When an adult or child is injured as a result of the negligence of a government entity, the rules, policies, notices, and restrictions set forth in Section 728.28, Florida Statutes apply. This statute is known as the “Sovereign Immunity” statute. The name is a bit misleading. The word “Sovereign” refers to a government entity. The word “Immunity” typically refers to a shield against liability or responsibility. As such, the term “Sovereign Immunity” is a bit misleading. The truth is that a government entity in the State of Florida can and should be held legally liable and financially responsible for injuries that result from careless or negligent acts. The statute does restrict the amount that can be recovered to $200,000 per incident or $300,000 per incident. An injury victim or the family of the injury victim can collect more than the amount limited by statute but only by the passage of a Claims Bill before the Florida legislature and ultimately signed off by the Governor. Claims Bills are very difficult to pursue and get passed. As such, the majority of claims against government entities in the State of Florida result in compensation at or below the caps as set forth in the Florida Statute on point.
In Jacksonville, Florida, it was reported that a 3 year old boy – Amari Harley – died as a result of a drowning in a septic tank area as part of a City of Jacksonville park – Bruce Park. The medical technical cause of death was reported as asphyxia due to inhaling septic tank contents. While there have been a number of news reports on the tragic death of this young child, there have been no reports as to how this small child was able to get into or fall into the septic tank area. City officials and other landowners should be well aware of the presence of children in a park area and the dangers of septic tank areas like the ones present at Bruce Park.