In some personal injury cases, the victim may need to take civil action against a municipality for negligence. While proving negligence is the same, there are two key differences that victims need to bear in mind when attempting to sue a municipality. The statute of limitations for doing so is typically much shorter than other civil cases against a person or entity, and there may be government-mandated limits on how much money a victim may receive in damages.
Types of Municipal Accidents
Most municipal accident cases are similar to other personal injury claims, but certain other considerations need to be taken if a municipal entity caused an injury.
- Slip and fall injuries – Any slip and fall injury that occurs on publicly maintained roads, walkways, sidewalks, or public transportation hubs such as subways may necessitate a claim against the municipality. A damaged or dangerous sidewalk may be cause for a municipal accident claim.
- Public park hazards – A municipality must maintain all public parks properly and may be responsible for injuries that result from dangerous conditions or poorly maintained structures.
- Motor vehicle accidents – Anyone operating a vehicle under the direction or authority of the municipality or performing their job duties as a municipal worker needs to follow the rules of the road. This extends to anyone operating construction equipment or heavy machinery that damages a person’s property or causes injury.
- Public transportation accidents – Buses, trolleys, subways, and municipally owned railways must be kept free of hazards, safely operated, and adequately maintained.
- Failures in roadway design or maintenance – The municipality is responsible for maintaining roadway markings and traffic signals to decrease the likelihood of collisions and injuries.
- Premises liability for public buildings and structures – The municipality may be considered negligent if its facilities or other public structures are poorly maintained or hazardous to visitors.
Public safety regulations exist to ensure the health and wellbeing of citizens, and any municipality that fails to meet safety standards needs to be held accountable. As with any other personal injury claim, in order to establish negligence on the part of the defendant, the victim must prove three things:
- The defendant (in these cases, the municipality) owed the victim and the public a duty of care to ensure the safety and well-being of everyone on public property.
- They breached this duty in some capacity.
- Their breach of duty directly resulted in the victim’s injuries.
What Can Victims Do?
A personal injury case against a municipality must be initiated quickly, as the statute of limitations for bringing legal actions against government bodies is much shorter than standard. The limit of potential damages the victim may collect also poses challenges if their injuries and resulting expenses are extensive. The right legal team will make an enormous difference in the outcome of any case filed against a municipality.
The attorneys of Douglas, Haun & Heidemann have experience with every type of personal injury case, and our firm has represented clients in the Springfield and Bolivar, Mo., area for better than 100 years, since our founding in 1912. In some situations, multiple parties may be responsible for your injury if you’ve been in a municipal accident. We know how to navigate these tricky cases and ensure no avenue for compensation is forgotten. We work to ensure our clients’ rights are protected and that any negligent parties responsible for an injury are held accountable.
If you believe a municipality is responsible for an injury you’ve suffered, you must act quickly to meet the strict time limits for bringing legal action against it. Reach out to our legal experts if you want to begin reviewing your case or have any questions about municipal accident law in Springfield, Mo.