If you have been involved in an auto accident caused by a government employee or agency, you may be wondering what options you have when it comes to pursuing a claim for your injuries. How does this process work? Can I sue the government? Will the government pay for my injuries? In many ways, the process of recovering for your injuries is similar to the process involving accidents caused by private individuals or companies; however there are some major differences that must be noted.
Under the common law doctrine of sovereign immunity, an individual cannot sue the government or any of its agencies without the government’s consent. Luckily for those involved in an accident caused by a government employee or agency, in accordance with Section 13, Article X of the State Constitution, the state of Florida has waived its sovereign immunity. This waiver, however, comes with limitations and a specific, complex process that must be followed in order to pursue a claim against the government. This process has been laid out by Florida Statute § 768.28.
So how much can I recover for my injuries if I find myself in this situation? Typically, in a private individual or company accident, an injured person can attempt to recover from the policy limits for the tortfeasor’s vehicle insurance. The insurance company will evaluate their injuries and claim and offer to pay what they deem reasonable for their injuries. This is one of the major differences with government employee or agency accidents. Under Florida Statute § 768.28, recovery for an individual’s injuries cannot exceed the sum of $200,000 for any one person, or $300,000 for multiples claims arising from the same occurrence. Another stark difference between government and private individual-caused accidents is that government agencies are self-insured. This means it does not have a private insurance company providing coverage for any accidents caused.
Another thing to keep in mind is that an action may not be instituted against the government or one of its agencies unless the injured person first presents the claim in writing to the appropriate agency and to the Department of Financial Services. In most instances, this claim must be presented within 3 years from the date the claim accrued. After submitting the claim in writing, the government has 6 months to come to a final disposition. If a final disposition is not made within 6 months, it will be deemed a denial of the claim.
In addition to placing procedural hurdles an individual must overcome prior to bringing a claim against a state institution or one of its agencies, Florida Statute § 768.28 also limits who an injured person can go after for their injuries. Under this statute, government employees, officers, or agents cannot be held personally liable for their actions that caused the accident, unless they acted with malice or in bad faith. This means that if the person who was driving the vehicle acted negligently, rather than maliciously or in bad faith, you cannot sue them personally for their actions.
Bringing a claim for personal injuries sustained in an accident caused by a government employee or agency can be a complex process. Due to the complexity of these cases, it is vital to your case that you hire an experienced, diligent attorney who can navigate these procedural hurdles and ensure the best outcome for your case. Contact Dennis Hernandez & Associates, PA if you or a loved one have been injured in an accident (855) LAW-DENNIS or for more information visit www.dennishernandez.com