Seattle Government Property Injury Lawyer
Private businesses are legally responsible for the civil wrongs committed by their employees. For instance, if you are hit by a delivery truck who ran a stop sign, you can file a personal injury lawsuit against the company that employed the negligent driver. The employer is considered vicariously liable for the employee’s actions.
But what about a situation where you are injured due to the negligence of a public employee? Can you sue King County if you are hit by a city bus or fall on a city sidewalk? The short answer is yes, you can sue a local government for injuries caused by their employees. But the process is much more complicated than it would be if you sued a private employer. That is why it is important to work with an experienced Seattle government property injury lawyer if you are contemplating such a lawsuit. At the Emerald Law Group, we can walk you through this process and provide you with representation in pursuing such tort claims.
Washington Has Special Rules for Tort Claims Against State and Local Governments
As a general principle of American law, governments are immune from lawsuits in their own courts. The state legislature must authorize an express waiver of this sovereign immunity before any such lawsuit can proceed. Washington’s legislature has adopted such a waiver with respect to personal injury claims arising from the “tortious conduct” of the state’s “officers, employees, or volunteers.” This waiver extends to city and county governments or any agencies acting under their authority.
The phrase “tortious conduct” covers a wide range of common personal injury claims, such as car accidents and slip, trip, and fall accidents on public property. It can also include more egregious forms of misconduct beyond simple negligence, including police brutality, civil rights abuses, and even the negligent placement of children leading to sexual abuse.
When a person wishes to pursue any tort claim against the state or its subdivisions, Washington law first requires that person to file a formal written notice with the applicable state or local government. This notice gives the government an opportunity–no more than 60 days in most cases–to review its potential liability and decide whether to pay the claim. If the claim is rejected, then the claimant has the right to file a personal injury lawsuit in court.
It is crucial that claim forms be filed within a certain time period and under the precise rules spelled out by the state or local government. Any failure to strictly comply with the rules governing tort claims may force a judge to dismiss a subsequent personal injury lawsuit. For most personal injury claims, notice must be filed within three years of the original accident or injury.
Contact Emerald Law Group Today
When it comes to injuries caused by government negligence, you actually can fight City Hall. But you will need to jump through a bunch of extra hoops to do so successfully. A qualified Seattle government property injury lawyer can help keep you on the right path. If you have been injured and need to speak with an attorney, contact the Emerald Law Group today to schedule an initial consultation.