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In California, state government entities/and employees are not immune from personal injury or other tort liability unless expressly provided for by statute. Generally, the immunities are contained in the California Tort Claims Act, however, others are distributed throughout various California Codes.  There is no liability for an entity or employee in the absence of an express code/statute/or provision creating or accepting liability.

One of the key categories of governmental immunity is for “Discretionary Acts and Omissions.” (Govt. Code §820.2) which states:

“A public employee is not liable for an injury resulting from his act or omission where the act or omission was the result of the exercise of the discretion vested in him, whether or not such discretion be abused.”

Since the public employee would be immune, the public entity employing him would also be immune.  Needless to say, discretionary acts are abundant, and each such claim for injury and the applicability of this immunity must be determined on a case by case basis.

Immunity also applies to non-governmental employees, including those charged with “mandatory reporting” of suspected child abuse or neglect.  Immunities protect both mandatory and voluntary reporters from civil or criminal liability they might otherwise incur.  Whether the reporter be a doctor, nurse, or other health care providers, teachers, school administrators, police officers, or firefighters, to name a few, they  are protected by immunity as long as they made the report in good faith.  Therefore, certain aspects of this reporting may not be protected through immunity(s).

The law(s) of Government Tort Liability, including claims presentation issues, as well as the many immunities, are a minefield, for proceeding with each respective claim.  I have described but two of many immunities that may apply in given situations.  Government Tort Liability issues require skilled and knowledgeable attorneys to properly proceed.  Contact the attorneys at Heiting & Irwin to review and evaluate any potential claims, defenses, and immunities to liability.

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