Nobody sets out from home expecting to be involved in a car accident, but it can happen to anyone. It’s hard to predict when an act of negligence on the part of another driver ends up with you on a stretcher or a hospital bed.
Injuries can be much more expensive than you might have realized. If you have been hurt by a private individual, you may be able to recover the cost of:
- Medical expenses
- Lost wages
- Pain and suffering
However, if you have been hit by a vehicle belonging to the city, compensation is not as straightforward. Claims against any government agency or entity need legal advice and help provided by a personal injury attorney if they are going to have a chance to succeed.
Filing a Personal Injury Claim for a Slip and Fall Against the City
Many people use the sidewalks and public streets as pedestrians every day. On occasions someone slips and falls on a hazard that is hard to see. The city is liable for these accidents if negligence can be found to be the cause of the accident.
Determining negligence in a slip and fall accident, is an important part of a personal injury lawsuit against the city and to have a viable case you must provide sufficient evidence that shows the city was mainly responsible for the slip and fall.
City and State Laws Regarding Government Personal Injury Claims
City governments in Florida, counties and the state government of Florida are nominally protected by what is called ‘sovereign immunity.’ This can make claims against them difficult and protracted, if not impossible.
The city, for example, allows claims to be made where definite negligence on the part of a city employee or agency can be demonstrated. However, the process of making a claim against the city or state is different from a normal personal injury clam.
The mayor’s office, or administration of another specific agency that is regarded as responsible for an injury, must first be notified by a "notice of claim." The notice must be accompanied by sufficient information for the government body to be able to investigate the circumstances.
Once a notice of claim has been submitted, there is an additional six months which must elapse before any further action can be taken.
Rarely does the government admit to fault and pay compensation. It is much more common to wait for the six months to pass then file a personal injury claim with the help of an attorney. The same sort of information and evidence is submitted with this claim.
Florida government entities, including agencies and departments of the city cap the amount that can be paid to any single individual at $200,000.
What Kind of Injuries Could Occur and the Cost of Medical Treatment
Slip and fall accidents may cause a range of injuries including:
- broken bones which can cost from $17,000 to $35,000 for treatment for a broken leg;
- sprained ankles or wrists will cost around $500 for a mild to moderate sprain to up to $2,500 for a fracture that needs a cast;
- knee damage may include the cost of the x-ray, a medical facility fee and a physician’s fee which should not be more than $1,000 for non-surgical treatment without anesthesia and up to $16,000+ if surgery is needed;
- shoulder dislocations or muscle strains can attract large costs;
- spine and nerve damage could cost $500 for a pain reliever or reach hundreds or thousands of dollars for physical therapy;
- traumatic brain injury costs vary, but a mild head injury could cost $85,000, a moderate head injury could $941,000, and a severe head injury could reach $3 million.
What the Potential Car Accident Causes Are
There are a number of potential car accidents that can happen that involve government property and government employees. Car accidents may be caused by negligence on the part of a city government employee or the actions of a government agency. Some typical examples that might lead to a claim against the city are:
- hit by a city or county vehicle;
- hit by a fire service vehicle;
- hit by a waste management vehicle owned or leased by the city;
- hit by a police vehicle not involved in an emergency operation;
- hit by a Metrobus or paratranist van;
- accident caused by poor road surface or lack of road maintenance;
- vehicle hit by falling debris from a government owned structure.
Here's a little more information on auto accidents in Miami.
Accidents involving a City Bus
The MTD runs 93 bus routes all over the metropolitan area, the surrounding counties, so as a car driver, there will be many instances where you will encounter a Metrobus.
Most bus drivers are very competent and mindful of other traffic, but that doesn’t mean that bus accidents never happen. If your vehicle is hit, the most likely reason is that the bus driver made an error of judgment.
Typical driver errors include driver fatigue, inadequate training, speeding, failure to yield at an intersection, failing to look out when there is a blind spot, failing to signal, distracted driving and intoxication or illegal drug use.
What to Include in Your Demand Letter Against the City
Once you have decided you have a good case for filing a lawsuit for negligence you must give a formal notice to the city detailing your intention of filing a lawsuit. This is called a demand letter and a well constructed one may help you win a PI claim. There are certain key parts to a successful demand letter and these are:
- a detailed description of where and how the slip and fall accident happened;
- why the city's negligence caused the slip and fall accident;
- a detailed list of your injuries;
- the medical treatment you have received and still expect to receive and details of cost;
- a list of damage to any of your personal property.
At the beginning of any demand letter you should provide all your details and those of the city so that your intention to file a lawsuit is clear and why you are filing it.
Example of a demand letter
“I was injured in a slip and fall accident while exiting my home on February 7, 2019, in your city. The sidewalk was covered in flooded rainwater caused by blocked and unmaintained storm water drains. Despite being careful, I was unable to keep my balance. I suddenly fell backwards damaging my neck and spine. I believe that the city has the responsibility to maintain sidewalks in such a condition that they were safe to use. In this case there were no warning notices present preparing pedestrians for the hazard.
When I fell, other pedestrians came to my aid and called an ambulance and I was taken to a nearby hospital (insert address). X-rays were taken indicating my neck was dislocated and I had crushed vertebrae, (see medical cost receipts). I needed surgery to reconstruct the vertebrae (see medical cost receipts). I had to take 6 weeks off work in order to recover. I still need pain medication (name and cost of medication) and I need to visit my physician (insert name and cost) once every 2 weeks.
I enclose a full list of the cost of medical treatment up to this date.
look forward to your response within 30-days of receipt of this demand letter.”
Use an Experienced Attorney if Considering Claiming Against the City
Making a claim against a government entity can be hard. If you submit the wrong information, insufficient information, or fail to keep to strict deadlines, you may lose the opportunity to sue the government.
The financial pressure of a serious injury can be huge, so it doesn’t make sense to risk not obtaining compensation by bypassing the help from an experienced personal injury attorney.
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 Miami, or the state government of Florida, or any other party, you may not be entitled to any compensation.