Can I Sue a Government Agency for an Accident in California?
The simple answer to this question is yes, although the protocol you must follow differs from that of a standard personal injury case.
Below, we’ve outlined some things you should know about suing a California government agency.
Injury victims must first file what’s known as an “administrative claim” with the relevant agency, after which the government has forty-five days to address your complaint, allowing it to evaluate and possibly settle your potential suit.
While the statute of limitations for most personal injury cases in California is two years, this standard doesn’t always apply when suing a government agency. If your government claim is replied to within the forty-five days allotted, you will be given six months to sue.
Should you not receive a letter detailing the agency’s decision within those forty-five days, you will be given the standard two-year window to sue, although this usually doesn’t happen.
There are many additional procedures involved in filing a suit against a government employee or agency in California, which an experienced accident lawyer at Bohn & Fletcher, LLP can help you follow.
Documenting Your Harm
Whether you were hurt by the government itself or an agent working on the government’s behalf, you will need to document all of the losses of a physical, psychological, or financial nature that you’ve suffered.
These may include the following:
- Medical expenses
- Lost wages or earning potential
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Transportation expenses
- Loss of consortium
- Diminished quality of life
Injuries should also be documented clearly in your suit. For all losses and injuries, you should account for how they’ve affected you in the past, are affecting you in the present, and are expected to affect you in the future.
Personal injury in California is governed by the California Tort Claims Act, which doesn’t allow accident victims to sue a government employee directly. Because agencies take on the liability of their employees and independent contractors, you rarely have the option of going outside of established legal procedures.
There are also a handful of exceptions that pertain to the types of entities and injuries that can be sued for damages in a claim. Some of these exceptions include the following:
- Injuries caused by the California National Guard
- Injuries caused by the passing of—or failure to pass—any law, regulation, or ordinance
- Injuries caused by misrepresentation, such as deceitful behavior
In addition, plaintiffs are not eligible to receive punitive damages for their accident when suing a government body in California.
Contact a California Accident Lawyer
If you’ve been hurt by the government in an accident, you will quickly learn that the process of receiving compensation is just as tied up in red tape as other bureaucratic functions.