While the legal doctrine of “sovereign immunity” once made it almost impossible to sue any local or state government body in the United States over a personal injury, now it is possible to pursue a claim after getting hurt by a dangerous condition on public property. However, just because it is possible to sue the city of Indianapolis over a cracked sidewalk, road pothole, or other hazard on publicly owed land does not mean it is easy to do so. That is especially if you try to do it without a legal professional.
It is always a good idea to have help from a skilled premises liability attorney when demanding civil restitution for an accident you suffered on someone else’s land. The process can be notably different when the defendant in such a claim is a government entity. Without an Indianapolis public property liability lawyer on your side, you may have serious trouble getting the full amount of compensation you deserve for all your losses.
The Indiana Tort Claims Act allows local, municipal, and state government employees and entities to be held civilly liable for injuries they cause through certain forms of negligence. In the context of premises liability law, this broadly refers to injuries caused by poor maintenance or management of public sidewalks, public roads, and public spaces such as parks and swimming pools. There may be other possible grounds for claims which an Indianapolis public property liability attorney could help take advantage of.
Unlike with claims against private individuals and companies, anyone intending to sue a government body in Indiana over a personal injury must file a “Notice of Tort Claim” relatively quickly after they get hurt. The submission deadline for this notice is 180 days after the injury for claims against county or municipal governments and 270 days after the injury for claims against the state government or state government agencies.
Either way, the claimant must also wait a minimum of 90 days for their named defendant(s) to review their claim and potentially offer a settlement before they can file suit.
Both economic and non-economic forms of harm can be factored into a claim against a local or municipal government over an injury caused by a dangerous public property condition. These damages often include medical bills, lost work income, and various forms of physical and psychological suffering. As an Indianapolis lawyer could further explain, another key limitation to liability claims over public property accidents is the “cap” on total compensation that a successful plaintiff can receive.
Even if a government body is 100 percent at fault for an injury someone sustained on public land, that injured person can only demand a maximum of $700,000 for all their losses combined. Additionally, courts cannot impose punitive damages against government entities for especially egregious negligence the same way they could against private individuals and companies.
It is worth emphasizing that while there are some unique restrictions placed on premises liability claims against government bodies, you should not view that as a restriction to enforcing your right to civil recovery. If you are dealing with a serious injury because of unreasonably dangerous conditions on public property, demanding fair financial restitution will be vital to preserving your best interests.