Normally, when a Charlotte personal injury attorney meets with a new client, it’s because they want to sue somebody for damages. Sometimes they are looking to sue another driver after a motor vehicle accident. Other times they want to sue a property owner for injuries sustained in a slip and fall. However, every once in a while, our injury lawyers in Charlotte are asked if they can sue the city on a client’s behalf.
Usually, the client says they were hurt while on government property. Or they may have been hit by a government vehicle while walking across the street. Usually, clients tell us they don’t think they have a legal claim because you aren’t allowed to sue the city or state. While we understand why so many people think this, in North Carolina, it doesn’t work this way.
Here, we’ll discuss how civil liability and governmental immunity work in the State of North Carolina. We will also explain what your Charlotte personal injury attorney must do for you to collect damages. If you’ve been hurt by a government employee or on government property, you may still have a valid claim. Contact our office so you can schedule your free, initial consultation.
Are Cities and States Immune From Liability in Personal Injury Cases?
Many people believe that you aren’t allowed to sue the government. However, North Carolina and many other states waive this “sovereign immunity” against personal injury lawsuits in certain circumstances.
Based on the “North Carolina Tort Claims Act,” your Charlotte personal injury attorney can sue the government if a government employee or agent is negligent and causes you can harm while acting within the scope of their duties.
Thanks to the North Carolina Tort Claims Act, Your Injury Lawyer in Charlotte Can Sue
Normally, if you are going to sue a governmental agency in North Carolina, you have to do so through the North Carolina Industrial Commission. However, any city within the state is allowed to waive immunity and allow citizens to sue the city directly for damages. Charlotte is the only city in North Carolina that meets the specific criteria required by the North Carolina Tort Claims Act.
In order to waive municipal immunity, the city must have more than 500,000 residents. Since Charlotte is the only one with more than half a million citizens, they qualify. This means that you do not have to file your lawsuit with the Industrial Commission. Instead, you can sue the city through normal legal channels.
Your Charlotte Personal Injury Attorney Must Still Prove Negligence
You are allowed to sue the city for any injuries sustained on government property or sustained at the hands of a government employee. However, your injury lawyer must still prove negligence. This means that your attorney must demonstrate the following:
- The city owed you a duty of care.
- They breached this duty.
- You were injured.
- Your injuries were caused by a breach of this duty.
For the most part, it isn’t hard to prove three of these elements. It is a given that the city and municipal government owes you a duty of care. They must keep their buildings clean and safe. It will also be rather easy for your Charlotte personal injury attorney to prove that you were injured. Unless something intervened, it will also be presumed that your injuries were caused by the defendant’s breach.
The hardest part of the case will be proving that the city did, in fact, breach its duty. The courts will usually err on the side of the city. Your injury lawyer in Charlotte will have to submit specific evidence showing that there was a breach on the part of the defendant.
There Is a Limit to How Much You Can Collect in a Lawsuit Against the City
One of the other things outlined by the North Carolina Tort Claims Act is that your damages are limited to $1 million. This means that, even if your Charlotte personal injury attorney can prove damages in excess of $3 million, you will not receive any more than the $1 million. Unless there’s a private third party that you can also name in your lawsuit, you will not be able to pursue full damages.
Your Charlotte Personal Injury Attorney Will Ensure Your Case is Filed Properly
When it comes to suing the City of Charlotte, or the State of North Carolina, there are very strict rules you must follow. Normally, you would be able to sue someone for personal injury at the local county civil courthouse. And, for lawsuits against the City of Charlotte, that is where your injury lawyer in Charlotte will file your papers.
However, if you are looking to sue the State, you must file your claim with the North Carolina Industrial Commission. This is the same governing body that handles workers’ compensation claims in North Carolina.
You also must file your claim within three years. If you miss this deadline, your case will be dismissed, and you won’t be able to refile it. Your personal injury attorney will make sure your claim is not only filed on time, but also with the right agency.
We offer new clients a free, initial consultation. If you have recently been injured at the hands of a city or government worker, you may have a viable legal claim. The same is true if you are hurt while on government or municipal property.
Since your first meeting with our Charlotte injury attorneys is free, you have nothing to lose.