American Association for Justice
Greater Lowell

Cases Against the Government

The federal government has approximately 2 million employees. In Massachusetts, there are approximately 140,000 state and local government employees. When all those employees interact with the general public, there are bound to be accidents, injuries, and negligence.

Respondeat Superior

Whether it’s an employee working for a company or a police officer working for the town, an employer is generally responsible for the negligence of its employees. This is called Respondeat Superior.

There are certain exceptions. If an employee is not performing a task for the benefit of the employer, the employer will not be responsible. If an employee goes out for lunch during the work day and gets into a car accident, the worker’s company won’t be responsible for injuries he causes. But, if the employee is a salesman on his/her way from one customer to another customer, the company would be responsible for the damage.

In cases with government employees, it’s important to determine what the employee was doing, where he was going, and whether he/she was on the clock.

Sovereign Immunity

Governments cannot be sued like you can sue a person or a corporation. This is due to the doctrine of Sovereign Immunity. This legal theory comes from the English doctrine that you cannot sue the king. This was incorporated in the United States at both the state and federal level, making cities, towns, states and the federal government immune to lawsuits.

Over time, people who were wronged by the government at various levels sought redress. Therefore, both state and federal legislators passed laws that allowed the government to be sued on a limited basis.

Chapter 84 Cases

These are cases where there is a defect in a road or sidewalk that is maintained by a state or local government. These cases are very difficult.

First, there is a $5,000.00 limit on recovery. While that might seem like a lot, that $5,000.00 would also have to cover attorneys fees and expenses.

Second, there is a 30 day notice period. That means that unless you tell the state or local government within 30 days that you were injured, your case will be dismissed.

Third, there has to be proof that the government knew about a defective road or sidewalk.

Unless you can prove that a person or private company was responsible for a piece of property, these cases rarely go anywhere.

Chapter 258 Cases

These are general negligence cases against the state or local government. These cases are also difficult.

First, there is a $100,000.00 limit on recovery. This is more than the $5,000.00 available for Chapter 84 cases. However, this sum must include attorneys fees, costs, and any liens that are outstanding. Many people who are severely injured by the government do not get full compensation.

Second, an injured party must give formal notice no later than two years after the injury.

There are also many specific types of claims that the government remains immune from.

Federal Tort Claims Act

There are also claims that are allowed to be brought against the Federal Government. There are many hoops that a claimant has to jump through to get compensation.

Experienced Lawyers

At Marcotte Law Firm, we have experience suing local, state, and federal governments. We know the requirements and pitfalls, and we counsel our clients constantly so they know what to expect.

If you’ve been injured by a local government, the state government, or the federal government, call the Personal Injury Attorneys at Marcotte Law Firm for a free consultation.

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