If you slip and fall on someone else’s property, you may have grounds for a premises liability claim against the property owner. A property owner owes a duty of care to lawful visitors to his or her property, preventing them from encountering known safety issues or at least warning them about known hazards if they are likely to encounter them while on the property. While this is seemingly straightforward, what happens if a person suffers a slip and fall on public property, or property owned and controlled by a government office?
Taking Legal Action Against the Government
Filing a personal injury claim against any government entity is extremely difficult. Most government offices and agencies have extensive liability protection and uphold strict notification requirements. A claimant must usually give notice to a government agency prior to filing a claim, and the time limit for filing this notice is usually very short.
Anyone who suffers an injury on public property or in a government-owned and operated establishment should seek legal counsel immediately. An experienced Kansas City slip and fall attorney can help a client better understand his or her legal options and meet the required time limits for taking legal action against a government entity.
Time Limits for Filing a Claim Against the Government
If you suffered a slip and fall injury on any type of government property, you must first determine which level of government is responsible for the property. Different statutes and regulations exist for claims against the federal government, state governments, and local governments. Personal injury claims against the federal government are very rare and fall under the Federal Tort Claims Act, which allows injured individuals to file personal injury claims against the federal government if an injury occurred within a federally controlled property or building.
The statute of limitations or time limit for filing a personal injury claim under the Federal Tort Claims Act is two years. However, the claimant usually must first file a notice with the government office or agency responsible for the property. For example, if you were visiting an FBI field office for a witness interview and a custodian failed to mark a slippery floor and you suffered a slip and fall injury, you would likely need to notify the FBI field office of your intent to pursue legal action before filing a claim under the Federal Tort Claims Act.
Filing a claim against a state government office requires adhering to state laws. For example, if you visited your state’s Department of Revenue office for a tax-related issue and suffered a slip and fall injury due to poor maintenance or negligence, you would likely need to file a notice with the Department of Revenue before proceeding with a lawsuit. The statute of limitations for a claim against a state government office varies from state to state. In some states, claimants may have one or two years to file their claims. In other states, they may only have a few months to a year. However, the time limit for filing notice about a victim’s intention to sue is usually much smaller, typically only 30 to 180 days at most.
Anyone facing a legal claim against a government office should not only expect to encounter very strict filing deadlines and notice requirements but also limitations on the types of compensation available and limits on compensation. Claims against government offices are unlike claims against private parties, and claimants typically discover they can only secure a certain amount of compensation. Additionally, many government offices and agencies enjoy sovereign immunity from certain types of damages and limit the amount a claimant may receive in economic and noneconomic compensation.
If you or a loved one recently suffered a slip and fall injury on any kind of government property it is essential to seek out a personal injury lawyer as soon as possible. An experienced personal injury attorney can help you determine the best method for collecting compensation and help you understand the difficulties you are likely to face in a claim against a government office or agency.