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Who is Liable in Miami Crashes Involving Government Vehicles?

by | Apr 4, 2021 | Firm News

Car accidents can result in serious injuries, property damage, and other types of losses, even those involving government vehicles. Florida is a no-fault state, which means that you will typically need to file for car crash damages with your own insurance company in a crash with government vehicles. This is regardless of the issue of fault.

However, it is possible for you to go outside the insurance system and seek compensation directly from the at-fault driver, even with government vehicles. You have this option only when the crash causes injuries that meet a specific threshold. According to the Florida Statutes 627.737, this threshold is met in the following cases:

  • When the crash causes injuries that lead to a permanent loss of bodily function
  • When the crash results in permanent injury
  • When you suffer a significant degree of scarring or disfigurement which is likely to be permanent
  • When the crash results in the death of a victim

A car accident claim or a lawsuit for damages can be brought against an at-fault driver when one of the conditions above is met. However, if the other party is a government employee, or a government vehicle or entity is involved in the crash, things can become a lot more complicated. This is because a different set of laws apply when you seek to bring a damages claim or lawsuit against crashes involving government vehicles.

Sovereign Immunity in Miami Accidents

Sovereign immunity is a legal waiver that exempts specific entities from being held liable in personal injury claims. This type of immunity stems from the privilege that the monarchs enjoyed in the past, being immune from the legal prosecution of the common citizens. The same immunity is today extended to government entities and agencies at the federal, state, and local levels.

That being said, a number of laws and legal amendments have been brought forth over the time related to sovereign immunity. These laws and amendments make it possible for you to seek damages from a government entity for personal injury losses under specific circumstances. The Federal Tort Claims Act is the most important piece of legislation in this regard.

What is Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA)?

Federal Tort Claims Act (FCTA) allows citizens of the United States to bring tort claims against the government in certain circumstances. When the legal requirements for the given circumstances are met, FTCA waives the sovereign immunity privilege of the relevant government entity so that you can file a claim or lawsuit.

A Florida-specific set of laws, similar to the FTCA, that constitute a similar waiver on the state level are defined in Florida Statutes 768.28. Under these statutes, you can file a claim for damages in a crash involving state employees or vehicles if:

  • Your losses can be compensated through a monetary settlement
  • Your crash-related injuries involved some kind of omission, negligence, or wrongful act on the part of the entity against which the claim is being filed
  • If the same negligence was committed was a private entity, that entity would also have been liable

Filing a Claim Against the Government

If you were involved in a crash with government vehicles or entities, you must notify the relevant agency or entity about your intent to file a claim for damages. This notice must be provided within three years of the crash.

Once you notify the agency, you must then wait for a period of six months so that the agency can conduct internal investigations regarding these government vehicles. Once the period of six months since your written notice elapses, you can file a lawsuit for damages. You can also file the lawsuit if the agency issues a formal denial of your claim before this period.

If the agency turns down your claim and finds that you are not eligible for damages, you have a total of three years from the date of injury to file a claim. If the statute of limitations elapses, your lawsuit has little to no odds of success, although the statute may be extended under certain circumstances. It is best to consult a car accident lawyer to see if your particular crash qualifies for an extension in the statute.

Hiring a Reliable Car Accident Lawyer in Miami

If you have been injured in a car crash involving a state, federal, or local entity or employee, you may be able to seek suitable compensation under the legal statutes mentioned above. Here at Englander Peebles, our lawyer can review your case and see if you have a valid claim for damages. Call us today to book a free consultation with our lawyers.