Can a Government Entity Be Liable for a Car Crash?

day time picture of police carPursuing a car accident claim is often overwhelming, especially if you suffered serious injuries as a result. However, if the other driver was operating a government vehicle, such as a Knoxville Area Transit (KAT) bus, ambulance or Knoxville police car, is it even possible to recover compensation for your damages?

Greg Coleman Law discusses this complex type of incident, including when you may be able to pursue an injury claim for the physical harm and other losses you incurred.

Can Government Vehicles Be Liable for Causing an Accident?

Historically, Tennessee, like other states, has provided immunity to the government from civil lawsuits by a citizen. However, there are exceptions and, if eligible, you may be able to pursue a claim for lost wages, medical bills and other damages for acts of negligence or misconduct.

A state law called the Tennessee Tort Government Liability Act defines when and under what circumstances government entities may be sued. When government immunity is removed, such as in an accident where a government employee driving a government vehicle neglected to stop in time and rear-ended your vehicle.  As long as that government employee was performing his or her work duties, such as driving a KAT bus, it is typically the government entity that will be sued and not the negligent individual.

In addition to determining when or who may be sued, this law also defines specific state liability limits that an injured party may recover, which includes:

  • Maximum of $300,000 for the bodily injury or death of any one injured person in an accident
  • Maximum of $700,000 when an accident involves a county or city employee
  • Maximum of $1,000,000 when a collision involves a state official or employee

When the Government May Waive Immunity

If the government vehicle employed the use of sirens or flashing lights prior to the accident, chances are that you will be unable to pursue a claim.

However, immunity for government entities involved in a car crash may be waived due to certain negligent acts, such as if a KAT bus driver became distracted and rear-ended your vehicle while you were stopped at a traffic light. These other conditions must also apply:

  • The vehicle must be owned or operated by a government entity
  • The vehicle was being used by the employee for the purpose of doing his or her job – not for private purposes
  • The government driver was at fault for the accident due to negligence
  • The accident caused you or a family member to suffer physical harm
  • You suffered real damages, such as medical costs or lost wages

There are many contributing factors that can complicate even valid claims against the government. This is why we recommend you discuss your accident in a complimentary consultation with an experienced attorney to learn whether you may have legal options.

Common Examples of Accidents That Involve Government Vehicles

Government employees are required to follow safe driving procedures while operating a government vehicle, even when driving for emergency purposes. However, human error is always a factor, so accidents will happen, such as when:

  • Ambulances or other emergency vehicles are transporting an injured or ill patient
  • Fire trucks are responding to a fire or accident scene
  • Knoxville police cars are involved in a high-speed chase
  • KAT city buses are traveling their usual route

Important Facts When Suing the Government

Different requirements exist for injury claims involving a local, county or state government vehicle. If these requirements are not met or followed, you could lose any opportunity to recover compensation for your damages.

Filing deadlines

Tennessee’s statute of limitations gives you up to 12 months following the date of an accident or injury to give the government agency notice that you intend to sue. There may be exceptions that extend that deadline, such as if the injured party is a minor or you are temporarily incapacitated by your injuries. However, we strongly recommend that you seek legal help as soon as possible to learn what filing deadlines and other requirements may apply in your situation.

Need Answers After an Accident With a Government Vehicle? We Are Ready to Help

Suing the government for causing an accident is challenging, but our qualified car accident lawyers in Knoxville understand how state laws may apply, and we can help determine whether you may have a valid case.

At Greg Coleman law, we have extensive experience handling these types of claims, and we are prepared to fight for maximum compensation on your behalf.

Contact our firm anytime, day or night, to schedule a complimentary review of your accident with one of our qualified attorneys. During this free, no-obligation meeting, you can get answers to your questions and learn if you may have legal options. There is nothing to pay up front or throughout the legal process. We only collect payment at the end of your case, and only if you get compensated for your injuries.

Free Consultation. No Upfront Costs. Ph: (865) 247-0080