Personal Injury Lawsuits Against the Government in Florida
What happens if you are hit by a city bus? Or if you slip and fall in a state-owned building? What do you do when your injuries were caused by the action of a government entity or employee in Florida? Anytime you’re injured as a result of someone else’s carelessness or negligence, you usually have the option of filing a personal injury lawsuit to get compensation for your losses.
But when you’re injured by the negligence of the government or one of its employees, there are some specific laws that apply to your case.
Florida Statutes section 768.28 governs claims filed against the state and section 768.28(5) waives sovereign immunity for the tort of false imprisonment. Essentially, the State of Florida has conditionally waived its right to immunity from liability in only certain situations. Simply put, a person who is injured by the state government or a government employee in Florida may file a claim and ask for compensation from the government if:
- The injury was caused by negligence or a wrongful act or omission (incidents like car accidents and medical negligence, for example)
- The claimant’s losses can be compensated with money damages (this covers most negligence-based cases), and
- The circumstances are such that the negligent party would have been liable as a private party (instead of as a government agency or employee).
Limitations on the kinds of claims that injured parties include:
Government employees cannot be held personally liable for harm, unless they caused the harm intentionally. Instead, all claims must be filed against the government body or agency that employs them.
Damages in cases against Florida’s government are limited to $200,000, or $300,000 total if the claim is against multiple state entities. Punitive damages or interest that accrued before the judgment was made cannot be awarded in cases against the Florida government.
The state may appeal any resolution of the case.
Actions against state universities must be brought in the county where the university’s campus is located, unless the university has a “substantial presence” in the county where the harm occurred.
Additional limitations apply to cases filed against law enforcement officers or agencies, public health agencies (including public hospitals), and the Florida Space Agency. Claims that come from inmates of the Florida Department of Corrections are also subject to special time limits.”