By John Pinkney
California’s Government Tort Claims Act is designed to minimize the number of lawsuits filed against state, county or local government agencies or the people that work for those agencies. Basically, this legislation requires a claimant to follow a set process before filing for damages in court. It is very important to properly follow the regulations precisely or you will not be allowed to file a lawsuit.
What is the process under California’s Government Tort Claims Act?
The Tort Claims Act does a couple of things to lessen the number of lawsuits filed against the government and its officials. First, the Act requires that an injured party file a written claim that provides enough detail for the government to investigate the situation and offer a settlement to avoid litigation. This could be a good thing for a claimant since this avoids the drawn out legal process.
Second, the Act overrides the normal statute of limitations. Claims for personal injury, damage to personal property or wrongful death require a notice to the government within six months of the incident. All other types of cases have a twelve-month time frame.
What is required for the written claim?
This is the most important part of the process. The written notice must be as specific as possible. Obvious requirements – the claimant’s contact information and the amount of the claim – plus some explanation of the incident. The name of the employee that caused the injury or the department/agency responsible for the incident is important too.
There is enough complexity that an injured person really should not try to settle this on their own as they may lose the right to recover. An experienced Coachella Valley public law attorney would be a good place to start to get help.