In the state of Florida, even if a person reaches a settlement with a negligent party, it doesn’t mean he or she will automatically collect the promised compensation – especially if the settlement falls under Florida’s “sovereign immunity” law.
The personal injury attorneys at Farah & Farah in Jacksonville recently discovered a story that exemplifies the complex and frustrating aspects of sovereign immunity protections in Florida – and underscores why you need an experienced and tenacious law firm on your side when dealing with a public entity.
In 2008, an elderly man was hit by a Palm Beach County School bus, and the school board agreed to pay him $1.9 million in compensation for damages.
Done deal. Right?
Because of Florida’s sovereign immunity law, the maximum a plaintiff can collect from a public entity is $200,000, plus an extra $100,000 for dependents where that applies. If the award is higher than that, a plaintiff now faces a byzantine process called a “claims bill.” In a nutshell, the Florida legislature must pass a special law to approve any higher compensation for a plaintiff. This requires the hiring of a lobbyist, finding sponsors, getting committee votes and seeking passage of the bill in the House and Senate.