If a negligent individual causes an accident, that individual should be held responsible for the injuries he or she has caused. In most cases, so long as the injured victim is able to prove three elements, that victim will be entitled to damages. These three elements are:
- The at-fault party owed a duty to the victim;
- The at-fault party acted negligently and breached this duty; and
- Due to this breach, the victim suffered damages.
Damages include medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and a variety of other costs.
However, when the person responsible for causing an accident is a government employee, the claim must proceed a bit differently. In Illinois, there is a separate law called the Illinois Court of Claims Act that describes how claims against state government employees must proceed.
In general, so long as the victim of an accident would have grounds to sue for the same set of facts in a private lawsuit, the victim may pursue a claim against the government. For example, if a government employee rear ends another vehicle and injures the passengers inside, the victims would clearly be able to pursue a legal claim against the at-fault driver in a private action. Therefore, a claim against the government is also possible.
A separate law, the Local Governmental and Governmental Employees Tort Immunity Act, governs claims against local governments, such as cities and municipalities. To file a claim against a local government in Illinois, the victim must prove that the conduct that caused the harm was “willful and wanton.” This means that there must have been some type of deliberate intent to cause injury or some type of malicious conduct that led to the accident. Therefore, bringing a claim against a municipality in Illinois is much more difficult.
There are deadlines that limit how long individuals have to pursue claims against state and local governments. To pursue a claim against the state, first, a notice of the claim must be filed with the Attorney General. The notice must also be filed with the Clerk of the Court of Claims. The notice must provide several details about the accident and must be filed within a year of the date of the accident. A lawsuit must be filed no later than two years after the event.
The victim may not have to file a notice of claim if the victim goes ahead and files a lawsuit with the Court of Claims within a year of the incident.
With local municipalities, a victim has one year to file a claim, except in cases of medical negligence, in which the victim has two years.
Claims against government entities are complex and confusing. It is best to hire an experienced attorney to assist with these lawsuits.
Contact Chicago law firm Stein & Shulman, LLC to discuss your claim
If you have been injured, let our law firm in Chicago, Illinois help you. To schedule a free consultation to discuss your legal options, call 312.422.0500.