Can I Sue a City or State for My Injuries?

If you were injured due to the negligence of a government staff member, you could potentially file a personal injury lawsuit against the city or state. However, this process is often more complicated than filing a claim against an individual or business. 

Reasons for Suing 

Like any personal injury claim, the plaintiff must be able to prove “negligence” or a wrongful act on the part of the city or state. Here are some examples of situations where the city or state could be held responsible for your injury. 

  • Your car is hit by a government vehicle (i.e. police car, parks and recreation truck, city or school bus, etc). 
  • You are a victim of Medical Malpractice caused by a public healthcare worker
  • You are injured in a government property due to staff negligence (i.e. slipping on wet floors)

Notice of Claim

It’s understandably more difficult to bring a lawsuit against a city or state, such as the District of Columbia, because they often have access to special legal protections and resources that aren’t available to the general population. Additionally, the process differs from state to state, making it more complicated to receive financial compensation from the government for your injury. However, no matter where you live, you should always file a “Notice of Claim” against the city or state before you file the lawsuit. 

While the specific inclusions and timing  of this “Notice of Claim” can vary, they generally should include:

  • Names and contact information of all parties involved
  • Detailed description of the events of the accident; including when, where, how and why the accident occurred
  • Detailed descriptions of any injuries resulting from the accident 
  • List of damages sought by the plaintiff

If you’re even considering filing a lawsuit against the city or state, you should immediately fill out the “Notice of Claim.” Since many states have distinctive timelines and instructions for the “Notice of Claim,” it’s usually helpful to enlist the assistance of a personal injury lawyer, like the Law Firm of Frederick J. Brynn, P.C., at this stage of the process. 

After you file the “Notice of Claim,” you must wait before moving forward with the lawsuit. Again, the timing varies by state but is typically between 30 and 120 days. Make sure you pay close attention to the timing, because filing a lawsuit before or after this waiting period could result in immediate claim dismissal. 


Even if you do everything right in the filing process, there’s no guarantee that you will receive your damages. The government has special legal protections that, in some cases, make them immune to certain injury claims. This immunity, called “Sovereign Immunity” varies by state and can make the filing process even more convoluted. 

Though filing suit against a city or state may seem like a daunting process, it’s always best to know your rights and options. A personal injury lawyer  can help you figure out your best course of action for your particular situation.