Car accidents are scary enough, but an accident with a government vehicle can leave you even more frightened and wondering whether you have any recourse at all. While it's true that filing an injury claim against the government is a little different than your normal lawsuit, that doesn't mean you can't recover for damages or injuries caused by a government vehicle.
Whether it was a park maintenance truck, or even a cop car that hit yours, you may be able to sue. But here are some things to keep in mind if you're in a car accident with a government vehicle.
Put On Notice
The biggest difference between a claim against the government and your run of the mill lawsuit is the "notice of claim" requirement. Before filing your lawsuit, you will need to file a notice of claim with the government entity you'll be suing, sometimes within 60 days of the accident depending on whether the claim is against a local, state, or federal government agency or employee.
The purpose of filing the notice is to make the government aware of the accident and give the entity a chance to respond to the claim. While it is rare, in some cases the government will accept your claim and repay you. More often, though, the government will deny your claim and you can proceed with your lawsuit.
In addition to the notice requirement, most states have what are known as tort claims acts, which regulate the process of suing the government for injuries. There is also a Federal Tort Claims Act for lawsuits against the federal government.
These statutes will often have specific filing requirements and deadlines which may differ from normal lawsuits. And, as with any car accident claim, you'll want to be sure to gather as much evidence and documentation regarding the accident as possible before filing a claim.
The claims process can differ from state to state, and an experienced car accident injury attorney can best advise you on the rules and regulations of government claims in your area.