If you live in or around a big city and have been injured because of incompetent or negligent behavior by a city employee or because of negligence of any type by a city government agency, you may be able to obtain compensation. Be prepared for a difficult process which is substantially different from a personal injury claim against a non-government individual, business or organization. Discuss the circumstances of your injuries and whether a claim might succeed with an attorney before submitting any claim form to the relevant authority.
City and State Laws Regarding Government Personal Injury Claims
Governments across the U.S. use a centuries old law from England to protect themselves from many types of civil claims. Some American city and the state government are no exception. They technically have “sovereign immunity” from lawsuits, although exemptions from immunity in fact do allow genuine claims to be made.
The first step in a claim against any government entity is to submit a “notice of claim,” basically a letter advising intent to claim compensation. This must be submitted within the time limit allowed by the relevant administration. Notice of claim forms and instructions for use are found on each city’s own website, as well as the state government’s website link.
Once a notice of claim has been submitted, a 90 day wait follows before any further action can be taken. If the injury circumstances are very clear-cut and negligence by a government agency is obvious from the accompanying documentation and subsequent investigation, the claim may be paid, but more frequently it is not. The only recourse then is to file a personal injury claim with the help of an attorney.
City Car Crashes Involving the Government
If you have been involved in a car crash and have been injured, there are a number of causes which involve government owned property. The main ones are:
- • collision with an EMBARK bus;
- • collision with any other vehicle belonging to a government department;
- • you are hit by a vehicle in a government owned parking lot;
- • impact from a falling piece of debris from a building belonging to a government department;
- • structural failure of some part of a bridge;
- • damage from the road surface because of lack of maintenance by city authorities.
Car Accidents Involving Public Transportation
EMBARK buses run all over the city and surrounding district. The public bus network is augmented by a small number of old style trolleys confined to the CBD and a number of paratransit minibuses that are designed to transport disabled persons across the city.
Bus accidents are most likely to involve a government operated bus than any other government vehicle, simply because there are many more of them than any other government owned vehicles.
Bus drivers are expected to drive safely and keep to the traffic rules, but accidents do happen. If the bus driver is at fault, it might be for all the reasons that any vehicle has a collision: distracted driving, failure to keep a reasonable distance from the vehicle in front, failure to signal, failure to allow for any vehicles in the driver’s blind spot, intoxication, drug use, poor training and speeding.
How a Personal Injury Attorney Can Help You Win a Claim Against the City
It’s hard enough winning any personal injury claim, let alone one against a government like the city. The best advice is to discuss the situation with an experienced personal injury attorney who has dealt with claims against the city successfully before.
At the very least, the attorney can provide an opinion about your chances of success and if they are reasonable, help you draft a notice of claim and file a personal injury claim later if the initial claim is rejected.
The content of this article serves only to provide information and should not be construed as legal advice. If you file a claim against Oklahoma City, or the state government of Oklahoma, or any other party, you may not be entitled to any compensation.