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What to Know if You’re Injured on Government-Owned Public Property

Sustaining injuries from an accident can happen on any property, including on a government premises, whether it be state, local or federal property. While it might seem intimidating to hold the government accountable for injuries, it is possible. Below, our expert team of premises liability injury attorneys from West Coast Trial Lawyers break down the legal implications and processes of filing for an insurance claim and/or lawsuit against a governmental entity for personal injury on public property.

Government-Owned Premises

Government property may range from those owned by a local, state, and federal government. Essentially, any public property is funded by the government entities. Here are some examples of different government premises, though there are many more unaccounted for:

  • Public schools, colleges, and universities
  • Government office buildings
  • Military bases and facilities
  • Public parks and recreation areas
  • Sidewalks and roadways

What to Do After Getting Into an Accident on Government Property

Public Property Personal Injuries and Premises Liability

  • Call 911 for emergency services, if needed. Depending on the severity of the accident, you should call 911 or have someone call them for you. The police will arrive on-site to create an official accident report, which you may request to have a copy of to use as evidence for your claim.
  • Gather as much evidence as you can. Take photos of the location where the incident occurred, of your injuries, and of the premises. You should also request for camera footage of the incident.
  • Acquire witness information. If there were any witnesses nearby, you should ask for their consent to get their name(s) and phone number(s). Having another individual’s input on the situation can strengthen your claim.
  • Consult an attorney. An attorney can assist you in getting the medical care that you need and will help build your case to obtain fair compensation for any damages and/or injuries you suffered while on government-owned property. The attorney may also file a lawsuit against the government entity for premises liability, if necessary.

Filing a Claim or Lawsuit Against the Government

The 1946 Federal Torts Claim Act (FTC) provides a waiver of sovereign immunity, which traditionally exempted federal government properties from being held accountable for premises liability cases. There is a 2-year statute of limitations to file an insurance claim or file a lawsuit against the federal government for a personal injury.

However, for claims against a local or state government in California, the statute of limitations to file an injury claim is only six months. A claim filed against a California government-owned premises can be done on the California Department of General Services website and a claim against a local government-owned premises can be done at their particular website.

If the government agency does not provide a claim form, an experienced premises liability attorney can help you put together a claim yourself using the following information:

  •  Your name and residency address
  •  The address where you’d like to receive notices
  •  The date, location, and detailed account of the event of the accident and injuries
  • A general description of your injuries, damages, etc.
  • Any and all proof that can make your claim stronger (official police reports, witness testimony, photos of the accident, photos of the damage and of the injuries you sustained, etc.)
  • The names of any employees involved in causing the injuries
  • The dollar amount claimed and how that number was calculated, if asking for less than $10,000
  • If you’re asking for more than $10,000, indicate whether your lawsuit will be a limited case (under $25,000 and not asking for non-monetary relief) or an unlimited case (over $25,000, or asking for non-monetary relief).

After submitting the claim form to the government agency, they have 45 days from the time they received your claim to investigate and offer a settlement. If they fail to do so or fail to offer negotiation for the settlement you deserve, you have the right to file a lawsuit against the government agency.

Government Immunity

There are some instances where a government entity may be immune from liability for the injuries you sustained on their premises. This immunity is dependent on the reason stated in the claim as cause of the injury. These are the following instances of government immunity:

  • Planning decisions. Planning decisions refers to when a government’s building plans are blamed as the cause for an accident and injury. For example, if somebody trips and falls on some narrow stairs, citing the government entities’ decision to build narrow stairs in the building is not a cause to state that the government entity is liable for the injuries sustained. However, if someone gets injured on the narrow stairs because they are being constructed and the government entity was negligent in protecting people from accessing them, then this would be a cause for stating that the government entity is liable for the injuries sustained in an accident.
  • Discretionary decisions. Discretionary decisions refers to when any government entity or employee exercises duty of care in carrying out regulation standards. However, this immunity is overruled if employees act in malice.

Need a Premises Liability Attorney? West Coast Trial Lawyers Can Help

Get the compensation that you deserve! Our experienced team of premises liability injury attorneys at West Coast Trial Lawyers can help you cover medical bills as they come in and receive compensation for all of your losses. Call us today at (213) 927-3700 or email [email protected] to schedule a free consultation with our experienced, caring, and compassionate legal team.


If you have been injured in an accident, you can count on the legal team at West Coast Trial Lawyers to fight for your rights every step of the way. Contact us today to schedule your free case evaluation with a personal injury attorney.
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