Although many personal injury accidents involve two private citizens, some claims involve a municipality. Whether it involves the unsafe design of a roadway or the failure to provide warnings about dangerous conditions on property under government control, claims against municipalities are common. There are different rules that apply when someone is suing a city or other local agency alleging that it engaged in negligent conduct and that he or she suffered harm as a result. There are some situations in which a municipality will be granted immunity from suit and it is critical to understand how these laws may apply to your claim. At Therman Law Offices, our Chicago personal injury lawyers are standing by and prepared to help you determine whether you have a valid claim against a local agency for your injuries.
A recent appellate opinion explores government immunity in negligence lawsuits. The plaintiff filed a claim alleging that he was injured when the front tire of his bike went into a hole created by a broken grating bar on a bridge in Chicago. The cyclist was traveling on the paved roadway of a designated bicycling route during morning traffic when the accident occurred. The complaint that he filed against the city alleged that it was negligent in failing to repair the hole and by making the bridge a part of the designated bicycle route even though the bridge was unreasonably dangerous. In general, the Illinois Court of Claims Act and the Governmental Employees Tort Immunity Act apply to negligence claims brought against the government and its employees. In general, a claim against a local government must be based on willful and wanton conduct and cannot simply be based on carelessness or simple negligence.
In response to the complaint, the city alleged that the bridge was reasonably safe, that the plaintiff was comparatively negligent, and that the city was protected from lawsuits regarding its design of bicycle routes through the government tort immunity laws in Illinois. After hearing evidence from witnesses and experts, the jury concluded that the plaintiff was contributorily negligent, that the city was entitled to immunity, and that the city was not negligent in its design of the bike path, including the bridge. The plaintiff appealed the lower court’s denial of a motion for a new trial among other allegations of error.