If you’ve been hurt by a government agency or one of its employees, you can hold that government entity financially responsible for what you’ve suffered. The Missouri Tort Claims Act governs personal injury cases brought against the state. Before pursuing a claim under the MTCA, you need to understand the requirements of the Act and the procedures for filing a claim against the government in Missouri.
Understanding the Missouri Tort Claims Act
By default, the state of Missouri, including its governmental agencies and officials acting in their official capacity, enjoys sovereign immunity from lawsuits. The doctrine of sovereign immunity, which comes from old English common law, holds that persons and entities cannot sue the ruling authority. In the England that gave rise to this doctrine, that authority was the titular sovereign. In our more egalitarian system, that authority is our elected government.
However, Missouri and other governmental entities in the U.S. have recognized the unfairness of having immunity from various types of civil claims, including citizens’ personal injury claims. In response, the Missouri legislature enacted the Missouri Tort Claims Act, which serves as a limited waiver of the state’s sovereign immunity. Under the MTCA, the state agrees to accept liability for these specific types of tort claims listed in the Act:
- A public employee, while acting in the course of their employment, negligently or recklessly injuring someone in a motor vehicle accident
- A person suffering injuries in an accident caused by a dangerous condition of government property
However, because the MTCA only waives the state’s sovereign immunity on a limited basis, the government can establish specific procedures to pursue a claim under the Act, different from those involved in filing a typical personal injury claim.
Filing a Claim Under the MTCA
Missouri law typically gives a personal injury victim five years to file a lawsuit against the person to blame for their injuries. However, under the MTCA, someone who has suffered harm because of a public employee or agency must provide written notice of their claim to the appropriate government agency or official within 90 days of their injury. An injured person who fails to file a timely notice of their claim with the government may lose the opportunity to recover compensation altogether. After receiving written notice of the claim, the relevant government agency will investigate and may offer compensation for injuries and losses.
The Missouri Tort Claims Act also limits the amount of compensation recoverable from the government. The law limits the state’s liability to $2 million for all claims arising from a single accident or occurrence, with each person injured in a single accident or occurrence entitled to recover up to $300,000. The law also bars awards of punitive or exemplary damages against the state. As a result, you can recover no more than $300,000 in a personal injury claim against the government.
Contact a Personal Injury Attorney Today
If you’ve been hurt because of the negligence or fault of a government agency or public employee in Missouri, you could be entitled to compensation. Contact Holland Injury Law LLC today for a free, no-obligation consultation to discuss your rights and options for seeking financi