Sovereign immunity is based on the English common concept that the government cannot be sued because “the king can do no wrong.” But it’s not just the king. The king’s immunity stretches to the palace and the grounds, to the guy who cuts the royal grass, or washes the kingly car, or sells food at his majesty’s alma mater, to the Emergency Rooms and Hospitals the King deems appropriate and anyone remotely a servant of the King’s Government. Basically, City, County, State and Federal Government has hurdles a lawyer must jump to maintain your case.
If a lifeguard runs you over or a police officer writes down the wrong address and breaks in your house and injures you during your resistance, if a garbage truck rear-ends you or a teacher abuses a student- the government decides if you are allowed to sue and then limits recovery to $50,000, $100,000 or $200,000 or the like, depending on the State.
It wasn’t the initial rule in the United States. In fact, quite the contrary is true. America was founded on the concept of government accountability to citizens. Governmental Immunity was adopted when Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes declared in 1907, “A sovereign is exempt from suit [because] there can be no legal right as against the authority that makes the law on which the right depends.” Because it makes the law it is not subject to it- sound fair? A 1945 Supreme Court opinion declared that sovereign immunity is “embodied in the Constitution.”
However, neither law professors, nor private citizens victimized by the government have ever been able to find precisely where in the Constitution this doctrine is “embodied.” Even the basic principle’s espoused in Marbury v. Madison in 1803, held, “the very essence of civil liberty certainly consists in the right of every individual to claim the protection of the laws, whenever he receives an injury.”
Pursuant to Florida’s Sovereign Immunity Statute § 768.28, the State of Florida and its political subdivisions, such as cities and counties, has limited its liability for damages under the sovereign immunity statute such that an injured consumer may recover up to a maximum amount of damages of $200,000, and potentially another $100,000 if there are dependants. That’s it. It was just raised on October 1, 2011 from $100,000 and $200,000 respectively. If you have suffered catastrophic personal injury in Florida due to a negligence or carelessness of any State, County, or city worker, and further, even if your medical bills alone exceed $200,000, the most you can recover from the State, County, or City responsible is $200,000 and possibly another $100,000 for your dependents.
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If the negligence of another party can be proved, the injured party may be entitled to monetary compensation from the party at fault. And oftentimes, insurance covers the loss.
You may be able to recover:
Diminution of Value of Property
Past Medical Expenses
Future Medical Expenses
Money Spent on Care and Treatment
Money Lost because of Injury
Compensation for Pain
Compensation for Disability
Compensation for Loss of Capacity for Enjoyment of Life
Compensation for Physical Impairment and Loss of Use
Compensation for Scarring or Disfigurement
Loss of Earnings / Wage Loss
Loss of Capacity to Earn
Damages to Spouse
Damages to Children
Get to a doctor and document your injuries. Not only does being proactive help your health, but insurance carriers and their lawyers always look to use evidence against you- how long you took to get to a doctor, what you complained about or didn’t complain about and they will comb through your records in painful detail. Go to the doctor, be honest and detailed.
Fill out any available accident reports and police reports. Ask for a copy. Then, call your insurance carrier and make a claim. Be careful what you say. All too often, injury victims will say they are “fine” or “not that bad” or otherwise be polite and that will haunt then if their injuries take a turn for the worse. The ER will only really tell you if you have broken bones or major issues, but go and be honest. Hospital emergency rooms tend to leave the bulging discs, herniated discs, shoulder tears and the like to later treating doctors.
Many of our clients are hurting, struggling and hoping they get better, but aren’t. You get one shot at recovery. Lawyers must make sure the insurance companies are acting fairly. John worked for eight years defending these claims for these companies and big businesses and could write a book about ways they use your desire to be fair and reasonable against you. He now solely works for injury victims like you.
While all lawyers are allowed to advertise and anyone can basically handle a personal injury case, only Board Certified Civil Trial Lawyers are allowed to identify themselves as an “expert” or as “specialist” in this area. Certification is the highest level of recognition by The Florida Bar of the competency and experience of attorneys in the area by the Supreme Court of Florida. It also means the lawyer is known for trials- pushing beyond low offers by defendants, passed a peer review and passed a tough exam. Most cases do not get that far, but it is good to have a lawyer with all of the tools in their arsenal.
Insurance carriers try to negotiate every dollar they can, because every $100 means millions in the end to their Board of Directors. Attorneys matter. Defendants and their carriers change their game plan when an experienced lawyer is involved. For that reason – and the misinformation by TV lawyers and referral services- is why people should select lawyers carefully. Also, make sure it is the lawyer who shows up to meet with you and not a mere investigator. You are haring a lawyer and deserve their time. Also, ask for sample closing costs. Some lawyers charge for faxes, phone calls, scanning, postage, “in house courier” charges and even interest in these charges.
Because of the economy, more lawyers are jumping into personal injury and should stick to what they know. Personal injury law requires knowledge about medical science and biomechanics (the forces on a body in a wreck or a fall) far greater and more specific than you’d think. The other side has doctors and millions on their side to say nothing is wrong or fight the claim.
We invite you to review our verdicts, our accolades and awards and what clients have to say about us and give us a call for a free consultation where our lawyers will sit down with you personally. John represents clients in Florida, Georgia and Alabama with passion and compassion. He can be emailed at [email protected] or call us at (904) 444-4444.