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Filing a Personal Injury Lawsuit Against the State of Florida

Filing a Personal Injury Lawsuit Against the State of Florida

Suing the Florida government for personal injury is different from suing a private party. Although you can file such a claim and win under the right circumstances, you must do so under the terms established by the state.

Sovereign Immunity

“Sovereign immunity” is an ancient legal concept that used to mean “the king can do no wrong.” Now, it simply means that you cannot sue a government for monetary damages without that government’s consent. The Florida Tort Claims Act is the law that gives you permission to sue the State of Florida over a personal injury or wrongful death claim.

Nevertheless, the Florida government places special obstacles to filing personal injury claims against it or one of its subdivisions. After all, if the State of Florida pays you monetary damages, that money comes from the Florida State Treasury

Where does the treasury get its money? Mostly from the pockets of John Q. Taxpayer. This means that if you sue the State of Florida, you are essentially suing all Florida taxpayers, perhaps even including yourself. 

Examples of Tort Claims Against the State of Florida

Following are some typical examples of accidents that generate tort claims against governments:

  • Car accident injuries caused by a Florida state employee who was on a work-related errand.
  • A wrongful death caused by someone who died because of medical malpractice that occurred at a state hospital (the decedent’s estate executor must file the claim).
  • An unjustified dog attack by a police dog employed by the Florida State Police.
  • A construction accident that occurred because of a dangerous condition on state-owned land. If the victim was on duty at the time of the accident but not an employee of the State of Florida, they can file a personal injury lawsuit.

Space limitations do not permit a complete list of possible personal injury claims against the Florida government.

Preconditions for Florida Government Personal Injury Liability

You must establish the following three facts before you will be eligible for personal injury compensation from the State of Florida:

  • Your claim must be based on negligence or on the defendant’s wrongful behavior. In other words, you cannot file a “strict liability” claim. You must allege that the defendant was at fault in some way.
  • You are seeking monetary damages. Money damages must be sufficient to compensate you for your injury. The law generally considers monetary damages enough to compensate victims for just about any personal injury, including the death of a loved one.
  • The individual defendant would have been liable for damages even if they had been a private individual or company. In other words, your assertion of liability cannot be based on the fact that the defendant is a government entity. The defendant’s identity as a government entity must be incidental to your claim.

You cannot file a claim asking a court to do anything more than demand that the Florida government pay you damages.

Miscellaneous Government Tort Claim Limitations

Your claim is also subject to the limitations that appear below:

  • You cannot sue the State of Florida for punitive damages.
  • You cannot sue an individual Florida state government employee unless their actions were intentional. In other words, you must sue a Florida state government entity, not an individual. 
  • Your claim (economic damages plus non-economic damages) cannot exceed $200,000 if you are suing a single government entity. If you are suing more than one entity, your claim cannot exceed an aggregate of $300,000.
  • Special rules apply to claims against state universities, the Florida Space Agency, and law enforcement agencies such as the state police.

Florida can appeal any judgment that a court issues against it. So can you, if you have grounds to do so.

Claim Procedure

To initiate your claim, you’ll first need to provide notice to the government. This may be done by filling out and submitting one of the forms provided by the Florida Division of Risk Management. You can also prepare your own documentation as long as it contains complete information about your claim. Your notice must include:

  • The date that the claim arose; 
  • The basic facts surrounding the accident; 
  • A description of your damages; and
  • Your name, date of birth, and social security number.

Check the state-provided forms for any other information you might need to include.

Delivering Notice of Your Claim

You must provide notice to the appropriate state entity. You must also send a copy to the Department of Financial Services. Both of these documents must be sent by paper mail. Email is insufficient, although you can send an email in addition if you want to. 

Deadline for Providing Notice of Your Claim

The deadline for filing a claim against the Florida government is generally three years after the accident or incident that generated your claim. If you are the executor of a probate estate filing a wrongful death claim, you have until two years after the victim’s death to file your Statement of Claim.

The State Investigation

Florida has the right to investigate your claim for up to 180 days before responding. Once they receive your notice, the investigation will begin. If they reject your claim before 180 days pass, you can file a lawsuit immediately. If 180 days pass with neither acceptance nor rejection, you can file a lawsuit as soon as the 180-day period passes.

On the other hand, Florida might respond with a counteroffer. If they do, you can try to negotiate a settlement with them. Beware of the statute of limitations deadline for filing a lawsuit, however. You can break off negotiations and file a lawsuit as long as the statute of limitations deadline for your case has not passed.

Claims Against Florida Local Governments

Florida local governments are subdivisions of the state government. More or less, the same rules apply to claims against local governments as apply to the state government and its subdivisions. Each local government, however, has its own office where it requires you to send your notice of claim.

Recent Changes in Florida Personal Injury Law

In 2023, Florida passed sweeping changes in its personal injury compensation system. Some of the wording of these changes has not yet been interpreted by the courts at the time of this writing. 

Contact your lawyer for more details to see if these changes might pertain to your case. Pay particular attention to the statute of limitations deadline as it applies to the particular circumstances of your situation.

An Initial Consultation With a St. Petersburg Personal Injury Lawyer Probably Won’t Cost You a Dime

If you believe you might have a personal injury claim against the State of Florida, schedule a free initial consultation with a local personal injury lawyer. Since suing the government is significantly different from suing a private party, you should seek a lawyer with prior experience with the specific type of lawsuit you need to file.

Contact the St. Petersburg Personal Injury Law Firm of Winters & Yonker Personal Injury Lawyers for Help Today

For more information, please contact Winters & Yonker Personal Injury Lawyers to schedule a free consultation with a personal injury lawyer in St. Petersburg today. We have five convenient locations in Florida, including Tampa, Clearwater, St. Petersburg, New Port Richey, and Lakeland.

We proudly serve Hillsborough County, Pinellas County, Pasco County, Polk County, and its surrounding areas:

Winters & Yonker Personal Injury Lawyers – Tampa Office
601 W Swann Ave, Tampa, FL 33606
(813) 223-6200

Winters & Yonker Personal Injury Lawyers – Clearwater Office
600 Bypass Dr Suite 224-D, Clearwater, FL 33764
(727) 493-4418

Winters & Yonker Personal Injury Lawyers – St. Petersburg Office
111 2nd Ave NE Suite 350, St. Petersburg, FL 33701
(727) 314-5988

Winters & Yonker Personal Injury Lawyers – New Port Richey Office
5006 Trouble Creek Rd Unit #200, Port Richey, FL 34652
(727) 910-5060

Winters & Yonker Personal Injury Lawyers – Lakeland Office
1543 Lakeland Hills Blvd Suite 18, Lakeland, FL 33805
(863) 251-6196

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Anthony David
Anthony David
Winters & Yonker are an extremely knowledgeable car accident attorneys in Tampa. Marc represented me injured in a car crash when I was coming off I-4. He is clearly the best in the field! The entire team at his firm is AMAZING!!!They helped through my whole process always keeping me up to date. They referenced me to the best doctors to assist in my recovery. I always felt comfortable with every part of it specially now in the pandemic time. The stuff is very friendly and always available for you. I specifically like to thank PRE-LITIGATION department. They were passionate, dedicated and professional. Marc worked very hard on my case and did fantastic job!!! I am very pleased with the outcome of my case. The results are outstanding. I highly recommend Marc and his entire Firm. You guys are AWESOME! Thank You to everyone at this firm!
Karla Rogers
Karla Rogers
Best lawyer ever! I had an accident gave them a call and like three months later, case Settled and full payout... Excellent service!
Lenette Montalvo
Lenette Montalvo
Christopher from Winter and Yonker was amazing. Very nice person to talk to, listen to what I had to say, and even gave his opinion when needed. From start to finish I felt very important and I was impressed by this law firm every one i spoke to made me feel safe and comfortableto. My accident has done a lot of damage to me, and knowing I had an attorney from Winters and Yonker on my side made me feel great. My compensation for my accident is amazing and it will help me in my life. Thank you very much I will definitely recommend this law firm.
coleman vera
coleman vera
I went to Winter & Yonker Law Firm for my Tampa car accident case I was involved in. My case manager throughout the process and she took care of me from start to finish. The process was very seamless, I received the medical treatment that I needed immediately and at the very end, concluded with a very rewarding settlement. I've worked with a few law firms from prior accidents and none can compare to the service OR expertise I received from Mr. Yonker.👉 If you're seeking help for an injury related case, I would definitely recommend working with him and their amazing legal staff at Winter & Yonker Firm in Tampa. I will always use this firm for all my Personal Injury Claims! If you are l@@king for an Attorney to give you Top Notch legal help and the MOST money for your Pain & Suffering then take it from me I'm a paralegal and this firm continues to OUTSHINE them all!
Meredith Wilson
Meredith Wilson
This was my first personal injury experience. I wanted to choose a law office I could trust. A friend of mine recommended the law offices of Winters & Yonker, Personal Injury Lawyers in Tampa. Through the entire process Attorney Marc Yonkers was helpful and communication was stellar. I never felt out the loop. I felt confident throughout entire process. Which this month (Sept. 2023) they were able to settle my accident case successfully and to my 100% satisfaction. I cannot recommend Winters & Yonker and or Marc any higher. In short they are firm, fair, aggressive, responsive, super smart and know the numerous ins and outs of Personal Injury cases (which can be quite complicated). Upon hiring them you get a law firm that will leave you confident that your case will be handled expertly and with your interests front and center.
Geneva Ramirez
Geneva Ramirez
Winters and Yonkers has been a legend of the Tampa Bay personal injury Attorney community for a long time. I was in a car accident recently with my husband, we suffered back and neck pains after two days and thought to get someone’s help. I found Winters & Yonker Personal Injury Lawyers through a google search and called them right up. The same day Mr. Winters contacted both of us, listened, and was compassionate to our situation. He helped us through the entire process including getting me seen by a Doctor so we could heal our injuries correctly, and we got our medical bills reduced! Bill Winters, my case manager, and the entire staff were very knowledgeable and exceptional at their work. We would like to express my sincere gratitude to them and recommend them without any hesitation to anybody who needs help, don't try and fight the at fault's insurance on your own. If you're injured and need someone to protect your rights you won't find a better Attorney than Bill Winters at Winters & Yonkers!-Geneva, Tampa FL#personalinjurylawyer #caraccidentlawyer #tampainjuryattorney
Shelley Torres
Shelley Torres
Bum Boi
Bum Boi
My wife and I are work in Mediation and Arbitration but know nothing about personal injury cases. When a young delivery Truck driver who was distracted by his phone hit us at full speed and rear-ended us as we were stopped in traffic on Wesley chapel. We knew we needed to hire the best lawyers with PI experience and expertise in the Tampa legal community that we could.From our first phone call with Bill Winters and then all the way through Trial preparation then Trial, we never felt any bad about our case because we knew Bill and the entire staff at Winters and Yonker would take care of us.Their dedication, innovation, motivation, reliability, unparalleled intellect, and exceptional skill as trial lawyers make them extraordinary individuals. My experience working with them was nothing short of exceptional. Experiencing a car accident is an ordeal that encompasses fear, trauma, and frustration. It's a life-changing event in anyone's life. There was no amount of money that could ever make me alright, because I would give any amount of cash to not have to go through the nightmare that the car accident was and continues to be.It took almost 2 years from the time of the car crash to go to trial, but ultimately the jury verdict that Bill Winters got for my family was worth fighting for. There were so many times over the course of the three years that we actively realized how amazing it was that we felt no anxiety or concerns or worries about our case, because Bill is truly outstanding!If you or anyone you know gets hurt in a car accident, call Winters and Yonkers RIGHT AWAY! And then rest assured that you, your family, or friends are being cared for by the ABSOLUTE BEST legal team in Tampa Bay. Thank you, Winters & Yonker!
Glenda Litimco
Glenda Litimco
Winters & Yonker law firm did excellent work with my injury case. Luckily, I was referred to Winters & Yonker from a good friend after I was injured in a car accident. I did some initial research about injury lawyers near me, but the reviews for this office really stood out to me in Tampa. I decided to call and after a single phone conversation, the choice was easy to make! Not only was everyone extremely professional, they made the entire process smooth and clear. I was at ease with each step of the way because they were always there to answer my questions and keep me informed of what was happening. All expectations were met and my settlement was exceeded. I got much more than I thought was even possible from the insurance company. I highly recommend the Winters & Yonker Personal Injury Lawyers, and their team in Tampa to anyone in need of help after a car, truck, or motorcycle accident. You'll be in good hands!
Dandrea Ikner
Dandrea Ikner
This is the best lawyer in town
Nicky Warner
Nicky Warner
Max was amazing! He kept me updated throughout the whole process and was extremely easy to talk with. He also explained everything so I can completely understand it. It was an amazing experience. Thank you, Max!
Erika Smith
Erika Smith
I had a great experience with them! They truly care about you!! Thank you so much🤗
Jonathan Clem
Jonathan Clem
I was injured in a car crash here in town. Since it was essentially a "he said she said" accident case the opposing insurance claimed it was a 50/50 fault. Even though it clearly could not have been my fault. However, Bill worked diligently to get me everything I was needed to get my life back. He worked to get me access to all the doctors I needed and medical treamtment for my neck and back. Plus, a large settlement amount. Bill even took the time to calm me down when I saw the initial amount and cost for seeing my medical bills piling up! He even managed to get them to reduce their bills significantly! Plus, I received as much as possible. Winters & Yonker Personal Injury Lawyers in Tampa provided a great legal service. They were strait forward and honest about the approach, and communicated every aspect of the process. The firm took care of everything. I would 100% without a doubt recommend him if I knew someone that need a personal injury attorney. Given the circumstances of our introduction I hope I never have to, BUT Bill Winters will definitely be my first call if I'm ever injured again!
marie silvers
marie silvers
They are the Best! They care about you as a person!
jorden reagan
jorden reagan
Everyone on their staff is amazing! Chris and Sara won my case and helped me out with an accident that occurred a few months back. They made the entire process so easy! They called with case updates but not too often where it was constant phone calls. It was just enough to know what was going on the whole time without being bombarded. Thankful for Tayler on their staff who helped inform me on why Winters and Yonker was the best choice to go with!
Kimberly Rushton
Kimberly Rushton
Yes, I would highly recommend winners in Yonkers. I worked with Trevor and Trevor was the best. I recommend anyone that ever needs a lawyer to go to them. They are the best.
Pat Pawelkop
Pat Pawelkop
Highly recommend. Bill Winters and his staff took time to answer my questions, and handled my case in a timely and professional manner. I almost didn't contact a lawyer over my "small" injury case because I feared it would be so difficult and stressful. But he got me the settlement that my insurance company owed me, and I would never have been able to do that on my own. And with less stress that I anticipated. I'm glad I called them.
Amysway Barton
Amysway Barton
Always available
Certified Soul
Certified Soul
Winters and Yonker is who you want to go to when you get in a car accident because they will take care of you and won’t let you get low balled on your settlement. I got in a car accident where my back and shoulder was injured and I was referred to a attorney named Trevor. I appreciate Trevor for handling my case and keeping me informed with all the information I needed.
Sean S
Sean S
One of the best law firms in Tampa. My family was involved in a serious car accident. We went to that other personal injury firm with the two M's they were trying to make us settle the case quickly and they we're not listening to us with the arrogant attitude that they were the experts and we were just ignorant. We promptly fired them and then hired Winters & yonker. Our settlement was 5 times higher than what the MM wanted to settle for.I would like to thank Winters and Yonkers entire staff for a wonderful experience. They were all very knowledgeable and walked us through the whole process. We really felt like they cared, unlike the other firm.
Linda Robinson
Linda Robinson
I’m giving Winters & Yonker a shout out. My mother fell in Winn Dixie afew months ago. Her first choice wasMorgan & Morgan; however, after theinterview with them they decided not to take the case. My perception was that it was not a big enough case for them. I knew that she deserved to be compensated for her injuries, and I had mad faith in Winters & Yonker from using them in the past. They not only took the case but settled it in record time. Thanks Winters and Yonker, and I like to send a special thank you to Christopher Smith, who was never to busy when I needed answers. I would recommend your law firm to anyone. I found you to be ethical, professional, and respectful to my family, but most of all you will fight for the little guy. Much love and respect. God bless you all and your families👏👏👏👏
Reuben Rodriques
Reuben Rodriques
Other said it couldn't be done called your law firm and immediately you got on it impressive shocking furthermore you showed integrity did what you had to do though you didn't have to do it and I was shockingly pleased thank you you surprised me had I to choose any other law firm I would not hesitate to call you or share my experience with my friends thank you once again from me and my family amen
Hameed Owens
Hameed Owens
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