Can I sue the Florida State government if one of its employees injures me in a car accident, a slip and fall case or a general negligence case?

I receive a lot of calls seeking advise on car accidents, slip and falls or general negligence against the State of Florida or one of its subdivisions.  As a personal injury lawyer in Boca Raton (accident attorney in Miami, injury attorney in Kendall, injury lawyer in Westchester, accident lawyer in Coral Gables, personal injury attorney in Cutler Ridge, accident attorney in Aventura, accident lawyer in Miami Beach, injury lawyer in North Bay Village, personal injury attorney Hialeah), I handle many governmental cases and I write this blog entry as a very general summary of this particular area of law.  I encourage any specific questions regarding this topic via a phone call or email and I would be glad to answer any questions on this or any injury topic. 

Florida has adopted many parts of the common law (common law is the law from England).  One of these laws that were adopted is sovereign immunity, although it has been adopted in a limited fashion.  Sovereign immunity, generally speaking, is the doctrine that the sovereign or state cannot commit a legal wrong and is immune from civil suit or criminal prosecution hence the saying, “the king (or queen) can do no wrong.”  In Florida, some suits are allowed and some are disallowed, hence it is limited sovereign immunity.  Florida does not generally allow suits for general negligence, like cases against the State for car accidents, slip and falls cases and general negligence.  There are some other limitations which I discuss below.

Generally, there is a cap on what can be recovered from the sovereign in Florida.  From 1981 to date, that cap was for $100,000.00 per person and a total of $200,000.00 per occurrence.  The statute dealing with this law is section 768.28 of the Florida Statutes and I have pasted certain parts of the statute below.  Interestingly, recently in what is a victory for personal injury victims the legislature agreed to raise the sovereign immunity limits of compensation from $100,000.00 to $200,000.00 per person and from $200,000.00 to $300,000.00 per occurrence. In order to recover an amount greater than these statutory sovereign immunity limits, it is required that the victim convince the legislature to pass a “claims bill,” a process which places an undue burden, with little chance of success, upon the injured victim.  Interestingly, the law limits what a plaintiff personal injury attorney can charge for governmental cases to 25 percent whether the matter is resolved pre-suit or in litigation.

Please note that all cases are different and one single fact difference can make a significant difference is any case evaluation.  Please call Drucker Law Offices or another licensed Florida lawyer if you have questions regarding any case that happened to you or a loved one.

Every case is different and must be judged on its merits. It is a good start to get a complementary consultation regarding an accident case in case this happens to you. The advice contained in this blog is intended to be of general matter and not as to a specific situation, so pelase call a licensed Florida attorney, like the lawyer at Drucker Law Offices, to determine if and how Florida law applies to your case.

At Drucker Law Offices, the accident attorney in Boca Raton (injury lawyer in Hallandale, accident lawyer in Hollywood, personal injury attorney in Pembroke Pines, injury lawyer in Miramar, injury attorney in Plantation, accident attorney in Weston, accident lawyer in Tamarac, personal injury lawyer in Coral Springs, personal injury attorney in Parkland, accident attorney in Margate, accident lawyer in Lauderhill, injury lawyer in Deerfield, injury attorney in Pompano, personal injury lawyer in Ft. Lauderdale) handles governmental injury cases against the State of Florida and other municipalities and governmental bodies.  If you have been injured in an accident feel free to call the principal office in Boca Raton 561-483-9199, satellite office in Miami 305-981-1561, satellite office in Coral Springs 954-755-2120, satellite office in West Palm Beach 561-686-7070 or the satellite office in Boynton Beach 561-265-1976.

768.28  Waiver of sovereign immunity in tort actions; recovery limits; limitation on attorney fees; statute of limitations; exclusions; indemnification; risk management programs.

(1)  In accordance with s. 13, Art. X of the State Constitution, the state, for itself and for its agencies or subdivisions, hereby waives sovereign immunity for liability for torts, but only to the extent specified in this act. Actions at law against the state or any of its agencies or subdivisions to recover damages in tort for money damages against the state or its agencies or subdivisions for injury or loss of property, personal injury, or death caused by the negligent or wrongful act or omission of any employee of the agency or subdivision while acting within the scope of the employee’s office or employment under circumstances in which the state or such agency or subdivision, if a private person, would be liable to the claimant, in accordance with the general laws of this state, may be prosecuted subject to the limitations specified in this act. Any such action may be brought in the county where the property in litigation is located or, if the affected agency or subdivision has an office in such county for the transaction of its customary business, where the cause of action accrued. However, any such action against a state university board of trustees shall be brought in the county in which that university’s main campus is located or in the county in which the cause of action accrued if the university maintains therein a substantial presence for the transaction of its customary business.

(2)  As used in this act, “state agencies or subdivisions” include the executive departments, the Legislature, the judicial branch (including public defenders), and the independent establishments of the state, including state university boards of trustees; counties and municipalities; and corporations primarily acting as instrumentalities or agencies of the state, counties, or municipalities, including the Florida Space Authority.

(3)  Except for a municipality and the Florida Space Authority, the affected agency or subdivision may, at its discretion, request the assistance of the Department of Financial Services in the consideration, adjustment, and settlement of any claim under this act.

(4)  Subject to the provisions of this section, any state agency or subdivision shall have the right to appeal any award, compromise, settlement, or determination to the court of appropriate jurisdiction.

(5)  The state and its agencies and subdivisions shall be liable for tort claims in the same manner and to the same extent as a private individual under like circumstances, but liability shall not include punitive damages or interest for the period before judgment. Neither the state nor its agencies or subdivisions shall be liable to pay a claim or a judgment by any one person which exceeds the sum of $100,000 or any claim or judgment, or portions thereof, which, when totaled with all other claims or judgments paid by the state or its agencies or subdivisions arising out of the same incident or occurrence, exceeds the sum of $200,000. However, a judgment or judgments may be claimed and rendered in excess of these amounts and may be settled and paid pursuant to this act up to $100,000 or $200,000, as the case may be; and that portion of the judgment that exceeds these amounts may be reported to the Legislature, but may be paid in part or in whole only by further act of the Legislature. Notwithstanding the limited waiver of sovereign immunity provided herein, the state or an agency or subdivision thereof may agree, within the limits of insurance coverage provided, to settle a claim made or a judgment rendered against it without further action by the Legislature, but the state or agency or subdivision thereof shall not be deemed to have waived any defense of sovereign immunity or to have increased the limits of its liability as a result of its obtaining insurance coverage for tortious acts in excess of the $100,000 or $200,000 waiver provided above. The limitations of liability set forth in this subsection shall apply to the state and its agencies and subdivisions whether or not the state or its agencies or subdivisions possessed sovereign immunity before July 1, 1974.

                   *                                     *                                     *

(8)  No attorney may charge, demand, receive, or collect, for services rendered, fees in excess of 25 percent of any judgment or settlement.

(9)(a)  No officer, employee, or agent of the state or of any of its subdivisions shall be held personally liable in tort or named as a party defendant in any action for any injury or damage suffered as a result of any act, event, or omission of action in the scope of her or his employment or function, unless such officer, employee, or agent acted in bad faith or with malicious purpose or in a manner exhibiting wanton and willful disregard of human rights, safety, or property. However, such officer, employee, or agent shall be considered an adverse witness in a tort action for any injury or damage suffered as a result of any act, event, or omission of action in the scope of her or his employment or function. The exclusive remedy for injury or damage suffered as a result of an act, event, or omission of an officer, employee, or agent of the state or any of its subdivisions or constitutional officers shall be by action against the governmental entity, or the head of such entity in her or his official capacity, or the constitutional officer of which the officer, employee, or agent is an employee, unless such act or omission was committed in bad faith or with malicious purpose or in a manner exhibiting wanton and willful disregard of human rights, safety, or property. The state or its subdivisions shall not be liable in tort for the acts or omissions of an officer, employee, or agent committed while acting outside the course and scope of her or his employment or committed in bad faith or with malicious purpose or in a manner exhibiting wanton and willful disregard of human rights, safety, or property.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *