The state of Indiana and the U.S. federal government operate large fleets of trucks that travel the roads of Indianapolis and other cities and communities in Indiana every day. When these trucks get into accidents that harm other drivers, pedestrians or cyclists, the injured face a complex path to compensation because they must deal with the government agencies that own the trucks.
If you have been seriously injured in an accident involving a government-owned truck, you should speak to an experienced truck accident attorney as soon as possible. Claims against local, state and federal government agencies have shorter filing deadlines and more notification requirements than personal injury claims against individuals or businesses.
At Craig, Kelley & Faultless LLC, our Indiana truck accident attorneys have extensive experience handling large truck accident cases. We have an investigative team dedicated to truck accident cases. Indiana truck accident attorney David W. Craig has handled hundreds of large truck accidents, representing clients in Indianapolis, Batesville, Richmond, Fort Wayne and throughout Indiana. Contact us at (800) 746-0226 or online today for a free, no obligation review of your accident and legal options.
Did a Government Truck Cause the Accident that Led to Your Injury?
You’ve probably never given much thought to who owns the trucks you see on Indiana highways. But if you’re in an accident with a large, commercial truck, then you’ll need to know the company or government agency that put that vehicle on the road. The owner or lessee of a large truck can be held liable for injuries and property damage caused by the truck and/or truck driver.
After an accident, the registration and ownership of the vehicles involved can be easily traced with information on the police report. Identifying a government vehicle right away will alert you to the fact that your insurance claim will be more complicated than a typical passenger car or commercial truck accident claim.
Government trucks have special license plates. They use colors different from “civilian” Indiana state plates. For example, a federal vehicle’s plate says “U.S. Government” above the number and “For Official Use Only” below the number. There may be an identifying paint scheme or decals on the vehicle, as well.
If you are unsure, the police report, which must be filed and is available after an accident that causes injuries, will provide information about the truck’s ownership. The Indiana State Police maintain a database of all car accident reports filed in the state. You can obtain an electronic version of a motor vehicle accident report for about $10 through a private vendor. In Indianapolis, you can also obtain a car accident report filed with local police.
Filing a Government Vehicle Accident Claim Against Local or State Government
Indiana personal injury law allows individuals to seek compensation for medical expenses and other losses from people or other entities whose negligence has caused an injury. While the government enjoys some immunity from lawsuits, individuals can file injury claims against local and state government entities.
If you are filing a claim against Indiana state government, you are required to submit a Notice to File form (available online) within 270 days (about 9 months) of the injury. It is a fairly simple form, but it also requires copies of the accident report, vehicle registration, receipts for vehicle repair or two estimates, medical records, photographs of the accident, and other information.
As the form states, if you file your claim correctly, the Office of the Attorney General will notify you in writing within 90 days if your claim has been accepted. If not, your claim has been denied. Indeed, the form itself recommends contacting an attorney if you have any questions about “the right way to file a claim.”
If your claim is against a municipal or county government in Indiana, state law gives you 180 days to file a claim. How that entity may deal with your claim differs from city to city, county to county.
But each of these filings is required to notify the governmental entity of a pending claim. Unless the evidence is overwhelming, the agency can simply deny the claim, at which point you must file a lawsuit to move forward.
Truck accident lawsuits against Indiana governmental entities are certainly allowed.
The state’s Tort Claims Against Governmental Entities and Public Employees Act provides immunity from lawsuits’ basis are:
- Temporary road conditions caused by the weather
- The condition of an unpaved road
- The design of a highway, toll road project, tollway, or road project in some instances if the accident occurred at least 20 years after the road project was designed .
That last immunity does not relieve the responsible governmental entity from its continuing duty to maintain public highways in a reasonably safe condition. It you can show that highway conditions caused by neglected maintenance led to the accident you were in, you may make a claim.
Filing a Federal Government Vehicle Accident Claim
If you have a claim against the U.S. government, you can file a claim under the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA). Such a claim must show you were injured due to a government employee’s negligence committed within the scope of his or her employment, and it must be filed in federal court.
A federal motor vehicle accident claim would first be reviewed by a U.S. attorney who might agree to a settlement or, as your lawsuit moved forward, you would face additional attorneys from the U.S. Justice Department arguing against you.
Contact a Truck Accident Lawyer in Indiana Today
You should not forego your legal rights to seek restitution if you have been injured in an accident involving a government-owned truck. But you need to act promptly and have an experienced truck accident lawyer guiding you through the process. If your initial claim is denied on a technicality, this wastes time and could put you up against statutes of limitations that could end your case.
The dedicated truck accident attorneys at Craig, Kelley & Faultless LLC understand what is required of claims against local, state and federal governments. Our attorneys have the experience to secure the evidence and prepare a solid claim on your behalf. We are aggressive negotiators and skilled litigators ready to seek a fair settlement or jury award for you.
Contact us online or by telephone at (800) 746-0226 for a free consultation about your accident.