If you have been financially or physically injured by a public entity, such as a transit authority, begin the process of litigation by contacting an attorney. If this has happened to you you may be wondering how you can sue a public entity. The Law Office of Johann Hall can help you determine whether you have a right to receive damages and the possible amount of your damages.
California is a pure comparative fault state. An injured party can recover even if he or she is 99 percent at fault. The injured party’s recovery is reduced by his or her degree of fault. For example, if you were 20% at fault for an accident, you would receive 80% of the damages you suffered.
Next, file a claim with the agency you believe to be responsible.[i] Filing a claim is a mandatory precursor to filing a civil lawsuit.[ii] This law is stated in California Government Code (CGC) § 911.30, which is part of the California Tort Claims Act. Obtain the form directly from the agency.
At times, you may contact an agency and its staff will refuse to answer questions about whether it is part of a city or county. An attorney can help you with such inquiries. There are agencies such as rural fire protection districts that appear to be part of a city or county but operate independently. When in doubt, submit claims to all agencies you think are responsible.
Remember, in order to successfully sue a public entity, you should have your attorney review the claim form to make sure you do not have any errors or omissions. If you do not have the required information because another public entity failed to provide it to you, state this in a neutral way.
For a claim of personal property damage or personal injury, including wrongful death, you must file the claim within six months of the date of the damage, injury, or death. For a claim of breach of contract or damage to real property, you must file the claim within one year. If the entity rejects the claim, you must file a civil suit within six months of receipt of the rejection letter.[iii]
The statute of limitations for a civil lawsuit differs depending on the type of suit and facts surrounding you and the case. For example, if you lived outside California for a period after your date of injury, you may have longer to file the suit. Generally, for a personal injury lawsuit, you have two years from the date of the injury or the date of discovery of the injury. For an oral contract, you have two years from the date the contract is broken. For a written contract, you have four years from the date the contract is broken.
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