Government-Owned Vehicle Accident In Nevada: Who Is Liable?

Madeleine Jones
April 7, 2021

Accidents and their consequences are a fact of life that happens all the time. Some accidents may leave their victims with severe injuries and loss of property, and it’s only fair that those responsible for a car crash should be held accountable for the damage caused by the accident. The best way of making sure you get paid for your damages is to take the at-fault party to court and prove they were negligent. However, when you are involved in a government-owned vehicle car accident, the battle can be lengthy and uphill. Suing federal, state, or local governments can be done. But you need the help of an experienced Las Vegas car accident lawyer.

When Can You Sue A Government Body?

The government has sovereign immunity or what is known as governmental immunity. This immunity is a set of laws that establish when you can sue the government and when you cannot. The laws cover situations such as personal injury when your car accident involves a government-owned vehicle. This means that accidents that were caused by government property are explicitly more dangerous.

Being involved in a car accident with another driver that wasn’t your fault will often end in the at-fault party’s driver insurance paying you for damages. However, the same car accident but with a police officer may result in you losing your car and without being compensated.

How Can The Federal Tort Claims Act Affect Your Case?

Car accidents that involve government-owned vehicles are under sovereign immunity cases that the Federal Tort Claims Act governs. This Act lifts (temporarily) the veil of protection that immunity provides when federal employees act negligently and cause a car accident. The Federal Tort Claims Act states that the government can be sued only in cases where the United States, if a private person, were liable to the claimant by the law of the state where the omission or act occurred.

Car accidents are one of the most common cases where a civilian can sue the government. Accidents involving fire trucks, police cars, and ambulances rushing through busy streets to get where they need to often leave government employees liable for accidents.

There may be accidents that don’t involve emergency vehicles. Accidents with landscape trucks and school buses can allow a civilian to sue the government if the civilian thinks the crash was not their fault.

To learn more about torts, click here.

When Can the Government Be Held Liable for a Car Accident?

Let’s put aside for a minute the previous procedural rules. There are situations in which a government employee or government entity can be responsible for a car accident. For example, let’s say a government employee is driving a government vehicle and they rear-end your vehicle at a stop sign. As long as the said employee was working at the time or acting in an official capacity at the time of the accident, this could qualify for a claim under a Tort Claims Act. The same would be true if the government owns the car.

Dangerous road and highway conditions can also be a cause to claim for injuries and damages if these dangerous conditions played a part in causing your accident. These conditions include:

  • Roadside hazards
  • Object obstructing your line-of-sight
  • Pavement edge drops
  • Not properly marked construction zones
  • Dangerous rail-highway crossings

Generally, the responsibility for dangerous road and highway conditions lies with the state or federal agencies in charge of their maintenance.

It depends on the circumstances of your accident, but private companies who get hired by government agencies to design and build highways can also bear some liability.

How Does The Claim Process Work?

Like we mentioned above, the United States government has enacted the Federal Tort Claims Act. If you get involved in a car accident that involves a government-owned vehicle, here is how a claim proceeds under the Federal Tort Claims Act:

  1. You have 2 years to file your claim from the date your accident happened.
  2. You have to be able to describe every fact that can support your claim specifically so the government can investigate properly. Include a value to your damages caused by the accident.
  3. Usually, the government will make a decision on your claim in 6 months. If your claim gets admitted by the government, they will compensate you for your injuries. The amount can vary. It can be the amount you asked for when filing the claim or any portion of that. 
  4. If your claim gets denied, you can file a lawsuit for your injuries, but you only have 6 months after the denial.

Every state has passed its version of a Tort Claims Act, and many of them resemble the Federal Tort Claims Act. They each have their own deadlines when it comes to filing claims and processes.

Filing a Claim Against The State Of Nevada

In the state of Nevada, the Tort Claims Act has specific rules for filing claims against the government. To be able to start this process, the victim has to file a written and signed claim with the Nevada State Board of Examiners.

The written claim has to include the following:

  • A statement of the amount in dollars of the damages the victim is seeking
  • A description of how the injuries happened
  • An explanation why the victim believes it was the State’s fault
  • A copy of your medical record

The attorney general’s office will receive your letter, review it and decide whether to approve or deny it.  If your claim is denied, you can file a civil lawsuit in a court in Nevada and seek damages.

In the case of filing a claim against the state of Nevada, you have 2 years of the date of the accident. If you fail to do this, it will be rejected by the state and the courts. Additionally, there is a cap on damages in claims against the state government to $100,000 per claim.

Car Accident Attorneys in Las Vegas

If you or a loved one suffers from injuries from a car accident involving a government-owned vehicle, you don’t have to handle this on your own. Our legal team at Cogburn Law is ready for you. We handle our cases on a contingency basis, meaning you don’t pay until we win. Give us a call at (702) 748-7777 for a free initial consultation.

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I was hesitant about getting a lawyer for many reasons, however the entire staff at Cogburn reassured me that everything would be okay. They were always very attentive and provided detailed answers to any questions I had. I would like to thank the entire staff for all of your hard work, making sure that my daughters and I were compensated for the car accident, and making sure we received all the necessary treatment. You were awesome. If you need an attorney that won’t look at you as just another case, that’ll return your calls/emails I definitely recommend this team.

Jessica F.

Car accident review