Vehicle accidents occur all the time, and sometimes they involve vehicles owned or operated by governments. In some cases, this includes state government vehicles, but federal vehicles are also involved in accidents on a regular basis. Unfortunately, the process of covering compensation for injuries or property damage after an accident with a federal government vehicle can be challenging. Here, we want to review steps that you can take if you find yourself in this situation.
Common Types of Federal Vehicles
When most people think of vehicle accidents involving federal vehicles, they think of law enforcement vehicles. There are a significant amount of federal law enforcement vehicles on the roadways throughout the country, but these are certainly not the only types of federal vehicles. The federal government uses vehicles to carry out non-law enforcement day-to-day activities on a regular basis. Every department, from the Department of Energy to the Department of Housing and Urban Development, has vehicles that they use as a part of their fleet.
Federal Tort Claims Act
Historically, it has been very difficult to file lawsuits against the federal government, as government branches typically have what is called “sovereign immunity.” However, in 1946, lawmakers passed the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA), which does allow the federal government to face lawsuits from everyday individuals and is meant to help compensate them for injuries, property damage, or death caused by negligent or wrongful acts of a government employee.
Still, filing an FTCA claim can be challenging. Some bases must be covered before this is even a possibility. First, an individual has to have been injured by a federal employee that was acting within the scope of their duties. It must be shown that the federal employee acted wrongfully or negligently and that the negligent or wrongful act caused the individual harm.
To file a claim against the federal government, individuals first have to file an administrative claim with the agency that caused the incident. For example, if a department of Homeland Security vehicle was involved, that is the agency where the individual will have to file the claim.
An administrative claim must be filed within two years from the date the incident occurred. The claim form Standard Form 95 must include all of the facts and damages related to the client. This includes the exact amount of money the individual is seeking and enough facts about the case that will allow the agency to look into the claim.
The federal agency has six months from the date they received the claims form to respond. They may decide to pay the whole claim if they agree the claim is valid, or they may offer to pay some of the damages requested. Additionally, the agency could deny the claim altogether.
Individuals who disagree with the federal agency’s decision will then have six months to file a lawsuit if they wish to move forward with a jury trial.
We strongly recommend working with a skilled Southfield injury lawyer who has experience handling federal claims. These cases can become complicated, and they are different from typical personal injury processes. You need an accident lawyer in Southfield who will fight to recover maximal compensation for your losses, including coverage of your medical bills, lost wages, out-of-pocket expenses, and pain and suffering damages.
Many claims involving federal vehicles never make it to the FTCA level. Each vehicle the government operates is required to carry auto insurance, and the insurance policy will typically cover expenses related to the incident.