In California, when a slip and fall injury accident occurs on government property, special legal rules apply. Some examples of government property include public parks, city sidewalks, federal buildings, state buildings, military out posts or military shopping centers, public transportation property, and city buses or other similar public or common carrier transports. The federal, California state government, or city government may bear the legal responsibility for personal injuries incurred on the premises (land or area). Some slip and fall cases may also be covered by either the Federal Tort Claims Act or by other similar state tort claims acts, and you must not forget that certain strict timeframes apply and legal action must be brought within those strict time frames. For example, if you had a slip and fall accident and the at-fault party was a private party or entity, then you would have up to two years from the date of the accident to either settle your injury case, or file a lawsuit to protect your legal rights. However, with a slip and fall or any premise liability injury on government property in California, this time frame can be as short as six (6) months!
What you Have to Prove to Sue the Government in your Slip & Fall Case
The Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA) has been adopted in California. As a consequence, you will now be able to sue the government if you can prove:
- 1. that the slip and fall accident was caused by the negligence of a government employee (in the broad sense) acting within the scope of his or her authority;
- 2. that the government had a duty towards the injured person in the slip and fall;
- 3. and that this duty was breached by a dangerous situation, which the government knew or should have known, that caused the slip and fall injury to occur.
There are, however, limits to the government's liability, the most important being the discretionary function exception.
Furthermore, claims filed are solely to be prosecuted under the FTCA legal framework, which is quite different than a suit brought against a private company or individual. So as you can see, it can be quite complicated - also different rules apply within the above context in terms of time frames. I have had different statute of limitations with government claims that range as short as 6 months to 2 years! Each case is different and you need good legal counsel!
If you have been injured in California in a slip and fall accident and it occurred on what you believe to be government property, or you are just not sure, then give me a call for a free and private legal consult at (619) 813-7955 - or you can grab my FREE book on California slip and fall injuries for more information located on this website!