Law to Protect Kings Still Harms Floridians Who Claim Damages Against Government
If you get hurt and it’s somebody else’s fault, you should be able to file a lawsuit and receive financial compensation for your injury and suffering. But this doesn’t always happen. The police department, school board, post office, FBI and other government agencies are protected from being sued by an outdated law called “sovereign immunity.”
Sovereign immunity dates back to the Middle Ages when “the king could do no wrong.” America’s founders believed the law was still a good way to protect the young and cash-poor nation from being sued. A lot has changed since 1776, like the idea that the government can do no wrong. However, someone who has been injured or even died due to the negligence of a government employee they or an immediate family member if a wrongful death occurs may still not get compensation due to this anachronistic law.
But there are certain situations when suing the government is possible, according to the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA). Should a government employee cause you to be injured, lose property or experience a wrongful death, a lawsuit can be filed, but only if a similar lawsuit against a private citizen would succeed. In other words, if you can sue a non-government employee for the same neglect and win, you can sue the government employee.
Like most outdated laws, sovereign immunity can be confusing. For example, a government employee can be sued only if the accident occurred during the course of work. An employee who is off-duty when the injury occurs, even if they are driving a government-issued vehicle or using government-issued materials, can’t sue the government as part of their claim. They may, however, still be able to sue the individual who caused the injury.
To file a lawsuit against an on-duty government employee requires you to follow a set of rules exactly. These rules are so important that you might want to consider hiring a lawyer. The law firm of Lytal, Reiter, Smith, Ivey & Fronrath in West Palm Beach has extensive experience in this area of law. However, if you chose to do it on your own, first, you must file a claim with the liable federal agency within two years of the accident. You can check out form SF 95 for all agency requirements.
Your claim should include all facts from the accident and the amount of financial compensation you are seeking. The agency will then decide within six months to accept or reject your claim.
But what if the federal agency rejects your claim or doesn’t compensate you appropriately? You then have an additional six months from the posting date of the decision to file your lawsuit in court. You can file sooner if you need the money right away. An experienced lawyer can help you determine what decision is right for you.
Sovereign immunity also limits the amount of money you can receive. In Florida, the maximum amount is just $200,000; a tiny amount to compensate for catastrophic medical costs or wrongful death. It can take years if you want to sue for more and the claims bill needs to be approved by either the governor or a government committee. Legal advice from a law firm that has presented claims bills previously can be invaluable.
As Americans, we assume that everything is equal and that we always have a chance to claim damages against a negligent individual. Sovereign immunity means this isn’t true. In Florida, the law firm of Lytal, Reider, Smith, Ivey & Fronrath have successfully tried many of these kinds of cases. Contact them at (561) 655-1990 or visit www.ForYourRights.com to learn more on how you can win in the face of this complex and outdated law.