Claims Against Public Entities in New Brunswick

Broadly speaking, New Jersey state law grants “sovereign immunity” from civil liability to entities, agencies, and employees of any  government entity (state, county, or local). However, there are specific situations that serve as exceptions to this rule, under which a government employee and/or the agency that employs them may be held financially responsible for damages stemming from an accident.

If you want to pursue a civil lawsuit after an accident involving a government authority, retaining skilled legal may be essential to improving your chances of a positive case outcome. An experienced personal injury lawyer who has handled claims against public entities in New Brunswick successfully before could explain how state law governs these unique claims and what strategic approach to litigation would best serve your interests.

When Could the Government Bear Liability for an Injury?

While Title 59 of the New Jersey Revised Statutes—known as the New Jersey Tort Claims Act—establishes sovereign immunity for government entities in most situations, New Jersey Revised Statutes §59-2-2 states that government employees may bear liability for injuries arising from negligence “within the scope of [their] employment.” In other words, if a government employee performs a job-related duty in a reckless or careless way, anyone who suffers injury as a result could file suit against that employee and/or their employer the same way they could against a likewise negligent private citizen.

For example, if a government employee speeds while driving a government-owned vehicle to or from a work site and causes an automobile accident as a result, they cannot claim “sovereign immunity” from civil liability, since a private citizen would be liable for a car wreck under the same circumstances. Additionally, any injury stemming from a dangerous condition on government-owned property could allow for a premises liability claim against a public entity in New Brunswick, if the property’s managers knew of the hazard but did not fix it or warn visitors of its existence.

Limitations on Recovery from Public Entity Defendants

As per N.J.S.A. §59:9-2, individual who pursue civil litigation against government entities can only recover for whatever damages their insurance does not cover, if applicable. This same statute also establishes that government entities can only bear liability for “pain and suffering damages” if an injured plaintiff suffered a permanent disability or disfigurement that necessitated more than $3,600 in medical expenses.

On top of that, N.J.S.A. §59:8-4 sets out various requirements for what information a claim against a public entity must provide, including:

  • The claimant’s name and address
  • The name(s) of the government employee who allegedly caused the claimant’s injuries
  • A “general description” of the claimant’s compensable losses, as well as the date, location, and circumstances under which the incident in question occurred
  • An estimation of total compensation the plaintiff intends to demand for their damages

Finally, anyone who intends to file suit against a government entity or an associated entity must file their initial claim form within 90 days of the accident in question. Notably, this is a much shorter window of time to build a case than what the standard civil statute of limitations provides for typical personal injury claims.

Talk to a New Brunswick Attorney About Claims Against Public Entities

Although it is possible to file suit against a government entity and related agencies for personal injuries under certain circumstances, there are still numerous additional rules and restrictions on these types of cases that make them incredibly difficult to pursue alone. If you want to successfully pursue civil compensation from a state or local government entity, you should strongly consider seeking assistance from skilled legal counsel first.

Once retained, a knowledgeable personal injury lawyer could help you make the most of your claim against a public entity in New Brunswick. Call today to learn more.

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