When a Government Entity or Employee is Liable for a Car Accident
Mistakes and negligence on highways and roads can lead to unsafe driving conditions for motorists in British Columbia. Sometimes it is a government, municipality or employee that is liable for a car accident and the resulting personal injury damages. If you have been in a motor vehicle accident and have an injury claim, you should be aware that there are special rules and laws applicable to accident injury claims when a government is involved.
What Types of Auto Accidents Can Governments Be Liable For?
There are many situations where a government entity or employee could be liable for a car accident, wholly or in part. One way in which a government may be responsible is by allowing a hazardous highway or road condition to exist, such as a roadside hazard, including a pothole, erosion, malfunctioning traffic light, or poorly maintained conditions (such as snow and ice, a missing guardrail, or pavement edge drop).
Other hazardous conditions that could result in a lawsuit include a line-of-sight obstruction, an unreasonably dangerous rail-highway grade crossing, or lack of proper signage (e.g., in a construction zone). Different levels of government may be responsible for various tasks. For example, filling potholes is a provincial matter, while snowplowing is left in the hands of the municipal government. If you live in Vancouver, your personal injury lawyer can advise on what agency may be responsible for your accident.
Government employees can also be held responsible for causing a collision while driving a government-owned vehicle while working. For example, a road accident could be caused by a police officer, fire fighter, ambulance driver, public transit worker, postal worker, hydro worker, or a construction worker hired to do road work. The circumstances of these accidents vary greatly. You could be rear-ended by a garbage truck or you could be struck by a vehicle in a high speed chase. The law regarding whether or not a first responder is liable for a car accident is complex and very fact dependent. Factors a court will consider in determining whether a first responder is liable include whether the emergency vehicle had its lights and sirens activated, whether there was a real emergency, and the road conditions. All of these contribute to a determination of whether the actions of the first responder were reasonable in the circumstances.
Accident Claims for Personal Injury Cases
If you have been injured in a motor vehicle, on a bicycle or as a pedestrian in an accident caused by a government entity or employee, you will have two claims. Accident benefits for lost wages and medical expenses may be available from ICBC. To obtain additional compensation, you may also file a personal injury civil lawsuit against the government entity (municipality or federal government) that is believed to be responsible for the accident.
Success in a personal injury lawsuit requires that you establish that the government entity or employee had a duty of care towards you and that the standard of care required by that duty was not met. Your lawyer will argue that the breach of duty caused harm to you and will prove with medical evidence that you sustained injuries as a result of the accident.
Time Limits for Filing a Claim
The time limits for filing a lawsuit against a government entity or employee are critical. These time limits are called limitation dates, and if you do not file your claim before the designated date, you lose your ability to sue for compensation. While the Limitation Act, R.S.B.C. 2012, c.13 permits a lawsuit for personal injury or death to be filed up to two years after the date of the accident, some government entities have a much shorter limitation period often between 30-180 days. To sue a municipality of personal injury or death, for example, written notice of damage to a municipality must be provided within two months from the accident.
Lawsuits against government entities or government personnel are complicated and they involve technical procedures that must be followed within set deadlines. If you are considering a personal injury lawsuit against a government entity or employee, you should speak with an experienced car accident lawyer to ensure that you don’t miss the deadline.
Speak to an Injury Lawyer Serving Coquitlam & the Lower Mainland
If you have been injured in an accident where a government entity or employee is responsible, wholly or in part, contact Spraggs Law today.
You may be entitled to damages for your lost wages, loss of future earnings, medical expenses, loss of quality of life and pain and suffering. Our personal injury lawyers serve those injured in Coquitlam, the Tri-Cities and surrounding areas.
We can call in accident reconstruction experts or conduct an extensive investigation of all the witnesses if needed. We are skilled and experienced in government liability cases.
Contact us online today or by phone 1-604-359-1614 for your free, no-obligation consultation.