Municipal Defense

Grand Rapids and Traverse City Attorneys Serving Government Entities

Municipal defense may include a wide range of matters, including personal injury, premises liability, employment litigation, civil rights lawsuits, zoning, and environmental matters. At the Neumann Law Group, our Grand Rapids and Traverse City municipal defense lawyers are able to provide strong representation to cities and towns in Michigan. Our principal, Kelly Neumann, is an award-winning personal injury attorney who can use her experience representing plaintiffs to build a strong defense on your behalf.

Municipal Defense

Municipalities must address a wide range of claims against them. Some of the most common are personal injury, defective property, and civil liberties claims. In Michigan, governmental entities like municipalities have sovereign immunity from tort liability, with certain specified exceptions, under the Governmental Tort Liability Act (GTLA). This law provides that other than the specified exceptions, an individual may not hold a governmental agency liable for a tort if it is engaged in exercising or discharging a governmental function.

Torts include any sort of social wrong, including injuries arising out of car or bus accidents, slip and falls, or negligent conduct by an employee. Under the GTLA, a governmental function includes conduct that is expressly or impliedly mandated by law.

There must be a legal basis for an activity in which a governmental agency is engaged for the activity to be considered a governmental function. Courts will look at the general activity, rather than the specific allegations of a particular personal injury complaint. Exceptions to this immunity are narrow and include the negligent operation of a government-owned motor vehicle, the maintenance of public highways, defects in public buildings, medical care given to a patient, the performance of proprietary functions by governmental entities, and sewage disposal system events.

To bring a claim under the public building defect exception, the structure at issue must be a building. In other words, it needs to be relatively permanent and have a roof, and it must be used for a wide range of activities, including living, manufacturing, and entertaining.

In connection with premises liability lawsuits related to public buildings, municipalities need to be given notice of the defect and the injuries. Plaintiffs are supposed to provide written notice within 120 days of an incident, specifying the location of the injuries, the nature of the dangerous condition, the injuries that were suffered, and known witnesses. Our municipal defense attorneys can help Traverse City and Grand Rapids clients, among others, seek dismissal if this notice is not provided or is not provided in a timely fashion.

Liability will not be imposed unless the city or town knew or should have known about a property defect and had a reasonable amount of time to fix the problem. Generally, if a dangerous condition exists for 30 days or more, it is assumed that a municipality knew about it and had time to repair it.

In cases involving negligent driving by a municipal employee, both the employee and the municipality may be sued. The employee will only be liable if their actions were grossly negligent. The plaintiff also needs to satisfy the No Fault Act in that they need to show that the municipality's negligence caused a serious impairment of a bodily function to go beyond their no-fault insurance policy and hold the municipality responsible.

Seek Guidance from a Municipal Defense Lawyer in Grand Rapids or Traverse City

The Neumann Law Group represents cities and towns seeking a strong defense against a variety of civil claims. Our Traverse City and Grand Rapids municipal defense attorneys assist clients in Detroit, Lansing, Ann Arbor, Flint, Petoskey, Warren, Holland, Muskegon, Midland, Kalamazoo, Wyoming, and Saginaw, as well as areas throughout the Upper Peninsula. Contact the Neumann Law Group at 800-525-NEUMANN or via our online form to set up an appointment and get the benefit of our experience as personal injury and civil rights attorneys.

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