Whenever a person gets into a car accident caused by the negligence of another party, it is natural for the person to think of the negligent person’s ability to pay for the damages or injuries caused. This is the case especially when the accident is caused by a government worker in a government vehicle. However, while recovery for damages caused by a negligent driver is usually straightforward if negligence can be proved, it is not straightforward when it comes to suing the government.
Generally, it is tough to sue government employees or agencies because of a legal doctrine known as sovereign immunity. Fortunately, Florida governmental bodies waive their sovereign immunity in certain situations, for example in the event of a car accident caused by a negligent government employee, and thereby allow an injured person to file a claim. In some limited circumstances, the government may also be held liable if the government employee was engaged in a wrongful act at the time of the accident.
In order to file a claim based on the actions of a government employee, the injured person would have to show that the employee was acting as a government employee at the time of the accident. This usually involves showing that the employee was engaged in a task within the course of the employee’s employment.
However, even with the waiver of sovereign immunity, an injured driver does not automatically get to file a lawsuit as he would in other situations. Before filing a lawsuit against a government agency or employee, the injured driver must file a claim with the appropriate agency seeking compensation for the accident. In most cases, the lawsuit can only go forward if the agency denies the claim.
There is a time limit within which these claims must be filed, and failure to file the claim within the time limit could mean the claim is lost. For most personal injury cases, which include car accidents, an injured driver with a claim against a government agency must file the claim within three years of the accident. If the claim is for wrongful death, the claim must be filed within two years. There may be shorter time limits when filing a claim against some government agencies.
There are also limits on the amount of money that may be recovered in a claim against a government agency. This is usually between two hundred and three hundred thousand dollars, although the limit may be exceeded in very limited circumstances. Unlike non-government negligent drivers or businesses, a government employee and the agency that employs him would not be liable for punitive damages.
Contact an Experienced Car Accident Attorney
If you sustained serious injuries in a Florida car accident caused by a government employee, you need to act fast in order to secure your right to seek compensation from the government agency that employs the negligent employee. For a free consultation to learn more about how you can seek compensation from a government agency or employee, contact an experienced car accident injury lawyer at Vocelle & Berg, LLP, in Vero Beach, Florida.