Sovereign Immunity

If you’ve been injured in accident or by the negligence of a city, municipality, or state government, you may hear the phrase, “sovereign immunity.” The term “sovereign immunity,” originates from England and stood for the idea that the king could not be sued in his own lands, and that the kind could do no wrong.

It basically meant that the king, or government could not be sued. Here in America, our courts adopted this idea, but modified it to keep in place our separation of powers, preserve the function of the government to act out of what is in the best interests of the people and not out of fear of being sued, and to protect the public treasury from having to pay out to every citizen who may file a lawsuit.

Does this all mean that an injured person cannot sue a government agency who may be responsible for their injury? The answer is no, because in Florida, our legislature has waived sovereign immunity. Florida’s government decided that the citizen’s right to recover for their damages against the government’s negligent or tortious conduct outweighed the original reasons for sovereign immunity, which are described in the above paragraph.

Florida, while having waived its right to sovereign immunity, does limit the amount of damages that an injured citizen can recover against the government and also precludes lawsuits based on discretionary and inherent government activities. If you’ve been injured as a result of the negligence of a state, county, or municipal agency, it is important to speak with a Tampa personal injury attorney about if you can sue and any potential limits on how much the agency has to compensate you for your damages.