State, county, and local governments, as well as the federal government, own a lot of vehicles. Snowplows, garbage trucks, mail trucks, police cars; odds are if you get in your car, you’ll see some kind of government vehicle on the road. Government employees, of course, are not immune from the same careless, reckless, or negligent conduct as other drivers and their acts can directly result in serious car accidents and injuries. Additionally, governments own extensive amounts of property on which people injure themselves because the property was poorly maintained or otherwise in an unsafe condition.
Just like with other car accidents, those involving the negligence of a state, local, or federal employee may entitle you to compensation for your losses. However, many people lose their right to seek damages from the government because they are unaware of the special notice requirements and short time limits applicable to such claims. It’s always important to consult with an experienced personal injury lawyer as soon as possible after a car accident, but it is even more crucial to seek legal help quickly with claims against the government.
A Notice of Claim Must Be Filed, and Filed Quickly
In addition to bringing your personal injury claim within the statute of limitations, you must also notify the government entity that you intend to sue them before you actually do so, and you must file this notice very soon after the injury occurs. The underlying theory for these notice provisions is to give the government time to investigate and evaluate the claim so they can make the best decision as to how to proceed. It is, after all, taxpayer money that is used to compensate individuals injured by government action or inaction.
In Indiana, an injured party usually has two years from the date of an injury within which to file a lawsuit against a private individual or entity. That is the same with claims against the state of Indiana or local governments. However, there is also a requirement that a written document called a Tort Claims Notice be filed within either 180 days after the accident for claims against Indiana cities, counties and other local governments, or within 270 days after the accident for claims against the state. Failure to file a Tort Claims Notice with the proper governmental agency within the specified time frame will mean your claim is forever barred, even if the two year statute of limitations hasn’t expired.
Personal injury claims against the federal government are governed by the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA). A claim against the federal government must be filed within two years of the injury. The “claim” is not a lawsuit but rather it is a notice provided to the federal agency or entity responsible for the injury. A lawsuit cannot be filed until after the agency has formally denied the claim or failed to respond within a period of six months.
Failure to comply with these filing periods or notice requirements can cause you to lose your right to file a personal injury lawsuit. If you’ve been injured because of the acts of a government employee or entity, it is extremely important to reach out to an experienced personal injury attorney as quickly as possible so that these crucial deadlines aren’t missed.
Neil Chapman – Your Evansville Car Accident Lawyer
I represent people on a no recovery—no fee basis. If I do not win your case, you do not have to pay an attorney fee.
I am always available to discuss your car accident or other personal injury case with you during a free, confidential initial consultation. Call me today at (812) 426-0600 or fill out our online form to schedule an appointment. If you are unable to visit the office for a consultation and live in one of Evansville’s outlying communities, I will come to you.