Sovereign Immunity and Statutory Cap on Damages Hurts Plaintiffs in Cases Against the Government

DECEMBER 11, 2016:

As a personal injury lawyer that helps those hurt in accidents, a common misconception clients often have is that cases arising out of negligence of governmental entities lead to the most profitable recoveries.  This could not be further from the truth.  Most, if not all, cases against the government in Florida are not covered by liability insurance such as cases against private entities.

Car accident, slip and fall, or general liability cases against the government fall within Florida Statute, Section 768.28.  While that statute exhaustively sets forth rules and requirements for bringing a suit against a governmental entity, the most relevant portion is the statutory cap on damages for plaintiffs.  According to Section 768.28(5), “[n]either the state nor its agencies or subdivisions shall be liable to pay a claim or a judgment by any one person which exceeds the sum of $200,000.”  With respect to cases against the state or local government involving multiple plaintiffs, the maximum amount required to be paid under 768.28(5) is only $300,000.

The operation of this statutory cap reveals itself following a verdict in favor of the plaintiff and against the government.  In the instance where a plaintiff sustains a serious injury in a car accident or premises case against the city or state, the jury may certainly render a verdict well in excess of the $200,000 statutory limit outlined in Section 768.28.  However, following the return of that verdict and prior to judgment, the judge presiding over the case immediately lowers the verdict down to $200,000.  This is non-discretionary.

The clear advantage the government has under the statute lends itself to a strategy of conveying offers prior to trial that are significantly less than typical defendants would offer that are covered under private insurance not subject to the cap.  Effectively, at trial the government is playing with “house money” because on their absolute worst day in court the maximum judgment against them is only $200,000 – this applies to all types of cases, including those involving wrongful death.

For accident and injury lawyers in Florida, having a clear comprehension of Section 768.28 is tantamount to providing the best representation for clients injured by the negligence of government entities.

Injured in a car accident or slip and fall?  Contact our Aventura Personal Injury Lawyers today by CLICKING HERE!

Brandon Stein

Chief Executive Officer

Brandon Stein, the owner and founder of SteinLaw, is a Florida-based trial attorney who focuses on personal injury cases such as wrongful death, car accident, slip and fall, and a variety of other civil litigation areas. Being a former associate at a prominent Florida Defense Law Firm, Brandon Stein understands the strategy and tactics...[READ BIO]