Historically, the state and its subdivisions and agents could not be sued – enjoying what is known as sovereign immunity. Modern government entities, however, recognize that their employees and agents occasionally act negligently – causing serious injuries to good law abiding citizens, and that it would create a great injustice if those who are so injured were unable to recover money for their injuriesm and pain & suffering, the way they could if the injury was negligently caused by another private citizen or corporation. So states, including Florida (and its subdivisions and agencies -i.e. cities, counties, public hospitals, etc..) passed legislation that waives their sovereign immunity, subject to certain limits.
Florida Statutes Sec. 768.28 governs the waiver of sovereign immunity, sets limitations on attorneys fees and provides for other limitations:
- Capped at 25% (in either settlement or verdict/judgment)
- These public entities will not be liable for paying, either by settlement or judgement, more than $200,000 for an individual injury or $300,000 out of any one occurrence (regardless of how many people were injured in that single occurrence).
- If a claim or judgment exceeds these limits a claims bill may be brought in front of the legislature, which may or may not approve any settlement or judgment in excess of $200K per individual or $300K per occurrence (this only happens under extraordinary circumstances).
Notice Requirements / Statute of Limitations
- If the claim is against a municipality, that municipality must be provided with written notice (an opportunity to settle or deny the claim) within three (3) years of the negligent incident, otherwise a law suit cannot be filed.
- If the claim is against any other government entity or agency, both the relevant agency and the Florida Department of Financial Services must be provided with written notice (an opportunity to settle or deny the claim) as well within three (3) years of the injury, otherwise a law suit cannot be filed.
- In Florida wrongful death cases, the statute of limitations/notice requirements is only two (2) years.
- If the above notice requirements are met, a law suit may be filed within four (4) years for general negligence actions or within two (2) years for medical negligence actions.
Included with the above notice requirements, potential plaintiffs must report their date and place of birth, social security number, and whether they owe any money (fees, fines, judgements, etc..) to the state in excess of $200.00.