Filing a legal claim against the government is not as simple as it would be filing against a private entity or individual. The New Jersey’s Tort Claims Act provides immunity for certain types of negligence for which government entities or employees are liable.
A New Jersey personal injury lawyer from Cordisco & Saile, LLC can help you identify who was at fault for your accident and how you can recover damages. Call 215-642-2335 for more information on your legal right to file a claim against the government in New Jersey.
How are New Jersey government entities immune to legal claims?
NJ Rev. Stat. § 59:2-1 of the New Jersey Tort Claims Act states that, “A public entity is not liable for an injury, whether such injury arises out of an act or omission of the public entity or a public employee or any other person.”
The Act continues to state, “Any liability of a public entity established by this act is subject to any immunity of the public entity and is subject to any defenses that would be available to the public entity if it were a private person.”
In plain language, the laws state that you cannot sue a public entity or employee for damages if the accident occurred while the party acted in good faith and within the scope of the job. However, if the entity acted willfully in its misconduct or if the accident happened outside of the scope of the employee’s public duties, you can hold him/her liable for your injuries.
Another part of the Act states that public entities are not liable for accidents that occur due to lack of supervision of public recreational facilities. However, the Act does not protect a public entity from liability if that entity fails to protect against a dangerous condition.
In this respect, a city is not liable for a person who suffers injury during an assault in a city park after dark. However, the city could be liable if city workers left a construction site in the park unguarded and a child suffered an injury by falling into a trench.
There are many other specific scenarios where the government is and is not liable for certain types of accidents. We can examine your case and determine whether you have a valid claim against the government.
Does the Tort Claims Act bar all claims against the government?
No. There are several situations where the Tort Claims Act does not apply:
- Claims that seek non-monetary damages (equitable relief).
- Workers’ compensation claims against public employers.
- Claims arising from injuries that occurred during military service.
- Claims where the federal government has assumed liability.
- Claims that involve violations of the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination or Conscientious Employee Protection Act (whistleblower).
What types of damages can I collect from a claim against the government?
There are many potential types of damages in a claim against the government in New Jersey. In addition to special damages (e.g., medical bills, lost wages, etc.) for your injuries and losses, your claim might include damages for the following:
Pain and Suffering
A person can only claim damages for pain and suffering if their injuries meet the following thresholds:
- The Verbal Threshold: the injury caused permanent loss of a body function, permanent disfigurement, or dismemberment.
- The Amount Threshold: medical expenses that exceed $3,600.
When an injury, disfigurement, or loss of bodily function is permanent, the injured party might have an option to seek damages related to the permanent damage done by that injury. This type of damage might consider long-term medical care or loss of opportunities or wages where applicable.
In most cases, you cannot collect punitive damages in a case against a public entity. However, this rule does not apply if you are bringing a claim under the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination, nor does it apply for whistleblower claims under the Conscientious Employee Protection Act.
If your claim is against a public employee, you might be able to recover punitive damages where applicable.
Are there other resources to recover damages besides a claim against the government?
If you cannot file a claim against the government, there might be other resources from which you can recover damages. In some cases, you can hold a third party liable for some or all of your damages. You may also be able to recover a significant amount of damages by filing claims with your own insurance.
Determining your liability to file a claim against a government entity is a difficult process and you must file your claim quickly. If you are doubtful about your options, it is best tos seek answers from a New Jersey personal injury lawyer.
Where can I get help with seeking compensation from a government entity?
If you believe a government entity caused your accident and subsequent injuries, you must act quickly. In most circumstances, you only have 90 days within which you can file a claim against a New Jersey government entity or employee. Therefore, it is important to talk to a New Jersey personal injury lawyer as soon as possible.
Call Cordisco & Saile at 215-486-8196 to set up a free consultation and learn about your rights to recovery.