Everyone likes to feel safe in her or his own community. City, county, and state governments are responsible to enforce laws providing for public safety. These include laws requiring business and property owners to maintain their sidewalks, entryways, and buildings according to specific standards. Owners should also utilize proper signage to alert the public of dangerous situations such as slippery floors or any other hazard. Hazardous outdoor property should also be appropriately fenced with warning signs as well.
When property owners fail to comply with these laws and you are injured due to their negligence, you have the right to seek compensation through a civil suit filed against the owner.
However, when the property owner is the government, especially the city; do the same rules apply?
Sovereign Immunity Or Governmental Immunity
Sovereign immunity was originally a doctrine in England that held that the king could do no wrong. Whereas we have no king today, the principle applies to the Federal government, states, local municipalities (Cities) and their employees. Although the term sovereign immunity is generally used to refer to these types of lawsuits against any type of governmental entity, Pennsylvania has two specific statutes: the Sovereign Immunity Act (applying to the state of Pennsylvania) and the Political Subdivision Tort Claims Act (applying to municipalities such as cities).
Special Notice within 6 months required
These laws can be very tricky to navigate. First, although most personal injury lawsuits can be brought within two years of the accident, notice to a City or other government entity require a special notice of the injury to the City or governmental entity within 6 months of the cause of action.
Can you sue the City or Government if they have immunity? The Exceptions to Governmental Immunity:
Does this mean government is above the law when you are injured on state or city property? Not completely. Pennsylvania law provides several exceptions to government immunity:
- Motor vehicle exception
- Care, custody, control of personal property exception;
- Real property exception
- Trees, traffic signals or controls and street lighting exception
- Utility service facilities exception
- Care, custody, control of animals
It is important to have an experienced attorney determine whether your case fits within one of the exceptions to the City or government claiming immunity. As with any injury due to the negligence of a third party, your first step, if you have been injured on government property should be to contact the Pearce Law Firm, P.C. to determine your rights and options for compensation for your injuries and losses. We understand the dynamics of a lawsuit against the Commonwealth or any municipality therein.
There are limitations set forth in the law on the amount you may seek for compensation. For governmental immunity against a City, damages are capped at $500,000.
Additionally, you may only seek a claim for Pain and suffering for permanent loss of bodily function, permanent disfigurement or permanent dismemberment where medical expenses exceed the sum of $1,500..
Contact The Pearce Law Firm, P.C. today for a free initial consultation. Our experience and understanding of the law will help you receive the maximum compensation for your injuries.