Can You File a Claim Against the Government for a Car Accident Injury?
Legally Reviewed and Edited by: Terry Cochran
Bringing an action against the government is far more complicated than a typical car accident injury case. One misstep in filing within the statute of limitations could see your claim dismissed. You need sound legal advice from skilled and experienced car accident attorneys. The personal injury lawyers at Cochran Kroll & Associates P.C. can help you navigate the complex procedures to pursue your claim and bring it to a successful conclusion.
How Does Filing a Claim Against the Government Differ?
If you have been injured in a car crash with a government vehicle, the usual insurance laws won’t apply. There are special rules relating to accidents involving federal or state vehicles and employees:
- The window to submit your claim is shorter when suing a government entity
- Some procedures have to be followed before issuing court proceedings
- In some cases, the government has immunity from being sued
What Rights Do You Have?
Having an accident involving a government motor vehicle brings a new layer of complexity. You are no longer just dealing with your auto insurance company and your no-fault PIP benefits, such as lost wages and medical expenses.
The law may grant the government employee responsible for the car crash immunity from lawsuits for any personal injury or property damage in some cases. This will mean you have no recourse and will be unable to recover compensation.
Typically, you are allowed three years to bring a claim for personal injury against an at-fault driver in Michigan. Claims against a state government entity are different; you can only file your formal claim for six months. If your formal claim is rejected, you have two years to file a lawsuit. Even then, you will have to follow strict rules of procedure and may be limited on how much you can recover from the government.
What is a Notice of Claim?
A Notice of Claim is a special form that notifies those you’re suing of the legal action. Your Notice of Claim must include:
- The contact details for everyone involved in the accident
- Details of the date, location, and an account of how the accident happened
- Details of the injury and its severity
- Details of the damages claimed
If you fail to file a Notice of Claim in accordance with the rules, your claim may be dismissed. It is vital, therefore, that you ensure your notice complies with them.
Preparing Your Lawsuit
In Michigan, under MCL 600.6419, the State Administrative Board can determine claims against the State of Michigan for amounts under $1,000 for personal injury or property damage.
If your claim is for less than $1,000, this may be a convenient way of dealing with it. If your claim exceeds $1,000, you can file with the Michigan Court of Claims. This court was set up to hear and determine civil actions brought against the State of Michigan or its agencies.
To establish your claim against a government entity, you will need to show that:
- The government body owed you a duty of care
- It breached their duty of care
- It was due to this breach of their duty of care that caused the accident
- You were injured
As with any negligence claim, you will need evidence such as:
- Medical records
- Photographs of the scene, the vehicles, and your injuries
- Witness statements
- Police report
- Medical Reports and treatment bills
Government immunity adds to the difficulties of successfully pursuing a lawsuit by an injured person for pain and suffering and medical expenses. The facts of each case have to be taken into consideration when deciding if the government entity or employee has immunity.
For example, if a police officer responds to a 911 call anpersonald comes into collision with your vehicle, immunity may be sought. If, however, the collision was a trucking accident involving a non-emergency vehicle, that would be treated very differently, and you should be able to recover damages.
Filing a Lawsuit Against the Federal Government
The Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA) permits filing lawsuits against the federal government for injuries resulting from accidents caused by federal employees. The federal employee, however, must have been operating within the parameters of their job.
This creates a layer of complexity that requires a thorough investigation of both the law and the facts. If the accident happens while the federal employee is driving a vehicle owned by the federal government, what they were doing at the time is crucial to your claim. For example:
- If they were driving between government work sites in the course of their duties, the federal government might be liable
- If they were driving to start work at the beginning of their shift, the federal government is unlikely to be liable.
Before filing a lawsuit against the federal government, an injured party must submit a complaint to the at-fault employee’s agency. It is only after your claim has been rejected that you can file a lawsuit. All such lawsuits are filed at and heard by federal courts.
The Scope of the FTCA
The Federal Tort Claims Act does take away the federal government’s previous immunity from these types of claims. However, there are special rules and limitations governing injury claims against federal government agencies.
While the FTCA opens the door for personal injury claims caused by federal government employees, these claims are limited to a fixed amount. FTCA lawsuits are conducted under the procedure laid down by federal law.
However, in determining whether there was a breach of a duty of care, the state’s law statute-barred where the accident occurred is applied. This adds more complexity, and a claimant has to look for an experienced auto accident attorney to guide them through this complicated procedure.
Consult a Skilled Car Accident Attorney
If you have been injured in an auto accident caused by a government employee, you may want to sue the state or the federal government. The knowledgeable personal injury lawyers at Cochran Kroll & Associates, P.C., have a successful record of winning settlements for clients just like you.
We have the expertise to navigate your claim through the complex and sometimes daunting procedure involved in claiming against a government agency, and we will not hesitate to take a case to trial if necessary.
Our contingency fee basis means we only get paid if we win your case, so there is no financial risk to you to get started. Call our law firm today at 866-MICH-LAW and schedule your no-obligation, free case evaluation.
Disclaimer : The information provided is general and not for legal advice. The blogs are not intended to provide legal counsel and no attorney-client relationship is created nor intended.