Written by attorney Edward Joel Lake

Filing a Premises Liability Claim for a Government Entity’s Liability

Injuries on government property can occur under a variety of circumstances, such as on school property or on a public sidewalk. Premises liability claims tend to be complicated. This is especially true when government liability applies.

Such cases may fall under the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA) if a federal government entity is liable. They would fall under applicable state law if a state or local government is liable. These laws typically provide some limited immunity from lawsuits for government entities, though exceptions do exist.

Types of Premises Liability Claims against a Government Entity

The following are just some examples of conditions that can cause injury and entitle the victim to file a claim:

  • pavement that is in disrepair;
  • staircase in disrepair;
  • cracked/crumbling sidewalks;
  • improper design of pedestrian ramp/roadway;
  • lead poisoning/asbestos exposure;
  • ceiling collapse/falling objects; and
  • elevator accidents.

As with any other type of injury claim, claimants must prove that a defect existed or something malfunctioned that caused injuries and damages. There can be other issues factored into this type of case such as whether there was knowledge of a dangerous condition and if the accused party exercised reasonable care. The basis for any premises liability claim against the government is negligence.

Filing a Premises Liability Claim against a Government Entity in New York

Claims against certain entities require that a notice of claim be filed directly with that entity. This includes the Board of Higher Education, New York Housing Authority, Battery Park City Authority, N.Y.C. Transit Authority and others.

Additionally, the state of New York Court of Claims has jurisdiction over certain authorities. It’s always best to check with an attorney about the proper channels to go through when filing a claim involving government liability.

It’s important to keep in mind that the timeframe for filing a claim against the government is usually much shorter than when one is filed against a non-government property owner. In a typical premises liability claim the claimant has two years. But in the case of a City of New York claim, a Notice of Claim must be filed within 90 days from the date of the incident causing injury. Failing to do so could prevent an injured person from seeking damages.

Proving a Premises Liability Claim

Establishing government liability can be very difficult. This will require gathering as much evidence as possible. One of the easiest ways to illustrate a dangerous condition is through pictures.

Let’s say someone fell down a set of concrete steps that had crumbled because of disrepair. It would be important to get a variety of shots, not only of the steps that were broken but the pieces of concrete that had fallen. Photographs can help preserve physical evidence of something that is broken or defective.

Statements from witnesses are another way to prove a premises liability claim. Those who saw what happened can support one’s allegation of not only the cause of the incident, but can testify regarding the injuries sustained as a result.

Claims against a government entity can be extremely complicated. And with a limited amount of time to pursue legal action, it’s important to contact an attorney as soon as possible. Speak with a lawyer at Gacovino, Lake & Associates to go over your claim and for help with your case.

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