Suing a Governmental Entity

Suing a governmental entity for personal injuries you have sustained can be a real challenge. In most cases, there are mandatory notice requirements you must file properly before you can even bring a lawsuit.

A  Tort Claims Notice has to be sent to the governmental entity involved. It is easy to run afoul of the procedural requirements involved with a Tort Claims Notice, and that is why you need an experienced lawyer to help guide you through the governmental bureaucracy.

Tort Claims Notice Requirements differ in Idaho, Washington, Montana and Federal Court.

If your claim involves any of the following types of entities or their employees, you will need to file a Tort Claims Notice before you can bring suit:

  • Hospital or Nursing Home established by a County or City;
  • State office or department;
  • State agency, authority, commission or board;
  • State hospital;
  • State college or university;
  • County;
  • City;
  • Municipal Corporation;
  • Health District;
  • School District;
  • Any other State or local governmental entity

When does the Tort Claims Notice have to be filed?

The Tort Claim Notice has to be filed within a certain number of days from the date of your injuries. If you do not file your Tort Claims Notice within this time frame, then you will not have the right to pursue recovery for your injuries.

Where does the Tort Claims Notice have to be filed?

It depends on the governmental entity involved in the incident. This can be tricky and fatal to your claim if not done right.

There is no special form to fill out, but the Tort Claims Notice does have to contain certain information.  The Tort Claims Notice has to specify:

  • The conduct and circumstances which brought about the injury;
  • The nature of the injury or damage;
  • The time and place the injury or damage occurred;
  • The names of all persons involved;
  • The amount of damages claimed:
  • The residence of the claimant at the time of filing the Tort Claims Notice;
  • The residence of the claimant for a period of six months before the filing of the Tort Claims Notice

What happens after I file a Tort Claims Notice?

The governmental entity involved in the incident has 90 days to respond to a Tort Claims Notice. There are three types of responses that the governmental entity may make: (1) admit the claim and offer to settle; (2) deny the claim; or (3) fail to respond within the 90-day time frame. If the governmental entity denies the claim or fails to respond within the 90-day time frame, then you have the right to sue. You can reject the offer and file suit to recover more money than offered.

Is there a limit to the damages that can be recovered from a governmental entity?

A person or family survivors who may have a claim against a governmental entity may not be able to recover more than $500,000 for his or her injuries. There are, however, exceptions to this rule. It is important to discuss these exceptions with your attorney.

Can I recover punitive damages against a governmental entity?

No. Idaho law unequivocally states that punitive damages are not allowed against a governmental entity.


If you have a claim against a government office, consult with an attorney immediately. There are very short time limitations to preserving your claim.