Crash With Government Vehicles

Transcript: Hi, I’m Indiana personal injury attorney David Holub and this video explores the situation of what if you are hit by another vehicle that happens to be owned by the state or federal government?

So what happens if you’re in an automobile accident and you discover after the accident that the vehicle that hit you was either owned by the state or federal government or maybe a local government? Well, there are special rules for handling claims against a governmental agency or subdivision. Federal and state laws both restrict how and when you can sue a government agency. The law also controls the amount of money that you can get against a governmental entity.

The particular area of the law is called sovereign immunity or governmental immunity, and stems from the history of the development of the common law where it was impossible to sue the king unless the king gave you special permission to do so. Typically the process requires a detailed completion of a form that sets forth the facts as to what happened, who was injured, and when it occurred. Then the form has to be filed with the appropriate governmental claim office.

Typically, the claim form has to be presented within a short period of time. Sometimes 180 days, sometimes 90 days, or less.
So it’s very important to consult with an attorney quickly after you have had an accident and you learn that a governmental entity is involved. What’s the consequence of failing to provide notice or timely notice? The consequence is you may be prohibited from making a claim. It’s important to see an attorney soon after an accident in every situation, but especially important when a governmental entity is involved in operating or owning the vehicle involved in the crash, or involved in some aspect that may have caused the crash.

We deal with these types of cases all the time.

One case that comes to mind was an army recruiter who was heading to a recruiting site to make a presentation, when he crossed the centerline and hit my client’s wife head-on, killing her. In another case, a snow plow was trying to turn-around and lost control of its vehicle and slammed the snow blades directly into the windshield of the car that my clients were passengers in, pushing the car off the road and causing serious injury. In another case, a state government agency constructed a highway that failed to comply with proper safe engineering requirements and led to an accident.

In another case, led to an accident after a state agency and a contractor failed to put up appropriate signs during construction warning of construction and diverting traffic away from a dangerous road hazard at night. In still another case not involving an auto accident, we had a situation where a governmental entity or group of them allowed a private company to poke a hole in a flood control levy for purposes of increasing the size of the company’s parking lot.

The company was supposed to repair the hole in the levy, but it failed to do so and the governmental agencies failed to require them to do so after first telling them to do so. In that case, these various governmental agencies were responsible for hundreds of homes being flooded during a torential rain.

This video simply provides you with some general information on the subject of governmental immunity and what it takes to sue a governmental agency or entity. If you have specific questions, please call one of our attorneys. Our number is 219-736-9700, and we’d be happy to discuss your particular fact situation with you.

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