Personal injury accidents encompass much more than car accidents. Anytime a person is injured through the negligence of another person, or entity, they may be the victim of a personal injury accident. While car accidents are generally what people think about when they hear the term “persona injury accident”, there are an infinite number of scenarios that could become personal injury cases. For example, when someone falls on public or private property and inures herself, when an animal bites someone, when someone is exposed to caustic chemicals or when a person is involved in an airplane accident just to name a few. Given the number of possible scenarios that could produce a personal injury accident lawsuit, it is not difficult to imagine how a government entity could become a defendant in one of those lawsuits.
Sometimes, a government entities’ involvement in a personal injury accident is apparent from the outset. Take for example, a car accident where the victim was hit by a city truck. Obviously, the driver of the truck as well as the driver’s employer – the city – can be considered defendants in the lawsuit. Other times, the involvement of the government entity is not so obvious. Take that same accident but change the driver of the truck to a non-city employee. Imagine though that the driver of the truck hit a huge pothole in the road right before he collided with the victim causing him to lose control of the truck. In some cases, the city could be found partially negligent for the condition of the road. Nest, let’s consider an airplane crash. Clearly, the pilot and the airline could be negligent in an airplane crash. But what about the air traffic controller? The Federal Aviation Administration? If they were negligent in their duties they could be held partially responsible for any injuries caused by the crash. That fall on someone else’s property…if the victim fell on government property, she may have a claim against the government if they were negligent in the upkeep of the property and that negligent led to the fall. These are only hypothetical examples of how a government entity can be involved in a personal injury accident, but how does that change the handling of the case?
The most important way that a government entity defendant changes how a personal injury case is handled is generally in the statute of limitations. Most personal injury accidents have a two year or more statute of limitations. The statute of limitations is the time frame within which the plaintiff must file a lawsuit. In the case of a government defendant, the statute of limitations is frequently much shorter – as short as 180 days. In many states, if you believe that a government entity was negligent or responsible for your injuries, you must file notice within the much shorter statute of limitations or you will forever lose your right to receive compensation. For this reason, if there is any possibility that a government entity contributed to the cause of a personal injury accident, the plaintiff should seek legal advise and representation early on in the process so she does not lose her right to include an important defendant.
If you have any additional questions, please contact the California personal injury law firm of Ledger & Associates at 1-800-300-0001 or online at www.ledgerlaw.com