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What is Sovereign Immunity in Miami Car Accident Cases?

by | Nov 5, 2020 | Firm News

Have you ever heard of the term sovereign immunity? When you suffer a car accident in Miami, you can seek compensatory damages from the other party with help from a car accident lawyer. Florida is a no-fault state, which means that in the overwhelming majority of the cases, you will have recourse to your own insurer for compensation. The state laws do allow you to sue the other party when the injuries or other losses are particularly severe.

However, things are a lot different when a government entity is involved in the accident. If a government-owned vehicle or the actions of a government employee cause a crash, it may not be as easy to sue. This is simply because the doctrine of sovereign immunity comes into play.

What Does Sovereign Immunity Mean?

Sovereign immunity is a legal term. The term was originally coined to protect the sovereign, or King, back in the days. The doctrine stated that a private individual could not bring a lawsuit against the sovereign for a harm or injury caused by the crown.

The doctrine has significantly evolved since. Today, sovereign immunity is simply meant to protect government entities and agencies from endless lawsuits. This is achieved by creating rigorous requirements and limitations for potential lawsuits against a government entity.

If you suffer a Miami accident involving a government employee or vehicle, you can file a lawsuit under the requirements laid out in Florida Statutes section 768.28.

How Sovereign Immunity Works in Florida Cases?

Sovereign immunity in Florida applies to the state, city government, municipalities, counties, and local government entities. It effectively shields these entities from being sued under the standard terms of the law. Instead, a specially designated set of laws must be followed if a lawsuit is to be brought against these entities.

Statute of Limitations: Florida has a standard four-year statute of limitations for personal injury cases. However, if your crash-related injury is caused by a government entity, you have 3 years to bring a lawsuit. The shorter timeline is meant to protect the government from a backlog of lawsuits.

Notification: In contrast to the regular car accident claims, you are required to notify a government agency of your intent to sue. You must also let the agency know how the negligence of the agency or one of its employees resulted in your losses. In Florida, you must mail your Notice of Claim to the Florida Department of Financial Services. The notice must contain your details as the victim, the details of the accident, and information about your medical providers.

Investigatory Period: When you notify a government agency of your personal injury claim, the agency has a mandatory 180-day period to investigate the claim. Following these investigations, the agency can then agree to accept your claim informally or to let you proceed with your lawsuit.

Personal Liability: You can’t personally hold a government employee accountable for injury or harm caused by them. The only exception is when that harm is intentionally caused by the employee.

Damage Caps: When suing a government agency, the maximum amount of damages you can seek is limited. In general, you can seek no more than $200,000 for a car crash lawsuit against a government employee or entity. The damages may be slightly higher when the claim is filed against multiple entities but still no more than $300,000.

In a few limited cases, a government agency may claim absolute immunity. This is provided by the Florida statutes for certain situations where an agency has a low or specially defined duty of care towards the citizens. An agency may also be immune from being sued if one of its employees caused a car crash while not working within his or her scope of employment. In other words, you can sue the government agency only if its employee was working within the scope of employment at the time of the crash.

Hiring a Reliable Miami Car Accident Lawyer

If you have suffered property damage or injuries in a Miami car accident involving a government entity, you need the immediate help of a good lawyer. Filing a claim for damages with a government agency is quite complicated. And things get even more complex when the claim is denied and you proceed to a lawsuit.

As discussed above, a special set of rules apply to such cases. This is why you need the sound help and advice of a good Miami car accident lawyer to help you. Here at Englander Peebles, we can help you through every step of the journey. Contact us today to discuss your case and initiate your claim.