Q: We have a serious injury caused on city land, by an official who drove his golf cart right into my buddy. Now what? There is some process to sue the government?

H.D., Arcadia

A: The California Tort Claims Act sets forth specific steps you must follow to timely file a personal injury lawsuit against the government. First, you have to give notice to the government within a set period of time, or you could well lose your opportunity to seek monetary damages. Typically, this is six months from the date of the incident. The notice is in a written form that may include a report or letter so long as it contains all of the necessary requirements. Many governmental agencies and departments have claim forms you can fill out and use instead.

The information must contain: (a) your name and address, (b) where you want notice to come to you, (c) the date, place and circumstances of the incident, along with (d) a description of the harm and losses, (e) the name of the public employee who caused the harm or losses, if known, and (f) the amount claimed. If the sum is less than $10,000, then provide computation of the amount (and include estimates of any future injury, damage or loss). But if the sum exceeds $10,000, then no dollar amount has to be included. In such event, the notice must set forth whether the claim would be a limited civil case (i.e., $25,000 or less).

While the notice requirement is not all that complicated, prompt consultation with counsel is certainly advisable.  Also, the government most often rejects the claim, at which point you have a limited period of time to file a lawsuit. Note that if the government does not respond to your claim notice within 45 days, the claim is deemed rejected. Make sure you know both the deadlines on notice and suing. And sending your notice by certified mail, return receipt requested, is a prudent option.

Q: I took quite a fall down some rickety stairs at the park, which is county owned. Can I make a claim for my injuries?

H.S., Torrance

A: California Government Code Section 835 sets forth that “a public entity is liable for injury caused by a dangerous condition of its property if the plaintiff establishes that the property was in a dangerous condition at the time of the injury.” Public properties are those owned by a public agency, which can include a park. You say the stairs were rickety, but I do not know offhand if liability is going to be found. It is often important in a case involving alleged dangerous premises to have an expert inspect them to evaluate the condition. Photographs also can be quite important, taken before any remedial work is done, if possible. Is there a witness? In any event, keep in mind to give the requisite timely notice to the government (see the first answer above).

Ron Sokol has been a practicing attorney for over 35 years, and has also served many times as a judge pro tem, mediator, and arbitrator. It is important to keep in mind that this column presents a summary of the law, and is not to be treated or considered legal advice, let alone a substitute for actual consultation with a qualified professional.

California

Products You May Like

Articles You May Like

Alec Baldwin Fatal ‘Rust’ Shooting: D.A’s Witness List Full Of Crew Members From Troubled Indie Western As First Court Hearing Looms In Criminal Case
British Gas takes action amid claims debt firm broke into homes to install prepay meters
LAUSD launches mentorships for homeless, absent and struggling students
Researchers Uncover New Bugs in Popular ImageMagick Image Processing Utility
Alex Murdaugh’s Alibi Chipped Away by Son’s Video Recorded Night of Murder: Prosecutors

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *