Going against a government entity in a Florida auto accident lawsuit isn’t easy. Our Tampa personal injury lawyers offer advice…
Whether it is a city council or the government, it is never easy to sue any level of the government for anything, but it happens more than you might thing and citizens do sometimes have a precedent to request compensation for car accident damages caused by a government employee.
What is Sovereign Immunity?
Certain government entities and employees enjoy something either referred to as “sovereign or governmental immunity.” However, there have been amendments to the laws over the years making it acceptable and to sue a branch of the government in certain cases.
Of course, there have also been amendments in recent years which show clear favor to the government employees who work various branches of the government and cause a car accident. This is how the legislative branch works on every level – laws are constantly either being made or amended, but they are rarely repealed. Many laws created or amended in recent years have revolved around when you can sue the government for car accident injuries and when you are prevented from doing so.
How Car Accident Cases Differ When a Government Employee is Involved
If a regular citizen who is not employed by any government is driving a normal car with normal plates and gets into a traffic accident, they will be held liable for damages and injuries if they are determined to be at fault. Victims of such incidents can hire any kind of Tampa car accident lawyer and sue a person because they were legally responsible for the physical harm they caused.
In short, you have every right to be “made whole again” by the person responsible for doing you wrong. That’s why, if you can prove fault, the court will rule that they (or their insurance company) must pay for your full damages – including hospital and doctor expenses, property damage, lost wages, emotional pain and suffering, and any other associated damages you can prove.
A regular car accident lawsuit can be very stressful, and sometime being fully made whole again can take years. But it is still a walk in the park compared to the government.
Let’s run through the same scenario above, except that this time the at fault driver was driving a government vehicle and was a government employee like a firefighter, mail carrier, police officer, ambulance driver or even some sort of a city worker.
Sadly, you may not see a dime go to your medical expenses, property damages or lost work, even if the government worker was one hundred percent at fault.
How is this possible?
Government immunity may protect the driver they employ from litigation, unfairly leaving you to foot the bill. Or, the special limits on available compensation from a government car accident case may come up short to paying for the full extent of financial damages.
They key word to all of that is the word “may.” If your case is strong enough, a government entity can be held liable for your damages just like a standard car accident lawsuit. Nevertheless, it will likely be awfully difficult to recover from the government.
We advise consulting with an experienced personal injury law firm that specializes in car accident cases against government agencies, like the Tampa attorneys at Lorenzo & Lorenzo, to determine what to do next and evaluate your case.
How to Win a Car Accident Case Against a Government Entity
If you or a loved one get into a car accident with a government employee, the first thing you want to do is document everything you can and file a police report. What to do following a car accident is basically the same whether a government entity is involved or not.
Next, you will want to hire a car accident attorney near you to discuss your options. Under the Federal Tort Claims Act (also known as the FTCA), any circumstances where a government vehicle is involved in a car accident requires the FTCA to provide a modified waiver of the immunity granted to whatever branch and level of the government you unfortunately have to deal with if one of the government employees was careless within the bounds of their job.
According to the 28 U.S.C. S 1346(b) Governmental Immunity and Car Accidents section from the FTCA, you can only sue the government “under circumstances where the United States, if a private person, would be liable to the claimant in accordance with the law of the place where the act or omission occurred.”
If you are going to demand compensation from a government entity, then be ready to jump through a lot of legal hoops, starting with your lawyer filing a compensation claim (which is an administrative claim with whatever government level was responsible for your damages).
It does not matter if the agency responsible was federal, state, county or the city – you have anywhere from a month to six months depending on the details of your case to get the claim filed, so timing here is critical or else you might miss your chance at recovery.
Most importantly, you must understand that suing the government is typically a stressful, long and difficult process – and yes, the odds are stacked against you. However, winning a car accident injury claim against the government is not impossible, especially if you do everything right and on time.
At Lorenzo & Lorenzo, our Tampa car accident attorneys have experience in these types of cases and can give you expert legal counsel. Contact us immediately to schedule your free consultation.