We are currently in a time of particularly heightened awareness concerning misconduct on the part of government agents and entities. There’s the kerfuffle underway over how Hillary Clinton used a private computer server to manage her work and personal email while Secretary of State.
Perhaps more serious are the issues related to cases of alleged police misconduct that have ended up with individuals being hurt or killed. The tensions in Ferguson, Missouri, come to mind in this regard, as do recent cases out of New York and Los Angeles.
And there’s also the case of the man who is looking at suing the FBI for $30 million. He’s claiming that his son, who happened to be a friend of dead Boston Marathon bombing suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev, was killed at the hands of an agent who should never have been hired by the bureau.
Whether there is any merit to this case is something that may well be sorted out by the courts before any litigation occurs. That’s because police officers are granted generally broad powers in the course of performing their jobs. At the same time, civil rights laws represent lines in the sand that authorities cannot cross. And if the courts determine those laws haven’t been violated, then a suit may be difficult to press.
There are instances, however, in which it may be possible to sue a government agency under North Carolina’s State Tort Claims Act. These might include situations in which the driver of a state agency vehicle was responsible for an injury-causing accident. If the accident was due to defective road design or maintenance, that might be reason to bring action. There might also be cause if you suffer an injury due to improper maintenance at a state property.
But suits against the government are handled under different rules than in civil court. This means that if you are thinking about pursuing such action, you need an attorney who understands the differences.