What Happens When The Government Is The Defendant?

Posted on: 28 July 2020

Filing an injury claim against a government entity or one of its designees is a somewhat different process than seeking compensation from an individual or a business. Let's take a look at how a personal injury attorney services provider might have to deal with this issue at the local, state, or federal level.

Claims Against Municipalities or Counties

These cases tend to be the ones that look the most like normal claims. A few oddities occur, but they're not anything a personal injury attorney doesn't see all of the time. For example, large local governments may be self-insuring. This isn't much different from dealing with self-insured individuals or businesses, except there's a better chance they'll have money or assets that can be used to pay a settlement or judgment.

Many other governments choose to directly acquire insurance the way anyone else would. A slightly unusual solution is that some small towns may elect to use an insurance pool that includes other similar municipalities. In these cases, the claims process looks a lot like it would if the government wasn't involved.

State Governments

One weird thing occurs when going after some state governments. Many states have laws restricting how long the statute of limitations is for filing a claim against them.

Normally, the statute allows between two and three years from the time of an incident for you to file initial paperwork for a claim. Six months is the norm, but some states have limits as low as 30 days. That can make it especially tricky if you're trying to figure which state agency is liable. Similarly, this can make it harder for a personal injury attorney to get all the information together for a claim because they might be waiting for a doctor to get back to them with results of tests or exploratory surgery.

The Feds

Claims and suits brought against the federal government are governed by the Federal Tort Claims Act. If you visited a Social Security Administration building and had a slip-and-fall accident, for example, you'd have to file under the FTCA.

The FTCA tends to use state-level statutes of limitations for determining how long you'll have to file a claim. Also, the feds use a default form that's full of checkboxes, and it's best to have a personal injury attorney with FTCA experience to help you fill it out. Once your claim is submitted, it will undergo an administrative review.

Reach out to a personal injury attorney for more information.