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Fire Truck Accidents and Sovereign Immunity

fire truck

WLF Truck Accident Attorney Explains

Being injured by a fire truck is not like being injured by private vehicles. Fire trucks belong to the government and it is difficult to sue the government for damages. When the government is involved in an accident, filing a claim becomes complicated due to a provision called sovereign immunity. When a government vehicle, such as a fire truck, is involved, it becomes ever trickier. However, there are certain situations where you can make the government pay for your damages.

What is sovereign immunity?

Sovereign immunity is a judicial provision that prevents anyone from suing the government or its political subdivisions, agencies and departments without its consent. It stems from the old English principle that the monarch, having the divine right to rule, can do no wrong. In the United States, this principle has been in place since 1793.

Sovereign immunity laws are not the same in all states; they vary from one state to another. The Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA), which governs incidents involving government vehicles, provides limited waiver of the government’s sovereign immunity if the responsible government employees are found to be negligent in the scope of their employment. However, you should be aware that courts tend to be lenient to emergency responders if the accident took place during an emergency.

What should you do if you are injured in an accident with a fire truck?

If you are injured in an accident with a fire truck and can prove that the truck driver and/or their department was negligent in performing their duty of care, then you should file an administrative claim with the government department or agency that owns the truck. Some government units make available a claims form that you can fill out. If there is no claims form, then you should write your request on paper.

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Before filing your claim, make sure that you have all the evidence and documents ready to support your claim. These include photographs of the accident scene, medical bills and medical test reports. The government, like all defendants, will not pay up without a fight. Therefore, you must back up your claim with really strong evidence if you want any chance of getting adequate compensation for your losses.

If a settlement is denied, you will receive a letter to that effect. The next step – if you still want to pursue the matter – is to file a lawsuit. But lawsuits against the government can be extremely complicated. If you are not in the legal profession yourself, you will not even know where to start. Therefore, you should hire a skilled and experienced truck accident attorney to take care of the process.

What’s the statute of limitations for fire truck accidents?

A statute of limitations is the period, starting from the day of the accident, within which you must file your claim. In the case of fire trucks and other government vehicles, the statute of limitation is 30 to 180 days from the date of the accident, depending on the state. If you miss the deadline, you will lose your right to recover your damages.

What causes fire truck accidents?

It is extremely rare that fire truck drivers are intoxicated while on duty, although they can be fatigued. Also, they are required to legally stop at red lights and stop signs, but they are often seen speeding through an intersection to get to an emergency scene. As a result, fire truck accidents are quite common. If you are injured by one, consult with an experienced truck accident attorney to find out whether you have a viable claim.

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