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Auto Collisions With Government-Owned Vehicles

May 10, 2021Car Accidents

All car accidents are traumatic and often lead to severe injuries, but if a government vehicle is involved, it can bring its own set of unique complications. In most accidents, you can file a claim against the other driver’s insurance company. However, with government vehicles, you must abide by tight deadlines and strict rules to obtain compensation.

Auto Collisions and Governmental Immunity

Most states, including Missouri, have sovereign immunity laws that apply to governments, agencies, and employees. This means they are protected from certain types of liability and frivolous lawsuits. However, there are exceptions to these laws. If a state employee’s negligence causes your auto collision, the Missouri Tort Claims Act allows you to file a claim against the state for damages.

This means if your accident involved any of the following vehicles, you may be eligible for compensation:

  • Garbage trucks
  • Emergency vehicles, such as police cars, ambulances, or fire trucks
  • Mail trucks
  • Municipal snowplows
  • State, county, or municipal trucks
  • City or school buses
  • A government-owned vehicle driven by employees

Unique Requirements for Car Accident Claims Against the Government

To file a car accident injury claim under the Missouri Tort Claims Act, you will have to prove that the government employee caused the collision due to a negligent act or their failure to act. The employee must have also been considered working when the accident occurred or engaging in a job-related task. A government agency can only be held liable for the actions of an employee if that employee is acting within the scope of his or her employment. For example, running a personal errand is not one of the employee’s official duties, which means you would need to bring your claim against the responsible person directly.

Statute of Limitations in Missouri

Missouri has a statute of limitations in place that limits the amount of time you have to file an injury claim. For personal injury claims, it is five years. However, this window of time generally does not apply to claims against government agencies. You actually only have 90 days to file a formal lawsuit against the government. If you miss this deadline, you will most likely be barred from recovering compensation.

Available Damages After an Auto Collision with a Government-Owned Vehicle

The following damages may be available in a car accident claim against the government:

Medical Expenses

This amount will depend on the severity of your injuries and can include costs such as hospitalizations, surgeries, doctor visits, in-home services and care, medical accessories, etc.

Lost Wages

Your injuries may prevent you from working and may diminish your ability to return to your occupation in the future. When that is the case, you may be able to recover your lost income.

Pain and Suffering

These are non-economic damages that cannot be precisely calculated. They are awarded for your physical pain and mental distress or anguish caused by the accident.

When accidents involve egregious misconduct, such as a drunk driver, punitive damages may be awarded as a form of punishment for the at-fault party.

Contact Goldblatt + Singer

If you have been involved in an auto collision with a government-owned vehicle, speak to an experienced St. Louis Car Accident Lawyer. We offer free consultations and will help you fight for the compensation you are owed.

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