Can I sue the Government?

Often a governmental agency, office or department is responsible for causing an injury. The scenarios in which a governmental agency, office or department can negligently cause injuries are too numerous to list, but they can vary from school bus accidents, transit authority accidents, allowing abuse to occur at a publically owned facility such as a group home for the handicapped, permitting a nuisance to remain on a public road that causes an automobile accident, or permitting a student to be subjected to excessive harassment by other students.

However, governmental agencies can be "immune" from lawsuits. This doctrine, called governmental or sovereign immunity, is an outdated legal doctrine that dates back to early English law, which held that the sovereign or King was immune from suit because the "the King can do no wrong." This outdated legal rule has been partially preserved in America, despite the fact that we have never been a country that has been governed by Kings. Still, the government can be found to be immune from suit based upon the "soverign immunity" doctrine. The good news is that there are ways to get around the sovereign immunity rule and to successfully sue the government. For example, governmental agencies can be liable when their employees negligently cause an auto accident. However, it is much more difficult to sue when an auto accident is caused by a policeman, fireman or ambulance driver who caused the accident while responding to an emergency.

Governmental agencies can be liable when they engage in activities that are typically conducted by private businesses. These activities are referred to as "proprietary" activities. The line between a "proprietary" and governmental activity is not always clear, but there are many appellate court and Ohio Supreme Court opinions that help attorneys determine when a governmental agency has engaged in a purely private activity as opposed to a governmental activity. When the government engages in a private or "proprietary" activity, the immunity rule is much easier to overcome.

If you or a family member has been injured by a governmental agency or because of the neglect of a governmental agency, we can help. Please call us to schedule an appointment.

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