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How Does Michigan Law Address Personal Injury Claims Against Government Entities?

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When Can You Sue a State Agency or Government in Michigan for Personal Injury?

If you experience injuries in a car accident, you may need to file a personal injury lawsuit to seek compensation from at-fault parties. Tort law, which is what personal injury cases fall under, can be complex. Add in a government entity as a party to the accident or injury, however, and the case can get even more complex.

Michigan law defines government liability in tort cases, and it limits the times you can sue a state agency. For example, you generally can’t sue a government agency or entity if you were injured in an incident that involved a government employee doing their specific government function job. There is some level of assumption that the government agent was acting appropriately in the correct parameters for his or her job, thus negligence doesn’t exist.

However, there are numerous exceptions under the law that allow the government or its agents to be held liable in personal injury cases.

When Public Highways Aren’t Maintained

When state or local agencies have noted responsibilities related to maintaining roads, they are required under law to keep those roads in reasonable repair. If someone is injured on public roads due to disrepair of the road, that person may be able to seek compensation from the government agency or agencies responsible for the road.

However, “reasonable repair” is a fairly vague concept. This exception is also limited specifically to the portion of the road meant for vehicular travel. These facts can make it difficult to successfully make a case for responsibility on the part of a government agency in such instances.

When Public Buildings Aren’t Maintained

There are also expectations that government agencies will keep public buildings they own or operate in safe conditions. If someone is injured in such a building due to unsafe conditions, they may be able to seek compensation from the government entity in question.

However, you have to prove a lot in such a case. First, you have to prove that the injury in question occurred due to the property owned or operated by a government agency. Next, you have to prove that the public was allowed to be in the building and that an unsafe condition existed. Finally, you must prove that the government agency had some knowledge about the conditions and that it failed to mitigate them.

In Some Motor Vehicle Accidents

You may be able to bring a lawsuit or claim against a government entity if you were involved in a car or truck accident with a vehicle owned by the government. However, the ability to bring a claim is much more limited in these cases than it is with other types of vehicle accidents. You must be able to demonstrate a serious impairment leading to permanent disability or death, and even then, the amount you can recover may be more limited than it might be in cases involving only privately owned vehicles.

In Cases Where For-Profit Government Activity Occurred

Many of the limitations placed on these types of cases assume that an incident occurred while the government agency or its employee was engaged in government functions as public service. However, there are instances in Michigan when government agencies perform for-profit activities. In these cases, you can often seek compensation via a personal injury case, holding the government liable for the injuries.

Of course, you must prove that the activity in question was for-profit. This is known as a proprietary function. This means that taxes or any other public funds don’t support the activity in question and that action is performed for the purpose of driving a profit.

When Sewage Disposal Issues Caused Injury

Michigan law has a specific exception related to injuries caused by issues with sewage disposal, including backups that might have been caused by the negligence of government agencies or their employees. The burden of proof remains fairly high in this type of case, as you must prove that an issue existed, that the government agency knew about it, and that the agency did nothing to address the issue. You also have to show that an incident occurred and that your injury was caused by it.

In Some Medical Malpractice Cases

The limitation on government employees and liability doesn’t apply in cases of medical malpractice unless the related care was provided within a Department of Corrections medical center or a facility owned by the Department of Community Health.

Talk to a Personal Injury Lawyer About Your Case

The above information is not a comprehensive guide on this topic, as the exceptions within Michigan law on this matter are quite complex. The best way to understand if you have a potential personal injury case against any entity—including private individuals and businesses or government agencies—is to talk to a personal injury lawyer.

When you reach out to the Sigal Law Firm, we can work with you to learn more about your case and help you understand what your options are. If you are dealing with a potential case against a government entity, we can provide guidance about whether your case falls into one of the exceptions. Even if it doesn’t, you may still have some options for filing a more limited claim for compensation through government channels.

Call the Sigal Law Firm at 248-671-6794 to find out more about our services and how we can help.

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