How to Sue a City For Negligence

If you have been injured due to a city’s negligence, you could be entitled to compensation. However, suing a city for negligence isn’t easy. In order to prove negligence, you have to show that the city had a duty of care which they did not uphold. You also have to prove that you were injured and that the city’s breach of duty was the cause of your injuries. You’ll need a personal injury lawyer who is experienced in bringing this type of suit forward.

Personal injury claims are complicated, but especially claims against a city. Cities, counties, and other governments can set the rules under which they are held liable for causing injuries or property damage. This results in most municipalities having set forth strict procedures a claimant must follow in order to get compensation for an injury.

Additionally, North Carolina operates on the contributory negligence principle which says that if a person contributes in any way to their injuries, they are not entitled to compensation. In effect, if another party is responsible 99% for your injuries, and you are responsible 1%, you are still not entitled to any compensation because you had some contributory fault for your injuries.
We wanted to give you details on preparing a negligence claim against a city if you find you are in this situation.

Filing a Notice of Claim

Before you can file a lawsuit for negligence, you must file a notice of claim. State law determines the information that must be included in the notice of claim. Given the fact that lawsuits against cities are commonly denied, you need to be sure your notice of claim is filed exactly as it should be. This is where an experienced personal injury attorney can help save you future headaches.

Generally, the notice must include:

  • Name and contact information for all persons involved in the accident
  • Detailed description of where, when, and how the accident happened
  • Description of the extent of injury
  • Amount of damages you are seeking

The notice of claim must be filed in a specified amount of time after the accident or injury, typically 30 to 180 days.
After you have submitted the claim, the city has a certain number of days to either deny the claim, settle the claim, or not take any action. If your claim is either denied or no action is taken, you can then file a lawsuit.

Preparing a Lawsuit Against the City

More often than not, the city will deny the claim. However, the city may choose to settle with you rather than engage in a long and complicated lawsuit. To make a case for negligence against the city if they deny your claim, you (the injured party) will need to be able to establish:

  • The city’s duty of care
  • Breach of the duty
  • Proof that the breach of duty caused an injury
  • Bonafide injury

You will need to gather as much evidence as possible to support the case. Evidentiary material includes witness statements, photographic evidence, medical records, medical bills, reports and testimony from treating physicians.

Proving Duty of Care

Being able to prove that the city had a duty of care can be one of the most difficult parts of the negligence suit. There are some situations where a municipality is immune from suit for the negligence of its employees when they are performing functions that are absent a waiver of immunity.

As an example of such, let’s say a pedestrian, who is jaywalking with headphones on, is injured when a police officer hits the pedestrian while responding to a 911 call. In this case the plaintiff probably can’t maintain a claim against the officer or the city because the municipality’s immunity holds. But if the plaintiff can prove that the police officer was on duty and driving recklessly, the city may not be shielded due to immunity.

There are many factors that can be involved in determining whether or not a city can claim immunity. These are dependent on the facts of the specific case and the law in North Carolina.

Speak to a Personal Injury Lawyer Today

If you think you have been injured by a city’s duty of care breach, you need the expertise of a personal injury attorney. Attorney Hank Doyle has over 25 years of experience and serves Raleigh, Cary, Wake Forest, and surrounding areas. Call us at (919) 228-4487 or complete the form below.

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