Government Liability and Vehicle Accidents
Posted on Friday, June 28th, 2019 at 6:39 am
After an accident with a government vehicle, you may fear that your expenses will go unpaid due to sovereign immunity. Sovereign immunity essentially means that government entities cannot be sued without their permission. Although the law is intended to protect the government from frivolous lawsuits, it can make it more difficult to file your legitimate lawsuit.
Government Vehicle Accidents
Thankfully, Georgia law allows for exceptions to sovereign immunity in case of accidents involving government vehicles. The law states that sovereign immunity does not apply if the driver of the government vehicle is negligent, with payout limits of:
- $500,000 for bodily injury or death of one person
- $700,000 for bodily injury or death of two or more
- $50,000 for destruction of property
There are limits to this waiver of sovereign immunity. If the vehicle was not being used for official duties or employment responsibilities, then the government entity is not liable, though you may still be able to sue the driver. The stated limits for damages are also strict. Although the government can allow for a greater award than the limits listed above, it is unlikely that your expenses above those limits will be paid.
No matter who is responsible for your expenses, you will need to ensure that you have gathered the necessary evidence to make your claim or suit go smoothly. It is a good idea to:
- Photograph the accident scene
- Photograph your injuries and damages to your vehicle
- Collect contact information for any witnesses
- Put your account of the accident in writing immediately, while it is still fresh in your memory
- Maintain copies of medical records, bills, and receipts
- Get repair or replacement estimates for your vehicle
This evidence will be submitted to your attorney, who will use it to help you get the compensation needed.
Filing a Claim
Once you determine whether liability lies with the government agency or driver, you can begin your case. If the driver is liable, then you will begin with claims to his or her insurance, followed by a personal injury suit. If, however, you find that you can file your claim against the government, you will need to notify the government agency in writing. If you are filing against a local government, the time limits and process of notifying the agency can vary, though your attorney will be able to assist you.
If filing against the state of Georgia, you must give written notice within one year of the injury. This claim is filed with the Department of Administrative Services, who will either accept the claim and pay all or part of your claim or deny the claim entirely. You cannot file a personal injury suit until the department denies the claim or once 90 days have passed.
It is important to begin the filing process immediately, even though suits involving the government can be intimidating. Under Georgia law, you have just two years after the accident to file your personal injury suit.
Contact an Attorney
Do not let the prospect of suing the government intimidate you. The attorneys at Jonathan R. Brockman, A Personal Injury Law Firm, will help to streamline the process of filing against the government agency and get you the compensation you need to get back on your feet. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.