When you’re hurt in any kind of accident, you often suffer more than physical pain. Many cases, there’s an emotional component. Of course, you may also worry about how you’re going to make it financially and otherwise. Many times, it’s the latter that serves as the impetus for a legal claim. So, what happens when you want to hold a public entity responsible for your injuries?
In the first place, you need to know what constitutes a public entity. Generally speaking, public entities include anything funded by taxpayer money. Among other things, this would include:
- Government buildings in Philadelphia, Scranton, Wilkes-Barre, or smaller municipalities
- Vehicles owned and operated by local, county or Commonwealth employees
- Roadways maintained by the state, county or local government
Without question, these represent a broad overview of what falls under the full description of a public entity. You could slip and fall on government property. You could suffer injuries as a result of a motor vehicle accident with car or truck operated in conjunction with a government employee’s work.
However, there’s something you need to know about claims against the government when it comes to personal injury claims. Pennsylvania’s Sovereign Immunity Act plays an essential role concerning the way the law looks at your prospective lawsuit.
Sovereign Immunity and Claims Against a Public Entity
More than likely, you might already realize that the word immunity suggests reason for concern. After all, the last thing you want to hear is that a negligent party may be protected from being held responsible.
And, yes, that is the basic concept behind sovereign immunity. On a more local level, the term changes to governmental immunity. It’s the idea that governments are immune from claims against them. In the meantime, there are exceptions to this law, as described in Title 42 of the Pennsylvania Statutes. You may be able to pursue a government entity if your claim involves injuries related to:
- A motor vehicle crash, not exclusive of those operated by rail, through water, or in the air
- Liability of healthcare professionals who are employees of Commonwealth facilities
- Particular issues related to the care, custody or control of personal property
- Premises liability or other actions concerning real estate, highway, and sidewalks
- Potholes and other dangerous conditions on roadways
- Issues related to the care, custody, or control of animals
- Dram shop cases arising from liquor store sales
- National Guard activities
- Matters related to administration, manufacture and use of toxoids and vaccines
Pursuing the Case
One of the first things you need to know about pursuing a case against a government entity are notice requirements. You have limited time under the law to advise the Commonwealth or other public agencies of your intention to bring a claim.
Additionally, an experienced personal injury attorney can explain the limitations on recovery when it comes to lawsuits brought against government entities. For example, an individual plaintiff should not expect to receive more than $250,000 in damages. Depending on the number of people injured in the same incident, that amount could go down.
Under Pennsylvania law, the maximum allowable recovery from the same accident is $1M. Furthermore, your lawyer can also explain to you what constitutes damages when it comes to public entities.
With more than 40 years of combined experience, the personal injury attorneys at Fellerman & Ciarimboli strive to provide the best service to clients in Philadelphia, Northeast Pennsylvania, and throughout the Keystone State.