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Suing a Municipality

When a personal injury occurs due to the fault of a municipality, such as a city, park district, township or county, you must have an experienced attorney on your side. Municipal entities enjoy immunities from most lawsuits in Illinois, primarily due to the Illinois Tort Immunity Act.

The Act’s purpose is to immunize local public entities and employees from negligence in executing their public duties, with limited exceptions.

One common exception is that the Act expressly eliminates immunity for acts amounting to “willful and wanton conduct,” thus exposing a public entity to liability for egregious conduct. The Act defines “willful and wanton conduct” as “a course of action which shows an actual or deliberate intention to cause harm or which, if not intentional, shows an utter indifference to or conscious disregard for the safety of others or their property.” There is no bright-line test for willful and wanton conduct. Whether a public entity’s acts constitute willful and wanton conduct depends on the facts of each particular case.

The Illinois Tort Immunity Act is broad and applies “to every kind of local governmental body; including counties, townships, municipalities, municipal corporations, school districts, school boards, community college districts, community college boards, forest preserve districts, park districts, fire protection districts, sanitary districts, museum districts, library systems and many other local governmental bodies. It excludes the state or any office of the State. The immunities found in the Tort Immunity Act also protects “public employees” from liability from certain acts or omissions performed while working at their jobs.

Because of the protection afforded by the law there are rigid steps to follow and deadlines to meet for an injury claim against a municipality, or other protected entity. Failure to follow these steps or meet a time limit can end an otherwise viable claim. It is important to have the benefit of a knowledgeable attorney from the very outset of your case. Suing a municipality or other public entity is much different than suing an individual or business. If you believe that your injury may be the result of negligence on the part of a municipality, please contact the experienced attorneys at Ridge & Downes as soon as possible.

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