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What if I’m involved in an accident with a government employee?

On Behalf of | Jul 21, 2022 | motor vehicle accidents

When you’re injured in a car accident and need to recover compensation for what you’ve lost, a personal injury lawsuit is a powerful tool at your disposal. Ohio gives you the right to file one so that you, the victim, can be made whole. But what about when the state of Ohio, via one of its employees, is the entity which causes your injury? Do the same rules still apply?

The doctrine of sovereign immunity

There’s a very old rule in the law which states that no government can be sued without its consent – this is known as the doctrine of sovereign immunity. It applies to the state of Ohio, all of its agencies, as well as county and city entities. Private individuals and organizations can be held liable for any negligent acts, whether they want to be or not – governments get to choose.

Fortunately, with respect to automobile accidents caused by government employees, Ohio has waived its immunity to personal injury lawsuits, which means you can still file a suit. However, there are many more restrictions and limitations which must be dealt with.

The rules are not the same

For a lawsuit against the state to proceed, the employee who caused the accident must have been performing their duties as a government employee at the time of the accident. Otherwise, they were acting as a private individual. Even if they are acting within the scope of their job, there are exceptions. Emergency personnel, such as firefighters, police officers and paramedics, will likely be immune from liability if they are responding to an emergency.

The compensation available to you can also be different. State law places a cap on the damages which can be awarded. Punitive damages will not be allowed. Punitive damages are those awarded which go above and beyond the actual damages incurred.

Because of the differences and complications presented when a government employee causes your injuries, you’ll need an experienced professional who knows how to handle personal injury lawsuits. They will be able to negotiate the various hurdles to ensure you get the maximum compensation allowed by law.