Filing a Personal Injury Claim Against Los Angeles*

Any kind of serious auto accident is an experience you would rather do without. The financial repercussions, even if your injuries eventually heal, can be extremely worrying. Most claimants understand that they can sue the person or business that caused the accident and that this may need the help of a personal injury attorney.

But what happens when the accident was caused by a negligent act by someone working for a government agency or public transit system or your auto accident was caused by poor highway maintenance on a state highway?

You can still sue a government agency or individual employee, but it is more difficult than suing a private individual and you will need legal help to succeed.

If you have been injured and you believe that the city is liable for your damages, you will need to pursue a personal injury claim. There are many ways that you could be injured by the city, and there are various injuries and damages that you could suffer from such incidents.

For example, you may have tripped and fallen because of broken pavement. A fall onto pavement or concrete could lead to broken bones, cuts and lacerations, contusions, or a back injury. If you hit your head, you could suffer a concussion or even a traumatic brain injury.

These injuries could be life-altering.

You could be involved in an auto accident with a city vehicle. These accidents can cause serious injuries such as paralysis or spinal injuries. Ice on a city sidewalk or parking lot could be a serious hazard. Going into a city building and falling because of a wet floor or because of loose tile can cause serious injuries as well.

Any of these accident scenarios could have been avoided. If you can prove that the injuries you suffered were directly caused by the negligence of the city, you can hold them liable.

Of course, a government entity has very precise protections in place. While governments are protected from legal action, there are specific guidelines in place that allow claims to be filed in certain criteria are met.

Because of the complexity of a claim against a government agency, you should consult with a personal injury lawyer before you get your claim underway. An accident injury attorney will be familiar with the state and local laws regarding the pursuit of a claim against the city.

The paperwork must be completed precisely, and you must adhere to deadlines or you will miss your opportunity to pursue a claim.

Just one mistake could cost you the opportunity to pursue a claim. Don’t delay getting your claim on track. Otherwise, you could get caught paying for all your medical bills out of pocket, and you may find yourself without a paycheck while you are recovering.

Personal injury claims are necessities after an accident that has left you with serious injuries and mounting medical expenses.

When you file your claim, be sure to consider past, present, and future losses associated with the accident. That includes past, present, and future medical expenses and lost wages. Be sure to maintain thorough records that show your losses.

City Laws Regarding Government Personal Injury Claims

Governments across the U.S., whether they are municipal, city, state or federal entities, have a degree of protection from private lawsuits which private equivalents do not. For example, the city and the state government have what is called “sovereign immunity.”

This protects them from being sued in all but the most rigorous procedure. In fact, both state and city government agencies do allow private lawsuits against them if it can be proved that negligence on the part of a government employee or the agency itself contributed or caused the accident and injury outright.

It is absolutely essential to follow the procedure laid out by either government completely or you risk failure in any attempt to recover compensation you may really need.

Both this city and their state governments require you to file a Notice of Claim within 6 months from the date of the injury. The claim form must include all the relevant information regarding the injury and the reason why you consider a government employee or agency to be at fault.

The amount you are claiming must also be included with a justification why this amount is stated. The claim must be sent to the appropriate office. A personal injury attorney can help you find out who to file the completed Notice of Claim with.

The government agency then has around 45 days to investigate the claim and make a decision whether to accept it or not. Usually, but not always, the claim is denied.

You are then free to file a personal injury lawsuit against the individual or agency with the help of an attorney. There is a one year time limit imposed on filing a personal injury claim. Here's a little more information on how long you have to file a claim.

Reasons for an auto accident caused by a city or state employee or agency

  • Your car was hit by a bus or other government owned type of public transport;
  • The car was hit by another type of government vehicle such as a fire truck, highway maintenance vehicle or recycling / trash collection truck;
  • Your accident was caused by a poorly maintained road or highway surface;
  • The accident was caused by poor lighting or inadequate city lighting;
  • A collision with a city police car or motorcycle.

Collision with a City Bus

If you have an auto accident as the result of a collision with a city bus, it is possible that it will be because of poor driving on the part of a bus driver. Drivers may:

  • Fail to yield the right of way
  • Be distracted by one of a number of things, particularly their own cell phone
  • Be under the influence of drugs or alcohol
  • Be too tired to concentrate on their driving
  • Fail to keep an adequate distance from your vehicle

The accident may also be caused by poor maintenance at the bus depot.

What You Can Be Compensated

If the city was negligent, and you have suffered injuries and damages, you will need to include all your losses in a single claim. There are limits to what you can recover and how much you can recover.

You will want to add up all your medical expenses including physician visits, hospital bills, physical therapy, prescriptions, and medical devices. If you have medical bills, you also have pain and suffering, but that amount can be limited by government agencies.

You can also claim any lost wages, so be sure to document any missed work and lost wages. Also, get a physician’s note if you will be missing more work in the future or if you must retrain for a different job role. If your injuries are serious, such as a traumatic brain injury, a spinal injury, or paralysis.

In this state, you have 6 months from the date you are injured to file a notice of claim. You will need to check to determine the appropriate office. Your attorney can do this. There isn’t a central government office that handles these claims.

After you have filed your notice, the city has about 45 days to investigate your claim and then make a decision as to whether to accept the claim and start negotiations, or to deny your claim. In most cases, the claim is denied.

If your claim is denied, you have only a year to pursue a personal injury claim against the city. To mount a case against the city, you will need to show that the property was in a dangerous condition, that the dangerous condition caused your injuries, and that the dangerous condition caused a risk that was foreseeable for the specific kind of accident that took place and the injuries that you suffered.

Make Sure You Have a Good Case Against the Party at Fault

It may seem hard enough to sue a government, but it can be done with persistence and help from an experienced personal injury attorney.

Apart from keeping to deadlines and making sure that a Notice of Claim has all the necessary information and is sent to the right office, it will be necessary to prove that the person or agency you finally sue was at fault, i.e. has behaved in a negligent way.

Your attorney can help you find proof. This will include things like witness statements, photos at the scene of the crash, auto repair reports, police reports and testimony from experts. Because it is more difficult to find convincing evidence the later you leave it, the sooner you file a claim the better.

Working With A Lawyer

If you have been injured and you believe that the city is liable for your damages, you should pursue a personal injury claim against the city. To have a successful claim, you will need to enlist the help of a personal injury lawyer. An accident injury attorney who handles such cases.

You will need an attorney who is licensed in this state and who is familiar with the claims process against government entities. Specific protocol must be followed, and you need someone who knows how to proceed with a claim and make sure everything is properly filed and all deadlines are met.

When you retain a personal injury lawyer, you will not have to pay anything out of pocket. Instead, your attorney will take the case on a contingency basis. That means that you will not pay anything out of pocket.

Your lawyer will only be paid when you win your claim and recover compensation through a settlement or a judgment. At that time, any advanced costs for medical records and so forth are deducted and the lawyer will take his or her portion of your settlement.

To make sure your personal injury claim is on track in a timely manner, complete the Free Case Evaluation Form. The office of an attorney who handles personal injury cases in the area will review the details of your case and determine how to proceed. Remember – time is of the essence, so don’t wait too long.


The content of this article serves only to provide information and should not be construed as legal advice. If you file a claim against the city of L.A. or the state of California, or any other party, you may not be entitled to any compensation.