I was in an accident with a government vehicle in Kentucky. Can I recover damages?

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Police car travels through congested trafficYes, you may be able to recover damages if you are injured because of the negligent actions of a driver in government vehicle. However, the rules for pursuing damages are different than they are in a personal injury case involving private vehicles. For example:

  • Your time to file a case may be different than what is typically allowed by the Kentucky Statute of Limitations.
  • You may need additional evidence to prove your claim.
  • The filing procedures may be different than they are in a claim involving private vehicles.

Accordingly, it is important to know about your rights and to contact a lawyer as soon as possible.

Why Actions Against the Government Are Different

Both the state and federal government are protected by a concept known as sovereign immunity. This protects the government from lawsuits filed by its citizens unless a specific law exists that creates an exception to that immunity. Such laws do exist for personal injury (tort) actions against the United States of America and the Commonwealth of Kentucky. However, while the laws allow private citizens to sue for personal injuries, they also create special rules for pursuing such a recovery.

Suing the U.S. Government

If you are hurt in a crash with a mail truck or another federal vehicle, then you may be able to pursue a recovery pursuant to the Federal Tort Claims Act. The Federal Tort Claims Act allows you to recover if you can prove that:

  • The driver was acting within the scope of the driver’s duties to the federal government.
  • The driver was negligent pursuant to Kentucky law.

Before you can file a lawsuit, you must pursue an administrative remedy. This begins when you file Standard Form 95 within two years of your injury. The agency has six months to respond to your claim. If the agency decides not to compensate you or you do not hear back from the agency, then you have six months to file your claim in federal district court.

Suing the Kentucky Government

Since 1891, Section 231 of the Kentucky Constitution has allowed the General Assembly to create laws that allow lawsuits against the Commonwealth of Kentucky. Pursuant to that authority, Kentucky Revised Statutes Section 44.070 establishes how a lawsuit may be filed against the Commonwealth. Personal injury claims typically must be filed with the Kentucky Claims Commission (previously the Board of Claims) within one year of the date of injury. If you disagree with the decision of the Commission and your claim is worth more than $1,000, then you may have the right to appeal to the Kentucky Circuit Court.

You may also be able to recover damages if you hurt by a local government vehicle such as a police car or school bus. Each town, city, and county has specific procedures on how to file this type of accident claim.

Some cases—especially cases against emergency vehicles such as fire engines—may be more difficult than other types of motor vehicle accident cases. However, regardless of which government vehicle was involved in your crash, it is important to get help from an experienced Kentucky lawyer who knows how to pursue damages from the government and who will fight hard for your recovery. To learn more, please contact us any time—24/7/365—to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation with our legal team.