Can You Sue a City for Not Enforcing Codes?

sue a city for not enforcing code

You might be able to sue a city for negligence and not enforcing codes in one of a few circumstances. Building and construction rules, which are crucial for people’s health and safety, are among the codes for which you might file a lawsuit. 

In this post, we’ll talk about whether you may file a lawsuit against a city for failing to enforce its ordinances and how to do so. 

To Sue A City For Not Enforcing Codes Can Be Tough 

You must show that a business or organization violated their duty of care to bring a negligence claim against them. Even, you may sue the manufacturer, for instance, if you purchased a defective automobile.

You must establish that a city owed you a duty of care if you intend to sue it for negligence or not enforcing codes. This implies that it owes it to you to keep you secure. It may be considered negligent if it doesn’t.

It’s crucial to keep in mind that cities aren’t always accountable for everything that occurs in their communities. You cannot, for instance, blame the police for the high crime rate in your community. Instead, you ought to consider other elements like unemployment, education, and poverty.

A city has a duty of care since it is in charge of ensuring the security of its residents.

It has a responsibility to make sure that no hazardous circumstances exist in public areas including streets, parks, schools, and hospitals. It must also guarantee that all structures comply with construction codes.

According to the legislation, a person who suffered harm as a result of a defect may sue a city if it doesn’t fulfill certain obligations.

Anybody Who Was Hurt By Defects Or Negligence Can Sue  A City

You can sue a city if their mistake or carelessness caused your injury. However, you do not need to live nearby.

Even if you weren’t residing in the area when the harm happened, you can still sue the city if you were hurt there. If you suffered harm while on a municipal-owned property, you may also file a lawsuit against the city.

Due to their sovereign immunity, suing a government organization for damages (such as a municipality) is frequently challenging. Unless they expressly renounce this immunity, governments are immune from legal action.

The majority of states forbid suing municipalities for monetary damages. The only means to bring a case against a municipality under state tort statutes is to do so. In most states, a plaintiff must first make an effort to settle with the municipality before bringing legal action.

Sue a City for Not Enforcing Codes: How to Establish a City’s Negligence of its Duty of Care 

You must demonstrate that the city owed the injured party a duty of care in order to succeed in your lawsuit against it. This implies that it owes it to that individual to keep them secure.

You can win your lawsuit if you can demonstrate that the city failed to take reasonable precautions to keep the individual safe.

Some examples of this may be:

  • Not doing a thorough inspection of the property before providing access to the public.
  • Allowing the use of dangerous goods in building projects.
  • Failing to address homes’ harmful flaws.
  • Not highlighting hazardous situations to visitors.
  • Not taking sufficient security precautions.

You must demonstrate that a municipality violated its own rules or ordinances in order to hold it accountable for its conduct while dealing with a municipality.

For instance, you could want to sue the city for breaching the local zoning code if you reside close to a building site and notice that there isn’t adequate fencing around the area.

But if an empty lot is right next to your home and you notice that there is no fence around it. You probably won’t be able to hold the city accountable for any injuries you get from falling debris.

Even though the city didn’t construct the fence, you must still show that it was at fault for the absence of fencing.

Sue a City for Not Enforcing Codes: What Is the Time Frame for Bringing a Lawsuit Against a City?

The kind of claim you make against the municipality will determine how you proceed.

You must file a complaint within two years of the occurrence if you want to sue a municipality for failing to enforce building codes.

However, you must wait until one year has elapsed since the incident occurred before suing them for negligence.

Additionally, you must give the municipality a notice of claim at least 30 days before initiating a lawsuit. This allows the municipality time to look into what happened and decide whether it wants to reach a settlement without going to court.

After you win your case, what happens? 

You will be compensated for any harm brought on by the city’s negligence if you manage to win your case. This payment will cover medical costs, missed earnings, and pain and suffering.

You will not, however, receive compensation just for suffering harm. Additionally, you must demonstrate that the city’s negligence led to the harm.

You will be able to obtain more money if you can demonstrate this rather than just receiving compensation for injuries. You might not always be able to save up enough cash to pay off all of your obligations.


To keep people secure, cities are required to enforce a number of laws. You can file a lawsuit against the city if you discover that some of these codes are not being followed and you are hurt as a result. 

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