How to Sue a City Government

Like any other public or private entity, a city can be held legally accountable for damages that it causes to others. For example, if you slip and fall on the ice on the steps of city hall, you may be able to sue the city in the same manner as you would if you sustained a similar injury on the premises of a private corporation.

Nonetheless, suing a city poses a set of unique challenges and problems. Most states have statutes on the books regulating lawsuits against city governments. These statutes often give cities “immunity” against certain forms of lawsuits. If the legal action you are contemplating falls under this category, you will unfortunately be out of luck unless you can somehow frame your claim in such a way that it does not fall under the statute.

Needless to say, these statutes can be frustrating to persons seeking redress of just grievances against city governments. On the other hand, cities have been, and still are, the targets of countless frivolous suits that eat up taxpayer dollars.

In any event, suing a city is not a simple matter. You will need to hire an attorney versed not only in tort and injury law, but also in the statutes regarding lawsuits against cities.

As with any suit, your first step is to gather evidence and to determine exactly what you are suing for, and why.

If you wish, you can do some online research into the statutes of your state, and try to find out if cities can be sued for the kind of injury involved.

Soon, however, you’ll want to talk to a lawyer. An attorney experienced in such matters will usually be able to quickly ascertain whether your suit can proceed. If not, there is nothing that can be done.

If so, your lawsuit will be filed in the normal manner. It will be important for you to identify exactly who was involved in the injury or other matter for which you are suing. Your attorney will guide you through this process. He or she will also help you determine the amount you should sue for. Statutes often limit the dollar amount for damages for which cities can be sued.

Some say “you can’t fight city hall.” That’s not entirely true. Many people have fought city hall, and won. However, the law is usually rigged in favor of city hall, and against those who have the audacity to sue it.

Need Legal Help?

Are you thinking about filing a lawsuit, or is someone suing you? Don't go it alone...we strongly recommend you consult an attorney, since only a licensed attorney is qualified—and allowed—to advise and help you with your specific legal situation.

If you don't have an attorney, contact your local bar association, or use our free lawyer referral service. Just call (866) 272-6990 to be referred to a lawyer in your area. There is no cost to you or obligation of any kind.

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4 Responses to How to Sue a City Government

  1. Peter Cornelius Thurman says:

    In 2009, the city of bremerton threatened to make my home uninhabitable, if I did not let them replace my septic system with an electric sewer system. Today, the city states that I am paying for the electric sewer system and will continue to pay for life. The city lied about the electric sewer system effect on my monthly utility bills as they were only supposed to increase by about $25; however, they have instead increased by about $400. Further, the electric sewer system construction was so poor, that it had to be replaced. I am in need of a legal professional Pro Bono to hold the city accountable for this fiasco.

  2. Danny Kabat says:

    A 9 year old fully functional driveway/crossing was destroyed on April 12, 2018 by the road guy bcoz of his personal difference & the board almost refuses to respond. This has cost me $2500 so far. All i want is for the crossing to be restorede to its original width of 30′. Seems i am left with no choice but to file suit. What is the best avenue..???

  3. Danny Kabat says:

    9 years & 3 commissioners ago a 30′ driveway/crossing was constructed as access to my property for equipment/trucking/general usage. The current road guy destroyed the access on April 12, 2018 & has failed to replace it to original width…it is now only 18′ wide & mostly useless for its intended purpose. This has obstructed & cost me sales of product & all i want is for its original width to be restored as consistent with any & all other crossings in this township for agricultural business. I have contacted board members with no remedy or even any response. This needs to be addressed immediately or i am let with no option but to file suit to restore this to original specs & recover lost revenue. What is the easiest avenue…??

  4. Zhade E says:

    About a month ago I was walking to the bus stop to go to work when I stunned my toe on an uneven sidewalk n ended up ripping my cuticle on my left foot about a week later I found out that I had gotten a cuticle infection n was walking around with a book on my foot causing me pain. Now I’m trying to sue my city for pain n suffering any one kno any good laywers so i can sue. Because its hard cuz no one wants to take the case on

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