Suing a Government Agency for Personal Injury in California

Recently, a bicyclist sustained life-threatening injuries when his tire caught in the streetcar tracks near Market and New Montgomery streets in downtown San Francisco. The bicyclist was thrown underneath a San Francisco Municipal Railway bus traveling at his side and run over by the rear wheels of the bus. When personal injury or property damage is caused by government and public agencies, such agencies can be held accountable.

Accidents involving state workers or city buses are unfortunately common, but before an injured person can initiate a lawsuit against a city or state government, there are certain steps they must take. Before filing a lawsuit, you are required to file a claim for damages with the government entity that caused the harm. Governments like the City of Fremont, Alameda County or The State of California each have their own claim forms. You need to obtain the specific claim form from the government responsible for the injury or loss.

Claim forms must be submitted within six months from the date of the Muni accident or other injury. You should send the claim form by certified mail and ask for proof of delivery to create a record that the claim was sent. If you hand in the claim form in person, ask for a receipt.

After the claim is filed, the agency will send a letter explaining whether your claim was approved or denied. If the agency accepts responsibility for the damage, you will receive compensation and the claim will be settled. If the agency does not accept responsibility, you may pursue the issue further by filing a lawsuit in small claims court within six months from denial of the claim.

There is a chance that the agency will not respond to your claim. If the agency does not respond to the claim within 45 days, the claim is considered denied and you can file a lawsuit in small claims court. If your claim is denied through lack of response, you have two years from the date the claim was filed to file a small claims lawsuit. You should take action quickly to preserve your right to recover and seek legal assistance if you need help with your case.

Be sure to hang on to a copy of your claim form and proof of mailing or receipt, because these documents are required to file in small claims court.

If you have been injured or suffered loss from a government agency, contact an experienced personal injury attorney to review your legal options.