Most car accidents are caused by poor driving. If you have been the victim of a car accident for which you were not to blame, the chances are that another driver’s negligence caused the accident. If you think you can prove that this driver was at fault, you may have a reasonable chance of obtaining compensation from the driver’s insurance provider.
But what if the accident had nothing to do with any other driver? It wasn’t your fault. It wasn’t another driver’s fault. No-one was drunk, tired, speeding, had defective brakes or tires. No-one was using their cell phone or texting someone. A minority of accidents have another cause altogether. They are caused by poor road design or poor road maintenance. If you have been injured because of either of these two reasons, then you may be able to still claim compensation, but your claim will have to be addressed to the correct agency responsible. This may be a private company, but more likely it could be a city, county, state or federal government agency.
Personal injury claims against any government agency are not handled the same way as a claim against a private individual or organization. You are advised to contact a Jackson car accident attorney if you have been injured because of a poor road design or poor road maintenance reason as you will need to file your claim faster and with adequate documentation.
Some examples of poor road design and maintenance
- missing or damaged guardrails (some have never been fitted);
- debris on the highway not cleared away fast enough;
- construction equipment left haphazardly in the roadway;
- inadequate signage;
- uneven surface, potholes or cracks in road;
- drop offs too close to road edge;
- road design causes slippery conditions when wet or hot.
The personal injury process when suing a government agency
Mississippi, like most other states, has what is called ‘sovereign immunity.’ Theoretically, this prevents city and state government agencies from being sued, but this immunity is waived when an injury can be proved to have occurred because an employee or agency has been negligent. Poor road design (such as inadequate signage) or poor road maintenance (such as erosion on a roadway due to government budget cuts) could be regarded as negligence if they result in a car accident and injuries.
The first step in obtaining compensation from a government agency is identifying exactly who was responsible for a particular defect. This may be quite easy, or quite difficult. The difficulties arise when a particular project or maintenance schedule is shared by more than one agency.
Once the agency or agencies have been positively identified, the claim process can begin. Normally, a ‘notice of claim’ is sent to whichever agency is believed to be responsible for the accident, detailing what happened and why it is believed that negligence was involved. This notice of claim must be submitted within 3 months of the accident. In most cases, the claim will be ignored or denied but rather than preventing any more attempt at obtaining compensation, this allows the plaintiff to proceed to pursue a personal injury claim against the agency(ies) through the civil court system.
Key points about a claim against a government agency
- Negligence must be proved.
- The accident must be linked to documented injuries.
- The initial claim and personal injury claim must be submitted within Mississippi’s statute of limitations. The initial claim must be submitted within 90 days of the accident.
- There must be sufficient documentation accompanying the claim to show that the amount of damages is justified.
You are advised to use a car accident attorney if suing the government
Because of the particular difficulties when suing a government agency, you are advised to seek help from an experienced Jackson based car accident attorney. Call the Diaz Law Firm in Jackson MS as soon as you can at 601-607-3456.