In a typical car accident, you have good odds of recovering damages with the help of a good Augusta car accident lawyer. This is the case when the other driver’s negligence caused the crash. However, things can become a lot more complicated in an accident caused by a government vehicle or involving government employees. In such a case, a different set of state laws apply. This is why it is important to understand these laws if you wish to seek compensation in an accident like this.
The key distinction between regular crashes and those involving government vehicles is the possibility of sovereign immunity. Under certain circumstances, a government entity can claim to be immune from personal injury claims, including car crash claims. However, such immunity is not always applicable. So if you have suffered in a crash caused by a government entity, you may still be able to recover damages.
When you are planning filing a claim against a government entity, here are some key things you should consider.
Identify the Liable Agency
The first thing to do is to identify the agency that is concerned. This can be done by determining which agency the government vehicle belongs to. If a government employee is involved, you can check up who is the employer. At this stage, it is also important to ascertain whether a government employee was involved in a crash during the course of duty. If this is the case, you can file a claim with the relevant government entity. When this is not the case, the at-fault person can be held liable only as a private person and not as a government entity.
Statute of Limitations
For most car accidents in Augusta and across Georgia, the standard statute of limitations is two years. This means that any claims that are to be filed in connection with the accident must be filed within two years from the date of the crash. While this remains the deadline for regular accidents, the deadline is different in cases involving government entities. In addition, another thing known as an Ante Litem notice also comes into play.
An Ante Litem notice is basically a notice you must send to the concerned government agency. This notice lets the agency know about your intent to file a claim against the agency or one of its employees. There is an obligatory period within which the notice must be sent. For local city or municipality entities, the notice period is 6 months.
The notice period essentially allows an agency to internally conduct investigations. Based on these investigations, the agency then determines whether or not to settle your claim. At the end of the notice period, you then have the option of formally filing the claim. When the claim is to be filed against the state or county government, it must be filed within 12 months.
When you intend to file a lawsuit against a government entity, you typically have a two-year window. This is the same as the statute for other car accidents.
Caps on Damages
In accidents involving non-government vehicles, Georgia does not have cap for damages. This means that there is no limitation on the maximum amount of damages. In accidents involving government vehicles, however, state laws stipulate a cap on maximum damages. If your claim is found to be valid, the maximum amount of damages you can seek in such a crash is $1,000,000 per person. If multiple agencies are liable in a crash, the total damages must not be above $3,000,000.
How Does Sovereign Immunity Work?
In general, government entities and employees enjoy immunity from lawsuits filed against them. However, the state has created exceptions to this immunity under Georgia Code 36-92-2. As per this code, when a damages claim is no more than $500,000 for one injured party, or no more than $700,000 for two or more injured persons, sovereign immunity is waived. Claims to this tune can be brought against county and city entities for alleged negligence.
Similarly, damages claims of no more than $50,000 for property damage, and a total of no more than $750,000 in aggregate per accident can be filed despite sovereign immunity.
Hiring an Experienced Augusta Car Accident Lawyer
If you have suffered losses in a crash involving a government vehicle, it is vital to hire an Augusta car accident lawyer at the earliest. This is because filing a claim or lawsuit against a government agency is a lot more complicated. Here at Ted Greve & Associates, we handle claims involving government entities. Our lawyers can help you meet the statutory requirements and recover the damages you deserve. Contact us today for a free one-on-one discussion with our lawyers.