Can You Sue the Government for a Personal Injury?
A personal injury can happen anywhere. It can also be caused by anyone, including someone acting on behalf of a government entity. While it's always possible to sue a negligent party for their actions, there are special rules involved when suing a government entity. Such an entity may be a city, county, state or federal agency. Personal injury lawsuits against the government must follow strict guidelines.
Special Time Limits
All civil cases are subject to an applicable statute of limitations. This time period dictates how long you have to file your claim. Under Utah Code section 78B-2-307(3), a regular personal injury claim has a statute of limitations of four years. However, for cases involving state entities the lawsuit must be filed within a year. Under 28 U.S.C. § 2401(b), claims against the federal government must be filed within two years.
If you fail to meet the statute of limitations, your case can be dismissed. Failing to file in a timely manner can bar your right to seek damages. In some situations, it may still be possible to file after the deadline. For example, in situations where the plaintiff is unaware the government was involved in the accident. In such a case, you may still be able to file your claim if you can support the delay with a valid reason.
Why Are Government Cases Complicated?
Cases involving a government tend to be more complex due to the doctrine of sovereign immunity. This is a legal theory that holds the government cannot be sued without its consent. Thus, government agencies are allowed to make their own rules in regard to when and how they can be sued. The Utah Governmental Immunity Act lays out the requirements for lawsuits against the state. This is not to say that a person cannot sue the government, just that there are special rules that come into play.
Also, certain situations will trigger the government's immunity from damages. Some states are exempt from liability for planning decisions. Government's may also invoke immunity for discretionary acts by their employees. However, a discretionary act may lead to liability where ill intent was involved.
Getting Help With Government Lawsuits
Due to the complicated nature of government lawsuits, you should never attempt to handle the situation alone. It is important to work with an experienced lawyer that is familiar with personal injury law. If you need help with this type of lawsuit in Utah, contact T.R. Spencer Law Office. Just remember to take action as quickly as possible to avoid losing your claim!