What Happens if You’re in an Accident With a Government Vehicle?

If you’ve been involved in an accident with a government-owned vehicle, you may be wondering what compensation or legal recourse you have. It’s important to know the differences between a government and non-government vehicle, as well as any potential immunity that the driver of a government vehicle may have.

What is a Government Vehicle?

In Arizona, there are certain criteria that must be met before a vehicle can be considered a government vehicle. Generally speaking, any car or truck owned by the federal, state, or local government is considered to be a government vehicle. This includes vehicles owned by the United States Postal Service (USPS), fire departments, police departments, garbage trucks, road construction vehicles, and more.  

When Can You Sue the Government?

It is essential to determine if the employee driver was on a work-related trip or a non-government errand at the time of the accident. If they were on a work-related trip, then suing may be possible if their actions were within their scope of employment, such as delivering mail or transporting goods from one location to another. 

On the other hand, if an employee was on a personal errand for themselves unrelated to work, then it may not be possible to sue since they were not acting in their professional capacity. Therefore, it is important to investigate this detail before pursuing legal action against the government.

Deadlines When Filing Claims Against The State 

When it comes to filing a lawsuit, dealing with the government is vastly different than dealing with any other individual. Before you can take legal action against the government, you must first file a Notice of Claim. 

If you believe that you have been harmed by actions taken by the state of Arizona, you will need to file your claim within 180 days from the date of harm. If you fail to file the Notice of Claim within 180 days, you will be prevented from ever bringing forth a claim for the incident. 

The state of Arizona has 60 days to respond. If the government rejects the demand or fails to respond to the claim, a lawsuit can be filed.

Lawsuits Against Federal Agencies 

If you believe that you have been harmed by actions taken by a federal agency or employee, then you should be aware that you only have two years from the date of the incident in which to file an administrative claim, though this deadline isn’t absolute. 

In some cases, you will have less time to file a claim. For example, if the government denies your claim, the statute of limitations is then altered, and you only have 6 months to file your lawsuit. This is why it’s so important to speak with a lawyer as soon as you’ve been injured in an accident with a federal government employee.

If you’ve been injured in an accident involving a government employee driver, it is important to determine what type of trip they were on and if any reckless behaviors occurred leading up to or during the crash to establish negligence and grounds for a lawsuit. An experienced car accident attorney in Phoenix can help provide guidance on your rights and legal options in these types of cases so don’t hesitate to contact us to schedule a free consultation.