Can Victims Sue the Government Over an Auto Accident Injury?
A car accident is inconvenient at best, devastating at worst. No matter where your car crash falls along the scale, you may be interested in fighting for compensation if you believe the accident was not your fault. But what do you do if the accident was caused by a government employee or agency? In some states, you have limited recourse. Learn more about your options, and for more specialized advice regarding your claim, call Pack Law Group at 540-586-7225.
Proving Liability in an Auto Accident
As an accident victim, you must be able to prove liability to get compensation. This is the same regardless of whether the other party was a private citizen or a government employee. This is one of the reasons you need an attorney. Proving liability can be complicated, since you must prove that:
- The individual had an obligation to you, which in the case of a car accident simply means that drivers on the road have an obligation to drive reasonably and not harm others
- The individual failed to fulfill that duty
- As a result of that failure, they caused an accident
- The accident caused your injuries
How Claims Against the Government Differ from Typical Claims
While liability is the same in cases against the government and individuals, essentially every other part of a personal injury claim against the government is different. The government is often protected under the principle of sovereign immunity, which prevents government agencies from being sued for the actions of their agents. This is partially true in Virginia.
In Virginia, an individual can submit a claim against a government agency for damage caused by an agent’s negligence. The incident must not have occurred as the result of an unlawful action. That is to say, if a government worker intentionally assaults someone while on duty, that is an unlawful action, and the victim would only be able to sue the individual person who assaulted them.
Furthermore, the state of Virginia places caps on damages. In a suit against the government, the amount recoverable cannot exceed $100,000 or the limits of the liability policy. The statute of limitations in this type of case is one year.
If a federal government agency is responsible for your injuries, you may be able to sue them under the FTCA. The process is fairly complicated, as you must fill out a variety of forms, meet multiple deadlines, and meet specific filing requirements. Failing to meet even one of these requirements could lead to your case being dismissed. Because of this, it’s important to seek legal attention as soon as possible after an accident. They can help you navigate the complex paperwork and ensure that no deadlines are missed or forgotten.
Determining the Scope of Duties
Under Virginia law, you can only sue an agency if the person who caused your injuries was acting within the scope of their duties at the time of the accident. Consider, for example, a government-employed social worker driving between houses in their caseload. They forget to check their blind spot when changing lanes and sideswipe you. They were acting in the course of their duties while driving, and so you may be able to seek compensation.
However, imagine that the social worker stops at a bar between home visits. They drink too much and get behind the wheel while impaired. They strike you because of their impairment. In this case, they were not operating in the scope of their duties when they hit you, and you would not be able to sue the government. You would need to sue the individual personally.
Choose Pack Law Group for Your Personal Injury Claim
Personal injury claims can be complicated, and the process of getting the compensation you deserve can be frustrating. This is even worse when you throw in the fact that the government is party liable for your injuries. Luckily, you do not have to navigate this process or its requirements alone. The team at Pack Law Group fights aggressively for fair compensation for each and every client. Want to learn more about your options and find out if you have a valid claim? Let’s sit down and talk. Call us at 540-586-7225 or get in touch online to set up a consultation.