How Sovereign Immunity Could Affect Your Wrongful Death Claim
Sovereign immunity is a judicial doctrine that prevents individuals from filing claims against the government without its consent. Deriving from case law, rather than a legislative act, sovereign immunity applies to both the federal and state governments and in its original form, protected them from any liability. Over the years, however, a number of laws have chipped away at these broad protections, allowing states to waive sovereign immunity in some cases.
It’s important to note that each state has its own set of laws and case law regarding how and when a person can waive immunity. A plaintiff’s failure to familiarize him or herself with these laws could delay their case for months or even years, and in some cases, could even lead to the claim’s outright dismissal. To ensure that this doesn’t happen to you, please contact an experienced Florida wrongful death lawyer who can ensure that you comply with state law regarding the waiver of sovereign immunity.
The state of Florida, under its sovereign immunity law, waives its right to immunity from suit for any personal injuries, property loss, or wrongful death caused by a government employee’s error, negligence, or improper conduct. This covers everything from car accidents resulting from a government worker’s negligence to injuries caused by an agency’s failure to properly maintain a public space like a park.
Although Florida law does waive sovereign immunity in certain cases, it also limits the amount of damages that a person can recover from a negligent government agency. For instance, successful plaintiffs who can prove that a government entity or agency employee’s negligence caused an injury or death will only be able to recover damages of up to $200,000, unless the case involves allegations against multiple agencies, in which case, the damages cap will be increased to $300,000. State law also prevents plaintiffs from collecting punitive damages or compensation for the accrual of prejudgment interest.
Finally, plaintiffs who file claims against a government employee, cannot hold that individual personally liable for causing their injuries. The only exception to this rule applies in cases where the employee acted in bad faith or with ill intent, or otherwise disregarded safety or human rights. In these situations, the injured party could seek compensation from the at-fault party personally.
Sovereign Immunity and Wrongful Death Claims
Florida law also requires plaintiffs who have filed wrongful death claims and are claiming governmental negligence, to comply with a series of additional rules. Claimants who fall under this category, for instance, must file notice of the claim with the Department of Financial Services within two years of the accident. The government must then be given time to investigate the claim, after which, it can choose to deny or offer a settlement. If denied, a plaintiff has two years to file a lawsuit.
Call Our Fort Lauderdale Office Today
To speak with a Fort Lauderdale wrongful death lawyer about filing necessary forms, meeting required deadlines, and potentially filing a lawsuit against a government agency, please call Boone & Davis at 954-566-9919 today.