Personal Injury Claims Against PennDOT

The king can do no wrong. It’s old British sovereign immunity in its purest form. That fundamental law has been whittled away in the United States, but every state has its own sovereign immunity act in one form or another. Pennsylvania’s act is found at Title 42 section 8522 of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes. It allows for the state and other governmental entities to only be sued if an exception to sovereign immunity applies. One of those designated exceptions would be when a person is injured as a result of the negligence of a governmental employee.

Some types of government employee negligence

In the context of personal injury, the essence of Pennsylvania’s act is that it allows governmental entities to be sued for negligence of its employees for certain specific acts of negligence that fall within exceptions to sovereign immunity.  A few examples of those types of cases might involve:

  • Motor vehicle accidents when a governmental employee caused an accident
  • Medical malpractice against a health care employee of a Commonwealth Agency medical facility or institution or by a Commonwealth party who is a doctor, dentist, nurse or related health care personnel. health care provider
  • Injuries suffered on property under the ownership, care or control of a governmental or Commonwealth entity or party
  • Construction zone accidents if a dangerous condition was created by PennDOT or the Commonwealth party
  • Poorly placed traffic signs and signals that create a dangerous condition
  • Negligent design or maintenance of roadways
  • Trees, limbs, or shrubbery maintained or in PennDOT’s right-of-way that cause a motor vehicle accident

The notice requirement

Section 5522 of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Code requires a person who was allegedly injured by the negligence of a governmental entity or employee to forward a claim to the appropriate governmental office within 6 months or 180 days of the date of injury. If the claim is against Pennsylvania itself, it must be forwarded to the Office of the Attorney General. Failure to provide proper and timely notice within 6 months as required by law can result in dismissal of a lawsuit against the Commonwealth or an agency like PennDOT, but some exceptions apply.

The statute of limitations

The general rule is that any personal injury lawsuit against the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation must be filed within two years of the date of the claimant’s injury. Any lawsuit filed after that two year period could also be subject to dismissal.

Caps on damages

Pennsylvania’s legislature has set damages caps on negligence actions against the state. Damages are limited to $250,000 per person and $1 million for more than one person per occurrence.

Contact a Philadelphia personal injury lawyer today

Bringing a personal injury case against the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation is complex with detailed notice requirements. You will want a Philadelphia Personal Injury Lawyer that’s experienced, successful and understands how the law applies in your unique circumstances. Whether it’s the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, a contractor working for PennDOT or another motorist that causes your injuries, we’ll make and pursue your claims against any entity or person who we believe is responsible for your damages. You can contact us by phone or email, and we’ll arrange for a free consultation and case evaluation on any accident that you suffered injuries in. You don’t need a single penny to retain us either. That’s because if we’re retained, no legal fees are due unless we obtain a settlement or verdict for you.


More on this topic: Can I file a lawsuit on a car accident from a year ago?