As if getting into a car accident isn’t stressful enough, colliding with a government-owned vehicle can bring about a whole new set of problems and worries. If you ask most drivers, many won’t even know if there are legal implications or punishments for this kind of accident, and simply hope they never have to find out. Although it’s unlikely that you’ll be dragged off to jail for rear-ending a police cruiser or crashing with a fire truck, it doesn’t hurt to understand how accidents like this are handled and how fault is determined.
What Is Considered a Government Vehicle?
Government vehicles include a variety of automobiles that the government either owns or leases. Unfortunately, it is not unusual for many of these vehicles to be larger than average cars, expected to drive fast, therefore posing a serious risk to the rest of the public. Some examples of these vehicles include:
- Police cars
- Fire Trucks
- Military Trucks
- Mail Trucks
If you’ve been in an accident with any of these types of vehicles, your legal process will differ from a regular car crash. Knowing how to go about that is an important step in receiving the extent of financial compensation that you deserve.
The Federal Tort Claims Act
For anyone that shares the road with federal vehicles, it is important to be aware of the Federal Tort Claims Act. Put into practice in 1946, the act allows for the compensation of individuals that are injured or have property damaged as a result of negligence by federal government employees. What makes this piece of legislation so important is that before 1946 the government never admitted liability, and it was essentially impossible to receive compensation as a citizen. Now, it is understood that the government can very possibly be at fault, including incidents such as a car accident, which gives the public a fair chance at receiving compensation like in any other accident.
Statute of Limitations Differences in Collisions With Government Vehicles
Every state has its own statute of limitations, meaning you must file a car accident claim within a certain amount of time. Depending on the state, this can mean something like one or two years from the date of the collision. When you collide with a government vehicle, the statute of limitations is set in a shorter time frame than your state’s law, so getting your claim filed as soon as possible is essential. The government’s statute of limitations is set at 180 days from the date of your car accident. Once those days pass, your ability to file a claim is barred.
Filing A Formal Written Claim Against a Government Vehicle
When handling the claims process, attorneys at Nicholson Revell, LLP advise that an injury lawyer can be a great resource, as filing must be done correctly in order to work in your benefit. This is something lawyers are experts at, especially in cases with extra complexities, like involving the government. When your claim is submitted, it will include the following things:
- Your contact information
- Your statement of the events, which includes pictures and any evidence you can provide
- The date the accident occurred
- What you are seeking in reparations with supporting documentation of the extent of your injuries both physical and emotional
The evidence provided in your claim is most effective with legal counsel, so don’t hesitate to seek it. Most lawyers offer free consultations, so there’s no harm or financial obligation involved in a case evaluation.
Why You Should Seek Compensation
Although it is always a good idea to seek rightful compensation if you were injured or your property has been damaged, this is particularly true if you are in an accident with a government vehicle. For the most part, because many of them are service vehicles, government automobiles tend to be larger, faster, and more powerful than most other cars on the road. For example, as described by the truck accident lawyers at the Buchanan Firm, getting into an accident with a truck such as a fire engine is more likely to be far more devastating than with another civilian driver, meaning more damages to possibly you and your vehicle. This is why when there’s an accident between a government vehicle and a civilian, the person with the less power tends to suffer the most damage, and should always seek compensation.