Were you recently injured in a car accident that involved a government vehicle or a government employee acting in a professional capacity? If so, you may want to pursue financial compensation for your injuries and expenses. There used to be a time when it was difficult to sue any government agency because they were generally immune from civil suits. In recent years, though, that protection has begun to fade. In many cases, you can pursue compensation from a government agency for a car accident. However, the process may be slightly different from a civil suit. Here are three things you need to know:
Is a suit even an option? There are still some situations in which government immunity exists. For example, if the accident was caused by an emergency vehicle that was responding to a call for help, then it's unlikely that you'll be able to file a suit. This is especially true if the vehicle had its lights and sirens on at the time of the accident. Vehicles that are operating because of a weather emergency, like snow plows, can also be immune.
In some states and municipalities, there can be a whole list of officials and types of vehicles that are immune from civil suit. It all depends on your local laws. Your car accident attorney can help you determine whether a suit is an option.
Do you need to file a claim before the suit? Many municipalities prefer to handle claims internally rather than in the courts. For this reason, they require that you file a claim with the agency office first. If that claim is denied, then you can file a lawsuit. Also, some agencies and municipalities have short time periods in which the claim must be filed. If you miss that deadline, then you miss the opportunity to file the claim.
Your area may not require an initial claim. You may be able to file a suit directly. Again, your auto accident attorney can help you understand the process.
Is there a cap on damages? Some states have a cap on the amount of damages that a government agency or official can pay. This is meant to protect taxpayer money. However, it could be a big problem for you, especially if your expenses far exceed the cap. If there is a cap, you'll want to know in advance. That could impact how you budget, how much time you take off of work, and any number of other financial matters.
For more information, visit an accident attorney from a firm like Pawlowski Mastrilli Law Group. He or she can help you understand the process and develop a plan for pursuing compensation.