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What You Need to Know About Personal Injury Lawsuits Involving the Government


Personal injury lawsuits (i.e. civil lawsuits claiming that the plaintiff suffered a physical injury due to the negligent or wrongful act of the defendant) come in a variety of different shapes and sizes. Most often these claims arise out of car accidents, violent acts (such as assaults), defective products, slip and falls, or incidents involving medical malpractice and are filed against individuals or businesses. However, sometimes a personal injury lawsuit will be filed against a government entity (for example, a city, state, or the federal government). When this happens there are several special filing requirements and deadlines that the plaintiff must be aware of.

The Notice Requirement 

Although governments entities are generally immune from being sued, the Iowa state government as well as the Federal government have both enacted Tort Claim Acts that conditionally waive immunity under certain circumstances so that individuals who claim to have been injured by a government entity can bring their claims. However, these acts contain a variety of requirements that injured plaintiffs must abide by. One of the most notable of these requirements involves providing notice to the government.

For example, under the Iowa Tort Claims Act, personal injury plaintiffs interested in filing a claim at the state level must generally provide notice of their claim to the state appeal board within two years of the date on which they were injured (or the date on which they reasonably should have discovered that they were injured). Additionally, notice of municipal claims must generally be provided within six months.

Important: Please note that the law in Iowa surrounding notice requirements is quite complicated and that under some circumstances plaintiffs only have 60 days to provide notice. Therefore, if you are interested in suing a government entity be sure to consult with a local personal injury attorney without delay in order to best avoid having your claim barred. 

Deadline for Filing 

Each state has its own statute of limitations that determines how much time an injured plaintiff within the state has to file a personal injury claim. Under section 614.1(2) of the Iowa Code, injured plaintiffs in Iowa generally have two years from the date on which they were injured (or the date on which they reasonably should have discovered their injury) within which to file their claim. Here in Iowa this two year statute of limitations applies regardless of whether the claim is filed against a private individual/business or an Iowa state entity. Additionally, it is also important to note that under 28 U.S.C. § 2401 personal injury claims filed against the United States of America must also generally be filed within two years.

Damage Caps 

Some states limit the amount of compensation that personal injury plaintiffs who file claims against the state can recover by instituting damage caps. Here in Iowa, the only damage cap that is currently in effect for personal injury awards issued against a state entity is contained in section 669.4 of the Iowa Code and notes that punitive damages can not be awarded against the state.

Contact Us Today for Help 

Whether you are filing a personal injury claim against the government, an individual person, or a business, it is important that you consult with a local personal injury lawyer about your legal options as soon as possible in order to best protect your interests. Here at the Noyes Law Office our team of experienced Southeast Iowa personal injury lawyers represent injured clients throughout Iowa and would be happy to assist you. To schedule a free no obligation initial consultation contact our Fairfield office today at (641) 472-3236.


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