Sovereign Immunity: What is It and How Can It Affect Your Personal Injury Case?

Sovereign immunity is a term that few people may have heard other than lawyers.  You may never hear the term until you are injured in a situation involving someone employed by the government.

However, sovereign immunity is a legal issue that can raise its sometimes ugly head in personal injury lawsuits against the government or lawsuits involving injuries or deaths caused by government employees.  It is very important because it can determine who you can sue, how much you can recover, and what procedures may govern your personal injury case.

What Does Sovereign Immunity Mean and How Can It Affect My Personal Injury Case?

“Sovereign immunity” is a legal rule that dates back to Great Britain, where private individuals could not sue the king, even if they were injured by his acts or decisions. Eventually the law developed so that citizens could sue the government, but only in limited circumstances.  This legal concept was imported to the United States along with the English legal system.  Therefore, many states (Florida included) and the federal government have chosen to waive their ability to be sued for injuries caused by the government or its employees.

In Florida, Florida Statutes section 768.28 governs claims filed against the state or its agencies. Under this law, Florida can be sued for certain torts, or circumstances in which its employees injure or kill someone.  However, the statute does impose limitations on the kinds of claims that injured parties can bring.  Government employees cannot be held personally liable for harm, unless they caused it intentionally.  Instead, all claims must be filed against the government agency that employs them.  Damages in cases against the state also are limited to $200,000, or $300,000 total if the claim is against multiple state entities. Additional limitations apply to cases filed against law enforcement officers/agencies or public health agencies or hospitals.  In addition, if you are injured by the state government in Florida, you must put the state agency involved in the claim on notice of the claim, in writing, within three years, and no lawsuit can be filed until after a 180 day investigation period, unless the claim is formally denied.

How Does Sovereign Immunity Work in Florida?

By means of an example, say that you are involved in a motor vehicle accident with a state employee.  You are entitled under Section 768.28 to file a lawsuit against the state, but your maximum recovery would be limited to $200,000.  In addition, your lawyer would be required to notify the state agency that employed the driver who injured you prior to filing a lawsuit.  The state agency would then have 180 days to investigate your claim and decide whether to formally deny the claim or attempt to resolve it informally.

 Contact the Experienced Personal Injury Lawyers of Lytal Reiter if You Have Been Injured in an Accident Involving a Government Employee

 There are many pitfalls for the unwary when it comes to suing the government.  The experienced personal injury attorneys at Lytal, Reiter, Smith, Ivey & Fronrath have represented hundreds of individuals who have been injured or killed by a government actor in Florida.  Our attorneys are very familiar with the process laid out for suits against the state in Florida and are careful to ensure that we adhere exactly to the required procedures when our client has been injured or killed by a government employee.  If you or a loved one have been injured or killed by a government employee, contact our office at (561) 655-1990 or (561) 655-1990 to schedule a free consultation today.

Personal Injury Attorneys in West Palm Beach

About Lytal, Reiter, Smith, Ivey & Fronrath

Conveniently located in West Palm Beach for 27 years, Lytal, Reiter, Smith, Ivey & Fronrath, LLP concentrates in Personal Injury, Wrongful death, Medical Malpractice, Product Liability and Auto accidents. At Lytal, Reiter, Smith, Ivey & Fronrath, we specialize in helping victims and their families get fair compensation for injuries caused by the negligence or recklessness of others. Our main areas of practice include personal injury, wrongful death, auto accidents, product liability, medical malpractice, and premise liability. We provide each client with the highest quality representation from a top Florida accident and injury lawyer. Call for a free consultation today at (561) 655-1990 or visit our website.


Lytal, Reiter, Smith, Ivey & Fronrath
515 N Flagler Dr, 10th Floor
West Palm Beach
Florida, FL 33401
(561) 655-1990


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