California residents may be aware that if they are injured on another’s property through no fault of their own, they may hold the property owner responsible. It depends on what the owner’s duty of care was to the victims and how the owner breached that duty. These are just the basics of premises liability law as matters become more complicated when one is injured on government property.
For example, one may trip on a cracked public sidewalk or be harmed because of traffic changes caused by roadwork. Whatever government entity is responsible for the sidewalk or for the roadwork project may be held liable, but victims will first need to understand that there are limitations.
The doctrine of sovereign immunity gives government entities immunity from liability and, therefore, from lawsuits. In 1946, however, the passing of the Federal Tort Claims Act allowed individuals to sue the federal government whenever the negligence of a federal employee, acting within the scope or his or her employment, caused property damage, injuries or death.
States now apply the FTCA to local government entities to varying degrees. Some limit the number of government-related premises liability cases by holding the entities to a low standard of care. Standards can differ, too, based on whether victims paid to use the property they were injured on.
Perhaps victims were injured as a result of a “special defect,” such as a tree knocked down in a storm that the local government failed to remove in time. Those who believe that they have a valid premises liability case may want to see an attorney who knows all about the relevant laws. The attorney may take on negotiations for victims, taking the case to court if a reasonable settlement covering medical bills and other legitimate losses cannot be achieved.