Most people are aware of the general procedures to take when a car accident occurs with a regular vehicle. However, they may be stymied when the vehicle involved in the accident belongs to the government. Accidents involving government vehicles are actually quite common because they are often speeding and they have the discretion to ignore most traffic signs and signals. Yes, government vehicles often have sirens to give people ample warning of their approaching presence, but other drivers may not immediately notice them.
Anyone who gets into an accident with a government vehicle can still get compensation for the expenses caused by that accident. However, as with most things involving the government, it can get complicated. That is why anyone who was involved with a government vehicle accident in San Diego should contact us at Injury Trial Lawyers. We can untangle the legal complexities involved in government vehicle accidents to get you the compensation you deserve.
The Types Of Government Vehicles
There are a wide variety of government-sanctioned vehicles that can end up causing an accident. Some of them include:
- Police cars
- Fire Trucks
- Garbage Trucks
- Mail Trucks
- Public Buses
- Military Vehicles
In the case of emergency vehicles, it is easy to see why they could get into accidents since they often speed through intersections and traffic lights. Drivers are supposed to yield to emergency vehicles when their sirens are blaring, but sometimes they may not notice them or will notice them too late to react. When that happens the emergency vehicle might end up colliding with the driver.
Other government vehicles like buses, garbage trucks, or mail trucks can get involved in accidents through simple driver carelessness, just like any other vehicle. And just as with accidents involving any other vehicle, the driver involved in the accident is entitled to compensation if the accident was not their fault.
How To File a Claim Involving a Government Vehicle
Government agencies are protected from lawsuits by something called sovereign immunity but that does not prevent anyone who has been in an accident that was caused by a government vehicle from collecting compensation. That is because the California Tort Claims Act allows citizens to get compensation from government agencies in certain scenarios. Some of these scenarios include crashes with public buses, accidents between government vehicles and pedestrians, intersection accidents between emergency vehicles and other drivers, and more.
If you are going to file a claim with a government agency, then you should make sure to hire an attorney first since you will need their guidance. You will need to file a claim with the government agency responsible for the vehicle that caused the accident within six months of said accident. That claim will be filed with the Government Claims Program (GCP) of the Office of Risk and Insurance Management.
After you submit your claim the GCP will review it and decide if they will accept or deny your claim. They have 45 days to respond to you directly, but if you do not hear from them within that time, then that means that they have rejected your claim. If they explicitly deny your claim, then you can file a lawsuit against them within six months of the rejection. However, if they denied your claim by simply not responding, then you have two years to file the lawsuit.
The Rules of Tort Claims
The wording within a tort claim has to be very strict because it must be specified that the driver of the government vehicle was using that vehicle in the scope of their employment. In other words, they were on the job when they caused the accident and were not acting as a private citizen. Additionally, all tort claims against a government agency must have the following information:
- The name and address of the claimant, i.e. the accident victim.
- The address to which the claim must be sent.
- The date and location of the accident.
- The circumstances that led to the accident.
- A description of the damages, injuries, and other losses suffered by the claimant at this point.
- The name of the government employee responsible for the accident if it is known.
- The amount of damages if it is less than $10,000. If it is more than $10,000, then the dollar amount should not be included, but it should be stated if the claimant has a limited civil case.
The rules are quite strict and the claim must be filed on time, otherwise the agency may refuse to even look at it.
Contact Us If You Have Been In a Government Vehicle Accident
The rules involving a government vehicle accident in San Diego can be quite complex and quite strict, which is why you do not want to handle such a case by yourself. You will need all the help that you can get and at Injury Trial Lawyers, we will give it to you. It can be intimidating trying to get compensation from the government, which is why we will be there to help you. We are ready and willing to take on government agencies on behalf of our clients, so get in touch with us if you have been in an accident involving a government vehicle in San Diego.