Sovereign Immunity in Washington, D.C. Lawsuits Against Universities

Governmental immunity, historically referred to as sovereign immunity, is a legal theory that protects government personnel and agencies from civil lawsuits. The premise stems from the idea that governments would not be able to effectively function if they feared constant liability for all of their actions. However, to address the fundamental unfairness of this doctrine, many jurisdictions limit the amount of immunity that a governmental entity enjoys. These laws are generally referred to as “tort claims acts.” In Washington, D.C., individuals who believe they suffered damages because of the negligence of a government entity should contact an attorney to discuss their rights and remedies.

The U.S. Department of Education requires that teachers, principals, and other school administrators protect their students and provide them with appropriate educational environments. However, the law often protects these institutions from lawsuits. Additionally, lawsuits that can proceed often require plaintiffs to abide by burdensome filing and notice requirements.

Lawsuits against governments encompass many other complex issues. One issue is whether the potential defendant falls under the protected category. For instance, in some cases, a negligent university or college may enjoy governmental immunity protections, whereas another similar institution may not. This largely depends on the type of institution and the type of funding they receive from the government.

For example, recently, a state appellate court issued an opinion that affects many Washington, D.C. plaintiffs. The court addressed governmental immunity in a lawsuit against a private university. In that case, the family of a student who was shot by a university peace officer, filed a lawsuit against the university. The defendant asserted their governmental immunity as a defense to the lawsuit. They argued that the doctrine protects them from lawsuits related to their law-enforcement activities. In their opinion, the court examined whether the entity acted as an arm of the state government. They ultimately found that purely private institutions do not act as such, and therefore, they are not afforded the doctrine’s benefits.

Students who suffer injuries because of the negligence of a Washington, D.C. school, college, or university should contact an attorney to determine whether they have a viable lawsuit. These lawsuits often stem from injuries that a person suffered while on a school’s property, such as during athletic events or on the playground. Other cases arise from school bus injuries, sexual assaults, or similar acts of violence.

Have You Been Injured at a Washington, D.C. School, College, or University?

If you or someone you know was injured as a result of a negligent government entity, you should contact the Washington, D.C. injury attorneys at Lebowitz & Mzhen, Personal Injury Lawyers. The experienced trial attorneys at our law firm can help you pursue a claim for recovery against negligent government entities. These lawsuits encompass many complex legal issues and we possess the skills and resources to overcome even the most challenging cases. We have recovered significant amounts of compensation on behalf of our clients in all types of cases, including Washington, D.C. slip and fall accidents and other premises liability cases. Contact our office at 800-654-1949 to schedule a free initial consultation with a Washington, D.C. injury attorney at our law firm.

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