Accidents Involving Government Vehicles in Portland
When another driver crashes into your car and causes you injury, you can file a claim against their insurance policy or even file a claim against the negligent driver in civil court to seek compensation for your medical bills and other losses. However, what happens if the driver who hit you was operating a government-owned vehicle at the time of the crash?
Car accidents involving government vehicles can be significantly more complicated than cases involving privately-owned vehicles. This does not mean that you will not be able to financially recover for your losses, though having the assistance of an attorney with extensive experience filing claims against the government is imperative to succeed in this situation.
Government Vehicles That Commonly Cause Collisions
While you may not always realize it, government vehicles are regularly driving next to us on the streets of Portland. There are many different types of government vehicles that can be involved in collisions and the following are only a few examples.
- Police cars – Law enforcement officers drive special vehicles supplied by their police department. Whether the cars are marked or unmarked, police officers have the duty to operate their vehicles in a safe manner. Especially when police are involved in high-speed chases, they should always be aware of the safety of other motorists. When an officer does not use the proper care or becomes aggressive on the road, injuries can result.
- Fire trucks – When someone calls the fire department with an emergency, time is generally of the essence. While the fire department employees need to rush to the scene, they should always be aware that they are operating a large vehicle that can cause serious damage and injury if it crashes.
- Ambulances – Similar to fire trucks, ambulance drivers are often in a hurry to get to a patient or transport a patient to a medical center. However, ambulances should always use their lights, sirens, and right to violate traffic signals in a responsible manner to avoid collisions.
- Agency vehicles – Many employees of the state of Oregon drive government-owned vehicles on a daily basis. If such employees are engaged in their job duties at the time of the crash, the government should be deemed responsible. However, if an employee was using the vehicle in a private capacity, they would be held responsible on their own.
The Oregon Tort Claims Act
If you were injured in an accident involving a government vehicle that was operated by someone on the job, you likely assume you will simply have to file a personal injury lawsuit against the government entity that owned the vehicle. While this is a natural assumption, the law in Oregon protects the government and its employees from being sued. This protection is set out in the Oregon Tort Claims Act and is based on the concept of sovereign immunity, which mandated that British civilians could not sue their king.
While the government is technically immune from lawsuits, it can – and does – waive that immunity in certain situations. One such situation occurs when someone is injured or killed in a car accident with a government vehicle driven by an employee performing their job duties. While Oregon will generally waive its immunity in these situations, it does not mean that the legal process of filing a claim is simple.
Requirements For a Government Lawsuit
In regular car accident cases, you have two years to prepare and file a lawsuit. However, under the Oregon Tort Claims Act, you only have 180 days to file a claim after the injury. If you have been incapacitated by your injury, you only get an extra 90 days. In cases of wrongful death, the time limit is lengthened, but only to one year.
In addition to stricter time limits, there are also strict limits on how much you can recover from the Oregon government. If you are the only injured person, you may seek up to $2,073,600 (as of 2016) and multiple people involved in the same crash may only seek $4,147,100 together.
Seeking Compensation for Losses & Injuries
Simply because government claims are more complicated does not mean that you do not deserve to seek compensation for your lost income, medical bills, and pain and suffering. At the Johnston Law Firm, we can help you recovery from the government entity responsible for your injuries. Call today for a Free consultation.