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Filing an Injury Claim Against the Government


Filing an Injury Claim Against the GovernmentFiling tort claims against a government entity carry far more stringent statute of limitation and filing parameters than non-federal claims.  California government tort claims are governed by the California Tort Claims Act, which sets out specific procedures for filing a claim for money damages.  Examples of government claims that are commonly sued include:
  • Motor vehicle accidents as a result of faulty roads or design defects
  • Accidents on public locations, including schools, parks or public buildings
  • Eminent domain (property is taken over by government without permission)
  • Medical malpractice in government health facilities
  • Prison abuse
  • Damage caused by water breaks, landslides or mudslides
  • Accidents caused by governmental transportation services including the bus and subway

Process of Filing a Government claim

In order to file a governmental claim, you must first identify the proper entity.  Once identified, a claimant must first file what is called an administrative claim with the appropriate governmental agency.  These claims must be brought within a timely period, and generally fall into one of two categories:
  1. Personal Injury or Personal Property – for personal injury or personal property claims against the government, the administrative claim must be filed within six months of the date of the injury or personal property damage.
  2. Breach of Contract or Real Property Damage – administrative claims against a government agency for breach of contract or real property damage (homes, buildings) must be filed within one year from the date of the breach or damage to property.
These claims may be filed by either the injured party, or by another party on behalf of the injured party.  There are certain types of claims however that are not covered.  These are:
  • Government employees who exercise due care and are performing a function related to a statute of regulation
  • Injury as a result of an act that entails a discretionary function or duty
  • Loss, miscarriage or negligent transmission of postal matter

What Do I Do After Filing an Administrative Claim

Once an administrative claim is filed, the governmental entity has 45 days to respond to the claim.  At this point, there is one of five possible outcomes.  The government entity can:
  1. Deny the claim
  2. Provide notice to the claimant that the claim is insufficient
  3. Ignore the claim (wherein the claim is denied by law)
  4. Allow part of the claim and deny the rest
  5. Approve the claim
Once the claim has been denied, there is a 6 month time period to file a lawsuit.  If the claim is denied, the six month period begins when the denial was mailed.  If the government entity fails to respond within 45 days, the failure to respond would act as a denial, and there would be a two year period from the date of the initial injury to file a lawsuit.  The government entity can however still give notice of a rejection anytime after the initial 45 days.  In this scenario, the claimant would have 6 months to file a lawsuit after the denial.

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