Most car accidents occur because of someone’s negligence. The word ‘someone’ includes anything from the person who is injured to individuals, businesses, organizations of all kinds and government entities. If you are injured because of your own carelessness, there is very little you can do about it apart from learn a lesson. If the car accident leaves you injured, then you will be relying on your own health insurance or PIP insurance if you have taken this out. Mississippi is a ‘tort’ or ‘at-fault’ state, so PIP is not a requirement. If you have been injured through no fault of your own, you have to establish who or what was the cause and if negligence was involved and sue that party for damages.
Most car accidents occur because of a poor driving decision by another individual driver. Generally, if you are injured, you would seek to file a claim for compensation through that driver’s insurance provider. If the driver works for a private company as an employee, it becomes more complicated, because you then may need to file separate claims against either the individual driver, or the business, or both, depending on the exact situation. It is these complications that make a personal injury attorney with car accident experience so valuable. Attempts to sue the wrong party can be a waste of time and end up with you out of pocket.
Accident claims against government agencies or employees are complicated
More complicated still are those accidents that have been caused by the negligence of a government entity. This could be the city of Jackson, the state government of Mississippi or even a federal government agency. In most instances, you would not seek to file a claim against an individual employee, but against the relevant government department. It is most important to identify exactly which government department is liable for the injuries caused by the accident you were involved in. Typical examples of negligence by a city or state entity are:
- an accident caused by poor road or bridge maintenance, e.g. hitting a pothole at speed, or part of a bridge collapsing;
- an accident caused by poor road design, such as a roundabout or intersection with confusing or contradictory signage;
- an accident caused by a collision with a vehicle owned by a government entity and driven by one of their employees.
The Mississippi Tort Claims Act
Generally, claims made against any government entity, even when liability has been identified and proof is available, is complicated by something called ‘sovereign immunity.’ This supposedly excludes most government entities across the U.S. from being sued through the civil courts. However, practically, city and state administrations can be sued, but the process is both more long winded than suing a private party and must be initiated within a much shorter time frame. In Mississippi, the state’s Mississippi Tort Claim Act (MTCA) specifies when sovereign immunity cannot be used to exclude a tort claim.
The claim process against a Mississippi government entity
Once the cause of your injury has been identified, i.e. the government entity whose act of negligence directly caused the accident which led to your injury, you need to submit a ‘notice of claim’ in writing to the specific entity. The notice of claim must be submitted within a year from the date of the injury. There should be a response made within 95days from receipt of the notice of claim. This is either an acceptance of the claim or a denial. Once a denial of the claim has been received or the 95 days has expired, you can then proceed with a personal injury claim in the same way you would if the accident has been caused by a private individual. You must file your lawsuit within 90 days of this date, otherwise any claim will not be permitted.
Because of the extra complications involved with any accident claim against a government entity you should make an appointment with the Diaz Law Firm to discuss a possible personal injury claim. You can contact the office at 601-607-3456.