If youre a resident of Illinois, you might need to sue the state at some point. Heres how to do it, and why you might need to.
When you ask how can you sue Illinois, youre actually asking how to sue the state government. This is different from suing a private citizen or business, because the state has sovereign immunity for many things. State sovereign immunity means that the state cant be sued unless it agrees to be sued, or unless theres a specific law that allows you to sue the state.
There are a few reasons why you might need to sue Illinois. Maybe you were injured by a state employee, or were injured in a state owned building.
Whatever the reason, if you need to sue Illinois, heres how to do it.
In this Article
Does the State of Illinois have immunity from lawsuits?
Fortunately, the Court of Claims Act is broad and covers most claims of negligence similar to what the Federal Tort Claims Act will allow a person to pursue against the federal government in a personal injury lawsuit.
So, under the Court of Claims Act, it is possible to pursue personal injury claims against Illinois for negligence including:
Most automobile accidents - including accidents with state government employees driving government vehicles including, trucks, patrol cars, snowplows, and construction vehicles
Premises liability accidents - including accidents caused by damaged and cracked sidewalks and roads as well as poor maintenance of state-owned buildings
Police brutality - including unlawful pursuits and shootings as well as civil rights claims
To bring a claim, you must file a complaint with the Illinois Court of Claims, which has exclusive jurisdiction. Seven judges that are appointed by the governor preside over the court. While the Court of Claims Acts usually limits recovery to $100,000, there are exceptions when the incident involved operation of a government motor vehicle by a government employee.
An Experienced Attorney Can Help
Navigating the Illinois Court of Claims and its unique rules can be confusing even for lawyers. Fortunately, The Kryder Law Groups litigation team has extensive experience litigating before the Court of Claims and is familiar with state law.
Our team of personal injury lawyers will help you develop a theory to fit the circumstances of your personal injury case against a government entity.
What do I need to prove?
Most claims against the State of Illinois can be filed under ordinary negligence. When you sue the government, to prove negligence, you must show that:
The state owed you a duty of care; and
The state breached that duty; and
The state caused your injuries.
To prove these factors, you will need to present admissible evidence in court. Evidence oftentimes includes your testimony, testimony of eyewitnesses, and witnesses with knowledge of the accident.
Evidence against the local government can also include sworn answers to written questions (lawyers call these interrogatories), video surveillance, photographs and diagrams of the accident scene, expert witness opinions, and medical records and bills. We will help you identify and gather this evidence to argue your case at trial.
For personal injury actions, you can typically recover money damages for pain and suffering, loss of a normal life, emotional distress, lost wages, and medical bills. In some instances, your spouse may be able to file a claim for loss of consortium.
These damages are not limited to just past injuries-if the evidence shows that you suffered long term or even permanent injuries, you are entitled to compensation for your future pain and suffering as well.
What are the time limits for suing the State of Illinois?
Time limits are heavily skewed in favor of the State of Illinois. Unlike most personal injury cases, claims against the State, must be filed within one year. This is a strict deadline with few exceptions, so it is important to speak with an attorney as soon as possible so you avoid waiving your right to recovery.
What about other municipalities and government organizations?
If a particular government agency, department, or office is responsible for your injuries, you may be able to sue that government entity along with any responsible employees. Some common government organizations that The Kryder Law Group, LLC has successfully recovered against include:
Illinois State Police
Illinois Department of Corrections
Illinois Department of Children and Family Services
Illinois Secretary of State
Illinois Department of Transportation
Illinois State Board of Education
Illinois Department of Natural Resources
What are some examples of lawsuits against the State of Illinois?
With some exceptions, you can sue the State of Illinois when it negligently causes your injuries. Certain cases may be protected by governmental tort immunity, in which case you must show the conduct was willful and wanton.
Common Types of Lawsuits Against the State Government
Some examples of common lawsuits against the State of Illinois include:
Automobile Accidents: automobile accidents are not covered by tort immunity. Thus, both the driver and the State of Illinois may be held responsible for causing your injuries. If the vehicle involved was government owned, the $100,000 cap on damages also does not apply. This usually includes departmental and agency vehicles.
Failure to Maintain Roads and Sidewalks: You can hold the State of Illinois responsible for any dangerous road conditions, including potholes, cracked sidewalks, and malfunctioning traffic signals it has control over.
Negligent Maintenance of Government Buildings: Malfunctioning elevators, poorly maintained floors, and broken lights can all contribute to premises liability injuries on government property. If you were injured in a government building due to negligent maintenance, you can hold the State of Illinois responsible in court.
Police Brutality: Illinois State Police officers violate your civil rights when they engage in police brutality or use excessive force. Contrary to popular belief, police brutality is NOT covered by government immunity.
Police Pursuits: Similar to police brutality, if you are injured in a high speed chase because Illinois State Troopers did not follow pursuit policies when engaging and disengaging from dangerous police pursuits, you may hold the officers as well as the State of Illinois accountable in court for a negligent act.
What can an attorney do for me?
Suing the State of Illinois requires knowledge of both the unique procedural rules found in the Illinois Court of Claims and the defenses State departments oftentimes raise to escape liability in a legal claim. The Kryder Law Group, LLC will help you develop a theory of liability, file a notice of claim, and identity the departments and individuals responsible for your injuries.
If the State of Illinois refuses to negotiate a settlement in your favor, we will prepare and file necessary paperwork with the court. We can also identify critical evidence supporting your case, take and defend depositions, consult with expert witnesses, and argue your case in court before the judge and jury so that you receive the maximum compensation you deserve.
We offer free consultations for accident victims. Remember-there is a strict time limit, you only have one year to sue the State of Illinois for your injuries, so contact The Kryder Law Group today!
What to Expect from a Free Case Evaluation with The Kryder Law Group, LLC
During a free evaluation of your case with one of our personal injury lawyers, we will:
Discuss the details of your accident, injuries, and negligence claims against the state of local government
Identify all liable parties including the state agency or local government
Review your medical records and bills
Calculate the total cost of your current and future damages
Determine whether you have a strong case for compensation
Answer all of your questions about what it means to file a lawsuit against state officials or state governments
Provide honest feedback about your case and legal options and appraise you of the strict time limits to file a lawsuit
Help you understand the Illinois personal injury claim process
There is no obligation to hire our law firm after your free consultation, and we only get paid if we recover compensation for you. You have nothing to lose by scheduling a free case evaluation with us today!
Do I have a case?
The first step to find out if you have a case is to contact an experienced personal injury lawyer to discuss the details of your accident and injuries. Depending on the severity of your injuries and the circumstances surrounding your accident, you may have a case for compensation against the State of Illinois.
Call today for a free consultation with an experienced attorney to see if you have a case.
How to sue the Federal Government - Curious about the Federal Tort Claims Act? Learn more about how it impacts your ability to sue the United States federal government.
How to sue the City of Chicago - State or local government agencies can similarly be held liable for negligence. Learn more about how to sue a city or local government agency.