A councilwoman from Vancouver, Washington, is seeking $500,000 from the City of Ridgefield for an injury sustained by a stress ball, according to local news reports. According to the plaintiff, she was present at an event in June 2011 when the city of Ridgefield Mayor tossed a stress ball which missed its intended mark, hitting her in the eye instead.
Apparently, the stress balls were passed out after an Association of Washington Cities meeting held in Spokane. The Mayor intended to throw the ball to another attendee of the meeting; however, it hit the side of the plaintiff’s head instead. The plaintiff claims to have undergone no less than six surgeries since the injury to correct the damage done to her left eye, the retina of which became loose and partially detached as a result of the wayward stress ball. She alleges that she is facing the possible loss of sight in her eye as a result of the incident and is asking for damages to compensate her for the injury.
What Constitutes a Personal Injury Accident?
As bizarre as the wayward stress ball injury sounds, it is also a perfect example of what could constitute a personal injury accident for purposes of a lawsuit. Most people conjure up the image of a car accident when the term “personal injury accident” is mentioned. Car accidents are often the basis for a personal injury accident lawsuit, but they are hardly the only situations that can lead to a personal injury accident lawsuit.
In legal terms, a personal injury lawsuit is based on negligence on the part of the defendant. In order to prove negligence, you must first establish that the defendant owed a duty of care to you that required the defendant to do everything reasonably possible to keep you free from harm. Once that has been established, then you must show that your injuries were caused by the defendant’s breaching that duty of care that was owed to you.
It has long been established that the driver of a vehicle on a public roadway owes a duty of care to other motorists on the roadway. In other situations, establishing the duty of care is where a personal injury lawsuit begins.
What Happens When the Defendant Is a Government Employee?
In the stress ball story, the person who allegedly injured the plaintiff was the mayor of the city of Ridgefield, making him a government employee. Anytime a government employee, or governmental agency, is a potential defendant in an injury lawsuit filed in the State of Washington, the procedures that must be followed change somewhat.
Before an actual lawsuit can be filed against a city, state or federal government, the government must be put on notice of the alleged injuries. In the State of Washington, that means that a “damage claim” must be filed with the appropriate office early on in the process. This is a crucial step in the recovery process and is time sensitive. Most personal injury lawsuits have a two- to three-year statute of limitations, meaning that the victim has up to that amount of time to actually file a lawsuit against the defendant. The time allowed to file a damage claim, however, may be much shorter. If you fail to file the damage claim within the time frame allowable by law, you may lose your right to compensation from the government defendant. Filing a damage claim does not ensure that you will be entitled to compensation — it is just one step required in the process when a government defendant is involved.
If you have been injured in what you believe may qualify as a personal injury accident in Washington State and you feel that a governmental entity may be wholly or partially to blame, you need an experienced attorney on your side who understands the laws and procedures that must be followed. The personal injury accident attorneys at Mariano Morales Law can help. Contact the team today by calling 509-457-1948 or by using our online contact form for your free initial consultation.