People slip and fall all the time. Sometimes, it’s their own fault. Other times, it’s due to another party’s negligence.
If you’re injured in a slip and fall accident on someone else’s property due to their negligence, you might have a personal injury lawsuit on your hands. This is because a property owner or manager is responsible – under Florida’s premises liability law – to keep their property in a reasonably safe condition for customers, visitors, and guests. What this means is that if the owner or manager is aware – or should be aware – that part of the property is unsafe, the problem must be swiftly corrected.
So if you’re in a grocery store and you’re injured in a slip and fall accident caused by an orange juice spill, you might be able to sue the store for damages.
But what if that slip and fall occurs on government property?
If you slip and fall on government property, you can still sue, but there are a few important rules you have to remember.
The Government has to be negligent. Just because you fall on government property doesn’t mean that the government is automatically liable for your injuries. The government or a government employee has to actually be negligent and that negligence must have caused your accident.
And in order to prove the government was negligent, you will have to show that the government knew or should reasonably have known about the hazardous condition.
There are time limits for government claims. If you’re filing a personal injury claim, you typically have four years from the date of an accident to file a lawsuit in Florida’s civil courts. If you don’t file within that time period, your case most likely won’t get heard.
With government claims, however, you have a shorter time limit. Injury claims against a city, county, or the Florida state government must be filed within three years of the accident.
There are specific rules for government claims. On top of the shorter time limit to file, there are also special rules you need to follow. You will have to send a Notice of Claim with the correct government entity. This Notice of Claim has to contain specific information that generally includes:
Once you have prepared the Notice of Claim, you won’t file it with the court. Instead, it must be mailed to each government employee or entity as well as to a single government agency that receives all Notice of Claim forms. In Florida, every Notice of Claim must be mailed to the Florida Department of Financial Services.
Once you have sent a Notice of Claim, a suit cannot be filed until after a 180-day investigation period unless the claim is denied within that period.
There are damage caps on government claims. There is usually a limit to the amount of damages you can receive from the government. Here in Florida, you are only allowed to receive $200,000 per person and $300,000 per tort claim against the State of Florida.
If those numbers seem low, you’re right. But they were actually lower prior to October 1, 2011.
As you can see, filing a slip and fall claim against the government could be both difficult and complicated. But that shouldn’t stop you if you’ve been injured on government property. Contact an experienced Florida slip and fall attorney at Neufeld, Kleinberg & Pinkiert to get help and understand your rights today.