Why You Need an Attorney If You Want to Sue a Government Agency

Why You Need an Attorney If You Want to Sue a Government AgencyWhen it comes to suing a government agency, such as the city of Chicago, it is important to understand the legal landscape in which you are operating. Government agencies, including cities, states, and the federal government, have various forms of immunity that protect them from lawsuits. This immunity can make it difficult for individuals to recover damages for harm caused by a government agency. However, with the help of an experienced attorney, it is possible to navigate these legal hurdles and hold the government accountable.

Can I sue a city or the state for damages if I get hurt?

The short answer is “yes, but.”

If a state agency or one of its employees is responsible for the harm you sustained, you can file a claim – but it’s not necessarily easy. As with all things involving governments, there’s a lot of red tape and draconian rules, and navigating them can be a challenge.

But there’s good news, and it’s this: Gainsberg Injury and Accident Lawyers has a lot of experience successfully suing government agencies. We’ve secured substantial awards for our clients in FELA claims and handled CTA bus accidents. We have secured represented and obtained settlements for students injured at school. We also represented a woman who was assaulted in a CHA building. So even though these types of claims are tough, we’ve taken them on and won before.

How does Illinois state government immunity work?

First things first: when you want to sue a state or city, you need to know that it’s not like suing a person or an insurance company. Most government agencies enjoy immunity from civil lawsuits.

Under the State Lawsuit Immunity Act, it is not possible to name Illinois as a defendant or party in a lawsuit, except under certain limited circumstances outlined in the Court of Claims Act, the Illinois Public Labor Relations Act, or the State Officials and Employees Ethics Act. Due to these limitations, it is important to seek legal advice from an attorney regarding when it is possible to bring a case against Illinois or City or a local government unit like the city of Chicago in court.

About the Court of Claims Act

This court system is designed to hear claims from private individuals or businesses against the state or its numerous branches. The Court of Claims Act covers a wide range of legal matters, including:

  • Claims from private individuals or businesses against the state or its numerous branches
  • Workers' compensation claims involving state employees
  • Contracts with the state
  • Torts caused by the state
  • Claims by individuals who served in prison unjustly
  • Claims under the Line of Duty Compensation Act
  • Issues involving funds deposited with Illinois under the Motor Vehicle Financial Responsibility Act
  • Damages caused by escaped inmates

The state of Illinois is generally immune from lawsuits, so it is crucial to seek legal advice on when the state can be sued.

What if I want to sue the City of Chicago?

When it comes to filing a claim against the city of Chicago, the Local Government and Government Employees Tort Immunity Act will govern your case. This act imposes significant limitations on when you can file a lawsuit against a local government or agency. Unlike the Court of Claims Act, which applies to claims against the state, the Tort Immunity Act is concerned with cases against local governments.

Under the Tort Immunity Act, you can't sue for most cases of ordinary negligence. Instead, you have to show that the government entity or its employee's behavior amounted to “willful and wanton misconduct.” This means that the actions were intended to cause harm or showed a conscious disregard for the safety of other people or property. For example, if a local police officer uses excessive force or engages in brutality, it may be considered willful and wanton misconduct.

It's important to note that filing a claim against a local government or agency can be more complex than filing against the state. However, with the help of an experienced personal injury attorney, you can navigate the legal process and ensure that your claim is filed properly.

Which entities are considered a part of the state?

It is also important to understand which entities are considered a part of the state for the purpose of immunity. Generally speaking, state agencies, boards, commissions, and departments are considered part of the state and are entitled to immunity. Local governments, such as cities, are also generally considered part of the state for purposes of immunity.

How long do I have to file claims against a government entity?

If you have been harmed by the actions of a government agency in Illinois, including the city of Chicago, it is crucial to act quickly to protect your right to recovery. The statute of limitations for filing a claim against a government agency is often only one year from the date the claim accrued. (There is an exception for medical malpractice cases against County doctors or ambulance personnel; those cases must be filed within two years.) Failing to meet this deadline can result in your claim being thrown out, and you may lose the opportunity to recover damages.

Navigating the legal landscape when suing a government agency can be complex, which is why it is essential to work with an experienced lawyer. An experienced Chicago attorney can help you understand the laws, immunities, and limitations that apply to your case. They can also ensure that you meet all necessary filing requirements and deadlines and gather evidence to support your claim.

If you have suffered harm due to the actions of a government agency in Illinois, don't hesitate to seek legal representation. The team at Gainsberg Injury and Accident Lawyers has extensive experience in government liability cases and can help you navigate the legal process with confidence. Contact us today at our Chicago office for a free consultation and take the first step toward protecting your rights and seeking the compensation you deserve.