California Tort Claims Act

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The Government Claims Act of California is California law that provides immunity to the State of California and its related entities from being sued.

This law is often incorrectly cited as the California Tort Claims Act because the immunity is not absolute, and the Act provides exceptions to the immunity and a mechanism for resolving those claims that must be exhausted as a prerequisite to filing a lawsuit.

The Government Claims Act is found in Division 3.6 of the Government Code, Govt. Code §§ 810 et seq. Typically, one must first give written notice within 6 months of the injury or discovery of the injury before filing an actual lawsuit in a California superior court, giving the governmental agency time to settle the claim.[1]

Blanket Immunity[edit]

The Act provides complete immunity to public entities that come from any act or omission of an act of the public entity, its employees or anyone else.[2]

Despite the "complete immunity", the Act provides certain exceptions for the benefit of the public.

Exceptions to Immunity[edit]

Exceptions to governmental immunity are too complex to exhaustively list in this article.

Under the Act, the government can be held legally responsible for personal injury damages in certain situations. These situations include:

  • The negligent acts of employees;
  • The negligent acts of independent contractors;
  • Premises liability for dangerous conditions on government property; and
  • When damages are caused by the public entities’ failure to carry out a duty imposed by law.

While generally speaking, the only exceptions to immunity are the ones codified/created created by this Act, Courts have broadened these exceptions by reading immunity narrowly and the exceptions broadly.[3]

See also[edit]