If you’re involved in a car accident, then you probably know the process of getting your insurance claim filed and receiving compensation for injuries to you and your vehicle. It typically begins with you and the other driver exchanging names, contact details and insurance information. The insurance companies usually take care of most of the paperwork, and after a period of time you receive a payout from them.
When you have a car accident with a government vehicle, however, the process is different in a few important ways.
Many states have adopted the practice of “sovereign immunity,” which basically lets the government off the hook if any of its employees are responsible for an accident. There are exceptions to this law in most states, but it can still make it very difficult for the injured party to make a claim against a government employee who caused an accident.
If you live in Florida, however, a car accident with a police officer or other government employee is NOT protected under this law. The state of Florida chose to waive their right to sovereign immunity, making it much easier for the injured party to receive compensation for their injuries.
If you have been injured by a government vehicle, or if you have been injured on property belonging to the government, it’s important to file your claim as quickly as possible.
For starters, download a claim form from the Florida Division of Risk Management website. This form will tell you what information is required and instruct you on where to send the form. Emailed claims are not accepted.
Claims have to be filed within 3 years of the date of the accident or they will be automatically denied. If you file a lawsuit against the person or government entity that caused the accident, the lawsuit cannot be filed until after a period of investigation has been done, normally lasting 180 days.
Claims should be filed as locally as possible. So if you were hit by a city police officer, the claim would go to the city. A car accident attorney can help you complete the required paperwork and forms to fill out for your insurance claim, as well as any lawsuits you wish to pursue.
There are 3 main examples where a government employee can be held responsible for damages or injuries that he or she caused. These are:
1. An injury caused by either negligence, omission or caused by a wrongful act. Medical negligence and car accidents fall under this category.
2. The damage is able to be compensated with money. In most personal injury cases, including those of car accidents, this is true.
3. The accused party would be held negligent under normal law if they weren’t employed by the government.
You can see that a car accident with a government vehicle fits all three of these conditions. Therefore, you should be able to process a claim against the government for this type of accident.
There are also a few exemptions to car accident law in Florida. These include:
1. A cap on damages, usually between $200,000 and $300,000.
2. Unless the harm was caused intentionally, the government employee cannot be held personally liable. Rather, the claim is filed against the governing body that employs that person.
3. Interest that accrued before the judgment will not be awarded to the claimant.
4. The state retains the right to appeal any case brought against it.
5. Unlike a car accident claim against a civilian, there will be no punitive damages in these cases, and the payout cannot be above a certain amount. Although the state can appeal, they will not normally do so if the cause of the accident is clear.
If your case involves a car accident with a police officer, there may be additional limitations. Employees of the Florida Space Agency and those who work in public health may also be protected under certain conditions.
Get legal help from an experienced Florida car accident lawyer
The process of filing a claim against a government entity can be overwhelming. Let a knowledgeable car accident attorney guide you through the process and help maximize your claim.
Contact the Tragos, Sartes and Tragos today for a free case consultation.