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.
The governor must then sign the bill.
The settlement payment for the 72-year-old North Palm Beach resident has been withheld for three years while the House and Senate continue to wrangle over system reform. Meanwhile, the man’s son, desperate to get his father the help that could save his life, recently visited the capitol to plead his case.
He told the Palm Beach Post, “My dad’s a victim here. He was a victim when he was hit by the school bus. And now he’s a victim because he can’t get the help he needs.”
The law firm of Farah & Farah is dedicated to helping our clients’ through the long haul and will do whatever it takes to see that they get the compensation they deserve. When you need the help of experienced, top-notch legal professionals, contact us online or call us at (800) 533-3555.