Can You Sue a County, City or School District in California?
When you have been hurt in a motor vehicle accident, a slip and fall, or any other accident, one of the first things your attorney will do is determine all the factors that potentially contributed to your accident, so that all potentially responsible parties can be held accountable. Often, though a private individual caused or contributed to the circumstances that led to your injury, there may be failures by a governmental entity. You may have fallen on poorly maintained public property, or your motor vehicle accident may have stemmed from a pothole or poorly maintained roadway. Unfortunately, when one of the potential defendants in a personal injury claim is a governmental body, the procedural rules, as well as the likelihood of actually recovering damages, are very different than when all parties are private individuals.
In California, as in all states, municipalities enjoy some levels of immunity from legal action. The state, cities, counties and school districts all qualify for some level of tort immunity in California, pursuant to what is known as the “Tort Claims Act.”
An Overview of Municipal Tort Claims Liability in California
The Tort Claims Act has broad scope, covering legal actions against local public entities, public employees and the state. The statute defines “local public entities” to include cities, counties and school districts, as well as any public agencies or authorities, political subdivisions or state corporations. Public employees include paid and unpaid workers at all levels. The state of California includes office holders, departments, offices and divisions of the state.
Even though the law is known as the Tort Claims Act, its scope is broader, including all claims for money or damages, whatever the legal basis for the action. The act does not cover lawsuits seeking some other form of redress than money, and federal civil rights violations are exempted.
The law specifically grants immunity to all qualified entities for any type of legal action not set forth in the act, i.e., all common law claims against a governmental entity have been eliminated and replaced with statutory claims. The most common claims filed under the law include:
- Actions for “vicarious liability”—Lawsuits against municipal entities based on the acts of omissions of their employees
- Actions for “tortious” conduct by a municipal body
Contact the Law Offices of J. Lewis & Associates
To discuss your legal needs with an experienced Riverside personal injury lawyer, contact our office online or call us toll-free at 1-800-228-0507. There is no charge for your initial consultation. Se Habla Espanol.