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Florida Personal Injury Law: Government Immunity

By Orlando Personal Injury Attorney on May 4, 2010

Government immunity is precisely what it sounds like: the inability to file lawsuits against the government, government employees and government officials. This legal concept was developed to ensure that a state or federal government did not have to base policy decisions on the possible litigation of the outcome of their decisions. Imagine a world where the outcome of a lawsuit allowed an individual to control some or all of a government’s actions. It would be paralyzing, and government immunity partially protects counties, states, the federal government, courts, schools, police departments, legislatures and many other government agencies.

While government immunity does provide substantial protection against legal remedies, such as punitive damages, it does not provide total immunity from lawsuits. One can sue governments and various agencies under the following conditions:

•    When you wish to restrain the government in some way such as when a voting district is restructured or a zoning change threatens to change the character of a neighborhood.

•    When an agency or the employee of an agency abuses authority or acts beyond authority. Government immunity protects government employees from litigation for acts and omissions while performing their jobs, but not beyond those responsibilities.

•    When a municipality or other entity creates an exception for breaches of contract, civil rights litigation and other specific situations.

•    When someone working for the government is a private contractor.

•    When a court decides to abolish government immunity for a particular case.

•    When other situations arise, usually very specific, that inspires a court or other lawmaking body to waive government immunity.

In Florida and some other states, the law allows people to sue government employees if they commit a tort of some kind. A tort is an act that causes injury to someone in some way, and under Florida law, the state government is liable for the torts of its employees within certain limits. A few examples of these limits would include a person whose house burned down being unable to file a lawsuit against a fire department or a person being unable to sue the police department for failing to prevent theft of a boat. The only time that an individual can win a tort lawsuit against the government is when he or she can clearly show that the government owed them a special duty of some kind, above and beyond that owed to the general public.

Government immunity can be a very confusing legal concept as there are exceptions to the rules, but they are very situational. Orange County personal injury attorney James O. Cunningham places an emphasis on client education and receives questions about different aspects of government immunity on a regular basis. If you believe that you have legitimate grounds to file a lawsuit against a government, a government agency or a government employee, call Orlando personal injury attorney James O. Cunningham to schedule a free consultation. To schedule your consultation, call his law offices today at 888.425.2004.

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James O. Cunningham

James O. CunninghamSince 1977, personal injury lawyer James Cunningham has provided effective legal advocacy to people who are injured through the negligent actions of another person or entity throughout the Central Florida area. He fights to obtain recoveries for his clients’ physical and emotional pain and suffering and pursues his clients’ personal injury cases with a commitment to excellence and impeccable preparation.

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