When you are injured on someone else’s property due to negligence, you have the right to sue that individual, but what happens when the injury happens on public land, like when you are walking down a sidewalk or riding on a city-owned bus? Can you sue a public entity for an injury? The answer is yes.
In these instances, the state of California allows you to make a liability claim against the responsible government agency, which is known as a premises liability case. If you feel your injury may qualify as a premises liability case, you need to understand the laws that surround this type of claim. If you do not follow them properly, your claim will be denied and you will lose the compensation you deserve.
What Types of Accidents Can Be Held Liable?
As a member of the public, you have the right to expect the government to keep public areas safe. Everything the government owns and operates, from holes in the ground in a public green space that are not properly marked to sidewalks and public recreational facilities, should be properly maintained to keep you from injury. Some common reasons that you can claim a personal injury case against a government entity include:
- Injuries that happen at public recreation facilities, like pools and public parks that are not properly maintained.
- Injuries sustained while riding on a city bus.
- Injuries sustained due to poor lighting in public spaces.
- Injuries due to poorly maintained stairways.
In each of these instances, you may have the right to seek compensation to help with your recovery.
Filing a Claim Against the Government in California
If you are injured on public property, the first thing to do is to see your doctor to evaluate your injuries. You need a medical record of the injuries you sustained soon after the event, as this can be a critical part of your case should you need to sue.
Next, you need to start the process of alerting the government entity to your injury and their fault in it. Under the California Tort Claims Act, you must file a claim with the government entity before you can sue. If you are dealing with a personal injury, damage to personal property, or a wrongful death, the claim must be filed within six months of the incident. If you do not file the claim within the six months, you may be prohibited from filing a lawsuit for your damages.
After you file the claim, the government entity has 45 days to address it. They will either reject the claim, ignore the claim, or in rare instances make an offer to settle. If the government entity denies the claim, they may send written correspondence notifying of the claim rejection. This rejection letter is commonly known as a “right to sue” letter. If you receive a “right to sue” letter California Government Code § 945.6 gives you six months from the postmark of the sue letter to file a formal lawsuit in the proper Court. If you receive no letter, you have two years from the date of your injury to file the lawsuit.
Get Started with Your Claim Today
Because these deadlines are so strict and government claims require sophisticated maneuvering through the process beyond what an ordinary lawsuit requires, you need to have the right help to begin this process. You deserve to be compensated for your injuries, and the government agency that failed in its duty to protect you needs to be held accountable.
To ensure everything is filed properly and on time, partner with the Law Office of Daniel J. O’Neill for assistance. If you have a premises liability case to take to court, the Law Office of Daniel J. O’Neill can assist with filing the claim and preparing the lawsuit, so you are not denied on a technicality. Contact us today for a free initial consultation to discuss your case.