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Does sovereign immunity apply to government car accidents?

If a government vehicle hit yours, you may assume you will follow typical protocol for pursuing recourse. Yet, the process is hardly so easy, and you will have to jump through hurdles to make a claim. Government officials and agencies often use sovereign immunity as protection against liability. But depending on the circumstances of your accident, you may be able to hold the responsible agency accountable.

Understanding sovereign immunity

Sovereign immunity is the doctrine that decrees the government – or a government official – must consent to any claim or suit against it. This immunity goes beyond federal institutions and can apply to state and local governments as well. Yet, not every offense qualifies for protection through sovereign immunity. Georgia’s Tort Claims Act allows individuals to make claims against the government in specific cases, as does the Federal Tort Claims Act. Often, they can do so after motor vehicle accidents.

How sovereign immunity affects your claim

Whether a federal, state or local government vehicle hit you, you must file a notice of claim to inform the appropriate agency of the accident. When doing so, you must keep the statute of limitations in mind. For cases involving the federal government, you have two years after the date of your accident to make your claim. But for cases involving local government, you only have six months to do so. For cases involving the state government, though, this time frame extends to one year. If your claim is rejected, you have the option to take further legal action against the responsible agency.

Because sovereign immunity is complex, you must be careful when filing your claim. An attorney with personal injury experience can help clarify the process.