While it is difficult, it is not impossible to sue the government if you are hurt in an accident caused by a government vehicle. Laws enacted over the years have established the parameters for personal injury accidents caused by government employees.
For instance, if you are injured in a traffic accident caused by someone else, typically you have the right to file a lawsuit against that person. An injured person is entitled to pursue compensation for medical expenses and property damage from the at-fault party. The same does not necessarily hold true for injuries and property damage caused by government officials, including law enforcement officers, firefighters, ambulance drivers, and mail carriers, among others.
The Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA) dictates the handling of incidents involving government vehicles. The FTCA affords injured persons a restricted exception to the government’s sovereign immunity. This exception states that the government can only be sued “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.” 28 U.S.C. S 1346(b).
Vehicle liability, when government employees are involved in a car accident is one of the more common exceptions where the government may be liable for its actions. These usually include emergency vehicles, such as fire trucks and ambulances rushing through intersections or police car pursuits. However, getting rear-ended by a public school bus, side-swiped by a city public works truck, and other non-emergency scenarios are feasible.
When you’re suing the government, a substantially higher threshold for proving driver responsibility and fault exists. Cases involving emergency vehicles are even more complex. In true emergency situations, the government is offered tremendous latitude. This latitude, however, is dependent on whether or not the emergency vehicle was using its lights and sirens in a manner that preserves the public safety while allowing the emergency crew to respond. The FTCA would allow a lawsuit to be filed following a collision with an at-fault mail carrier.
If you are seeking compensation from the government for damages caused by one of its employees, you will likely need to file an administrative claim with the applicable government entity- county, state, or federal.
Of utmost importance, are the time constraints placed on filing lawsuits against the government- typically between 30 and 180 days. The state of Colorado allows 180 days for an administrative claim to be filed. If you miss this deadline, you may lose your right to recover damages.
If you have been injured by a government vehicle, it is important to call our law firm immediately to avoid missing critical deadlines. Our Longmont car accident attorneys can review your case and help you choose the legal path that is best for you and your family. Contact the law firm of Fuicelli & Lee, PC, for a free case evaluation. You pay nothing unless you receive a financial settlement or award. Call our office at 303-355-7202 or fill out our confidential contact form.
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