6 Things You Should Know If You Want to Sue the Government in California

If you are injured as a result of some governmental action in the State of California, there are certain procedural rules which must be followed or you will lose your rights to sue.

  1. Whenever you intend to sue a governmental entity or agency you must file a claim within six months of the date of your injury. Most public agency websites will advise you where the claim should be filed.
  2. Examples of the type of entities that this might apply to include the following: Claims against the State of California, e.g. a claim for a dangerous design of a public highway; claims against Cities, e.g. claims that a broken sidewalk which caused an injury; claims against public hospitals for malpractice, e.g. in Alameda County, Highland Hospital and Alameda Hospitals are both public hospitals; bus companies, e.g. in Alameda county, AC Transit is a public bus company; State Agencies, e.g. the Highway Patrol or Cal Trans.

  3. If a claim is not filed within six months, your claim will be barred by law.
    This rule applies to minors as well. (Although under some limited circumstances, you may obtain relief from the court to file a late claim within one year of the injury).

  4. The information required in the government claim includes the following:
    • The name and address of the claimant
    • The name and address of the person to whom notices should be sent
    • The Date, place, and circumstances of the occurrence
    • A description of the injury or damages
    • The identity, if known of the public employee responsible
    • The amount of the claim

  5. The trickiest part of the claim is describing how the injury occurred. The description must put the government on notice of all possible theories of liability that you intend to pursue in your lawsuit. Therefore, the description must be written as broadly as possible to include not only known theories, but potential theories of liability. The courts are very strict in enforcing this rule. If the government claim does not describe a particular theory of liability, the courts will not allow you to pursue the claim in your lawsuit. This is probably the one area where most people filling out a claim make mistakes.

  6. After the claim is filed with the appropriate governmental entity or agency, it is usually rejected. If it is not acted upon within forty-five days, the claim is deemed rejected as a matter of law. A lawsuit must be filed with six months of the date of the rejection of the claim, or your claim will be barred by law.

  7. Although government claims may appear to be simple and straightforward, there are many hidden traps for the uninformed. Therefore, if you have been injured as a result of governmental negligence, it is important that you contact a personal injury attorney with experience handling government claims.

Oakland Personal Injury Lawyer Blog – Government Claims

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