In general, property owners owe a duty of care to guests invited onto their premises. Owners are required to perform maintenance to remedy any safety issues they know, or should know, about. Premises liability lawsuits often involve properties with many visitors. Grocery stores, restaurants, hotels, theme parks, bars, apartment buildings and the like are common locations for injuries caused by dangerous conditions. The process of getting proper compensation from a property owner is complicated when the owner is a government entity. Whether the property belongs to the federal, state, country or municipal government, there are issues to consider if you have been injured.
The principle of sovereign immunity means that you cannot sue the federal government for damages unless the government first agrees to be sued. All is not lost, however, as the Federal Tort Claims Act provides this consent for premises liability claims. There are limitations to the FTCA. First, to sue the government, you must present the claim in writing to the correct party. Second, you must do so within two years of the incident. This is shorter than many state statutes of limitations for this type of lawsuit.
Claims against the government may not provide the full relief available in claims against a private party. Punitive damages, for example, are not available under the FTCA. It is important to understand the possible outcomes of your case before pursuing a premises liability claim.
State, County And City Property
Some states have passed laws mirroring the FTCA to govern lawsuits against state-level government entities. Other states handle immunity differently based on the type of claim. It is important to understand the laws of the state where your accident occurred. All levels of government are prone to administrative and clerical overkill. There are forms, procedures, protocols and other hoops that must be jumped through to get justice. Claims against the government can be confusing for the inexperienced.
An accident on federal land, a state park or a government building can tear a family apart. If you or a loved one has been injured on government property, you need to speak to a knowledgeable premises liability attorney as soon as possible.