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How to File a Lawsuit Against the City of Philadelphia


When a person has been injured by another person’s reckless or careless actions, the injured individual can file a lawsuit against the person at fault for their injuries. A lawsuit can provide compensation to cover expenses such as medical bills, repairs to damaged property, and even pain and suffering when another person has been negligent.

In most instances, the procedure for filing a personal injury lawsuit is typical, regardless of the nature of the wrongdoing. However, when it is a government entity, such as the City of Philadelphia that is being sued, it becomes much more challenging. As a Philadelphian just learned though, that doesn’t mean it’s impossible.

The Case Against the City

Sherron Bell was working in the voter registration division of the Office of the City Commissioners in April of 2016 when she claimed she was sexually harassed. The perpetrator, said Bell, was Francisco Martinez, and she was not the first of his victims. While Bell stated that Martinez exposed himself to her, others alleged they were also sexually assaulted by Martinez.

One woman stated that Martinez had exposed himself to her in 2009. Another stated that she was also sexually assaulted by Martinez. That woman received $32,500 in a settlement with the city.

Two weeks after the assault happened, Bell told her supervisors what happened. An investigation was conducted, and Martinez was not only fired, but also arrested several months later. Still, Bell was upset that Martinez had been reported before for his exploits and little had been done about it. In 2017, Bell filed a civil lawsuit against both Martinez and the city. Recently, the City of Philadelphia settled the lawsuit with Bell in the amount of $350,000.

It took over two years for the lawsuit between Bell and the City to be settled, showing just how challenging these lawsuits can be. However, when the proper procedures are followed, those filing a lawsuit against the City of Philadelphia, or any other government entity, can be just as successful.

Filing a Lawsuit Against the City

The main difference when filing a lawsuit against the City of Philadelphia is that a Notice of Claim will be required. The city provides a General Claims Information Form on their website and it must be filed within 6 months of the incident. Along with the claim form, additional information must also be provided. This includes:

  • Copies of personal insurance information, if applicable. If the City caused a car accident, copies of the plaintiff’s auto insurance would be required. If a person was injured due to the City’s negligence, copies of their health insurance would be required.
  • A notarized affidavit in the event that there is no insurance for the injury or property damage sustained.
  • Copies of all medical reports, medical bills, and doctor’s notes or reports.

It is important that when this information is sent to the City, only copies are provided. Once the City of Philadelphia receives them, they will be considered the City’s property and will not be returned.

After this information has been submitted, the injured individual can file a lawsuit just as they would in any other matter. However, they should never do so on their own.

Contact the Philadelphia Personal Injury Attorney That can Help

Filing a personal injury claim against the City of Philadelphia is not easy. There are certain procedures that must be followed and if one form is not filled out correctly, the lawsuit could be thrown out of court.

If you have been injured by the City, contact a personal injury lawyer in Philadelphia that can help. At van der Veen, O’Neill, Hartshorn and Levin we know how to fight the city, and we will fight hard for the rights of individuals when they are injured. If you are hurt, contact us at 215-515-6892. We’ll start reviewing your case right away and work hard to get you any compensation you may be entitled to. Time is short in cases against the city though, so contact us today!


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