If you are involved in a car accident, you’ll have many concerns. First, you may be in shock and try to process what happened. Next, you’ll begin to check yourself for injuries and access the property damage done. You may also start worrying about how to foot your medical bills and replace any damaged item. It can be overwhelming to have to pass through all that.
Luckily, you can get compensation if someone else caused the accident. However, it’s a different ball game entirely when the responsible party is the government. That’s because the Government of Indianapolis has sovereign immunity that protects it from criminal and civil lawsuits.
What’s sovereign immunity, and is there any way to get around it? The answer depends on the facts of your case. We’ve covered that in this article. For a personalized legal review of your case, you may contact our car accident attorneys.
Private Entities vs. The Indiana Government Under Personal Injury Law
There are many differences between suing a private person and suing the government. They include:
If you’re suing a private individual for a car accident injury, you’ll have to do so within two years. This is much different from a government agency or entity whose Statute of Limitations is 180 days. You may lose your right to sue if you sue them after 180 from the accident date.
Different Processes and Special Rules
Suing a private person is significantly different than filing a suit against the government. For example, you must issue a Notice of Claim to the Government. Failure to do that may lead to a case dismissal in court.
Punitive damages are a type of compensation awarded against the defendant to punish them. Punitive damages also serve as a deterrent to others. Unfortunately, while you can get punitive damages when you sue a private party, it’s not so with the government of Indiana.
Private entities are always responsible for their actions. As such, you can always sue them for any wrongdoing. However, that’s not the same with the government. In many cases, government or sovereign immunity bars you from filing a civil suit against the government. For example, it applies in injury cases to someone on probation, failure to inspect a non-governmental building where you sustained an injury, etc.
What Happens When a Government Vehicle Causes My Accident?
Learning about sovereign immunity may make you think you’re hopeless when a government vehicle crashes your car. That’s not entirely true as there are exceptions to governmental immunity. For example, you can file a civil lawsuit against the government for personal injury in the following cases:
- You were hit by a government vehicle, including INDOT vehicles, emergency response vehicles, garbage trucks, etc.
- Medical malpractice by a government healthcare facility
- Premises liability on a government property
- Personal injuries due to faults in government security
You can’t file a negligence suit against the government in the following cases:
- Actions falling within the scope of discretionary function immunity. That is, where they exercised their personal judgment.
- If you were injured by using a body of water with poor conditions improperly
- When someone under probation or in a drug service program sustains an injury
- Unintentional misrepresentation
- Where the government fails to inspect a non-governmental building
- Where an off-road vehicle acts outside their employment and scope.
To file a lawsuit against the government of Indiana, you must do the following:
- File a Notice of Claim
- Wait for 90 days for a response
- File a lawsuit
Do I Need a Car Accident Attorney?
Winning a claim against the government requires a great degree of tact and expertise. Only a seasoned car accident attorney can offer you those. In addition, an experienced attorney will help you with:
- Proper investigations and evidence gathering
- Legal advice and moral support
- Preparing and filing of relevant legal documents
- Top-notch legal representation in a competent court
Contact an Indianapolis Auto Accident Lawyer Immediately!
Filing a lawsuit against a private person can be challenging. But, of course, it’s worse when the defendant is a government agency. However, no matter how overwhelming it may seem, our Indianapolis car accident lawyers at Stewart|Phelps|Wood can help.
With our extensive experience and years in practice, we know everything there is to suing government agencies. We believe that individuals and the government should be liable for their wrongful actions to the extent the law permits. So, we’d leverage our resources to ensure you get the best legal representation possible. Contact us for a free case review today.