Sovereign Immunity in Florida

In Florida, when an individual is injured as a result of someone else’s negligence, the victim has the option of filing a claim to seek compensation for their damages. However, what about when someone sustains injuries due to a city bus crash, or someone is involved in a slip and fall accident in a state-owned building? When claimants are injured by the negligence or carelessness of the government or a government employee or agent, filing a lawsuit is different.

Sovereign immunity was created hundreds of years ago to prohibit tort claims against the government. It prohibits individuals from suing the state or its agencies for civil remedies. Reasons for sovereign immunity are based on the fact that without it the courts would be saturated with civil claims, which would deter government officials from carrying out essential government functions.

At LJ Law Group, our attorneys have experience working for the State of Florida. By understanding the ins and outs of the government courts, we can provide our clients with the utmost levels of guidance in cases of lawsuits against the state.

Sovereign Immunity in Florida

According to the Florida Statute 768.28, the State of Florida agrees to be held accountable for certain torts. This statute waves Florida’s sovereign immunity under certain circumstances, which allows citizens to seek compensation for wrongs committed by the government or its agencies. However, it does place caps on the amount plaintiffs can recover, as well as prohibits them to recover punitive damage compensation or collect prejudgment interest.

Suing the State of Florida

To sue the State of Florida, the plaintiff must meet certain conditions and ensure the claim falls under the umbrella of cases the government has agreed to waive its sovereign immunity. Common scenarios include:

  • Negligent action of any state employee which caused loss of property, personal injury, or death;
  • A government employee or agent was acting within the course or scope of employment;
  • An employee would be liable for the resulting injuries if he/she was a private person.

The state agencies or subdivisions that are susceptible to a claim include the executive department, the judicial branch, state universities, counties, municipalities, corporations that act for the state or their agents, companies the state or municipality owns or operates.

However, as mentioned earlier, there are limits on suing the State of Florida for an injury, including:

  • No lawsuits for punitive damages.
  • The government is not liable for interest for the period before judgment.
  • The government has a payment cap of $200,000 for one individual or a total of $300,000 for all claims arising from one incidence.
  • If the settlement exceeds those amounts, the government entity will only pay the maximum amount, which is $200,000 or $300,000. Unless the state legislature authorizes a payment that exceeds those amounts.

It is important to know that in the case of sovereign immunity in Florida, even if the government has insurance that exceeds those cap limitations, the limitations will still apply. Also, additional limitations apply for cases against law enforcement officers, public health agencies such as public hospitals, and the Florida Space Agency.

Filing a Claim Against the Government in Florida

The process to file a claim against the government in Florida can be complex and tiresome. There are certain rules to follow when filing a claim against the government, even after the government has waived sovereign immunity.

For starters, the plaintiff must send a notice of the claim to the state agency involved, as well as to the state’s Department of Financial Services, Division of Risk Management. All personal injury claims must be filed within three years, while wrongful death claims must be filed within two years. Expect to wait at least 180 days from an investigation by the government before you can move forward with the process.

Filing a claim against the government in Florida is a lengthy, complex, and delicate process. Even the slightest misstep can result in an opportunity for the government to deny your claim.

Build Your Legal Defense Team

Filing a claim against the state or its agencies is challenging and complex. Building a strong defense team that takes the proper time to explain this lengthy and detailed process is key to making sure you have the right representation to fight for your rights.

Working with a Personal Injury Attorney in South Florida

If you or someone you know has been involved in a personal injury incident, or sustained any injuries due to the negligence of the government or any state employee, let the team at LJ Law Group fight for your rights as a victim. Any claim brought against the state must be addressed and examined to make sure the responsible are held accountable for their actions.

Call 954-597-6770 today or contact us online to schedule a complimentary consultation with one of our experienced attorneys to help you formulate the right claim against the state.