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The Matassini Law Firm, P.A. Your trusted legal advisors since 1976

County Fails To Close Washed Out Bridge Resulting In Deaths


An Indiana county has been sued after failing to close down a washed-out bridge. Several vehicles were swept away when the bridge flooded. One father lost both of his daughters, a stepson, and his wife after their vehicle was washed away. Several residents had called to report the danger, but the county did not respond. Two others also died, according to reports.

The details of the settlement remain confidential. The matter was settled by the county’s insurer for over $1 million. This would not happen in Florida where the statutory maximum for suits against the government is $300,000 per incident and $200,000 per person. Despite having lost his entire family, the plaintiff would only have been entitled to a $300,000 recovery.

What duty of care does the government owe in negligence lawsuits? 

It depends entirely on the type of negligence lawsuit you are filing and what state you reside in. In Florida, governments owe private citizens a duty of care in instances where they are solely responsible for something. As an example, the government is solely responsible for potholes. Private citizens cannot undertake that work themselves. Since the government has a sole duty of liability for potholes, it can be sued when they fail in that duty of care.

The matter is quite different when it comes to law enforcement. The government takes on much less of a duty of care when it comes to intervening on behalf of the public. A police officer, for example, who runs away from the scene of an active shooter could not be held liable for his conduct. Further, the government could not be held liable for his conduct. This is because police officers have broad discretion over the manner in which they resolve situations. Police officers can almost never be held accountable for what they did not do. They can, on the other hand, be held liable for what they did do.

As an example, police brutality and wrongful death cases involve allegations that police did something specific that was outside the scope of their police duties. Beating someone to death or kneeling on their neck for 9 minutes is considered outside of the scope of police duties and is thus not really a negligence action, but an intentional tort or an act of willful misconduct.

In this case, the government was held responsible because they had a duty of care to close the bridge after it had become flooded. No one responded to numerous requests to secure the bridge. A lot of people died because of that failure.

Talk to a Tampa Personal Injury Attorney Today 

The Matassini Law Firm files lawsuits on behalf of injured plaintiffs and grieving families who have lost loved ones due to acts of negligence. Call our Tampa personal injury lawyers today to schedule a free consultation and learn more about how we can help.


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