Blount County Government Tort Liability Act Attorney
Cities and counties employ countless people in Tennessee, and any one of these employees could easily end up hurting an innocent member of the public. For example, county buildings could have dangerous conditions like slippery floors that cause a person to fall. Or another county employee could crash into a motorist while driving for their job.
You might think it is easy to get compensation in these cases, but it is not. In fact, county governments are generally immune from suit, meaning they cannot be sued. Fortunately, the Tennessee Government Tort Liability Act lays out many situations where you can bring a claim for compensation. Please contact Barnes Law for more information.
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What Does Immunity Mean?
The state has “sovereign immunity,” much like the Kings in old England did. When the sovereign is immune, they cannot be sued without their consent. In the United States, every state government, including Tennessee, is a sovereign. If they do not consent, they can get a court to dismiss the lawsuit.
The same is true of cities and county governments. Tenn. Code § 29-20-201 clearly states that “all governmental entities” enjoy immunity from suit for all injuries caused when discharging their duties.
Can You Sue a Municipality?
Yes. In the Government Tort Liability Act, Tennessee identified situations where municipalities (such as cities and counties) can be sued. You can find the exceptions to sovereign immunity in the Tennessee Code. Let’s look at some:
- Injuries sustained due to a government employee’s negligent operation of a motor vehicle. Section 29-20-202.
- Injuries caused by unsafe or dangerous streets, highways, or sidewalks. Section 29-20-203.
- Injuries caused by dangerous or defective conditions in public buildings, structures, dams, or other public improvements. Section 29-20-204.
- Any injury caused by a government employee’s negligent act or omission when doing their job. Section 29-20-205.
For example, if a government worker is travelling between offices and crashes into you, then you can sue the government if the driver was negligent. Likewise, if you slip and fall on spilled liquids in a county building, you might be able to sue the county.
The above are only some specific situations. Section 29-20-205 is the broadest provision, making the government liable whenever a negligent act or omission proximately harms someone. Contact an attorney to review whether you have a case.
Can You Sue the Employee Instead of the Government?
It depends. If the government has waived its immunity, then the employee or official is immune. Tenn. Code § 29-20-310(b). So if a negligent government employee crashes into you while working, you can sue the government but not the employee.
However, in cases where the government has not waived immunity, then you can sue the employee or official. For example, a government employee might have intentionally injured you with his car. This type of conduct is not covered by the exception listed above, so the government is immune while the employee is not.
How Much Time Do You Have to Sue?
You have one year from the date of injury to bring your lawsuit. If you delay and fail to file in time, then your case is dismissed. You will not end up with compensation.
There are some exceptions to the one-year deadline. For example, children typically can wait until they turn 18, at which point the one-year clock starts ticking. If you could not reasonably discover your injury, you might have more time. We encourage all people who suspect they were injured to promptly meet with one of our lawyers to protect their rights.
How Much Can You Receive?
Tenn. Code § 29-20-403 identifies how much insurance governmental entities must purchase to cover claims:
- Bodily injury or death of a single person in an accident: $300,000
- Bodily injury or death of more than one person: $700,000
- Injury to property in a single accident: $100,000
These insurance limits represent the most that an injured victim can expect to receive. For example, if one person is killed in a car accident, the maximum their survivors can receive is $300,000. However, if three people died, the most the government will pay is $700,000.
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Give Our Blount County Government Liability Attorney a Call
Bringing a legal claim against the government is difficult. Cities and counties aggressively defend these cases, and it is often hard to obtain the evidence you need to make your case. At Barnes Law, we can stand up for you when the government’s negligence leads to injury or the death of a loved. Please contact us today to schedule a free consultation.
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