Filing a personal injury claim against a government entity or employee differs from filing a claim against a private citizen. For instance, sovereign immunity, a legal protection, protects governments and their employees from liability in several cases, including auto accidents. Secondly, the statute of limitations regarding accident reporting and claim filing is significantly shorter.
Examples of Vehicles Covered by Sovereign Immunity
- Emergency Vehicles
- Mail Trucks
- Garbage Trucks
- Municipal Snow Plows
- State, County, or Municipal Trucks
- Government-Owned Vehicles Operated by Employees
What is Sovereign Immunity?
Sovereign immunity defines when a government entity can be sued, and when they cannot. Despite this immunity, all states, and the federal government, have enacted legislation that, in certain situations, waives this immunity. The ‘Federal Tort Claims Act’ waives sovereign immunity on a federal level. Therefore, this act allows private citizens to file a claim against a federal government agent; given that they acted, or failed to act, in a manner that resulted in injury or property damage.
Filing a Claim Against the Federal Government/Government Employee
After an accident with an agent of the federal government, the statute of limitations on filing a claim is two years, beginning on the date of the accident. In order to file a claim against the federal government, you must first fill out a ‘Standard Form 95’; this form brings a case forward alleging the negligence of the federal government or any employee thereof. In your claim, you must include all relevant facts and details to support your claim; you must be specific enough that the government can conduct a proper investigation. Your claim should also specify the cost of all damages incurred as a result of the accident. The federal government typically rules on claims within six months.
If the government accepts your claim, they will be frugal awarding compensation, as your settlement will be paid using public funds. However, the government may also deny your claim. If your claim is denied you may pursue a lawsuit, however, you only have six months after the denial to do so.
Filing a Claim Against Your State Government/Government Employee
In the state of Utah, you have one year (starting on the date of the accident) to file a “notice of claim”. After the filing date, you will have one year to file a lawsuit. Claim forms can typically be found in the clerk’s office of the government entity you are pursuing. When reporting monetary damages on the claim form, include any future expenses (like continued medical treatment) that will also need compensation.
If the government rejects your claim, you may file a lawsuit, and pursue compensation through litigation. However, you will only have one year after you have submitted your claim to file a lawsuit.
Why The Type of Government Vehicle Involved in the Accident Matters
The type of government vehicle involved in your accident will impact the amount of settlement the government agency you are pursuing will be willing to award. If a non-emergency vehicle caused the accident, like a garbage truck, your case will be easier to pursue.
However, if an emergency vehicle caused your accident, like a police car, your case may become significantly more complex. If you bring a case against a government employee who was acting in response to an emergency, the court will consider the conditions of the emergency. If the court finds the emergency to have been extreme, you may not have a case to pursue. Conversely, if a collision with an emergency vehicle occurs, as a result of their negligence (i.e. they failed to turn on their emergency lights or sirens) you may have a case against them.
Were you or someone you know involved in a recent auto accident? Call Auto Accident Care Network now at 801-683-1948 to connect with a live care advocate. Our team at AACN can connect you to trusted attorneys and doctors to schedule a free legal consultation, a free thirty-minute massage, and a no-cost medical exam!