A vehicle registered to Merced County struck a cyclist on West Dickenson Ferry Road east of S. Gurr Road around 5 pm November, 21, 2018. Both the car and the cyclist were traveling east bound when the driver hit the cyclist. The driver told a California Highway Patrol officer at the scene that she didn’t see the cyclist.
It’s not clear whether the driver of the vehicle works for the county or why she was driving a county vehicle. According to CHP, neither drugs nor alcohol were suspected as a factor in the incident.
So what happens when a government vehicle or driver is involved in an accident? Though we have no idea who was at fault in the above-mentions case, when a government official is at fault in an accident, there may be issues regarding the ability to sue the government. In all states and the federal government in the U.S., officials have what’s called sovereign immunity which means they can’t be sued for simple negligence if involved in an accident or some other incident where someone is injured.
How it Works
If a government official is doing something in the course of government business and injures another person, a police officer chasing a fleeing suspect, a firehose that went out of control and struck a bystander, then sovereign immunity protects the official from being personally sued because he or she was operating in their official capacity.
However, if a police officer is off duty and runs into another car causing injuries, this is not covered under sovereign immunity and the police officer can be sued just like any other individual.
Can I Sue the Government?
In California, the legislature passed the California Torts Claim Act which still protects the official operating in their capacity but allows the injured party to make a claim against the government itself. This is not exactly the same as filing a negligence suit as the claimant has to follow the specific rules outlined in the statute, however, it does allow someone to get compensation for their injuries.
Do I need an Attorney?
In many cases, you don’t need an attorney, but if you have been injured by a government official or a vehicle that belongs to the government, you will need an attorney to help you with all of the complexities of a Torts Act claim.
The attorney’s at Bay Area Bicycle Law have the experience dealing with bike accidents, and they are the only law firm in Northern California that deals exclusively with bicycle law. They also know the laws regarding sovereign immunity and the California Torts Act. Don’t go this alone, get someone on your side working to help you get what you deserve.
Contact the attorney’s at Bay Area Bicycle Law to get someone working for you. You can call (415) 466 8717 or click here to contact us online.
Please be aware that these case results do not constitute a guarantee, warranty, or prediction regarding the outcome of your legal matter. Every case is different and case values turn on small facts and differences. Thus, the results achieved on one case do not necessarily mean the attorney will achieve the same result, or a similar result, even for a case which may have some similarities.