Under any circumstances, it can be difficult to recover compensation after you have been injured in an automobile accident. Insurance companies sometimes dispute claims, or other delays can occur. When you are involved in an accident with a government vehicle, the case may be more complicated. Government vehicle accident claims must follow certain procedures and different timelines than other claims, making it important to talk to an experienced government vehicle accident attorney in San Jose as soon after you are injured as possible.
What qualifies as a government vehicle accident in San Jose?
A government vehicle accident occurs when a city, county, state or federal employee is involved in an accident while driving a government vehicle while performing his or her official duties. When a government employee causes an accident, the injured victims may need to follow complicated rules in order to hold the government accountable. This is because governments generally enjoy sovereign immunity against actions filed against them by individuals. However, both the Federal Tort Claims Act and the California Tort Claims Act carve out certain exceptions to the immunity that the government enjoys, including in car accidents.
Steps to file a lawsuit against a government employee in California
When you are injured in an accident that was caused by a government employee, he or she will be immune from lawsuits if he or she was acting in the course and scope of his or her employment at the time that it occurred. However, you may be able to hold the government liable for the employee’s negligent actions through a theory called respondeat superior. Under this theory, the government is responsible for the harms caused by its employees’ negligence.
To file a lawsuit against the government and its employee in California, you must follow certain procedural steps. You can’t simply file a personal injury complaint in court. Under the law, you must first file a claim with the appropriate government agency that complies with the requirements of the California Tort Claims Act before you can file a lawsuit. This initial claim must be properly filed no later than six months after the date of the accident, which is a substantially shorter time period than what is required for filing other types of car accident claims. The government will then have a period of 45 days to either accept the claim or to dispute it. If the government denies your claim, you are then able to file a lawsuit. If you miss the six-month notice requirement, you will be barred from seeking recovery of your damages in the future.
How to file a government claim
After your injury accident, you must file your claim no later than six months from the accident date. Claims must be filed with the government claims program with the Department of General Services using the Government Claim Form. You must include all of the required information as outlined in Sect. 910 of the California Tort Claims Act and pay a processing fee of $25. If the government denies the claim, you will then have six months within which to file a personal injury lawsuit against the government for your injury accident. If the government fails to respond, you will have up to two years from the date of your injury to file a lawsuit.
When and how to contact a San Jose government vehicle accident attorney
Because of the complex procedures and short deadlines that are required when you have been injured in an accident involving a government vehicle, it is vital for you to contact an experienced government vehicle accident attorney as soon as possible. In some cases, you may be allowed to file a late claim if certain circumstances apply and you have missed the six-month deadline. It is best for you to file your claim with the government before the six months have passed in order to preserve your rights. Contact an experienced government vehicle accident lawyer in San Jose today to schedule your consultation.