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Filing a Personal Injury Claim Against San Jose

It might be a relatively small city, but accidents can still happen. When you are driving your own vehicle and are hit by another driver or an object falls on top of your car, you may soon wonder whether it is possible to obtain compensation if you believe that the accident happened because of someone’s negligence.

No personal injury claim is entirely straightforward, but if your vehicle was hit by a government employee, or you suffered an injury because of poorly maintained government owned infrastructure, a claim for compensation is considerably more difficult to obtain. However, it is not impossible to obtain compensation for your injuries with the help of an experienced personal injury attorney and sticking to quite tight time limitations.

City Laws Regarding Government Personal Injury Claims

If you intend filing a claim for compensation against the city, or the state government, because you believe that any injuries you have received are the fault of a government employee, or an agency itself, you must follow very strict guidelines. Because of the existence of sovereign immunity, the ability to sue any government agency in the U.S. is limited.

The first step is to let the agency you believe responsible know that you intend making a claim for compensation. Unlike a normal personal injury claim against a private individual or organization, you must submit a form called a “notice of claim” to the agency first within 6 months of the injury. This is a formal warning to the agency that it might be liable for paying compensation.

There are a lot of details that must be filled in concerning the accident and how it happened and why you think that a government entity was at fault. Proof of medical treatment including receipts and repairs to a vehicle you were driving must be submitted with the form.

You should get a response from the city authority within 45 days. Usually your claim is denied. This then allows you to seek help from a personal injury attorney and prepare a civil case against the city or state government. Proof of negligence must be demonstrated. Your attorney will help you prepare a convincing case within the statutory time period for a personal injury claim, which is 1 year from the date of the injury.

Reasons for an Auto Accident Caused by a City or State Employee or Agency

A common reason why you had an auto accident in or around the city is that your vehicle was hit by a vehicle belonging to the city or a piece of infrastructure owned or managed by the city fell on your vehicle causing an injury. The most frequent crashes between privately owned vehicles and city vehicles could be due to bus accidents, simply because there are many more buses than any other type of vehicle owned by the city.

However, other city vehicles may also be responsible for an accident and subsequent injury. Speeding police cars, motorcycles and other emergency transport are not immune from liability if the way that these vehicles are driven causes a crash.

A smaller number of auto accidents are due to objects falling on the vehicle from government owned property such as trees or buildings along the side of a highway or because of poor highway maintenance.

How a Crash Involving a City Bus Could Occur

Bus accidents can be very serious because of the weight and potential impact of a bus on a smaller vehicle like an automobile. Buses can be driven at speed when there is little congestion to slow the pace of traffic down. Like many vehicle accidents, most shuttle bus accidents happen because of driver error. A minority of accidents may be due to poor bus maintenance or defective parts.

Typical bus driver errors that can lead to an accident happening include:

  • driver fatigue;
  • reckless or aggressive driving;
  • failure to yield the right of way at an intersection;
  • speeding;
  • intoxication or medication that affects driving ability
  • running a red light;
  • distracted driving with illegal cell phone use is the number one reason for being distracted.

If you have been in a crash, here's a little more information on what you can do after an auto accident.

Contact an Attorney Before Suing the Government

Suing any government department can be hard. It may be almost impossible if you do not engage a personal injury attorney. An experienced attorney will be able to assess the chances of success if you wish to file a claim against the city, advise you of the procedure and help provide legal help at each step of the way.


The content of this article serves only to provide information and should not be construed as legal advice. If you file a claim against the city government of San Jose or the state government of California, or any other party, you may not be entitled to any compensation.

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