You need an experienced, highly skilled municipality liability attorney if you have cause to file a personal injury claim against a town, city or district or, in some cases, against one of its employees.
If you or a loved one has suffered harm because of the actions or negligence of an employee of your Tennessee municipality, you should seek the assistance of Cummings Law in Nashville. We are a practice with a well-earned reputation for being empathic, thorough, and efficient. Our lead attorney, Brian Cummings, not only has outstanding credentials but a history of winning successful outcomes for his clients.
Immunity of Municipal Employees and Boards
In spite of Harry Truman’s famous sign “The Buck Stops Here,” many government officials are not eager to take responsibility for their actions. As a matter of fact, throughout the country, municipal officials are protected by immunity against most types of tort (civil) liability which is, instead, assumed by the municipality that employees them. Nonetheless, in 1973 The Tennessee Tort Liability Act (TTLA) restricted the sovereign immunity municipalities and counties.
Where does the concept of governmental/municipal employee immunity come from?
In certain ways the concept of municipal immunity from liability resembles the principle of diplomatic immunity, though the latter extends to criminal activity as well as torts. Municipal immunity stems from the idea that the person who commits the error is either:  unable because of low status to understand the risk of his/her actions or  cannot be held liable because she/he is acting on behalf of the government.
When the Municipality is Liable for Your Injuries
Generally, the municipality assumes liability under the TTLA for injuries if you were hurt by a municipal motor vehicle, a damaged/unrepaired street, or a defective or dangerous public building. The municipality is also liable for any other employee negligence that does not involve “employee discretion” (i.e. judgment or decision-making). There is an exception, however. If the municipal employee causes you a personal injury that is willful, malicious, criminal or performed for personal gain — in other words if his/her action is criminal rather than civil in nature — you will be able to sue that employee directly, whether or not the individual is criminally indicted.
A similar portion of the Tennessee Code immunizes commissions, agencies, boards, and committees. Once again the section of the code grants government employees (paid or unpaid) immunity to being sued unless their conduct is willful, wanton, or characterized by gross negligence.
Immunity is also extended to employees of educational agencies, including board members, superintendents, teachers, and non-professional staff. This immunity is specifically for acts and omissions related to the detection and removal of asbestos from structures owned or controlled by the educational agency and for the emergency communications.
Limits on Tort Injury Claims
The government also protects its municipalities by limiting the amount they can be required to pay if they lose personal injury lawsuits. The restrictions for damages paid out in successful personal injury claims by municipalities in Tennessee are:
- $300,000 for one person
- $700,000 for multiple persons
- $100,000 for property damage
It should be noted that personal injury claims that do not involve municipal liability, especially those involving severe/permanent harm, are not subject to those statutory caps that apply to government-liability claims in Tennessee.
Lawsuits Against Municipalities That We Are More Likely to Win
With all the restriction and immunity factors at play, you may feel that going after “City Hall” is too much trouble after all. This is not the case. You just have to have a tough municipality liability lawyer like Brian Cummings, on your side.
Cases involving injuries caused by one of the situations below are likely to result in a just settlement, including damages for medical expenses, rehabilitation, lost income (present and future), physical pain, emotional suffering, or long-term disability:
- Negligent driving of motor vehicles
- Defective or unsafe streets, sidewalks, alleys, traffic lights
- Dangerously damaged public buildings or structures (if prior notification has been given)
- False imprisonment, false arrest, malicious prosecution, intentional trespass
- Libel, slander, deceit, invasion of privacy, violation of civil rights
- Failure to issue a legal license or permit or suspension or revocation of such a document
As you can see, collecting on claims from municipalities is a complex and difficult process with different legal requisites than most other types of personal injury cases. You may be overwhelmed by the legal process to begin with and find municipal liability confusing and even contradictory. Leave the legal battle to us.
Contact Our Nashville Municipality Liability Attorney
Brian Cummings has in-depth knowledge and litigation talent to guide your case through government red tape. Contact Cummings Law for a free initial consultation to clarify your options. Our team can help you obtain the compensation you are entitled to. We will take over all the complicated aspects of your case so you can spend your time recuperating from your trauma. In the meantime, you pay no attorneys’ fees until we win you the verdict or settlement you deserve.