Holding a Negligent Government Agency Accountable
While we can easily recognize the siren of a fire truck or police cruiser, there are numerous government-issued vehicles on the roads of Boston at any given time. Ranging from maintenance crews for the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MDOT) to the United States Postal Service (USPS) trucks to garbage trucks; local, state, and federal vehicles are all around us. We trust that these drivers will act responsibly and perform their duties as safely as possible, but, like any other driver on the road, they can make serious mistakes.
When you are involved in a government vehicle accident, you will likely need compensation for your injuries and the damages you have suffered. The process of getting compensation from a government agency can seem like an uphill battle, but with a skilled legal team at your side, you may be able to get the money you need to recover. At DiBella Law Offices, P.C., our Boston government vehicle accident attorney is well-versed in filing government accident claims and can walk you through the entire process in a free consultation. To discuss your case with an experienced lawyer, call our office at (617) 870-0907.
What Are Some Types of Government Vehicle Accidents?
Drivers of government vehicles are just as prone to negligence as anyone else on the road. Oftentimes, government workers are under tight deadlines and a lot of pressure to complete tasks as efficiently as possible, meaning they may speed, make dangerous turns, or otherwise ignore the rules of the road. However, they are still subject to the same laws as everyday citizens (with some exceptions for emergency situations) and can be held accountable in an accident claim for any injuries they cause.
Typically, on the roads of Boston, government vehicle accidents include:
- Police cruisers that speed through intersections while pursuing criminals
- Garbage trucks driven by distracted drivers
- Pedestrians that are injured by poorly driven snowplows
- Maintenance vans and construction vehicles for road crews
- USPS trucks and vans that are under tight deadlines
- Buses, trains, and subways for the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA)
- School bus drivers who injure children, whether they are passengers or crossing the street
Driving is a privilege, no matter what branch of the government you work for. There is no excuse for acting negligently and causing another person to go through unimaginable pain and suffering. While you might assume that you cannot pursue compensation from the government, there is a legal process in the state of Massachusetts that can help you secure the money you need to recover.
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What Is a Government Tort Claim?
Generally speaking, most government agencies are protected from lawsuits under the concept of sovereign immunity. Sovereign immunity is a common-law concept that came over from England when Massachusetts was first founded, and it refers to the legal protection of government-run agencies. This meant that if a government worker caused a car accident, victims would only be able to rely on their own insurance company for compensation, which can be limited to their PIP policy.
However, the State of Massachusetts understood the terrible position this put accident victims in and passed the Massachusetts Torts Claims Act in 1978 to help relieve victims’ burdens. Under this act, accident victims can pursue compensation from a government worker if that worker caused the accident while performing their duties. In addition to the Massachusetts Torts Claim Act, which applies to state and local agencies in Boston, you can also file a claim under the Federal Torts Claim Act, which applies to agencies like the USPS. Government tort claims are more complex than your standard car accident claim, which is why you should seek legal counsel to ensure you follow every step accordingly.
We've offered crucial support and guidance to individuals who have suffered injuries, ensuring their financial and emotional well-being.
Important Rules for Filing a Government Tort Claim
In order to receive compensation for a government vehicle accident in Boston, you must show that the government worker who injured you was performing his or her duties at the time of the accident and caused your injuries through an act of negligence. For example, if a garbage truck driver made an illegal U-turn and struck a motorcyclist, then he could be considered at-fault for the accident. Your claim will not specifically be against the government worker who injured you, but the government agency he or she works for.
It is important to determine which government agency is liable for your injuries, as there are different procedures for filing a claim against the City of Boston, the State of Massachusetts, and the Federal government. But, generally, you will need to quickly submit a Notice of Claim to the liable agency to begin the legal process. Unlike other auto accidents, which allow victims up to three years to file a claim, government-vehicle accidents only allow victims up to 30 days from the date of the accident to file a government tort claim. This tight deadline is difficult for most accident victims to meet, which is why you should speak to an attorney as soon as possible.
If you do submit the Notice of Claim by the deadline, then the government agency has up to six months to respond to the claim. The agency may choose to approve your claim, deny your claim, or not respond at all. If the agency does not respond within six months or denies your claim, then you can file a lawsuit against it to receive compensation.
What Is My Case Worth?
The state of Massachusetts has caps on the amount of money an accident victim can receive in a government tort claim after a car accident. Each person injured in an accident can receive up to $100,000 for the costs of their injuries. This means that if four occupants were injured in a collision with a firetruck, they could each be awarded a maximum of $100,000, up to $400,000 total. You cannot receive punitive damages in a government tort claim.
Why You Should Call a Lawyer
Along with the tight deadlines and cap on compensation, government tort claims require a thorough understanding of Massachusetts state laws and Boston civil procedures. You may also face difficulties if the government worker who caused your injuries has some other type of immunity. But, by working with an experienced Boston auto accident attorney, you may be able to recover compensation for your injuries.
If you were injured in a government vehicle accident in the City of Boston, you should not hesitate to contact DiBella Law Offices, P.C. Our founding attorney has nearly 20 years of experience representing accident victims and has been listed as a Top 10 Attorney in Massachusetts by the National Academy of Personal Injury Attorneys, Inc. Our legal team can review your claim in a free consultation and work to build a strong case for compensation. Call our Boston office at (617) 870-0907 to get started on your case.