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Under What Circumstances Can You Sue the State of Indiana?

Steve Wagner

Synopsis

  • Receiving compensation for an injury that occurs on government property is possible but not before facing several legal questions and time sensitive hurdles.
  • Under the Indiana Tort Claims Act, specific rules related to injury date and accident fault apply to individuals who wish to bring a lawsuit against local and state governments.
  • As the first step, victims need to submit a specific “notice to file a tort claim” within a strict timeline of no more than 180 days from the injury for city and county government claims and within 270 days of the date of injury to the State of Indiana.
  • Indiana’s Tort Claims Act also follows a doctrine of contributory negligence. This means if an injury victim is found to be at fault of any kind for the accident that caused their injury, there will likely be no chance for recovery. An attorney experienced in tort claims can help.

How to Sue Indiana Local or State Governments for Negligence

Civil suits against the government aren’t unheard of but the law surely provides a certain level of immunity and protection for claims made against local (city and county) and state government entities. The language as outlined in the below steps may look very confusing, but it really is not too difficult to start the process to sue these offices for negligence.

1) File a Notice Within Given Timeline

It’s important injured accident victims understand that if responsible for any part of the incident, a property damage or personal injury claim form will be difficult to file. Just as important, under Indiana’s Tort Claims Act, all forms must be filed within a respected time frame to either the state attorney general’s office or with the local or municipal government. Do not delay. Claims made outside of these timelines will be rejected.

Claims Against the Indiana State Government: The notice to file form must be submitted within 270 days if the claim involves the state government. The State of Indiana provides claim filing forms on its official website.

Claims Against a Local or Municipal Government in Indiana: Under

Indiana Code section 34-13-3-8, the law specifies that the injured person must file notice within 180 days of the injury.

2) Prepare for a Decision

The notice to file either of these claims is the first step in allowing the government to review the incident. The State of Indiana is set to respond after 90 days and local or county governments may take longer. Throughout this process, claimants need to remember that filing a notice doesn’t mean the case will move forward. The government office may be entitled to immunity especially when the statute of limitations continues to run while victims are left waiting for a response.

3) Seek Help to Sue

If the government decides to deny the claim, victims then have the option to file a personal injury lawsuit against the entity in civil court. If the injured victim has not consulted with a personal injury attorney prior to filing the notice, a lawyer can help to file a lawsuit.

Damages under Indiana’s tort claims act are limited. For injuries or deaths that occur after January 1, 2008, damages are capped at $700,000. Also, an injured person may not seek punitive damages in a claim against the government in Indiana.

Understanding What You Can Sue For

Covered by the state’s Tort Claims Against Governmental Entities and Public Employees Act there are several common types of tort claims that can be brought against an Indiana government entity including claims involving:

  • car accidents with a government-owned vehicle
  • dangerous conditions in a government building that create slip and fall injuries
  • medical malpractice claims that may involve a government-owned health care facility
  • property damage cases or other situations where a government agency or employee’s negligence caused injuries or other losses

Jail and prison inmate injury claims are filed through different federal and state tort claim procedures. While federal correctional institutions have protections covering wardens, guards and administrative workers, inmates are allowed a waiver of this protection if prison injuries were due to negligence. To file a personal injury state or federal tort claim, the inmate must prove these three key elements within the inmate’s claim of injury in prison or jail, or the claim will be denied.

  1. prison or jail did not meet its obligation of duty of care
  2. how the negligent act occurred
  3. negligence caused verifiable damages and injuries to the inmate

Inmates have a different notice or intent to seek damages process when filing a claim against the federal government for injuries. If the Justice Department admits a claim for damages, the inmate will get paid. If it denies the claim, the inmate has six months from the day the department refuses the claim to hire an attorney and file a lawsuit.

What You Can’t Sue For

As such, many injury claims against local and state governments may not qualify as compensable. Those include:

  • accidents caused by bad weather road conditions
  • condition of unpaved roads, trails, and footpaths leading to recreational areas
  • performing of a “discretionary function” (one involving judgment or a policy-related decision)
  • adopting and enforcing (or failing to adopt and enforce) any law, rule, or regulation
  • any action (including refusal) regarding permits, licenses, certificates, and similar government documents
  • failing to inspect private property
  • entering any property in which the entry is legal
  • an act taken (or not taken) under a law or court order that is found to be invalid, if the actor would not have been liable if the law or court order were valid
  • acts or failures to act by any third party who is not a government employee or agency
  • highway or roadway design or maintenance, as long as the road is in a “reasonably safe” condition
  • injuries related to an emergency communication system, and
  • remediation of hazardous substances, petroleum, and other pollutants.

As the list shows, proving fault of the injury related to any of these events can make the process of suing the government much more confusing and difficult than filing a suit against a non-government entity. To get a better understanding, as soon as you are able, reach out to an experienced Indiana attorney at Wagner Reese prior to filing your injury claim notice or upon hearing your notice decision.

Wagner Reese Can Help File an Injury Claim Against the Government

It’s difficult to file a personal injury claim against the government but victims should be able to be compensated. Call us today for a no-cost, risk-free consultation: (888) 204-8440. You can also share additional details with us by submitting our online form.

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