Vehicles that are used to perform a public service can be involved in collisions like any other vehicle, but the claims involved in these crashes are much more complex. Victims cannot simply file an injury lawsuit after a collision with U.S. mail trucks, police squad cars, ambulances, fire trucks, school buses, recycling or garbage trucks, snow plows, or other government vehicles. If you are involved in a government vehicle collision, you will likely have to go through a special claims process to get compensation for your injuries and other losses resulting from the crash.
How to File for Compensation When a Government Vehicle Causes Injuries
Some government entities have what is called sovereign immunity, meaning they cannot be sued in a traditional personal injury lawsuit. However, the U.S. government has since waived sovereign immunity by enacting the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA)—and many state governments have followed suit with similar statutes. While this means that victims can file injury claims for accidents caused by government employees, they will have to go through a modified claims process with specific filing deadlines and evidence requirements.
A car accident involving a government employee or vehicle may be subject to:
- Shorter filing deadlines. Under the FTCA, victims have two years file an administrative claim against the federal government for the actions of one of its employees, such as the driver of a postal service vehicle. The deadline for state- and city-owned vehicles in Illinois is generally two years, but victims must file a formal claim within one year in order to have a valid injury lawsuit.
- Denial. The agency has six months to review and make a decision on the claim. If the agency does not respond within six months of submission, your claim can be considered denied and you can file a lawsuit in federal court. If you intend to file a civil lawsuit, you must do so within six months after the date of denial or your claim will likely not be heard.
- Reduced compensation. Even if the government agrees to pay your claim, it does not have to pay the full amount you have requested for your injury costs and lost income. Your attorney may negotiate for additional compensation on your behalf, or you may pursue a lawsuit.
If your car accident involves a municipal or federal vehicle, our attorneys can advise you of your options and next steps at no cost to you. We represent individuals throughout Illinois and Missouri who have suffered serious personal injuries, including those caused by commercial trucks. Simply fill out the short contact form on this page to schedule an appointment for a free consultation.