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What You Should Know About Filing an Injury Lawsuit Against the Government

errant stoplight subject to a lawsuit against the government.

Can you file a lawsuit against the government? If you are injured due to the careless conduct of an individual or a private organization in Nevada, you may file a personal injury lawsuit in the state’s civil courts. However, if the accident was caused by the negligence of a government agency or employee, you need to follow rules for filing injury claims against federal or state governments in Nevada. To help you with your claim, contact George Bochanis Injury Law Offices at (702) 388-2005.

errant stoplight subject to a lawsuit against the government.

What Is Sovereign Immunity?

Sovereign immunity is a legal principle that prevents the government from being able to commit a legal wrong or tort, granting the entity immunity from civil suits or criminal cases. This principle generally applies to the federal and state governments in the United States, but not local ones. In some cases, the agency or entity may have its immunity waived, however. Other states or the federal government can still sue state governments.

This concept dates back to British common law, where the King was immune from wrongdoing charges. The purpose of sovereign immunity is to protect the government from having to change its policies every time someone disagrees with it.

Sovereign immunity can apply to both federal and state governments.

State Sovereign Immunity

Historically, state governments had the same sovereign immunity as the federal government. However, every state has passed its own version of a Tort Claims Act, enabling individuals to sue state and local governments (city or county) if they follow predetermined rules.

Nevada Tort Claims Act

Nevada’s Tort Claims Act has rules for filing an injury claim against the government. If you are injured due to the negligent actions of a state, county, or municipal employee, you can bring a personal injury claim against the government entity. However, if the government employee was off-duty when he or she caused the injury, it’s unlikely to be covered under the tort claim statute.

If you have suffered an injury due to the actions of the Nevada government or its employees while performing their duties, you have the option to file a personal injury claim against them. The process for filing such claims is governed by the Nevada Annotated Code (NAC). If a local government agency caused your injury, you can also file a claim against them.

If you have been involved in a motor vehicle accident with a state vehicle, slipped and fallen on state property, suffered injuries due to unsafe roadways, been a victim of sexual abuse, assault, inadequate security, police misconduct, or any other form of negligence on government property, you may be eligible to file a personal injury lawsuit against the State of Nevada for compensation.

As part of the claims process, you must prove the state or its employee caused the incident and subsequent injury.

Federal Sovereign Immunity

When it comes to sovereign immunity on a federal level, it’s generally not possible for an individual to sue the federal government as an entity, unless it has given consent to do so. However, the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA) permits individuals to sue federal employees if they have violated the duties associated with their role, but only if negligence was involved. If that’s the case, the individual must determine if he or she has the authority to sue under the FTCA. If not, the claim may be barred due to federal sovereign immunity.

The Federal Tort Claims Act

The FTCA was passed in 1946. It allows individuals to sue the government for tort claims. However, there are rules that you need to follow if you plan to sue the federal government.

The purpose of the FTCA is to provide compensation for injury, property loss, or death caused by any government employee’s negligent or wrongful act or omission. To file a claim under the FTCA, the at-fault party must be an actual federal agency employee, not just an independent contractor. Moreover, his or her actions must have been negligent and not willful misconduct.

You might have a claim under the FTCA if:

  • A federal government employee caused your injury.
  • The harm must have been caused while the employee performed job duties.
  • The employee must have acted negligently or wrongfully.
  • The negligent or wrongful act must have caused harm.

If you have documents to prove that your claim fulfills the requirements, you can submit an administrative claim within two years of being harmed. You cannot sue the federal government in court without filing an administrative claim.

Types of Injury Claims Against the Government

If the state government or a government employee caused an injury, you can seek compensation from the state, typically by showing negligence. Common causes of injury claims against the state include the type of cases that personal injury lawyers handle.

Car Accidents

You may be able to seek compensation for damages following a car accident if the at-fault driver was a government employee or was on official government business when the crash happened, or when inadequate traffic signs caused a crash.

Medical Malpractice

When a state employee or healthcare facility is medically negligent, you can file a claim against the state government for injuries.

Dangerous Government Property

You may be able to file a premises liability claim for slip and fall accidents caused by hazardous conditions on government property.

Negligent Maintenance of Roadways

If you are injured due to a dangerous condition on a roadway controlled by the state, you may file a claim for damages.

Other Tort Claims Against the Government

Tort claims against government employees acting under the color of law involve allegations of misconduct, such as excessive force or unlawful searches. These claims seek to hold officials accountable for violating constitutional rights. Legal remedies can include compensation for damages and judicial oversight to prevent future abuses of power.

Statute of Limitations and Notice Requirements

It’s important to correctly identify and file your claim with the appropriate entity. Notice requirements and how long after an accident you can sue may depend on whether you are suing the state or federal government.

Claims Against Nevada

Any claim against the state of Nevada must be filed within two years from the date of injury. Failure to file the claim within this time frame will result in its rejection by both the state and the courts. Furthermore, damages in claims against the state government are limited to a maximum of $100,000 per claim.

If you need to file an injury claim against the government, you must comply with the specific rules outlined in Nevada’s tort claims act. To begin the process, you must file a written and signed claim with the Nevada State Board of Examiners.

In your written claim, you should:

  • Provide a detailed amount of the damages you are claiming.
  • Describe how the damage or injury occurred.
  • Explain why the state should be held responsible for the damages.
  • If you have suffered injuries, provide a copy of your medical report from every physician who treated or examined you. If your property has been damaged, provide a statement of the property’s value and the cost of repairs.

The Department of Risk Management provides a tort claim form on its website. If your claim form is submitted properly, the attorney general’s office will review it to decide whether it should be approved or denied. If your claim is approved, the state will pay for your losses. However, if your claim is denied, you can file a civil lawsuit in a Nevada court and seek damages.

Claims Against the Federal Government

If you want to sue the Federal Government, you must file your claim within two years of the date you were injured. Failing to do so will result in your claim being rejected, preventing you from filing a lawsuit in federal court for damages.

To file a claim under FTCA, you must submit a Notice of Claim with the federal agency responsible for your injury. This Notice of Claim is filed using Standard Form 95 (SF95) and includes the date and time of the incident, along with details of injuries, death, or property damage. You must also list witnesses and their contact information. The form must include a specific dollar amount of the financial compensation you’re seeking; failure to do so could result in you forfeiting your right to seek damages.

In addition to the SF95, you must submit supporting documents with your Notice of Claim. A personal injury attorney can help identify which documents are crucial to your case and ensure they’re submitted with your claim. These include medical diagnoses, treatments, diagnostic tests, medical expenses, loss of income, and more.

Given the difficulty in successfully bringing a suit against the government, it is in your best interests to have a personal injury attorney. George Bochanis Injury Law Offices can help you. Contact us to discuss your matter.

The George Bochanis Injury Law Offices was established in 1985. Before opening his office, Mr. Bochanis spent years representing major insurance companies in litigation cases and prior to that was a law clerk to a prominent local district court judge. Our offices have grown from a small one person setting to having its own well known office location on South Ninth Street in Downtown Las Vegas with 15 employees.

Years of Experience: More than 28 years
Nevada Registration Status: Active
Bar & Court Admissions: Nevada State Bar Federal Court of Nevada, 3rd Circuit

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Since opening our doors in 1985, the accident lawyers at the George Bochanis Injury Law Offices have been committed to helping injury victims get full compensation after slip and fall accidents, motor vehicle crashes, workplace injuries, and other personal injuries.

We’re here to listen. Schedule your free consultation with an injury lawyer today.