Can I Sue If I Have a Slip and Fall Accident at the Gateway Arch in St. Louis, MO?

The Gateway Arch in St. Louis is one of the most popular tourist attractions in the area. It is located in the Gateway Arch National Park. The park holds numerous events throughout the year for visitors, with the tram ride to the top of the Gateway Arch being one of the most popular attractions. 

Unfortunately, accidents may ruin an otherwise wonderful trip to the parkway. A slip and fall accident can result in broken bones, back injuries, and traumatic brain injuries. An accident on the tram may cause lacerations, sprains, and strains. 

Missouri’s premises liability laws allow victims to hold property owners financially accountable for certain injuries they suffer on the owner’s property.

However, the park is federally owned land. The federal government operates it. Therefore, who is responsible for an injury on park property?

Injuries at National Parks and Federal Land

Most government agencies and entities are protected from lawsuits by citizens due to sovereign immunity. Sovereign immunity means that you cannot sue the federal government unless the government gives you permission to do so. This principle makes it impossible for injured parties to seek compensation for damages, even when the federal government is negligent.

However, Congress passed the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA) in 1946 to address this problem. Under the FTCA, you can file a claim for injuries incurred because of the negligence of a government employee. Congress amended the FTCA in 1988 to make the federal government the defendant in these actions instead of the federal employee being personally sued for the claim. 

The FTCA covers slip and fall accidents and other injuries that occur on federal land or in federal buildings. It also covers injuries sustained in car accidents involving federal employees or federal vehicles.

How Do You File a Federal Tort Claim for an Injury at the Gateway Arch?

If you are injured in a slip and fall accident at the Gateway Arch or other federal land, there are strict rules and procedures for filing a claim for damages. Unfortunately, the government does not make it easy for individuals to seek compensation for their injuries and damages. If you miss a deadline or fail to complete any of the required steps, your personal injury claim against the federal government will be dismissed. 

It is in your best interest to seek legal advice from a personal injury attorney. An attorney understands the requirements and the law governing injury claims involving federal agencies or entities. 

The first step is to ensure that you have a valid claim. Even though the federal government allows personal injury claims for slip and fall accidents, there are many exceptions. 

For example, if the accident was caused by an independent contractor working for the federal government, you may need to sue the independent contractor instead of the federal government. Also, the FTCA does not cover negligent acts by employees acting outside of their scope of employment. Therefore, you must ensure that you are filing a claim against the correct party. 

You must act quickly. Administrative claims must be filed with the agency that manages the federal building or land. The agency has six months to consider the claim. If it does not pay the claim within six months, you can proceed with a lawsuit.

However, the deadline for filing an administrative claim is much shorter than the deadline for filing claims against other entities. You may have just a few months to file your administrative claim or lose the right to file a lawsuit. 

Damages Available for Federal Tort Claims

If you are successful when filing a tort claim against the federal government, you could recover compensation for your economic damages and non-economic damages from an injury. 

Examples of damages included in a federal tort claim are:

  • Medical bills and expenses
  • Permanent disabilities and disfigurement
  • Physical pain and suffering
  • Loss of income and decreased earning potential
  • Mental anguish and emotional distress
  • Loss of enjoyment of life

The value of your claim depends on the facts of the case. Even if you succeed in winning your case, the compensation the government pays could be lower than the value of your claim.

Claims Against State Governments

Most state governments are protected from lawsuits under the principle of sovereign immunity. However, some exceptions allow citizens to file injury claims against state and local governments. 

The rules for filing claims against the state or a local municipality are strict. In most cases, the deadline for filing a claim is 90 days after the injury. Liability may only apply in very limited cases.

The best way to protect your right to fair compensation is to contact a personal injury lawyer immediately. Injury claims against government entities are some of the most complicated types of personal injury cases. If you want to win, you need help from an experienced lawyer.