Can I still recover damages if a government vehicle hits me?
When you’re involved in a car accident with a private individual or a commercial entity (such as a semi truck or a delivery van), you typically have the right to file a personal injury claim. This lets you seek compensation for your injuries as well as the other expenses involved in a crash that wasn’t your fault to begin with. However, the situation can get a little more complicated if the vehicle that caused the crash belonged to a city, state, or federal agency.
If a police car, ambulance, postal worker, or other official vehicle or agent caused your crash and you want to pursue compensation, you still may be able to. You should be aware that the rules and regulations are different in this situation, and you may need to act fast. Here’s what you should know.
Government Immunity Laws and Car Accidents
Broadly speaking, police officers, fire trucks, ambulances, and other government employees usually have what’s called government or sovereign immunity. This law protects government workers for liability in many cases. However, there are often exceptions that may depend on the agency involved in the crash, and federal, state, county, city, or other local regulations can play a part, too.
In 1969, the state of Texas realized that there are times when it’s right and appropriate for there to be liability for state or local agencies and organizations. The Texas Tort Claims Act allows governmental units to be held legally responsible for personal injury or wrongful death, provided some conditions are met. These conditions include:
- The person responsible for the accident (government employee) must have been acting within the scope of his or her employment; and
- If the employee had been a private individual at the time of the accident, he or she would have faced liability for the accident.
The Texas Tort Claims Act also limits the amount of recovery that you can receive, to $250,000 per person and $500,000 per incident for injury, and $100,000 per incident for property damage.
There is a similar federal law, called the Federal Torts Claim Act, which also allows for lawsuits against federal employees in situations where negligence on the job is involved. However, the federal law may be even more restrictive than the Texas version and there are strict policies and legal procedures to follow to make a successful claim. Your attorney can help you determine the best way to get started with a federal claim.
Making Your Personal Injury Claim
If a city or municipality is involved, you and your attorney will need to take the claim to that municipality. If you were injured in the city of Austin, for example, you can visit the City of Austin Legal Department online to find out the right procedures and what you need to do to file a claim.
It’s important to note that, unlike a regular personal injury claim, the statute of limitations for making a claim against a government entity can be very short. You may have as few as thirty days or as long as six months, so every day counts between when your accident happened and when you contact a personal injury attorney to begin investigating your claim. If the statute of limitations has already expired, it’s likely that you will not be able to make a successful claim or receive any compensation at all.
Get Legal Help Today
If you’ve been hurt in a car accident with a federal, state, county, city, or other local employee or agency, you may be able to receive compensation for your injuries, but you have to act fast. An experienced auto accident lawyer who is familiar with the tight deadlines and strict procedures of filing a claim against a government agency can help you seek the justice that you deserve in a court of law.
Wayne Wright LLP has been standing up for the rights of those who have been injured by negligence, carelessness, and recklessness for decades, and we’re here to help you recover from your accident.
To arrange a free, no-obligation consultation with an experienced legal professional at Wayne Wright LLP, call us by phone, use our contact form to send an email, or click the live chat box on this page right now.