So you think you may have a claim against your county government, state government, or city for personal injuries. You may have claim against school board, the sheriff, the police, or any other governmental agency. Remember one thing, it is the state and the state has sovereign immunity. As Mel Brooks told us, in History of the World, Part I – “It’s Good to be the King!” Back in the days of olde, you could not sue the King. He was immune from suit. Today we have waiver of sovereign immunity.
Claims filed against the State of Florida, or any of its political subdivisions, county governments, city governments or against governmental actors, under a theory of automobile negligence, or other theories of negligence General Liability or Automobile Liability coverage allege negligence on the part of a state employee, agent or volunteer. The State of Florida waived its sovereign immunity to be sued for negligence claims (tort claims) in 1972 with the passage of Section 768.28, of the Florida Statutes. Since then it has been changed and modified very little over the years, but the dollar amount which can be recovered has been increased.
Claimants must put the agency on notice of the claim of any personal injury or property damage or death due to negligence of a state employee, agent or volunteer AND MUST adhere to the provisions of s.768.28, F.S., when filing a claim and lawsuit against the State of Florida. You must also put the Department of Financial Services on notice of the potential claim. Then you wait.
A lawsuit cannot be filed against the state agency responsible for your personal injuries for a period of 180 day investigation period unless the agency denies the claim. In many cases the state agency will acknowledge your claim and in some cases you will be ignored. Do not take it personal, it is the government – slow, inefficient and highly unlikely to admit that it was in the wrong.
In the end, depending on when the events giving rise to the claim occurred, your recovery will be limited to $200,000.00 per person, and $300,000.00 per occurrence. Amounts in excess of these limits must be collected from the legislature through the claims bill process. Failure to follow the procedural requirements of s.768.28, F.S., can result in dismissal of the claim.
If you have a claim for loss of consortium by a spouse or loss of filial consortium by a parent of an injured child, remember all claims must be presented and noticed. meaning if the child is the injured party, make sure you include and spell out that your claim includes loss of filial consortium for the parents, the costs of incurring medical bills and expenses for the care of the child. If you are married make sure your claim spells out that not only is there a claim for the person who was actually injured, but also for the loss of comfort and society of the spouse.
Claims against the government can be very complex. You should not try to pursue these claims on your own. If you make a mistake, you may never be able to recover for your personal injuries. If you believe you have a potential claim against a government agency, do not delay seeking legal advice from an experienced personal injury lawyer. The process and notice requirements of Chapter 768.28 are complicated. If you feel you have claim, make sure you act today.