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Premises liability claims on government property

A premises liability accident can happen anywhere, even on government-maintained property -- like sidewalks and roads. For example, it is not uncommon for serious accidents to happen as a result of a malfunctioning traffic light, or because of a traffic sign that was obscured by the overgrowth of vegetation and trees. Also, accidents can happen on poorly maintained sidewalks that have big cracks or large pools of water on them.

In the past, governments enjoyed legal protection through "sovereign immunity" -- and premises liability claims could not be made against government entities. However, in 1946 Congress passed the Federal Tort Claims Act, which opened the door to plaintiffs injured on federal government property to pursue claims for damages. Although the act only covered federal government property, after it was passed, many state governments enacted legislation that mirrored it.

Generally, the legal procedure that governs the pursuit of a personal injury claim under the FTCA falls under the jurisdiction of federal law. However, the liability of the government for the act will be determined according to local state law.

Injured parties in Illinois who were hurt on government property should be aware that statutes of limitations do apply to their cases. The FTCA allows for a two-year time period in which premises liability claims against the government must be filed. If the statute of limitation period has passed, plaintiffs may be forever barred from pursuing their claims in the future. Due to the time constrictions involved, Illinois residents with potential premises liability claims against the government may wish to speak with a personal injury attorney as soon as possible following their injuries.

Source: FindLaw, "Premises Liability Claims Against the Government," accessed Feb. 24, 2016

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