Government Immunity Emergency
Motorcycle Accidents Involving Government Vehicles Those who respond to emergencies, such as ambulance crews, firefighters and police officers provide services that are critical to public safety. As such, other road users have the obligation to yield to them when they respond to emergencies. Drivers of emergency vehicles are given a lot of latitudes when it comes to traffic regulations and may do things that would normally be prohibited, such as go through a red light or drive in the wrong lane for a while to get past other vehicles.
Even when their presence is urgently needed at the site of an emergency, responders still have the responsibility to take precautions in order to avoid accidents. Drivers of emergency vehicles should be particularly vigilant around motorcycles, as their smaller size can make them less visible. Furthermore, motorcycles lack the protection offered by a car's body and thus face a higher risk of being seriously injured or killed in a collision.
In the unfortunate scenario where a motorcyclist was injured or killed in an accident involving a government vehicle responding to an emergency, victims and their families often find that getting compensation can be difficult. Laws applicable to government vehicles are complex and vary from one state to the next, which can complicate the process of seeking fair compensation for property damage, personal injury or wrongful death.
Can a Government Entity Be Sued for Damages Resulting From a Traffic Accident?
The doctrine of sovereign immunity generally protects governmental entities, such as villages, towns and cities, counties, states, school districts and the federal government, from lawsuits. This doesn't mean that they can never be held liable for any kind of road accident. An exception to the immunity rule provides that a government entity can be held liable for an act or omission if a private person would also be liable for the same act under the law where the incident took place.
This means that a government entity can be sued for damages resulting from a traffic accident if the vehicle in question was owned or leased by the entity and the driver was acting in an official capacity.
In order for damages to be awarded to a claimant, proof must be provided that the driver of the emergency response vehicle caused the accident. Even though they may disregard certain traffic rules when responding to emergencies, drivers still have a duty to follow all relevant safety procedures. This includes turning on their sirens and lights.
Filing Your Claim
Exceptions to the immunity rule for government entities require you to file a notice of claim in the 180 days following the date the accident occurred. You will need to state a monetary amount for your claim at the time of filing. Missing the deadline may result in losing your eligibility to collect any damages.
Should your claim be denied by the government entity in question, you may file a lawsuit against them, but there is a 1-year statute of limitations to do so. For these reasons, you should always consult with an experienced motorcycle accident attorney if you have suffered damages as a result of an accident involving a government vehicle. Your attorney can help you determine whether you should file a claim, provide guidance on how to properly calculate current and future damages and represent you in court if necessary.