An auto accident can be a nightmare that leads to serious physical injuries, overwhelming emotional distress, and great financial losses. In Louisiana, if you are involved in an auto accident, you have the right to sue the at-fault driver for damages.
But what if the at-fault driver is a government entity, such as a city, parish, or state agency? Can you sue them for your injuries and losses? The answer is yes, but suing a government entity can be a complex process, and there are specific rules and regulations to follow.
In this blog post, we will explore the concept of sovereign immunity, how it affects your auto accident case, and how to file a claim against a government entity in Baton Rouge and beyond. We will also discuss why it is essential to enlist the help of an experienced Baton Rouge car accident lawyer.
What is Sovereign Immunity?
Sovereign immunity is a legal doctrine that protects governments from being sued without their consent. Under this doctrine, a government entity cannot be held liable for damages unless it has waived its immunity or unless there is a specific statute that allows for a lawsuit. This doctrine stems from the ancient principle that the sovereign is immune from legal action. In Louisiana, sovereign immunity is recognized in the state constitution and is embodied in the Louisiana Governmental Claims Act (LGCA), which outlines the procedures and requirements for making a claim against a government entity, and limits the amount of damages that can be recovered.
Sovereign Immunity Under the LGCA
In Louisiana, the LGCA provides that the state and its political subdivisions, including cities, parishes, and school boards, are immune from suit unless the LGCA specifically waives immunity.
The LGCA does provide for certain exceptions to sovereign immunity. Specifically, it waives immunity for claims arising out of the operation or use of motor vehicles by a governmental entity, including claims arising out of an auto accident caused by a government entity. However, the LGCA sets limits on the amount of compensation that can be recovered.
Under the LGCA, the maximum amount of compensation that can be recovered for injuries or damages arising out of an auto accident caused by a government entity is $500,000 per person and $1,000,000 per occurrence. These limits apply regardless of the severity of the injuries or damages.
Exceptions to the LGCA Limits
There are a few exceptions to the LGCA limits on compensation. If the governmental entity has insurance coverage in excess of the LGCA limits, the excess coverage may be available to the injured party. Additionally, if the accident was caused by a government employee’s intentional act or gross negligence, the LGCA limits may not apply. However, proving intentional or grossly negligent conduct can be difficult, and it is important to consult an experienced attorney if you believe this may be the case.
How to File an Accident Claim against a Government Entity in Baton Rouge
If you have been involved in an auto accident with a government employee or agency in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, you will need to follow the procedures set forth in the LGCA. Here is a step-by-step guide to help you through the process:
Step 1: Determine Which Government Entity is Responsible
In most cases, this will be the agency or department employing the individual who caused the accident. For example, if you were involved in an accident with a police officer, you would need to file a claim against the police department.
Step 2: File a Notice of Claim
Once you have determined which government entity is responsible, you will need to file a notice of claim. This must be done within 90 days of the accident. The notice of claim must include:
- The name and address of the claimant (you)
- The name and address of the government entity being sued
- The date, time, and location of the accident
- A description of the accident
- A statement of the damages sought
The notice of claim must be filed with the government entity being sued. It is important to keep a copy of the notice of claim for your own records.
Step 3: Wait for a Response
After you file the notice of claim, the government entity has 30 days to respond. They may deny your claim, offer a settlement, or do nothing. If they offer a settlement, you will need to decide whether to accept or reject it.
Step 4: File a Lawsuit
If the government entity denies your claim or does not respond within 30 days, you have the right to file a lawsuit. The lawsuit must be filed within one year of the date of the accident. You will need to hire a qualified personal injury attorney to help you with the lawsuit.
Step 5: Attend Mediation
Before the lawsuit goes to trial, you will be required to attend mediation. Mediation is a process in which you and the government entity attempt to reach a settlement with the help of a neutral mediator. If you are able to reach a settlement, the lawsuit will be dismissed.
Step 6: Attend Trial
If mediation is unsuccessful, the lawsuit will go to trial. You will need to present evidence to prove your case, and the government entity will present evidence to defend itself. The judge or jury will then decide whether to award damages.
Enlist the Help of the Baton Rouge Car Accident Lawyers at Dudley DeBosier Injury Lawyers
Filing a claim against a government entity in Baton Rouge can be a complicated process. It is important to hire an experienced auto accident lawyer in Baton Rouge who is familiar with the LGCA and can help navigate the process. An attorney can help file the notice of claim, negotiate a settlement, and argue the case before a judge or jury if necessary.
By enlisting the help of an experienced car accident lawyer, Baton Rouge auto accident victims can increase their chances of recovering compensation for their injuries and losses after an accident caused by a government entity.
If you or a loved one has been involved in an auto accident caused by a government entity in Baton Rouge, don’t hesitate to contact a Baton Rouge car accident lawyer at Dudley DeBosier. With our expertise and dedication, we can help you pursue justice and compensation for your injuries and losses. Call us today to schedule a free consultation and take the first step towards recovery.
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