08.12.2020

Suing The Government In Pennsylvania, Part Two – Local

This is the second part of an article about suing the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, as well as those local governments and municipalities located therein when any of the agents of these governmental bodies causes harm. 

The Political Subdivision Tort Claims Act located in § 8542 of the Pennsylvania Code provides immunity to all agencies that are not the Commonwealth, including intermediate units, municipalities, and councils of government. This Act, too, provides exceptions in which injured victims may seek the recovery of compensation for damages. These rules and restrictions are similar to those imposed by the Pennsylvania Sovereign Immunity Act. Local governments or municipalities may be sued if the accident involved the following:

  1. Operation of a motor vehicle
  2. The care, custody, or control of personal property
  3. The care, custody, or control of real property
  4. The care, custody, or control of trees, traffic controls, and street lighting
  5. Any dangerous conditions of utility service facilities
  6. Dangerous conditions of streets, e.g., potholes, fallen guardrails
  7. Dangerous condition of sidewalks
  8. The care, custody, or control of animals

Even when a victim’s case meets one of the exceptions, Pennsylvania laws impose various rules on the restrictions in the process of recovering damages.

  • Shorter time limits (Statute of Limitations) – While anyone hurt has two years to file a normal injury claim for his or her injuries against a private party, claims against the government allow only 30 to 180 days to initiate the action and file suit, depending upon the municipality’s rules.
  • Filing a Notice of Claim – Before taking any legal action, a potential plaintiff must file a Notice of Claim with the agency and all involved government parties to notify them of the incident and of the intent to seek compensation for damages.
  • Recovery limits – The government limits the amount of restitution plaintiffs may receive. In cases against the state, the maximum allowable settlement is $250,000; in local cases, the maximum settlement is $500,000. Plaintiffs in Pennsylvania are not permitted to claim punitive damages in any amount.
  • Lawsuit limitations – Plaintiffs may only file a lawsuit against a government entity after exhausting all administrative remedies.

Because of these specialized rules and requirements, consulting with a personal injury lawyer with experience litigating and settling cases against the state and local governments is essential. The attorneys at Powell Law are distinguished personal injury attorneys who carry on a 115-year tradition of providing thoughtful, effective representation protecting and asserting the rights of Pennsylvanians living in the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre and surrounding communities.

The procedure of litigating a case against a governmental entity involves filing a Notice of Claim with the necessary parties, filing a claim with evidence that proves a claim, and awaiting the agency to accept or reject your claim. If the agency rejects a claim, the next option is to file a lawsuit. An experienced personal injury attorney may provide the necessary expertise to achieve success.

Due to the complex nature of claims against states and other government bodies, injured parties should consult with an experienced personal injury attorney. At Powell Law, it is our goal to protect and assert our clients’ rights effectively, especially for claims against governmental entities. Contact Powell Law at (570) 961-0777. The consultation is FREE, and you don’t pay unless we win!

Suing The Government In Pennsylvania, Part Two – Local

Request a Free Consultation

Contact Us