We live in a society where we pay taxes for our roads, our homes and so many other things. We do this to give the money to the government of California to provide a safe place to us to live in. However if the government is not doing this or is putting us at risk, sometimes they need to be held legally responsible. This is a situation where an private individual can sue the government of California.
If you have ever driven in Southern California you know how bad the roads are. If you are driving in a sports car, it literally feels like you are “off-roading” at times. Sometimes when the roads are wet, car accidents happen. Have you ever wondered if the road was in better shape, could that have prevented the accident? The answer is sometimes yes.
The California Tort Claims Act
To sue the government of California you need to file the lawsuit under the California Tort Claims Act. This sounds scary and complex but it is easier than one may think. The California Tort Claims Act is governed by Government Code 810-996.6 and says that in order to sue the government or a government entity you must meet certain requirements.
The difference between this structure and a regular lawsuit is that you have to notify the government before filing the lawsuit, whereas in any other lawsuit you can just go ahead and file. This is done in order to give the government an opportunity to investigate the case and potentially settle the case.
What are the deadlines to sue the government of California?
There are very strict deadlines when suing the government of California. Generally a personal injury case would be a two-year stature of limitations. When suing the government, a claim must be filed within 6 months. One tip to keep in mind is that this also applies to government entities. A school that is run by the government or that receives a large amount of government funding, for example the University of California schools, would fall under this umbrella.
If it is a breach of contract or a damage to real property case then you have one year to file a claim. If you do not file the lawsuit within this amount of time then you are barred from filing it. There are a couple small exceptions but they rarely apply.
How to file a claim against the government of California
Generally the best way to file a claim with against the government is to file it with the Office of Risk Management (California Department of General Services). On their website they have claims forms that can be used to start the process. Once the claim is filed the government has 45 days to respond to the claim. If they do not respond, then on the 45 day date you have a right to sue them in court. According to the government code, you have 6 months to file the lawsuit within 6 months of the date that the investigation has ended or the 45 day date, whichever comes first.
Do I need a lawyer to sue the government of California?
Anyone can file a lawsuit on his or her own behalf without an attorney. If you file a lawsuit you case will be handled in the nearest superior court location. Although anyone can file a lawsuit on their own behalf, we always recommend hiring a civil attorney. These types of lawsuits can be very data intensive sometimes with thousands of pages being sent back and forth through the attorneys and hundreds if not thousands of dollars spent on copying and shipping costs alone. These can be stressful cases and we do not recommend you going at them alone.