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How Do Personal Injury Claims Against the Government Work?

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Posted By Legal Team | November 14 2023 | Personal Injury

When a person sustains an injury caused by the negligent actions of another party, the injury victim will typically be able to recover compensation. This could be through a settlement with an insurance carrier or as a result of a personal injury lawsuit filed against the at-fault party. However, if the at-fault party is a government entity or employee, the process of recovering compensation is different.

In Florida, as in every state, the government is afforded various types of immunity, and this often includes immunity from certain types of lawsuits. However, the state of Florida does allow certain types of injury lawsuits to proceed, but there are specific procedures in place for filing these claims.

Filing a Claim Against a Florida Government Entity

Under Florida Statutes section 768.28, we can see that claims filed against the state government or any of its agencies or subdivisions are allowed in certain circumstances. Under the rules set forth under the law, any person who has sustained an injury caused by a government entity or government employee in Florida may seek compensation if:

  • The injury was caused by a negligent act, wrongful act, or omission of a government entity or employee.
  • The claimant’s losses can be compensated with monetary damages, such as payment for medical bills, lost wages, or property damage expenses.
  • The circumstances surrounding the incident mean that the negligent party would likely have been held liable in a private party situation.

There are various limitations surrounding the type of claims injury victims are allowed to file. For example, government employees cannot be held personally liable for harm unless they intentionally caused the injury. All claims must be filed against the government agency that employs the individual.

There are monetary limitations for damages in claims against a government entity. The current limitation is $200,000 or $300,000 if the claim is against multiple state agencies or entities. Punitive damages or interest accrued on the judgment cannot be awarded in situations where the claim is against a government entity, and the state is allowed to appeal any resolution.

One particular caveat related to where a claim must be filed revolves around actions against state universities. These claims must be brought in the county where the campus is located unless the university has a “substantial presence” in another county where the person sustained an injury.

How a Claim Works

If a person sustains an injury caused by the actions of a Florida government entity, the injury victim must put the agency on notice, in writing, within three years from the date the injury occurs. A lawsuit cannot be filed until after a 180-day period of investigation after the notice is made, unless the claim is formally denied by the entity.

There are forms available from the Florida Division of Risk Management that can be filled out to officially file the claim, or an injury victim can send a letter describing the facts of the claim, the date the incident occurred, and the losses the victim incurred.

If a claim is denied, individuals are allowed to file a lawsuit so long as the statute of limitations has not expired. We strongly encourage any individual who has been harmed by a Florida government entity to contact an attorney as soon as possible. Claims against the government are more challenging than typical personal injury claims, but an attorney can conduct an investigation and help an injury victim file their claim and negotiate with at-fault parties.

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