The Procedure If Involved in an Accident With Government-Owned Vehicles
About 6 million people are involved in car accidents yearly. Anyone can become a victim of a car accident, and the vehicles can range from private cars, company vehicles, or even government-owned automobiles.
How Government-Owned Vehicle Accidents Differ
In many situations, the aftermath is the same. The victims proceed to file claims for compensation or lawsuits where necessary.
However, the routine becomes a bit different when a government vehicle is at fault for the accident. Instead of filing a personal injury claim against the driver, victims have to deal with the government.
The case can be a bit challenging, depending on the state laws providing the government with immunity. It is generally referred to as sovereign immunity and was established to protect the government and government employees from individuals’ legal suits.
However, not every situation is the same. Victims can still file a claim and win compensation. It would help to contact a trucking accident lawyer to help protect your rights.
Why Your Claim Will Be Against the Government
With car accident claims involving government vehicles, the liability falls on the government entity because the driver is assumed to be an agent of the state department. The entity can direct the driver, and according to the law, they are the same entity.
The negligence of the driver is thus assumed to be the negligence of the government department. However, it is not always obvious that the state is held liable for the accident. The court will seek to know if the driver acted in a government vehicle driver’s capacity and for the relevant state department’s benefit when the accident occurred.
Therefore, if the driver was using a government vehicle to run errands, then the state is not liable. The government is also not responsible for intentional torts committed by the driver.
What You Should Know About Government Entity Claims
As said earlier, some government entities enjoy immunity from accident injury liability to some extent. The exemption can be full or partial. Generally, it is assumed that the individuals act in the public interest, such as responding to an emergency, which grants them latitude in terms of the duty of care expected of them.
Their duty of care is usually measured regarding the standard of care that a reasonable person would exercise given a similar situation. Failing to exercise such reasonable care holds them liable for any injuries caused to other parties.
In any case, suing the government is an intricate affair and requires a deep understanding of the state and federal tort claims acts. In most cases, it takes an experienced lawyer in personal injury claims against the government to obtain just compensation.
Generally, the lawsuit against a government entity should begin within 180 days from the time of the accident. The timeframe is shorter than other personal injury claims to allow the government to budget for the settlements. Victims who fail to submit their claims within the specified period can never file the claim after the expiry.
It is usually the first challenge that victims face, and many government entities overcome liability due to a large number of people unaware of the provision. This is one of the prime reasons why you need a trucking accident lawyer when making your claim.
An attorney experienced in personal injury suits can often help you avoid tort issues that most claimants face.
Steps After a Government Vehicle Accident
If you are a victim of a car accident involving a government vehicle, the steps are the same as any other car accident. However, it is crucial to appreciate that this time around, the odds are against you.
Regular car accident claims are a walk in the park compared to claims against the government.
Some of the initial steps you can take include:
Make Sure Everyone Is Safe
Car accidents happen within seconds, and the impact varies from one to the other. If you were in the company of family and friends, you first check that everyone is safe.
Your car is also probably in the middle of the road, so consider putting the hazards lights on to caution other drivers and prevent further accidents.
Assess the Injuries
You may be injured, or people accompanying you could be. Either way, you should check the extent of injuries and administer first aid, if necessary.
Also, you can see who needs urgent medical attention and call the emergency lines if there is a need.
The information gathered immediately after the accident is critical in building your case. Some of the essential details you need to catch include the registration number of the vehicle and insurance information. Also, get the driver’s name, the government entity, and the department to which they belong.
Evidence should also be collected at this point, even before the vehicles get moved. You can take pictures of the cars and the people involved or injured.
Ensure the photos capture all details, such as road signs, skid marks, intersections or sharp bends, obstructions, and weather.
Talk to eyewitnesses around and obtain their contacts, as some may be your witnesses during litigation.
Report the Incident
It is necessary to call the police and record a statement about the accident. Involving the authorities will help you later if you find the need to file a legal suit. The police will always gather evidence from the scene and document everything, and the documentation can help you later.
If your car was damaged in the accident, you need to notify your insurance company. However, take your time to examine the policy first. Make sure any statements you give won’t become the basis of denying you compensation.
Contact a Lawyer
Whether you are a victim of an accident involving a government vehicle or an ordinary wreck, it is essential to engage lawyers experienced in personal injury suits. An attorney can help protect your rights throughout the claims process.
The type of claim involved here can be quite complex due to the timelines and the different procedural requirements. The procedures are critical for a successful claim, and you could lose your compensation if you fail to follow them or make errors.
Therefore, the experience, knowledge, and skills of a trucking accident lawyer are beneficial.
If you are a victim of an accident involving a government vehicle in New Jersey, Rebenack Aronow & Mascolo, L.L.P. – RAM Law are here for you. We can help you pursue complete and fair compensation in your trucking accident injury claim.
Our lawyers understand the force of trucking accidents and know that the risks go beyond the crash. We focus on personal injury cases and pride ourselves on extensive courtroom experience and skills to win you the best possible settlement. Whether you are the victim, or it’s your loved one, we try our best to protect your rights, take you through a government claim, and possibly secure fair and just compensation.
Contact us today at (732) 394-1549 for a free case review or visit our New Brunswick office.