| Read Time: 4 minutes | Car Accident

Car accidents that involve government workers

Accidents and their repercussions are an ever-reoccurring fact of life. Some accidents leave personal injury victims with moderate to severe injuries or loss of property, and it only makes sense that who caused the crash should be in charge of paying for the damage that the accident caused.
The best way to ensure that you are paid for the damages in an accident is to take the person who was negligent in the accident court and then prove that the accident was their fault, or that they were negligent. However, when an accident is caused by the government or a government employee, the battle for damages can be uphill and lengthy. Suing the government, whether it’s federal, state, or local, can be done, such as in this situation that we are currently working on against the City of Atlanta.

When can you sue the government?

The government has a set of laws known as sovereign immunity or governmental immunity.  Sovereign immunity is a set of guidelines that establish where you can sue the government, and when you are not.
The guidelines cover almost all situations, including personal injury due to accidents that were caused by a government employee. That means that accidents that involve the government are explicitly more dangerous to have.
A car accident with another pedestrian that was not your fault will often end in the other driver’s insurance paying you for the damages. However, the same accident but with a policeman may result in you losing your property and having no way to be compensated for it.

How the Federal Tort Claims Act will affect your personal injury case

Under sovereign immunity, accidents that involve government automobiles are cases that the Federal Tort Claims Act governs. The Federal Tort Claims Act temporarily lifts the veil of protection that sovereign immunity provides when federal employees are neglect and cause a vehicle-related accident. The act explicitly states that the government can be sued only “under circumstances where the United States, if a private person, would be liable to the claimant by the law of the place where the act or omission occurred.” 28 U.S.C. S 1346(b)
Automotive accidents are one of the easier situations in which a private civilian may sue the government. Accidents that involve emergency vehicles, like fire trucks, ambulances, and police cars, rushing through busy intersections to get to be where they are needed still often leave the government employee, and like this the government, liable for accidents. Accidents may also occur between civilians and non-emergency vehicles. Accidents with school buses and landscape trucks may allow a civilian to sue the government if the individual believes that the crash was not his or her fault.

It can be difficult to sue the government

While it is possible to sue the government despite the sovereign immunity laws, the actual court case will often be more complicated than a case of another private individual or business. It is more difficult to prove your responsibility while still showing the other driver was negligent in a case against the government. As previously mentioned, it is possible to sue for colliding with an emergency government vehicle at a busy intersection. However, the emergency will be considered heavily in court.
If the tribunal finds that the emergency vehicle was headed to a severe enough crisis, the civilian may not be able to make a case. If the emergency vehicle was rushing to an emergency without its lights or sirens on, then the case for negligence becomes much easier to make.

How to sue the government for personal injury

The first step to obtaining compensation from the government for an accident that occurred due to the negligence of a government worker is to file an administrative claim against the particular government entity that caused the crash.
Most governments give civilians minimal time to file their claims. The deadline is often as short as 30 days. If you miss the deadline, you also miss your opportunity to recover the damages the accident caused. Claim forms are often found in a clerk’s office of the government entity that is responsible for causing the accident. Be cautious if the form requests you to input a dollar amount for your claim. You should take the time to carefully review the cost of all the damages before filling that portion out. There is also the possibility that you have not thoroughly identified all costs associated with the accident (such as follow-up doctor’s visits).
If the government denies your request, you will receive a letter rejecting your claim. You may still sue the government in court. The letter of rejection will provide you with a deadline you need to take that action.
If you have been injured by a government employee, you need a strong personal injury attorney on your side as soon as possible. We specialize in personal injury cases in Covington and are on your side.
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Michael Geoffroy’s law practice focuses on auto collisions, premises liability, wrongful death, and catastrophic injury. He stands up for the cause of justice throughout Georgia and on behalf of his clients every day. He is a leader in both the courtroom and the community, having been recognized numerous times for his involvement in each.