If you are injured by the careless conduct of an individual or a private organization in Nevada, you might want to bring a personal injury lawsuit in Nevada's civil courts. But what if your accident was caused by the negligence of a government agency or employee? In that situation, you can't just go to court and file a lawsuit. Instead, you’ll need to comply with the rules for filing injury claims against state and local governments in Nevada. We'll discuss some of those rules in this article.
Injury claims against the state government in Nevada are governed by Chapter 41 of the Nevada Annotated Code(NAC).
These rules provide a way for people injured by the government -- or its officers, agents, and employees -- to skirt the traditional rule of “sovereign immunity.” This rule originated in England and was adopted by governments in the United States. Traditionally, the king (or sovereign) was immune from lawsuits. Citizens could not sue the king, even if the king’s actions caused them harm, because it was believed that "the king can do no wrong."
Today, while all fifty U.S. states still acknowledge the rule of sovereign immunity, all have created statutory exceptions to that rule, allowing injured persons to sue the state government in certain cases.
Generally speaking, if the party that caused the injury was the state government or a government employee carrying out his or her job duties at the time, the injured person can seek compensation from the state. The injured person will then need to show that the state (and or a state employee) caused the claimed injury. Usually that means showing negligence on the part of the wrongdoer. Learn more about Negligence, the Duty of Care, and Fault for an Accident.
So, that means an injury claim against the state government could be brought if it can be shown that the government or one of its employees caused or contributed to a:
Nevada’s tort claims act contains specific rules for filing an injury claim against the government. In order to start the process, the injured person must file a written, signed claim with the Nevada State Board of Examiners.
The written claim must include the following information:
The state Department of Risk Management has a tort claim form available on its Web site.
The attorney general’s office will review any properly-submitted claim and decide whether to approve or deny it. If the claim is approved, the state pays the claimant's losses. If the claim is denied, the injured person has the option to file a civil lawsuit in a Nevada court and seek damages.
Any claim brought against the state in Nevada must be filed within 2 years of the date of injury. If the claim is not filed within two years, it will be rejected by both the state and the courts. In addition, damages in claims against the state government are capped, or limited, to $100,000 per claim. Punitive damages may not be awarded in injury claims against the government.
Sometimes, a claim arises from an injury or accident involving a local or municipal government employee or official -- for instance, a car accident involving a county employee who is on the job, or a slip and fall accident inside a city office building.
Injury claims against local governments are similar to those made against the state government, in terms of process. For instance, the claim must begin with a written notice filed with the local or municipal government that is allegedly to blame for what happened. Some local governments, such as the City of Las Vegas, offer injury claim forms or instructions for filing a claim on their Web sites.