Phoenix, AZ – There are a number of vehicles on the road every day that are owned by the government. This can include the police and fire departments, park services, garbage trucks, process servers, and various other vehicles that do maintenance and work on government property. These drivers do occasionally cause vehicular accidents, and fortunately for victims, they can be named as defendants in a civil lawsuit for negligence. However, there are different sets of rules for suing government defendants that are given in the state’s laws.
The Arizona Tort Claims Act
There is a law that governs many of these kinds of situations in the state called the Tort Claims Act. The language in this statute says that a government employee can be used for essentially causing an accident that would result in an injury lawsuit under the same circumstances as if they acted privately. As a practical matter, this means that citizens can generally sue the state or local governments or any of their agencies or subdivisions that own vehicles.
Immunity from certain actions
Despite the language in the act, there are still some situations where the government cannot be sued due to sovereign immunity. This concept used to mean that governments were immune from all lawsuits and legal action by citizens, but most states have greatly reduced the types of situations where a government actor has immunity. Any actions related to things like road maintenance or traffic laws that may be implicated in a lawsuit cannot be used as a basis for legal action. In other words, official decisions for things that may affect drivers cannot become the reason for a lawsuit, because there needs to be a specific incident that caused harm to the victim. Independent contractors working for the government are usually liable as individuals, and the government is not attached as a defendant in these cases.
Procedure to bring a claim
The lawyer who represents the victim needs to follow a special set of rules before they can make a claim against the government. Within 180 days of the incident, a written claim that outlines the facts surrounding the accident, the dollar amount the plaintiff is asking for, and argument as to how and why the government is responsible must be filed. The government is supposed to respond within sixty days with a formal answer.
Local firms that focus on injury lawsuits
Southwest Injury Law provides professional advice and representation throughout the course of a personal injury case in the Phoenix area. When an incident happens, the firm can guide victims through the legal process and resolve the situation with a settlement agreement or jury trial.
Firm contact info:
4425 North 24th St., Ste. 225, Phoenix, AZ 85016