Personal Injury

Get the Legal Assistance You Need for Your Claim Against the Government

Is it possible to sue the government for personal injury in New Jersey?  What about government employees?  Sometimes, yes.  The answer really depends on the facts and circumstances of the case, and that’s what makes this an especially complicated area of the law.

Our firm can assist you in making certain that your right to pursue a claim against the government is protected.  Lawsuits brought against public entities and/or their employees are governed by Title 59 of the New Jersey Statutes.

Title 59 establishes certain limits on when a public entity can be sued and for how much.  In some situations, the public defendants may have total immunity.  This is called “sovereign immunity.”  However, in many cases, people who have been injured by governmental actions or inaction can seek compensation for their damages.

At Petro Cohen Petro Matarazzo, we take governmental negligence seriously. When you’re injured because someone else failed to act appropriately, regardless of whether the negligent party was public or private, you deserve justice.  And we’ll do everything we can to put the law on your side.

Suing the government in New Jersey might seem overwhelming. You might feel like you’re taking on a giant or that you can’t possibly win. But with an experienced New Jersey personal injury attorney on your side, you’re on equal footing. We’re here to fight for your rights and speak up on your behalf.

When Can You Sue the Government in New Jersey?

Claims against public entities generally work just like any other personal injury lawsuit, but some special limitations apply. Many of these limitations are very specific. Some of the more notable rules are set forth below.

  • Public figures have limited immunity if they accidentally cause an injury because of a judgment or decision they made in good faith as part of their job. But even then, they can’t act recklessly or show complete disregard for your safety.
  • Public employees are not immune if they were acting outside the scope of their public duties when they caused the injury. In other words, if the injury was unrelated to their job tasks, they are unlikely to qualify for governmental immunity.
  • Public employees are never immune from responsibility for actual fraud, crimes, willful misconduct, or other outrageous behavior.
  • When suing governmental parties, claims for emotional pain and suffering are only allowed if you have suffered substantial and permanent disfigurement, dismemberment, or loss of bodily function. To prove the permanent injury, you’ll need to show objective medical evidence.
  • If your case goes to trial, the court will decide how much of the injury was the government’s fault and limit your award accordingly. As a general example, if you have a $100,000 injury but the court decides the government agency/employee was only 80% at fault, you’ll only receive $80,000.  An attorney can tell you more about how damages might be calculated in your case.

These are only a few of the special limitations that apply to claims brought against public entities. Title 59 contains numerous provisions that may or may not govern your situation, and you should consult with a New Jersey personal injury attorney to understand how the law might treat your case.

Special Procedures for Claims Against Public Entities in NJ

State law also imposes special time limits and procedures for pursuing claims against public entities in New Jersey.

First, you must file a formal notice of your intention to sue. You must file such notice within 90 days from the date on which you were injured. (Or, if you were a minor at the time, you can file within 90 days of your 18th birthday.) Failure to file the notice on time will bar your lawsuit forever. For a tort claim notice against the State of NJ, see the following link:

This form is for the State of New Jersey. Each individual municipality may have its own form, but the required contents of the notices would be similar to if not identical to those requested in the State form.  You can contact the individual municipality directly for their form.

In addition to the formal notice, you must also send a certified letter to any public party that may share in the liability for your injuries. This includes county, municipal, and state agencies, as well as their employees. The certified letter must include all of the following:

  • Your name and address
  • The date, location, and circumstances of your injury
  • A general description of your injuries and/or the losses you have incurred as a result
  • Names of the public agencies/employees allegedly at fault for your injuries or damages (if known)
  • An estimate of the cost of your injuries and the resulting losses, including estimated future expenses

Once your lawsuit is settled or a court ruling is reached, you will no longer be able to pursue additional claims against those same entities/employees for the same injury.

Injuries Related to Public Property

Claims against public entities in New Jersey often involve injuries that occurred on public property. A public entity is responsible for injuries caused by the condition of its property if

  • The property was dangerous at the time of the accident
  • Your injury was caused by the dangerous condition
  • It was reasonably foreseeable that the dangerous condition might cause your kind of injury
  • The entity/employee created the dangerous condition — or at least knew about it (or should have known) and had reasonable time to fix it

You’ll need to prove each of these elements. A New Jersey personal injury attorney can help you understand what kinds of proof you might need.

Public entities can also be held liable when they know about potential hazards but fail to properly warn the public, resulting in injury. But the government will probably be immune if the hazard relates to unoccupied/undeveloped land, forestry, weather conditions (including acts of God), or ordinary traffic signals.

For more information on Title 59, which governs claims against public entities, visit

Lawsuits Against Federal Agencies and/or Employees

The information we have set forth on this page applies to claims against public entities in New Jersey.  For lawsuits brought against the federal government and/or its employees, different rules apply.  Federal law has its own provisions relating to sovereign immunity.  We would be happy to discuss your potential Federal case as well.

Talk to a New Jersey Personal Injury Attorney About Suing the Government in New Jersey

If you have been injured as a result of government action or inaction, a New Jersey personal injury attorney can help.  The law in this area is complicated and always evolving, but you are not alone.  To learn more, call (888) 675-7607 and schedule a free legal consultation with our office today.

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