personal injury claim. There are stricter deadlines and damage limitations. Seek legal counsel to ensure all stipulations are met.

Are Punitive Damages Awarded in Lawsuits Against the City for Negligence?

Punitive damages, often intended to penalize the defendant and deter similar future behavior, may be limited or even prohibited in lawsuits against government entities, including city governments, in some jurisdictions.

Punitive damages could place a significant financial burden on government entities and, by extension, taxpayers. This burden could potentially detract from other essential public services provided by these entities. Many jurisdictions have laws that restrict or prevent the award of punitive damages against government bodies to protect public resources.

How Do I Prove the City Government's Negligence in My Personal Injury Lawsuit?

To establish the city government's negligence in a personal injury lawsuit, you need to show that:

  • The city failed to maintain a safe environment
  • This failure led to your accident
  • You incurred damages as a result

Evidence may include photos of unsafe conditions, witness statements, and medical records. A seasoned attorney can guide you in compiling and presenting the necessary evidence.

Can I Sue the City for Damages to My Property Caused by City Workers?

You can sue the city for damages to your property caused by the negligence of city workers. You must adhere to certain procedures, including filing a claim with the city before starting a lawsuit. There may also be limitations on the recoverable amount.

What Can I Do if a Loved One Suffered a Wrongful Death Due to Negligence on Government Property?

If a loved one has tragically suffered a wrongful death due to negligence on government property, you might be entitled to file a wrongful death lawsuit against the responsible government entity. As with other lawsuits against the government, there may be unique procedural requirements and possible limitations on damages.

Before you can sue the government, you have to file something called an administrative claim. This is like a formal complaint that tells the government what happened and how much money you think they should give you because of your loss. If the government rejects your claim or doesn't respond, then you can go to court and start a lawsuit.

Are There Any Limits on the Amount I Can Sue the City Government for in a Personal Injury Case?

Yes. Many states have laws capping the amount of damages you can recover in a lawsuit against a government entity. These caps can apply to economic damages like medical bills and lost wages. They also apply to non-economic damages like pain and suffering.

Thinking of Suing City Hall or Another Government Entity? See a Personal Injury Lawyer

If you're injured and believe you might have legal recourse, you want to see it through. Your first step should be to consult a personal injury attorney who can help you with your personal injury case, including providing a detailed description of the accident and injury. Many accident lawyers offer free case evaluations, so it won't cost you anything upfront to get legal advice.

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