Imagine walking down a city sidewalk, enjoying a beautiful day, when suddenly, you trip and fall due to a hazardous condition that should have been fixed. Or, you may have been injured in a car accident caused by poorly maintained roadways.
In these unfortunate situations, you may wonder who is at fault and whether you can hold the city responsible for your injuries. The short answer is “yes,” but it’s not always a simple process.
The Law Offices of Chip Forstall discuss your rights and the city’s responsibilities when a personal injury occurs. So, whether you’re dealing with medical bills, lost wages, or pain and suffering, a clear understanding of the legal process is critical for a successful case.
Understanding Negligence Claims
Negligence is a legal concept at the heart of many personal injury cases, including those involving cities. Simply put, negligence refers to the failure to exercise reasonable care in a given situation, causing harm to someone.
To establish a negligence claim, four elements must be present:
1. Duty of Care: The city has a legal duty of care to the injured party.
2. Breach of Duty: The city did not fulfill that duty of care through its actions or inactions.
3. Causation: The breach of duty caused the injuries.
4. Damages: The injured party (plaintiff) suffered actual harm or losses due to the injuries.
As government entities, cities have a duty to maintain public spaces and infrastructure. They must ensure the safety and well-being of their residents. If the city fails in its duty and someone gets hurt, they may have a valid negligence claim against the city.
Can You Sue A City For A Personal Injury?
Cities and municipal governments can be held liable for personal injuries under certain circumstances. However, city liability isn’t guaranteed, and specific conditions must be met for a successful lawsuit.
City liability applies to personal injuries caused by negligence in areas under the city’s control. This can include public roads, sidewalks, parks, and public buildings. Here are some common examples of when you may be able to sue a city for a personal injury:
- Car accidents due to dangerous road conditions
- A stop sign is covered by overgrown shrubs, causing an accident
- Someone trips on a poorly maintained sidewalk
- A child is injured on damaged or faulty playground equipment
Some cities have government immunity, which prevents them from being sued. Louisiana does not practice government immunity against lawsuits for personal injuries, meaning you do have the right to sue in most cases.
You’ve Been Injured On City Property: Now What?
Suffering an injury on city property can be a stressful experience. Still, you have options and rights to seek compensation if the city’s negligence played a role in your accident. The steps you take following the incident can have a big impact on your case, so keep these in mind:
Seek Medical Care
Your health, safety, and well-being should be your main priority. After an accident on city property, seek medical attention right away. Even if your injuries seem minor, remember that some injuries aren’t obvious immediately. Documenting your condition immediately following the accident is critical for your claim.
Document the Scene
If possible, gather evidence at the accident site. Use your cell phone to take pictures of the hazardous condition or area where the incident occurred. Make notes of any factors like inadequate lighting, missing signage, uneven surfaces, or poor visibility.
Report the Incident
Report the accident to the city or other authorities right away. They might have a process for reporting incidents that occur on government property. Failing to report the incident could impact your ability to file a claim later. Plus, you don’t want anyone else to get hurt in the same place.
Consult an Attorney
Contact an experienced personal injury attorney after the incident. They will assess the circumstances of your case and help determine if you have a valid claim against the city. Then, they’ll guide you through the next steps.
Notice of Intent to Sue
Depending on the jurisdiction, you may need to provide the city with a formal notice of your intent to file a lawsuit within a specified time. This is a critical step if required. Your attorney will know if it’s needed and will help you draft and submit the notice properly.
Should You Settle Or Go To Trial?
When pursuing a personal injury claim against a city for negligence, one of the biggest decisions you’ll face is settling the case out of court or going to trial. Each option has its pros and cons, and the choice depends on the circumstances of your case and your goals.
Depending on the strength of your case and other factors, your attorney will help you decide whether to accept a settlement offer or take the case to court. Having an attorney representing your case will increase the chances of a fair settlement offer from the city. Ultimately, the goal is to recover damages to compensate you fairly for your injuries, and your attorney will advocate for your best interests.
Contact An Experienced Attorney To Pursue Justice In City Negligence Cases
Getting hurt on city property can be a stressful situation. Between dealing with your injuries and knowing your rights, it’s a lot for anyone to take on alone. Remember, your city has a duty of care to keep its property and facilities safe for all citizens. So, if you get injured, the city could be held liable for damages caused by their negligence.
Having an experienced personal injury attorney to advocate on your behalf is critical in dealing with these cases. Your attorney will guide you through the process and help build your case.
If you or a loved one has suffered a personal injury on city property, contact the Law Offices of Chip Forstall today. Our team has a proven track record of securing justice and compensation for our clients. Your road to recovery begins with one phone call – contact us today for a consultation.