Suing the State of Michigan: What to Know | Goodwin & Scieszka

Suing Michigan: What to Know

by / Monday, 03 February 2014 / Published in Goodwin & Scieszka, Personal Injury

When you’ve been injured in an accident of any kind, filing a lawsuit is supposed to help bring justice by holding people accountable and giving the victim the compensation they need for recovery. But holding people accountable isn’t always easy. Often, the system is stacked against the little guy when certain types of entities are involved, like the government. But that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s impossible.

Can You Sue the State of Michigan?

Generally speaking, Michigan has complete civil (tort) immunity regarding governmental functions that cause injury. But, there are some scenarios in which you’re eligible to bring a cause of action and make the government a defendant.

If the state is acting in a proprietary function – this is defined as an action that derives a profit – you can sue and name Michigan as a defendant in the lawsuit. An example of this would be a Michigan (public) hospital.

Blue background with a deer and moose standing next to an eagle atop a crest

The government has an obligation to maintain public buildings that are under its control (i.e. the responsibility hasn’t been delegated to an independent contractor). Liability is limited:

  1. The building must be open for public use
  2. There must be a defective condition
  3. The government had constructive knowledge of the defective condition at the time of injury and
  4. The government failed to take action necessary to rectify the situation

Car Accidents Involving Michigan Government Vehicles

Government owned vehicles are responsible for damages as a result of the negligent operation by their officers, agents and employees. Generally speaking, government employees have a lot of rules protecting them from negligence lawsuits over things that happen in the course of their jobs, but car accidents are an exception. If you’re injured after getting into a car accident with a state employee who was driving a government-owned vehicle as part of their job, you may be able to file a lawsuit.

Can You Sue for Accidents Caused by Michigan Potholes?

Highway safety is important. Therefore, the governmental agency responsible for the highway (that has jurisdiction) must keep the highway safe for Michigan residents and fellow commuters. This is not a broad exception to the general rule that you can’t sue the government. This is a narrowly tailored exception that only arises if conditions are met on state-maintained roads:

  1. The government knew or should have known about the defect in the highway
  2. The government had to know of the defect at least 30 days prior to the injury
  3. The governmental agency does not breach its duty when it fails to remove a natural accumulation of snow and ice

If those three criteria are met, claims for damages up to $1,000 can be made against MDOT. If damages exceed $1,000, you will need to file a lawsuit against MDOT to recover your damages. It’s important to note that this only applies to state roads. If you have damages because of poor road conditions on a road maintained by a county, you will need to make your claim through the county instead of MDOT. Damages caused by poor road conditions in the city of Detroit also have their own claim process.

Goodwin & Scieszka wants to remind you that if you’ve been injured, contact our Birmingham, Michigan personal injury lawyers  — especially if your injury involves government property or employees. Lawsuits against government entities can be particularly complex so it’s very important to have an experienced lawyer on your side who can make sure your case is handled appropriately and fight for you to get the compensation you need.

We specialize in the following cases, and many more:

If you have been injured in any type of accident, contact us immediately by phone or email. You pay nothing until we take your case to trial or settle. With over 30 years of litigation experience representing the “little guy” against the largest insurance companies, corporations, and hospitals, we’ll get you the money you deserve.

Explore our website to find out more information on the services we provide and why we have been named Michigan Super Lawyers for the last eight years and Dbusiness’s Top Lawyers for the last three. Whatever your accident or injury, we are ready to Win Your Case!

Call us at 1-888-GOODWIN (466-3946)

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  • Matt Clark

    I would like to sue the state of Michigan over its State of Limitation law. I was a UPS driver in Battle Creek for 15yrs. I started having back problems, took some pain shots so I could keep going. On my 4th one the Dr. stuck it in too far and got it inside my spine. I’ll never forget it because my wife was with me and my intestines fell out at a restruant right after. But the Dr explained it away as the amount of drug was used relaxed my spixter muscle. A few month later the back got so bad my Nero suggested back surgery (2003). I had it done and as soon as I came to he explained to I could never do the work I had been doing again(UPS Driver). there had been more damage then could be ssen and If I went back to driving I would be in a wheelchair in 6 months. So since UPS would’nt ocomendate my limintation I retired early and started the long road in trying to get SSD. After moving to state of TN and trying to work in the trades I started passing out while picking up somthing heavy. I told my wife and she made me go to a Nero down here. He discoverd through a Mylowgram(2009) I had a trimendus amount of Scar-tissue on the inside of my spine and diagnosed me with Adheasive Arachnoiditis or AA. He said, some how somthing got on the inside of my spinal cord and started asking me about my life and if I had been in a car accident. I told him about the Pain shots and my ass falling out. He said thats it, and I now have a Chemical Menigits for the rest of my life. That is slowly killing me and giving me increased pain. I applyed again for SSD and got it with this diagnoses. But I wanted to go after the Pain Dr. that did this to me. Every Attorney I spoke with said nothing could be done because of Michigans Statue of Limintation law. Yes I didnt know he had done this to me until point of discovery in 2009. I guess it still didnt matter. So now I was wondering if I could Sue the State of Michigan becuase of there Statue of Limintation laws?