Personal Injury Liability on Government Property


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Personal injury liability for an injury that occurs on government property is different than for an injury occurring on private property. In such a situation, proving liability is more difficult and the amount of available compensation may be limited.

No Government Immunity

The federal government has abolished immunity for itself for accidents or injuries that occur on its property. Most states have followed suit and abolished state and municipality immunity. This means that a person injured on government property can sue the government for his injuries.

Types of Liability

A government is responsible for all injuries occurring on its property. This rule extends to government property used by agencies and organizations, and to property that is owned by the government but not in use by it or one of its entities at the time of the injury. The government has the responsibility to maintain its premises in safe, working order for visitors and guests it can reasonably expect to enter. Like other types of premises liability, the government must also warn and make repairs when possible.

Employee Liability

A government is also liable for injury caused by its employees during the regular course of the employee’s work. Therefore, even though an injury does not occur on government property, it may still be liable for the injuries. Note that this rule is the same as other employer liability rules, meaning that it does not normally extend to independent contractors.

Procedure for Suing a Government

The federal government has established guidelines called “The Federal Tort Claims Act” for personal injury suits brought against it. States may also have established similar rules which may or may not be labeled similarly. These rules state where, how and the procedure for litigating or resolving such disputes. Suits brought against the federal government must be filed in federal court.

Limits on Compensation Awards

Even though an injured person may sue the federal, state or local government for his injuries, he may be limited in the amount of compensation he can receive. In almost all circumstances, a party is limited to medical bills and other economic damages. Some non-economic damages, such as pain and suffering, may also be available, but are usually limited in their amount. In almost all circumstances an injured person is prevented from obtaining punitive damages, which are those damages intended to punish the wrongdoer.

Getting Legal Assistance

If you have been injured on government property or due to the actions of a government employee, seek legal assistance. While a governmental entity can be sued for personal injuries, the rules for doing so are complicated. A lawyer will review your injury and the rules applicable to your suit and discuss with you the best manner to proceed with your case and your likelihood of success.

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