Can I Sue a City?

Personal Injuries and Cities

If you are injured due to an accident caused by another person, you can file a personal injury claim. The compensation from this claim can help you pay for your medical bills and any living expenses, as well as lost wages due to missed work. But what if the negligent party who caused you to become injured isn’t one person, but a city?

Suing for Personal Injury

It is possible to sue a city for certain types of personal injury incidents. Examples of accidents in which the city may be responsible include slipping on an icy sidewalk outside of a government building or getting hit by a police vehicle while driving.

It it also possible to sue a city if you were involved in an auto accident with a city vehicle. A city vehicle could range from a police car, a bus, to a taxi.

If you believe the city vehicle is liable for damages to your vehicle and any injuries sustained in the accident, you may be able to sue the city for damages.

You can also sue a city if you believe that either a city's employee or agency did not use due care.

For example, if you slip and fell on a slippery city sidewalk, if it was found out that city employee's knew beforehand that the sidewalk was dangerous and could be a hazard, but failed to act upon it, you could sue the city for not using due care.

Suing the city for compensation is a complicated process. First, you must file a “Notice of Claim” against the city before filing a lawsuit. The city may decide to settle the claim, especially if they expect a lengthy and expensive lawsuit, but more often, they will deny the claim. If the city denies your claim, you have the option to file a lawsuit against the city for negligence.

Statue of Limitations

Filing a suit against a specific city will be different depending on what state you were injured in. All states have a strict period of time during which you can file the Notice of Claim for your injury. This statute of limitations will differ from state to state. This limit could either be a certain period of time since the accident occurred, or a certain amount of time before you plan to file a lawsuit. Either way, failure to adhere to the timeframe could result in a dismissal of your personal injury case in court.


If your case becomes a lawsuit and you need to prove that the city’s negligence caused your injury, there are four factors that you must prove:

  • The city’s duty of care, or responsibility to keep you safe
  • A breach of the duty of care
  • That the breach in care caused your injury
  • That you were actually injured

To help your case, you may want to consider gathering as much evidence as possible. This can be photographic evidence from the scene of the accident, statements from any witnesses, and even medical statements, history of your medical treatment, and statements from your treating physicians.

What makes cases involving a city so difficult is the fact that most states offer cities and municipalities with immunity for certain negligent acts. For instance, if you were hit by a police officer while running a red light, the city’s immunity would be in place. You would have to prove that the police officer had been driving recklessly to have any substantial case against the city.

Personal Injury Lawyer

If you are having trouble filing a personal injury claim against the city, you may want to consider hiring a personal injury lawyer to help you. A lawyer who specializes in these types of cases can help you gather the necessary evidence, negotiate with the city, and will know the ins and outs of your state’s immunity laws to ensure that you maximize your chance of a successful case.