If you have been in a car accident involving a government vehicle and employee, you may worry that your ability to pursue any claim is impossible. It is not impossible, but it can be difficult. It is important you must know what you are doing and follow the necessary statutes to be successful.
We have asked attorney Alaina Sullivan about what you should do. Here is what she had to say:
Governments and their agencies and employees are normally protected from liability, including car accidents. However, all states have some type of waiver of immunity allowing people to seek claims for injuries.
In situations where a state or local government employee is responsible for a car accident, strict procedural rules are put in place to make any kind of claim for personal injury.
These rules can include deadlines for when a claim can be filed and certain requirements for what the claim must contain. You must follow these rules to be successful in your claim.
Put Them on Notice
The first step you must take in any government claim is to follow the notice of claim requirement. The time limit given is usually 60 days, depending on your governmental entity. You must first make the government aware that the accident did occur and give them the chance to make a formal response to the claim.
You should not expect them to repay you the first time you file notice. Normally, you will receive a denial. Once you do receive the denial, you can then proceed with your law suit.
Make sure you have the right government agency when you are filing your claim. That can be tricky as different agencies overlap or it is not always clear. If you have any questions, contact the agency and ask. They must tell you regardless of the fact you are pursuing a claim against their department.
Know Your Deadlines
Most states follow some sort of tort claim act. For federal employees, this statute is the Federal Tort Claim Act, and most states and local entities have some sort of similar law giving specific filing requirements and deadlines needed for filing a claim against a governmental entity or employee.
As soon as the accident happens, research your own state’s guidelines. If you are not sure, this would be the proper time to talk to an attorney. Not following the deadlines given will bar you from pursuing your law suit if you wait too long.
Get a Police Report
It is important you obtain a police report following your accident. Since proving a claim against a government employee can be harder than other claims, having this proof will only help your claim.
Make sure that the report includes the parties in the accident as well as contact information, a description of what happened and names and contact information of any witnesses. You may need to go to the police department later to get it, but make sure you include this report in your notice of claim.
Collect Plenty of Evidence
In addition to the police report, make sure you have plenty of evidence. Steps you should take to collect evidence include:
- Taking pictures of the scene of the accident
- Collecting the medical bills you may have
- Collecting the property damage bills you may have
- Making sure you have the names and contact information for witnesses who saw the accident
Common Exceptions from Liability
Certain activities are exempt from liability when a government employee is involved in a car accident. For instance, police pursuits, fire trucks traveling to a fire, or ambulance drivers responding to an emergency would be exempt if they accidentally struck another car while trying to get to the emergency.
If a public-school bus hits another vehicle or a city or county garbage truck strikes a car while executing their job, these drivers would also be held exempt from liability. It might not seem fair, if recklessness is involved, but the laws are firm in these types of situations.
What Damages to Your Vehicle That Could Occur if Your Car is Hit by A City Vehicle?
If your car is hit while parked or if you are in an auto accident, your car will suffer damages. Of course, these damages can vary greatly. The point of impact, the speed of the vehicles, the severity of the impact, and several other factors will come into play and determine the damages that result. If your car is parked, it could be a very minor impact that just leads to scratched paint or chipped paint. If you are hit from behind, it could lead to severe bumper and trunk damage as well as damage to the vehicle’s transmission.
The city has vehicles filling various roles, and these are vehicles of different shapes, sizes, and weights. As an example, if your car was hit by a garbage truck it will most likely suffer more damage than if it were hit by a patrol car. The cost of repairing these damages can vary significantly, ranging from a few hundred dollars to your vehicle being considered a total loss.
Some common damages include damages to the paint, such a scratches or chips. Other damages may include dents and dings. Your vehicle may need to have its bumper replaced, or it might need fenders or doors. Sometimes the dents can be knocked out and the body repaired without replacing the parts, but sometimes completely new parts are needed. You will need to take your car to a qualified automotive technician inspect your vehicle thoroughly and determine the extent of the damages.
If the cost of repairing your car is more than the value of it, your car will be considered a total loss. When a car is totaled, the insurance company will give you fair book value for your car. That means they will consider the age, make, model, options, condition, and mileage of your vehicle. They will also check the prices of similar vehicles in your area. If you think they are offering you less than your car is worth, you can work to negotiate a settlement with the insurance. Your personal injury lawyer can also help with this. However, dealing with the city – which is a government entity – is more challenging than dealing with an individual. Certain laws will apply and there may be caps on how much you can recover from a claim against the city after your vehicle has been hit by a city vehicle.
What Kind of Compensation Can You Get If You Are Hit By A Driver Who is Asleep at the Wheel?
If you are hit by a city vehicle, you will have a very limited time to notify the city of your intention to file a claim. Government entities are immune from lawsuits, but because of specific laws in place a claim can be filed for certain reasons, but the amount you can recover is often limited. Claims can vary greatly, so the amount you can recover if you are hit by a city vehicle because the driver fell asleep at the wheel can vary significantly. Here are several things that will impact the value of your claim against the city:
The severity of the damages your vehicle suffered
The extent of your injuries
Your medical bills and the need for future medical care
Your lost wages and future loss of earnings
You will want to include all your damages in a single claim and itemize the value of those damages. Here are some of the damages that are often claimed after a car accident:
- Medical expenses – past and future
- Lost wages – past and future
- Pain and suffering
- Property damages
- Permanent scarring and disfigurement
- Mental anguish
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Loss of consortium
What To Do If A City Vehicle Hits Your Car
If your vehicle was hit by a city vehicle, you will need to call the police. You will want an accident report filed. Often, the city police will call another law enforcement officer to complete the report, such as a state policeman. Take photos of the accident scene and of the damages. You will need to establish medical care right away because failing to do so could result in the insurance company alleging that your injuries were not caused by the crash with the city vehicle.
You should maintain thorough documentation and evidence to support your claim. These documents include medical bills, medical records, proof of missed work and lost wages, photos of the accident scene, the accident report, proof of missed work and lost wages, tow bills, rental car receipts, and written repair estimates. The more documentation that you can gather, the more likely you are to have a successful claim.
If your vehicle was hit by a driver who fell asleep at the wheel while driving a city vehicle, you will need to consult with a personal injury lawyer. Your odds of recovering compensation for your accident injury claim increase greatly when you enlist the help of a lawyer.
When you hire an accident injury lawyer, you will not have to pay any cash up front. Instead, personal injury attorneys work on the contingency basis and are paid only when and if you win your claim and get a settlement or a judgment. At that time, they will receive a percentage of your claim, which is agreed upon when you retain their services.
To get your claim on the right track before the statute of limitations expires, have the details of your case reviewed by an accident injury lawyer who is licensed in your state. Complete the Free Case Evaluation Form on this page so an attorney can review the details of your auto accident and then determine the best way to proceed with your personal injury claim after your vehicle was struck by a city vehicle. Usually, you have less than six months to file a claim against the city, so don’t delay or you will not be able to recover compensation.
Contact an Attorney Today
A licensed personal injury attorney will be able to evaluate your case and determine if you have a claim against the other party’s insurance company. For the best chance of receiving the compensation you need to pay for medical bills, auto body bills, and pain and suffering, you should speak with a personal injury attorney in your area today.