Can I Sue the Government for Negligence? Understanding the Legal Landscape in Illinois

While suing the government for negligence in Illinois is challenging, it is not impossible. The key lies in understanding the intricacies of the Local Governmental and Governmental Employees Tort Immunity Act (745 ILCS 10)

This law sets the rules for when and how an injury victim can sue the government for negligence. It explains the protections that government employees and agencies have but also outlines exceptions that allow lawsuits to proceed in certain circumstances. It also sets forth how quickly you need to act if you want to file a personal injury negligence claim or a lawsuit.

In this article, we will discuss why taking action within the specified Statute of Limitations, and having the right legal representation can significantly increase your chances of a successful result.

Understanding the Local Governmental and Governmental Employees Tort Immunity Act

This Act is a key piece of legislation when it comes to suing government bodies in Illinois. It essentially does two things:

  1. Provides Protections — The Act gives certain immunities to government agencies and their employees. This means they are protected from being sued in some situations. However, these protections are not absolute – there are times when you can still sue for negligence.
  2. Sets a Deadline for Lawsuits — The Act sets a 1-year deadline (Statute of Limitations) for filing lawsuits against government entities. This is shorter than the usual 2-year deadline for most other personal injury cases in Illinois, making it important to act fast.

Personal Injury Cases Against Governmental Entities in Illinois

Despite general immunity, there are exceptions where injury victims of government negligence can seek compensation, such as willful and wanton conduct by a government employee, negligent maintenance of public property, and failure to provide adequate warning of dangers.

  • Failure to Properly Maintain Public Facilities — Such as public buildings, parks, or playgrounds where maintenance negligence leads to injury
  • Inadequate Road Maintenance — Claims related to accidents caused by poorly maintained roads, potholes, or insufficient snow removal
  • Negligent Operation of Public Transportation — Incidents involving public buses, trains, or other transportation services
  • Inadequate Public Safety Measures This might include insufficient lighting in public areas or failure to address known safety hazards.

Common Types of Personal Injury Lawsuits 

There are several common types of personal injury cases filed against governmental entities in Illinois. These include:

    • Police misconduct cases These cases involve allegations of negligence in duty of care or intentional torts by police officers, such as excessive force, wrongful arrest, or failure to protect.
    • Roadway defect cases These cases involve allegations of negligence by governmental entities for failing to maintain roads and sidewalks safely.
  • Transportation negligence cases — These cases involve allegations of negligence against governmental entities for the negligent operation of a public transportation vehicle like a CTA or Pace bus.  
  • School district negligence cases These cases involve allegations of negligence by school districts for failing to provide adequate supervision or for failing to protect students from harm.

The Chicago Transportation Authority (CTA) Crash

Recently, our legal team at Pullano & Siporin has been retained by five victims injured in the CTA train crash on the Yellow Line in Chicago on November 16, 2023. This serious accident resulted in 37 injuries, some critical. 

The lawsuit filed against the Chicago Transportation Authority (CTA) alleges negligent operation of the train. Richard Pullano, our firm’s founding partner, highlighted multiple possible failures at the CTA in connection with the crash, including the presence of snowplow equipment on the tracks during commuter hours and design defects in the train’s braking system. Our legal team has emphasized the importance of timely action in preserving critical evidence and conducting extensive inquiries, including securing videos, interviewing witnesses, and consulting medical professionals.

Navigating Legal Challenges in Government Negligence Cases

Suing a government entity for negligence involves several unique challenges:

  1. Understanding Immunities — A deep understanding of the immunities provided under the Tort Immunity Act is crucial. These immunities can significantly impact the viability of any claim.
  2. Timely Action — Given the 1-year Statute of Limitations, prompt action is essential. Delaying legal proceedings can result in the forfeiture of the right to sue.
  3. Proving Negligence — Establishing negligence against a government entity often requires a higher burden of proof compared to standard personal injury cases.
  4. Navigating Bureaucracy — Dealing with government entities often involves complex bureaucratic processes, which can be daunting without the legal guidance of an experienced personal injury lawyer or firm.

Seeking Expert Legal Assistance

Cases against government entities are more complex due to additional procedural requirements and deadlines, and certain immunities may limit compensation. Therefore, it is vital to seek legal representation from an experienced personal injury attorney familiar with the Local Governmental and Governmental Employees Tort Immunity Act. 

A personal injury attorney can help you determine whether you have a valid claim and can guide you through the complex legal process.

Choose Pullano & Siporin for Expert Legal Representation

At Pullano & Siporin, we have a strong track record of representing clients in various challenging personal injury cases, from the recent CTA crash to cases involving medical negligence, car accidents and other vehicle accidents, construction site incidents, premises and product liability. We also deal with cases involving disputes with insurance companies, ensuring that our clients’ rights are robustly defended in these complex scenarios.

Three Decades of Legal Excellence

Our law firm prides itself on over 30 years of industry experience, marked by record settlements and verdicts and exceptional outcomes for our clients. Our seasoned trial attorneys are dedicated to clarifying and simplifying the legal process for our clients, ensuring that each client receives full compensation for their injuries while keeping them fully informed throughout the process. 

Diverse Legal Expertise

This longstanding success reflects our expertise in handling a diverse range of cases and our commitment to providing comprehensive legal support, ensuring that our clients receive the highest standard of representation on their legal journey.

Advocating for the Rights of All Individuals

Regardless of immigration status, every individual has legal rights and the ability to seek compensation. Our experienced legal team is made up of experts in personal injury law and is dedicated to guiding clients through the legal process, ensuring their rights are protected and their voices are heard.

Contact Us for a Personalized Consultation

If you believe you have a personal injury claim against a government entity in Illinois, then time is of the essence!

Contact us today for a consultation, and let us help you exercise your legal rights and pursue the compensation you’re entitled to.

Our commitment to transparency and our legal expertise make us your ideal partner in successfully navigating these unique legal challenges.

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