Local Government Admits Liability But Proceeds to Trial on Damages

Civil trials are often thought of as determinations about whether a defendant is liable. However, the issue of liability is only one of the issues decided in a trial. Trials also determine the amount of compensation awarded to the injured party. In a recent case against city and county governments, the defendants admitted liability but proceeded to trial only on the issue of damages.

bus-1263266_960_720A woman sued the city and county after being injured in a car accident. The woman was riding on a county bus when the bus was hit by a city fire department van. She was thrown from the bus and landed on the street. She then sued the city and county. The city and county admitted that they were liable, but they continued to trial on the issue of damages. The defendants argued that a spinal fusion surgery the woman had after the accident was an unnecessary procedure. The case was decided in favor of the woman for $575,203, including her costs for the spinal fusion surgery, and an appeals court affirmed the decision.

Governmental Immunity

Tort immunity afforded to the federal, state, and local governments generally makes them immune to lawsuits. It comes from the idea that a government that makes the laws cannot break the laws. It was also thought that lawsuits against the government could be so numerous that the government would never be able to pay them all. However, governmental immunity has been modified in recent years to permit tort actions against certain entities for specific reasons.

In Illinois, local governmental tort immunity is determined by the Local Governmental and Governmental Employees Tort Immunity Act. The Act provides that generally governmental entities are liable for torts, but it limits their liability with a long list of immunities. In general, governments cannot be held liable for failing to provide adequate services, for failing to provide or maintain warnings, for failing to supervise public property, or for failing to enforce laws, but there are always exceptions. Also, in Illinois, claims against the state normally cannot be heard in circuit courts but may be heard by a special Court of Claims.

Waiver of Immunity

There are a number of exceptions to immunity, even when governmental immunity applies. For example, a local governmental entity that buys insurance waives immunity to the extent of the insurance. And as in the case above, the government can admit to liability. However, even when immunity is waived, the issue of damages may still be contested, as in the case above. The amount of compensation awarded is a huge part of a case, and all the damages need to be proved for a person to receive the compensation they deserve.

Do You Have a Claim against a Government Entity?

If you have filed or are considering filing a claim against a state, local, or federal government, you should speak with a dedicated Illinois personal injury attorney as soon as possible to learn how to proceed. The skilled Illinois attorneys at Moll Law Group have experience in complicated cases that deal with issues of immunity. Our personal injury lawyers are here to help you file your claim and seek the compensation you deserve. To learn more, call us at 312-462-1700 or fill out our contact form to arrange a free initial consultation.

See More Posts:

Spring 2016 Moll Law Group College Scholarship Winner is . . ., Illinois Injury Lawyer Blog, April 18, 2016.

Evidence of Lack of Insurance Determined Irrelevant in Car Accident Claim, Illinois Injury Lawyer Blog, April 30, 2016.

Court Considers Causation Issues in Defective Gun Case, Illinois Injury Lawyer Blog, March 8, 2016.