What If You Were Hit by a Government Vehicle?

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If you’re hit by a government vehicle in South Carolina, you may receive financial compensation.

There are unique laws and procedures for accidents involving government vehicles. These special rules can impact what you receive in compensation and how you pursue your case.

Our car accident lawyer explains claims involving government vehicles.

What types of government vehicles may be owned or leased by a government agency?

  • Police and law enforcement vehicles, including patrol vehicles and mobile units
  • Shuttles, including high-occupancy passenger vans
  • Smaller units for individual travel, like passenger sedans and vans
  • Large passenger vehicles (SUVs) to transport important personnel
  • Fire trucks, ambulances, and other emergency response vehicles
  • Large trucks vehicles to transport goods and materials
  • Military vehicles and equipment, tactical vehicles
  • Mail and delivery vehicles
  • School buses
  • Prison transport vehicles

There are many government departments and functions, so there are many types of government vehicles. Any of them may be involved in an accident.

Types of crashes involving government vehicles

You may be hit by a government vehicle when the driver is traveling for official business. The collision may occur while the person is driving to and from their home or for another personal reason with official permission. In addition, you may be struck by a government vehicle when the driver is using it without permission.

In addition, you may be hit when a government employee is driving a rental car on official business. A government employee could be driving their own car on official business.

Any of these circumstances may trigger special rules that apply to car accidents involving government vehicles.

Government Vehicle Involved in Your Accident?

Here’s what you should know when a government vehicle collides with you:

Your right to compensation

You can get compensation for an accident involving a government vehicle. You may have heard about government immunity. However, it’s waived in certain circumstances, including car accidents. There are still some differences when a claim involves a government vehicle – but know that you can be compensated. You may have a right to compensation.

Tort Claims Acts and Damage Limits

If the vehicle is a U.S. government vehicle, the Federal Tort Claims Act applies to the claim. If the vehicle is a South Carolina vehicle or any political subdivision like a county, city, or school district, the South Carolina Tort Claims Act applies.

The Federal Tort Claims Act doesn’t limit liability. You may receive the full amount of your damages awarded under law. You must prove that you were injured by a federal government employee acting in the scope of their official duties and that negligence occurred and caused your injuries.

On the other hand, the South Carolina Tort Claims Act creates a specific maximum payment to a single person because of a single occurrence of liability. The total for a single occurrence for all parties is capped at a certain amount.

An occurrence means an unfolding sequence of events which proximately flows from a single act of negligence. It may be possible to have multiple acts of negligence that result in a single injury. If applicable, this can substantially change the amount of compensation you may claim. See Boiter v. South Carolina Dept. of Transp., 393 S.C. 123, 712 S.E.2d 401 (S.C. 2011).

How to pursue your case

The process to claim compensation when you’re hit by a government vehicle is different than for other claims. If there are no government vehicles involved, you make a claim through insurance. If you don’t negotiate a fair settlement, you file a legal claim in court.

With government agencies, you start by filing an administrative claim. For federal cases, you can use Form 95, but it’s not required. You have a shorter timeframe to file your administrative claim. If the administrative claim doesn’t result in a settlement, you may file your lawsuit in U.S. District Court.

There is also a different time frame for state cases. A verified claim is optional, but it can extend the timeline to file. If you don’t settle your claim through the administrative process, you may file the claim in court.

Who Insures Government Vehicles?

In summary:

  • United States: Self-insured.
  • South Carolina: Political subdivisions may self-insure, pool self-insurance with multiple subdivisions, purchase liability from a private carrier, or purchase insurance through the State Fiscal Accountability Authority Insurance Reserve Fund (S.C. Code § 1-11-140).

The U.S. government self-insures federally owned vehicles. They say it’s because the federal government is large, with vehicles in diverse geographic locations and utilized for many things.

They say that it’s more advantageous for the federal government to assume its own risks than to work with a private insurer that would claim a profit. If you successfully claim compensation for a crash with the U.S. government as the responsible defendant, the government directly pays your compensation.

South Carolina political subdivisions have a choice for how to insure government vehicles. The State Fiscal Accountability Authority provides insurance to municipalities, counties and school districts who choose to purchase it through them. However, these government entities may also choose purchase insurance elsewhere. (S.C. Code § 15-78-140).

The scope of employment

An important thing to investigate when you’re hit by a government vehicle is whether the driver was acting within the scope of their employment at the time of the crash. Sometimes, a person is authorized to use a government vehicle for any reason. Others may also be limited to official duties.

If the accident was not in the scope of the person’s employment, they may be personally liable for injuries and damages. You must investigate the circumstances and who has responsibility.

Contact Us If You Were Hit By a Government Vehicle

When a government vehicle is involved in your accident, seek medical attention. Then, call Bobby Jones Law.

Claims against government entities are complex, but you can have experienced legal representation on your side.

Robert “Bobby” Jones is an aggressive trial lawyer. He isn’t afraid to take on tough cases, including against government entities who don’t want to pay your compensation. He’ll work to maximize your compensation.

Contact us now online or by phone at 864-362-2640 to start your case.

The team at Bobby Jones Law LLC works tirelessly for the injured in South Carolina. His achievements include:
  • More than $60 million collected for our clients
  • Multiple recoveries exceeding $1 million, including an eight-figure settlement
  • Recognized by Best Lawyers in America
  • Named among the “Best Law Firms” by U.S. News & World Report
  • Named to the Top 100 Trial Lawyers by The National Trial Lawyers
  • Named to Super Lawyers 2017–2024
  • Member of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum
  • Selected as Legal Elite of the Upstate 2021–2023
  • Named among Super Lawyers "Rising Stars"
We’re humbled to be considered one of the top firms in the Upstate and invite you to learn what sets our award-winning legal services apart. Call or request a consultation online.
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