Suing the Government or a Public Agency
Government and Public Agencies
Government and Public Agencies are any state or local government office that serves the public, such as:
Can I sue the Federal Government in Small Claims Court?
No. Federal government agencies cannot be sued in Small Claims Court, but you can file a Claim For Damages (other DOJ forms). If your claim is denied, contact an attorney for help with filing your case in the U.S. District Court.
Before Suing a Government Agency
Before you can sue the government or a public agency, you must first file a claim for damages with them. You can file a claim if you feel the agency is responsible for causing you injury, damage or loss.
Get a claim form directly from the government agency responsible for your damage, injury or loss. Here are some helpful links:
Filing your claim
Take these steps to file a claim with a government agency:
If Your Claim is Approved
If the agency accepts responsibility for your claim, you will be paid and your claim is settled. You do not need to sue in Small Claims Court.
If Your Claim is Denied
If your claim is denied, you must file a small claims case within 6 months of denial.
If They Don’t Respond
If the agency does not respond to your claim within 45 days, it is considered denied. You can now sue in Small Claims Court but must do so within 2 years of the date you filed your claim.
Filing your Small Claims Case
To sue a government or public entity:
When you file your small claims case, you will be given a court date and must have a copy of the Plaintiff’s Claim served to the agency. See Serving Court Papers.
Contact us for more information or speak with one of our counselors at (800) 593-8222. If you live outside of Southern California, call us at (213) 974-9759.
Updated May 10, 2012
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