3 Rules For Filing A Lawsuit Against A City Government

Posted on: 29 July 2016

The legal rules that you have to follow when you're filing a lawsuit are always complex. But you may be familiar with the basics of a personal injury suit if you've been involved with one before or if you frequently follow the details of such cases. However, if you're considering a claim against a government entity – for example, if you sustained an injury on city property that occurred because the property wasn't being maintained properly, and you're considering suing your city government – then the rules will be different from the rules that you may be familiar with. Take a look at some of the things that you should know about filing a lawsuit against a city government.


Before you get started, you should probably make sure that the government isn't immune from being sued for your injury. In some cases, the government is immune from personal injury lawsuits that a private citizen would not be immune from.

There are two situations in which your city government might be immune from your lawsuit. One is if your injury was caused by a planning decision. This means that while you might be able to sue for an accident on a staircase if the staircase is damaged or defective, you can't sue them simply because you wouldn't have had the accident if they hadn't put in the staircase in the first place. You also can't sue for discretionary positions. That means that if your accident was caused by a government employee's actions, but that government employee was executing a statute or regulation and used due care when they did so, they are not liable.

Notice of Claim

Another thing that you should know about suing your city government is that you can't just file a lawsuit without first taking a preliminary step. You will need to present a document called a Notice of Claim to every individual or government entity that you'll be naming in your lawsuit.

The Notice of Claim is not a document that's filed with the court, though you will want to keep a record of it. Instead, you'll need to mail it to each person or entity involved. In some locations, you're required to send the notice by certified mail, but even if you're not required to, sending the notice by certified mail is a good idea for your own records. Once you've sent the notices, you'll need to wait the amount of time specified by your state laws before filing your lawsuit. If you file too soon, the court will dismiss your suit and you'll need to do it all over again after the time has passed.

Statute of Limitations

Speaking of time limits, you're likely to find that the statute of limitations is different for an injury lawsuit against the government than it is for an injury lawsuit against a private citizen. It's always a good strategy to file a lawsuit as early as possible in any case – your best chance of collecting good evidence and getting witness depositions while memories are fresh is to act quickly.

But when it comes to lawsuits against a government, it's especially important to act quickly, because if you don't, the statute of limitations could easily pass you by. For example, in the state of Georgia, you would normally have two years to file a personal injury lawsuit, but if you're planning to sue a city government in Georgia, you have to file the notice of claim within six months of the injury. Keep in mind that if you're filing a wrongful death suit, you have six months from the date of the death, not the date of the injury that caused the death. If the injury and death occurred on different days, that can be important.

You can be sure that if you're suing a city government, they'll have lawyers to defend their interest, and those lawyers will know all of the legal rules. Your best bet is to hire a local personal injury lawyer who has experience with suing government entities so that you're not at a disadvantage in court. To learn more, click here for info.