Personal injury claims are intended to help compensate the victims of a negligent act for the often enormous financial and emotional cost of injuries that weren’t their fault. The personal injury process can be helped by a personal injury attorney who can advise on the law, obtain evidence and negotiate with insurers.
Making a claim against a government agency or department because of negligence by a government employee or body is not quite so straightforward, but is not impossible. There may be stricter time limits, lower caps on compensation payments and the process is typically longer.
City and State Laws Regarding Government Personal Injury Claims
If you have been injured by an employee of the city, a state government employee, or it is an agency within either government that was at fault, then you will have to notify the respective agency first with a notice of claim before getting the chance to file a personal injury claim like you might do if suing a private party.
The notice of claim should be obtained from the City Attorney’s Office and submitted with as much supporting information about you, the nature of the injury, how it happened, when it happened and why you think the city was to blame for your injuries. The completed claim should be addressed to the city’s Risk Management Unit.
The city agency involved will investigate the claim and may decide to award compensation. Generally, this is not common unless the circumstances are very clear cut. If the city does not respond or denies the claim, there is then the possibility of filing a personal injury claim against the government agency at fault. This would proceed in the same way that it would if it was a claim against a private individual.
Filing a Personal Injury Claim for a Slip and Fall Against the City
Slip and fall accidents occur from time to time on sidewalks and public streets. In order for the city to be held responsible for such injuries it is necessary to prove that negligence was the cause of the slip and fall accident. The most common slip and fall accidents against the city are slipping and falling on wet sidewalks and streets that are slippery under foot.
Typically, the city is only responsible for clearing rain inundation from public areas and in front of government buildings. If you slip and fall in front of a private home or business and you are injured you would file a lawsuit against the individual or private entity. There are other times when slip and falls could take place and that is near overfilled trash cans where rubbish strewn on a side walk could cause a slip and fall hazards. Poorly lit sidewalks and streets at night where slip and fall hazards are concealed cause slip and fall accidents as well.
What Kind of Injuries Could Occur?
Slip and fall accidents may cause a range of injuries depending on how the victim falls.
If someone falls backwards s/he could suffer any of the following injuries
- broken bones which can cost from $17,000 to $35,000, depending on what limb was broken and how serious the breakage is;
- shoulder dislocations or muscle strains can attract large costs;
- spine and nerve damage could be quite mild or more severe but could cost $500 for pain relievers if that is all that is required or reach hundreds or thousands of dollars if there is a need for physical therapy sessions.
If someone falls forwards s/he could suffer any of the following injuries:
- mild to moderate sprained ankles or wrists may cost $500 to treat or if either have been fractured the cost may be to up to $2,500;
- knee damage depending on its severity may include an x-ray at around $107, a medical facility fee and a physician’s fee, which should not exceed $1,000 for non-surgical treatment without anesthesia and up to $16,000+ if there is a need for knee surgery;
- traumatic brain injury costs do depend on its severity and range from $85,000 for a minor injury to more than $900,000 for a moderate injury and $3 million for a severe injury.
Potential Car Accident Causes
Most car accidents are caused by other negligent drivers. A smaller percentage of these drivers work for the city government and it may be that you were injured in a collision with a government vehicle, such as a city bus.
There are other reasons for a car accident in which a defect in government property was to blame. Lack of maintenance anywhere in and around the city may cause dangerous road conditions or buildings may be inherently dangerous. A car accident then may be caused by collision with a government vehicle, most commonly a bus, a hole or crack in the road surface or something falling off a building or bridge on to the car.
Accidents Involving an RTA Bus
If your vehicle is involved in a collision with a city bus or, less likely, a street car, there are several possible causes. The reason for the crash and the fact that negligence must be proven to have existed is necessary to permit a claim against the city to go ahead. Driver error, poor maintenance and defective parts are all possible reasons for a collision, with driver error being the most common.
What to Include in Your Demand Letter Against the City
No personal injury claim can be filed against the city unless a formal notice has been sent first. This is called a demand letter and it includes amongst other things that you intend to file a lawsuit for damages caused by your slip and fall injury. The demand letter should also include the following:
- what sort of accident you have had;
- how the slip and fall accident happened;
- how and why the city should be held liable for the accident;
- the injuries that you have suffered;
- the medical treatment you received;
- any other losses associated with your injury such as damage to personal property like clothes, watch and jewelry and loss of earnings.
Sample Demand Letter in a Slip and Fall Claim
All demand letters should include at the beginning details about yourself and the accident such as:
- your full name;
- today’s date;
- your city, state, and zip code and;
- the date of the accident;
- the name of the defendant.
After writing these details you should write the demand letter of which an example follows:
“Dear Mr./Ms. [Name of Claims Adjuster]
I was injured on July 1 on a rainy day while walking on slippery paving stones in 10th Avenue. I didn’t expect this place to be slippery as there was no notice indicating an unusual hazard. As a result I fell backwards and hit my back on a protruding stone. I couldn’t get up so a witness nearby called an ambulance and I was taken to a nearby emergency room (insert name). Here an X-ray was taken of my back and I was diagnosed with spondylolithesis. The treatment involved two months of physical therapy and to relieve the pain I was prescribed Acetaminophen.
As a result of the injury and diagnosis I could not go to work for 2 months. Fortunately I have now fully recovered and am at back at work. I enclose details of all my expenses while undergoing treatment.”
Get Legal Advice From an Attorney Before Filing a Claim Against the City
You will need sound legal advice from an experienced personal injury attorney before considering whether to initiate a notice of claim. Because of the possibility of ruining the chance of obtaining compensation if you make a mistake, it is vital that you know when to submit a claim, who to submit it to and what to include.
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 New Orleans, or the state government of Louisiana, or any other party, you may not be entitled to any compensation.