Can You File a Claim Against the Government for a Car Accident Injury?
Most car accident claims involve private citizens and either one or both parties are found to have been negligent in some way. However, there are also times when the crash involves a government vehicle or employee.
These types of cases can be much more complicated because of laws that apply to claims against government entities. That is why it is important to work with a licensed New Jersey car accident attorney who understands these laws and additional procedures required for filing claims.
Types of Crashes Involving Government Entities
There are various government entities who may be responsible for your damages, particularly in the following kinds of accidents:
- Train or bus crashes – If you are injured in a crash with a train or bus, including a crash when you were on the train or bus, you may have a claim against New Jersey Transit.
- Crashes caused by road conditions – The government may also be liable for accidents that are caused by poor road design, construction detours or obstructed views.
- Crashes with law enforcement vehicles – Crashes involving law enforcement vehicles, including vehicles from the sheriff’s department or police department may lead to compensation claims.
- Accident involving government employees – This means accidents that involve other government employees, such as public utility workers, municipal workers, county workers, state workers or school district workers who were on the clock at the time of the accident.
Sovereign Immunity and Car Accidents
The general rule is that people cannot sue the government for damages under the legal principle of sovereign immunity.
However, New Jersey’s Tort Claims Act has exceptions to sovereign immunity. For instance, public entities can be held liable for injuries caused by employees acting within the scope of their employment, just as a private individual could be held liable for negligence. In other words, if you would have a claim against a private citizen, you would have a claim against a public entity.
Under the New Jersey Tort Claims Act, any amount you receive from your insurer will be deducted from any damages award you receive from your claim against the government entity.
If you pursue pain and suffering damages, you must prove you suffer from a “permanent loss of a bodily function, permanent disfigurement or dismemberment” and your medical expenses are greater than $3,600.
Filing a Claim Deadlines for Legal Action
To preserve your right to pursue compensation, you must provide a Notice of Tort Claim to the proper department of the relevant entity within 90 days of the accident. If you do not file the claim before this deadline, you lose your right to have your claim considered. The state then has 90 days to accept or reject the claim.
Your claim must contain enough information for the state to evaluate its merits, including:
- Your name and address
- The date and location of the accident
- Reasons why you believe the governmental entity owes you damages
- An explanation of the injuries you sustained
- The identities of the government employees and entities you believe are responsible for your injuries
- The amount of damages you are requesting compensation for and how this amount was calculated
The government has 90 days to decide whether to accept your claim or reject it.
For a free initial consultation and information about what you need to know before filing a claim against the government, contact the Lynch Law Firm, PC by calling (800) 518-0508 anytime, 24/7.