Governmental entities can sometimes be immune from lawsuits. The rationale behind the immunity is that lawsuits against the government can strain budgeting and divert the focus from serving the area to defending a lawsuit. However, many cities, counties, and other governmental entities waive their immunity under certain situations. Slip and fall accidents and car accidents are generally the most common personal injury claims against governmental entities.
A personal injury claim against the government often looks different from other private lawsuits. A Boston personal injury attorney can walk you through these differences and show you how to deal with them.
A “Notice of Claim”
In most situations, you will have to file a “Notice of Claim” against the government entity. Failure to file this notice could invalidate your claim entirely. You will likely need to include the following information in the notice.
- Names and contract information of anyone involved in the accident
- A description of the incident (when, where, and how)
- Extent of the injuries or damages involved
- The amount of damages sought
You may need to file this notice within a specified period of time after the accident occurs, so it is important to speak with a Boston personal injury attorney as soon as you can after the incident. Filing a claim in Boston requires a notice within 30 days of the accident for injuries related to sidewalk or road defects. For all other claims, the notice just needs to be filed within two years of the accident.
The City of Boston also recommends that you submit items like medical records and bills, photos of damages, and a copy of the police report if there is one available. Receipts from repairs or estimates to repair property can also be submitted.
Preparing Your Lawsuit
You first file your suit with the city itself. Then, the city will evaluate the claim and determine whether it thinks that it is at fault. If they believe that the city would be at fault in a lawsuit, they will immediately pay the claim. They may also contact your personal injury attorney to discuss settlement options.
If the city denies the claim or will not agree on a reasonable settlement, then you can file a lawsuit with the court. Once you have passed the potential settlement stage, the remaining lawsuit is similar to a private lawsuit, with a few notable differences. You still have to prove the essential elements of negligence: (1) duty; (2) breach of duty; (3) causation; and (4) damages.
Dealing with Immunity
In some circumstances, proving the duty element of negligence can be tricky. Some cities specifically do not have a duty for certain things. For example, a private individual may still have a duty to trespassers, but a governmental entity may not have a similar duty.
A Boston personal injury attorney will be able to evaluate your potential claim to determine whether immunity will affect your lawsuit. Contact Jim Glaser Law to set up an appointment today.