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Local and state governments: Sovereign immunity may not apply

One of the hardest entities to hold liable for injuries or damages to your property is the government. However, it is possible to file a premises liability claim against the government and to be compensated for losses.

One of the most common situations is when a person is injured by a defect on a sidewalk or on the road. For instance, if you trip over uneven walkways on public property and break your wrist, then the government would be the liable party. If you wreck your vehicle because the roads had large potholes, then the local government may be liable for the damage to your vehicle.

The reason it's hard to hold the government liable is because of something called "sovereign immunity." This immunity means that the government can't be sued or found liable in a lawsuit. Although this may seem to be overriding evidence that you won't win a case, that's not true. Over the years, may state and local governments have passed laws to limit immunity, because it wasn't fair to the public. The laws in different areas and states vary, which is why you need to work with a specialized, and local, attorney when you file your claim.

When you're ready to file, remember to gather a few pieces of information. You'll want to show where you got hurt, provide evidence of your financial losses through medical bills or other paperwork, and be prepared to send in all the documents after they're notarized. The local area may have special documents for reporting injuries, which is something your attorney can help you with.

Source: FindLaw, "Premises Liability Claims Against the Government," accessed June 15, 2016

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