April 14, 2016
California Tort Claims Act
Generally, when a public official or agency commits harm against an individual, that injured individual has to jump through significantly more hoops before they can bring that government official or agency into court compared to a normal individual. This protection is what is known as sovereign immunity, and often shields the government from liability or having to pay damages.
For example, a car accident with a government owned vehicle may require the analysis of many more legal issues compared to a typical car accident. While it may be more difficult to sue a government agency, including the state for their wrong, it does not mean that citizens are without remedy. Claims against the State government and its agencies are complicated, but not impossible to navigate through. An experienced personal injury attorney can help determine if an individual has a valid claim against a government agency.
California Protections for Government Officials
In California, government agencies and employees are protected under a piece of legislation known as the California Tort Claims Acts. This claims act excludes some intentional acts and acts outside a government official’s employment, but generally, this act allows elected officials to go about their usual business without the constant fear of being sued for every move they make.
According to the California Court of Appeals, the premise of the California Tort Claims Act is to provide public officials and organizations notice of dangerous conditions, the time to fix those conditions and to allocate funds to deal with the danger. However, when someone is injured in an accident that involves a government entity, the purpose behind a piece of legislation is probably the last thing they are thinking about.
Filing a Claim under Tort Claims Act
Prior to suing a government agency, any person that is injured by a government agency or government agent needs to first file a claim with California’s Victim Compensation and Government Claims Board. After an accident involving a government entity or government agent, it is important to act quickly.
Like any accident, there is only a certain amount of time where you can act to file a claim. However, unlike other accidents, the time to notify the California government of a pending claim is only six months. After you file a claim, the government has 45 days to respond by either accepting your claim or denying it. Unfortunately, six months is not a long time and while the California Government allows delayed claims in certain circumstances, but these delayed claims are rare and should not be relied upon.
Have You Been Injured in an Accident Involving the Government?
If you have received an injury in an accident involving an elected official or a government agency, you may feel like you are unable to get the compensation you deserve.