Any time someone would like to sue the state, they have to follow many more different guidelines than they would if they were filing a lawsuit against an individual.
Deciding whether or not you are able to seek compensation from the state, as opposed to an individual or an organization, following an event that results in wrongful death requires a lot of research and understanding on state laws and your rights as a surviving family member, loved one, or legal representative of the deceased. The reality is that there is no easy answer to this question, and if you are in a position where you need an answer, the best thing you can do is to hire an attorney.
The best way to determine your rights in a situation where you find yourself wondering if you can sue the state is to contact an attorney as soon as possible. The Harrison Law Group P.C. provides free initial consultations for potential clients, including representatives of an estate or the surviving dependents of someone who was killed in a way that warrants a wrongful death claim. Take a look below at a high-level view of when someone may be able to sue the state, but contact an attorney immediately in order to have a specific discussion about your own situation and options.
Suing the State
Any time someone would like to sue the state, they have to follow many more different guidelines than they would if they were filing a lawsuit against an individual. For one, the statute of limitations may be reduced for matters involving the state, meaning that you will need to take action sooner than you otherwise would have needed to. In addition, you will likely find that your rights for compensation are limited when dealing with the state, much like damage caps that you encounter if you are filing a medical malpractice suit.
Filing a Notice of Claim
The technical process of filing a lawsuit against the government is different than with a private citizen, as well. Even if you are rightfully able to sue the state, you will first need to file a notice of claim against the state instead of simply filing a complaint with the courts and serving the defendant. Failure to follow the guidelines for a notice of claim will result in your case being dismissed outright, which is just one of many examples where your case will simply stall out because of a procedural misstep.
Valid Claims Against the State for Wrongful Death
Again, the specifics of whether or not you will be able to file a wrongful death lawsuit against the state is best left up to your attorney, but a general rule of thumb is that you will not be able to file a lawsuit against the state for anything that you would not be able to file a lawsuit against an individual for. For example, if you are filing a wrongful death lawsuit because a state employee killed your loved one while operating a state vehicle under the influence of alcohol, this would be arguably the same as filing a wrongful death lawsuit against a private citizen for a DUI wrongful death.
Navigating Government Immunity
The government has immunity against a wide range of claims, which unfortunately may mean that you are left without legal recourse for certain wrongful death claims, even if the death in question would have been accepted by the courts as a valid claim if it were a private citizen or a non-government entity. Again, working with your lawyer is the best way to understand if your situation is valid or not, and how you can proceed in order to seek what you rightfully deserve.