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Clearwater Mayor says City Employees must Drive More Carefully

Clearwater, Florida Mayor George Cretekos remarked in the Clearwater Beacon, that the city has recently been burdened by a number of injury claims due to negligent city employees. The Clearwater City Council recently approved a $57,500 payment to Jameel Zubadi, to resolve an injury claim relating to a September 2013 motor vehicle accident.

The Mayor himself has described this type of occurrence as far too common as an abundance of negligent claims have been paid by the city due to employees failing to exercise due caution on local roadways. I have previously discussed “Sovereign Immunity” (Florida Statute 768.28, entitled “Waiver of sovereign immunity in tort actions …”) cases in the past, on our Dolman Law Blog. Just to briefly recap,

“Sovereign Immunity can bar suits even when the City, State, and other government agencies and their employees are negligent and cause injuries to an individual. In other works, it’s a judicial doctrine that prevents the government or its subdivisions, departments, and agencies from being sued without their consent. It stems from the ancient English principle that “the monarch can do no wrong.”

What is Sovereign Immunity?

In laymen’s terms, when a plaintiff is involved in a car crash with a city vehicle, there is a distinct and detailed process that must be followed. First and foremost, proper notice must be provided to the municipality which gives the city 180 days to evaluate the claim and provide and offer or denial. This safe harbor period is required before a law suit can be filed on behalf of the client. The cap on a recovery is limited to $200,000 per person with a maximum of $300,000 in any single action. The statute additionally caps attorney’s fees at 25% of the recovery in these types of cases.

Sadly, very few claims are resolved without having to file a lawsuit.  The reason being is that the statute severely restricts the exposure of the municipality due to the cap on damages.  In the typical claims process, insurance carriers have bad faith exposure (https://www.dolmanlaw.com/practice-area/insurance-bad-faith/) if they fail to exercise reasonable diligence. According to Florida Administrative Code, Claims Adjusters must conduct themselves in a reasonable manner when evaluating a claim. In contrast, there is zero exposure for insurance carrier bad faith in Sovereign Immunity Cases.

Luckily the Negligence has not caused any Deaths

Mayor Cretekos stated, “I hope that we can figure out a way to explain to our employees that this costs the city money when they’re not careful…We’re lucky that so far we’re only talking about a loss of property, a destruction of property, not a loss of life.” I tend to agree with the Honorable Mayor and I eagerly look forward to seeing what steps the City Council and Mayor’s office take to limit the tragedy caused by negligent city drivers.

As Clearwater based Personal Injury and Civil Trial Attorneys, Dolman Law Group feels that our responsibility is to ethically represent clients and hold those that cause harm responsible. We have the resources and experience necessary to litigate your case if a municipality is responsible. Rest assured we will hold the responsible party accountable. Consultations are always complimentary and there is no fee paid unless we make a recovery on your behalf.

Contact your Personal Injury Team at 727-451-6900.

Dolman Law Group
800 North Belcher Road
Clearwater, FL 33765