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Tort Claims Act Prevents Premises Liability Lawsuit from Moving Forward Based on Late Filing

Earlier this month, an appellate court in Maine dismissed a premises liability case against a city government because the plaintiff failed to notify the government being sued within 180 days of his injury. In the case, Deschenes v. City of Sanford, the court determined that the plaintiff’s verbal notification that he was going to file the lawsuit was not sufficient to meet the requirements of the state’s Tort Claims Act.

stairs-1215277The Plaintiff Fell Outside City Hall

The plaintiff was visiting city hall to obtain a copy of his daughter’s birth certificate when he tripped on some raised tread and fell down the stairs. After falling down the stairs, he slid into a set of glass doors and was injured as a result. City employees at the scene provided the man with some basic medical care until the ambulance arrived and could take him to the hospital. Upon arrival, it was discovered that he had not suffered serious or life-threatening injuries, although he did have a few “abrasions.”

The plaintiff did nothing for the first 177 days following the accident. However, on the 178th day, he again went to city hall, this time to inform the government that he would be filing a lawsuit against them for failing to maintain safe premises. However, when he arrived, all the doors were closed. He was able to speak with one employee, and he informed that employee that he would be filing a personal injury lawsuit. A few weeks later, the city received formal notice that the plaintiff had filed a lawsuit.

At trial, the city argued that the Tort Claims Act in effect in Maine required that any government agency being sued be provided written notice within 180 days of the alleged injury. The plaintiff responded that his verbal notice should constitute “substantial compliance,” and the court should allow his case to proceed.

However, the court determined that verbal notice did not substantially comply with the Tort Claims Act, and it dismissed the man’s case. As a result, he will be unable to recover damages for his injuries.

The Tort Claims Act in Florida

Like Maine, Florida has its own Tort Claims Act. The Act sets limits and procedural rules that must be followed when naming a government as a defendant in a lawsuit. A plaintiff’s failure to follow the procedural rules and requirements in the Florida Tort Claims Act can result in a case being dismissed before the merits of the case are heard by a judge or jury.

Have You Been Injured While on Government Property?

If you or a loved one has recently been injured while on government property, you may be entitled to monetary compensation for any injuries you sustained. It is important to keep in mind that other issues may arise with your premises liability case, such as whether the government is entitled to sovereign immunity from tort lawsuits. To learn more about cases against the government, call the Law Offices of Cohn & Smith at 954-431-8100 to set up a free consultation.

Related Blog Posts:

State Court Addresses Constitutionality of Evidentiary Restrictions on Seat-Belt Use Evidence, South Florida Injury Attorney Blog, April 25, 2016.

Plaintiff’s Road-Rage Case Successful on Appeal, South Florida Injury Attorney Blog, April 4, 2016.

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