As a general rule, government entities cannot be held liable for Indiana accidents under the doctrine of sovereign immunity. The concept of sovereign immunity has been around since the formation of our country. Essentially, sovereign immunity provides total immunity to government entities and employees for their negligent acts. However, over the years, states have enacted various laws that create exceptions to this general rule, permitting some lawsuits against the government.
Indiana’s version of this law is called the “Tort Claims Against Governmental Entities and Public Employees Act.” Under the Act, sovereign immunity is waived in some situations in which a government employee’s or entity’s negligent action caused someone’s injuries. However, the Act specifically excludes certain types of lawsuits, including accidents involving discretionary acts, the condition of unpaved roads and trails, and most weather-related accidents.
That being said, the Act permits lawsuits against the government for some common accidents, including car accidents caused by government employees and slip-and-fall accidents occurring on government property. Even when sovereign immunity is waived under the Act, however, the accident victim must comply with a strict set of rules in order for their case to be heard and considered. A recent case illustrates the difficulties one accident victim had when he failed to comply with the notice requirements under a similar act.
The Facts of the Case
The plaintiff was injured when he stepped into an uncovered manhole. On the day after the accident, the plaintiff called the local police station to inform the city of the hazard. He reported the street address where he believed the manhole to be located and also provided the intersection.
Later, the plaintiff filed a pre-suit notice to the city, as required under that state’s tort claims act. However, the address listed in the notice was different from the address provided to the police station. After the required waiting period, the plaintiff then filed a personal injury lawsuit against the city. In his complaint, the plaintiff listed the location of the incident as the address that he provided to the police. As it turned out, neither of the addresses provided by the plaintiff was accurate, and the true location of the incident was over a quarter-mile away from each of the listed addresses.
The government moved to dismiss the case, arguing that the plaintiff failed to comply with the Act’s notice requirement, and the court agreed. The court explained that the purpose of the notice requirement is to provide sufficient information to the government defendant so that a thorough investigation can be conducted. Here, the court held, by providing the incorrect address, the plaintiff prevented the government from conducting an investigation. Thus, the plaintiff’s case was dismissed for failing to comply with the Act.
Have You Been Injured by a Negligent Government Employee?
If you or a loved one has recently been injured in any type of Indiana accident involving a government employee or entity, you may be entitled to monetary compensation through an Indiana personal injury lawsuit. However, by naming a government defendant in your lawsuit, you will need to comply with a strict set of procedural rules in order to have your case heard. The skilled Indiana personal injury attorneys at the law firm of Parr Richey Frandsen Patterson Kruse have extensive experience handling premises liability lawsuits against government employees and entities, and we have a successful track record through settlement negotiations as well as at trial. Call 888-532-7766 to schedule a free consultation with an attorney today.
Plaintiff’s Appeal Dismissed for Failure to Raise Issue at Trial, Indiana Injury Lawyer Blog, September 6, 2017
How Indiana’s Dram Shop Law Can Help Victims of Drunk Driving Accidents, Indiana Injury Lawyer Blog, August 8, 2017