Winter Car Accidents in Ohio & How to Drive in Ice & Snow
Posted in: Car Accidents
Although car accidents are unexpected, two private citizens can typically follow a pattern after the fact. They exchange their insurance information, the victim files a claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance company, and they can try to get back to life like before the crash.
Things change when the crash involves a government vehicle. Call 1-800-HURT-NOW for a free consultation with a lawyer at KNR.
Depending on which level of government the driver in your crash works for, you could be on the hook for all your medical or property damage expenses. Ohio public employees enjoy the benefit of “sovereign immunity.”
Under Ohio law, many political subdivision employees, like school district or city workers, are immune to personal injury or negligence claims, even when property damage, injuries, or even death occurs.
There are exceptions to this immunity, but exceptions to those exceptions. This means your claim could be significantly lower than claims against private citizens in a similar situation.
It’s possible to sue a government employee if they were driving a motor vehicle, except law enforcement agents, firefighters, or paramedics responding to an emergency. You can sue for accidents caused by road maintenance or during “proprietary functions,” a broad term covering functions usually contracted by third parties or private vendors.
There is more civil liability you might be able to pursue, but a personal injury lawyer can guide you.
Even with these exceptions to sovereign immunity, you are not guaranteed recovery after a crash with a government worker.
In many cases, the government employee could still be immune to claims if their conduct was necessary to exercise their powers in that subdivision or as an employee. They could also be immune if they acted at their discretion within their expected duties.
In some cases, the worker could have personal immunity unless their actions were outside their scope of employment, they were acting recklessly, or civil liability is expressly evident.
When you are able to file a claim after a crash with a government vehicle, you need to act swiftly. In most Ohio personal injury cases, the statute of limitations is two years.
Your attorney can help you determine how long you have and where to file your claim. For instance, you must file a claim under the Federal Tort Claims Act if a federal employee caused a car crash.
You must prepare a written claim detailing your injuries, how the government worker caused them, and your total damages. The entity will have a certain amount of time to investigate your claim and respond. Most state agencies have 60 days to respond.
You could receive a settlement offer. If acceptable, you can start returning to everyday life. However, you may need to appeal their decision or take them to court for a fair settlement.
In Ohio, you can pursue compensation if another driver has injured or damaged your property. Although some federal, state, or other government employees may be protected under sovereign immunity, an experienced attorney can argue your case and fight for the damages you’re owed.
In a personal injury claim, you can recover economic and non-economic losses. Economic losses generally refer to tangible, physical losses. That includes current and future medical expenses, property damage, lost wages, or reduced earning capacity.
Non-economic losses are conceptual and difficult to calculate. They’re the money you’re owed for how the crash affected you. You can pursue compensation for your pain and suffering, mental anguish, or loss of consortium, among other things.
A knowledgeable personal injury lawyer can help you calculate your losses and establish what you’re owed after a government employee injured you in a crash.
Like any other crash, there will be evidence pointing to the at-fault driver. Your attorney can help you gather this evidence before you submit a claim.
Get photos or videos of the crash scene. Take pictures of the vehicles, road signs, weather conditions, or anything relevant to your crash.
Emergency responders should have been called after the crash. Get a medical report from any paramedics that arrived, and get a police report from law enforcement. These are vital to proving your injuries were caused in the crash and that the government employee caused it.
Even if you feel fine, you should get medical treatment after the crash. Sometimes symptoms don’t appear immediately, but a medical provider can spot and treat injuries, strengthening your case.
You may need to investigate why government employees were driving and where they were going. For instance, a social worker could be driving between visits. If they were speeding or operating outside their scope before they caused a crash, you could have a solid claim for compensation.
A personal injury lawyer will know what you can use to prove your case and how to gather that evidence.
The attorneys with Kisling, Nestico & Redick have helped crash victims recover millions in personal injury cases over the years. We understand how traumatic a car crash can be. We know it can be even more challenging when sovereign immunity is thrown into the mix.
Although you can pursue a claim alone, you should call us after a crash with a government vehicle. We have decades of legal experience, and our personal injury laws knowledge can give you a boost toward recovery. Time is of the essence after you’re injured in an accident.