When you get in a car accident with a government entity in Utah, you should know that many things about the claims process will be different from a traditional insurance claim. For starters, the government has given itself immunity from suit for any injury that results from the exercise of a government function. UCA § 63G-7-201.
The good news is that a carve out was created where immunity was waived, “as to any injury proximately caused by a negligent act or omission of an employee committed within the scope of employment.” UCA § 63G-7-301(2)(i). In layman’s terms, that means that an employee who causes an injury to another person while in the activity of doing their job, can be held liable. However, even within this law there are exceptions where immunity is reinstated – fire fighting, emergency evacuations, emergency medical transport, activities of the Utah National Guard, etc… UCA § 63G-7-201(4)(r-v).
If you are able to make a claim, there are a few threshold issues you should know about.
UCA § 63G-7-401 requires that where a person has a claim against a government entity, before filing the claim, the person has to file a notice of claim that meets specified criteria. The notice of claim must be served upon a very specific person determined by the statute based on what entity the negligent government employee was from. On top of this, there are specific procedures for when that served person has to respond and the time frames in which that has to be done. The catch is that if you do not serve a notice of claim upon the appropriate person within the prescribed time frame, your case is barred.
There are two really important timeframes in cases against the government. (a) You have one year to file notice of claim on the correct person. (b) You have two years to resolve your claim through negotiations or file a lawsuit. UCA 63G-7-401-403.
The government has created a legal cap on the amount of damages they can be held responsible for. For one person in any one occurrence, the cap is $583,900. The aggregate cap of individual awards for a single occurrence is $3,000,000. UCA 63G-7-604(1)(a), (d). These caps can change periodically based on the consumer price index. So, its worth checking with an attorney to find out what the current limit is if you are considering making a case.
As you can see, the government has not made it easy to make personal injury claims against them. But, the important point is that it can be done. With a knowledgeable and experienced attorney by your side, you will be able to navigate through the landmines to a successful claim. If you have been injured in a car accident by a government employee, give us a call. We offer a FREE consultation so that you can get your questions answered and figure out what your next steps needs to be. Scheule your consultation today by calling 801-849-3664.