You have just been in a devastating car accident, and your doctor has told you that you have significant injuries, and it will take months for them to heal. You will not be able to return to work, and you are concerned about how you will pay your bills. As a victim of a personal injury accident, you may have a right to bring a lawsuit against the person or entity whose negligence caused your injuries. Working with an attorney is the best way to investigate your case and determine who was at fault. You may decide that another private citizen’s negligence was at fault. You may determine that a city, state, or federal entity caused your injuries. While it is possible to sue a government entity, the process is different from suing private entities.
Understanding Sovereign Immunity
All discussions about suing a government entity begin with the concept of sovereign immunity. Governments are considered immune from liability. In most cases, people can sue the state of Alabama. The Alabama Constitution says explicitly that the state of Alabama cannot be a defendant in a lawsuit. However, victims of personal injuries have a limited right to compensation for their injuries, even if they cannot sue the government. In Alabama, victims can sue a state employee. The victim will need to prove that the state employee was acting contrary to the course and scope of their employment and caused their damages.
Suing an Alabama State Employee For Negligence
What happens if you were injured in a car accident caused by an Alabama state employee who ran a red light and collided with you. Typically, the state worker will be immune from liability from a lawsuit unless one of the following applies:
- The US Constitution requires otherwise
- The Alabama Constitution requires otherwise
- The employee engaged and willful conduct
- The employee engaged in fraudulent conduct
- The employee had a malicious in
- The employee acted in bad faith
- The employee was acting beyond the scope of his or her authority
How Long Do I Have to Bring a Claim?
One of the unique aspects of bringing a lawsuit against a government employee involves the time frame you must do so. Whether you are bringing a lawsuit against a state truck driver, city bus driver, or city police officer, there are strict time limits on how long you can wait before you file your claim. These time limits are different from typical ones, also called statutes of limitations, in Alabama personal injury lawsuits. In general, you only have two years from the date of the accident to file a claim. Some municipalities require you to file a notice that you intend to file a claim shortly after the accident.
Municipal Tort Claims
If you become injured as a city or county employee, you may have a completely different set of options. You will have the opportunity to file a federal tort claim, but it will need to be with the municipal government that employs the government employee. You will need to file a formal tort claim within six months of your injury. You will have to give notice to the municipality directly. This will initiate a process by which you can attempt to seek payment for all of your injuries. Many municipalities will ignore claims and wait and see what the plaintiff does. Your attorney can help you navigate the process of recovering compensation through a municipal tort claim.
How an Experienced Alabama Injury Lawyer Can Help You
It is wise to make an appointment with a personal injury lawyer as soon as another person’s negligence has hurt you. Sometimes people feel nervous about meeting with an attorney after they have been injured. Perhaps you are wondering whether you have a claim at all or if your injuries are serious enough. However, it’s crucial that you discuss your case with an attorney.
If you have a federal claim against a municipality, the deadlines are tight, and you will need to file a notice that you are pursuing a claim within six months. This will give your attorney time to gather evidence and develop a legal strategy. At Heninger Garrison Davis, we offer our clients a free initial consultation. During our consultation, you can discuss your potential claim with an experienced attorney without the pressure of paying for legal representation. Contact Heninger Garrison Davis today to schedule your consultation.