Car accidents can be incredibly stressful, but when a government vehicle is involved in Florida, it can get even worse. Understanding the rules and procedures for personal injury cases in Florida when government vehicles are involved can help you prepare in case of an accident.

Understanding Sovereign Immunity

Sovereign immunity is an old legal concept that still holds a significant place in today’s law. Essentially, it means that the government, typically protected from lawsuits, can only be held legally accountable if specific authorization is granted. In Florida, sovereign immunity is in the state’s constitution, which dictates that legal actions against the state must comply with the law. Florida law does allow for some exceptions, permitting legal actions against the state under certain conditions.

In Florida, sovereign immunity doesn’t just cover the state itself; it also includes state agencies and private entities engaged in activities resembling government functions. In simple terms, you can sue the state for contract breaches and various wrongdoings, like negligence or intentional harm. However, suing the state, especially for tort claims, comes with specific procedures outlined in the Florida Tort Claims Act.

Important Requirements under the Florida Tort Claims Act

One important requirement under the Florida Tort Claims Act is the obligation to provide timely notice to the government from the date of the claim. Remember, starting from March 24, 2023, a new law passed by the legislature shortens the time you have to file a claim for negligence from four years to just two years. This change applies to any incidents that happened on or after March 24, 2023. If you don’t send your notice in time, your claim might get dismissed.

While Florida law does allow for a limited waiver of sovereign immunity, it’s essential to understand that the maximum compensation an individual can recover in a tort action against the state is capped at $200,000. However, there are exceptions to this cap when an insurance policy exceeds the $200,000 limit. If there’s no insurance coverage available, you can pursue a “claims bill.” This involves seeking legislative approval for the state to pay a claim exceeding the $200,000 cap. It’s worth noting that obtaining a claims bill passed in the legislature can be a challenging process, making the steps you take after a government vehicle accident even more critical.

Steps to Take After a Government Vehicle Accident

If you are in a collision with a government vehicle in Florida, follow these immediate steps to protect your interests:

  • Seek prompt medical attention if you or anyone involved is injured. This is crucial for your health and documenting injuries.
  • Report the government vehicle collision to the appropriate authorities, such as the police or the agency responsible for the vehicle.
  • Collect evidence by taking photos and videos of the accident scene, including vehicle damage and relevant details.
  • Consult a personal injury lawyer experienced in Florida’s personal injury and government liability cases. They can explain your legal options and help you pursue compensation.

Recovering Compensation

If you were involved in an accident with a government vehicle and suffered injuries, please consult with attorney Leo Valdes. Considering the various government rules and procedures, getting compensated after such an accident can be complex. Contact us today for a free consultation.