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Auto Accident 2.05.2022

What to Do After an Accident Involving a Government Vehicle in Michigan

Car accidents can happen to anyone using Michigan roads. But when those accidents that involve a state, city or Car accidents can happen to anyone using Michigan roads. But when those accidents that involve a state, city or county employee while driving or operating a government-owned vehicle, adds another layer of complexity to your car accident claim.

Generally, the government has limited immunity from being sued, but if you have been injured in an automobile accident involving the negligent operation of a government-owned vehicle, it is possible for you to pursue a claim for compensation thanks to an exception in government immunity laws.

Government Owned Vehicles

You are likely on the road with vehicles owned by the local, state, or federal government every day. Government-owned vehicles can include the following:

  • Emergency response vehicles (police cars, fire engines, ambulances, etc.)
  • Mail trucks
  • Utility Trucks
  • City or school busses
  • Garbage trucks
  • Government semi-trucks and tractor-trailers
  • MDOT (Michigan Department of Transportation) vehicles
  • Municipal or city snow plows

An accident involving any of these vehicles or any other motor vehicle owned by the government are litigated slightly differently from other automobile accidents.

The Michigan Governmental Tort Liability Act Protects the Government

The Governmental Tort Liability Act (GTLA) protects the local and state government from being sued by individuals in many situations. However, the good news is, this act also outlines when the government may be held liable for the actions of its employees. In many cases, the law does not allow you to file a claim against the government.

There are exceptions to the general rule. When government employees—such as MDOT vehicle drivers, garbage truck operators, or police officers in a car chases—are involved in an automobile accident, victims can pursue a lawsuit against the responsible parties.

What Claims Can Be Pursued in Michigan

In general, government employees acting within the course and scope of their work duties cannot be held personally liable for their actions, except for grossly negligent conduct defined as substantial lack of concern for whether injury results. Instead, injured victims file suit against the State of Michigan, city, township, county, municipality, or other political subdivision where the government employee works.

The most common types of claims against the government that can be pursued in Michigan include the following:

  • Medical malpractice claims in government-owned facilities
  • Premises liability claims in defective government buildings
  • Automobile accident claims involving government-owned vehicles
  • Defective highway involving the surface of the road
  • Sewage disposal system events. If there is a defect in a sewer, storm, or drain system that is not repaired in a reasonable time and it ends up causing injury as a result, the government entity that owns or operates the system may face liability if it knew or should have known of the defect and did not fix it. The injured person must also show that the defect was a "substantial cause" of the injury – in other word, that the defect was 50 percent or more to blame for your damages.
  • Performance of a proprietary government function. To hold a government agency accountable for their injuries under this exception, the injured person must show that the government's actions were intended to make a financial profit from something other than taxes or fees.

No punitive damages can be sought.

In some instances, the Michigan governments are immune from liability. Those instances are described in Michigan Compiled Laws Annotated Chapter 691.

Comparative Fault

When determining fault and liability in automobile accidents and other personal injury cases, Michigan operates under a principle called modified comparative fault. Under this doctrine, a victim can still recover damages even if they are partially at fault for their injuries. A jury will determine and allocate the percentage of fault for all parties involved in the accident. The comparative fault law does apply in cases against government entities.

How to File a Claim Against State or Local Government

Your claim against the State of Michigan must be filed either with the Michigan State Administrative Board, or with the Michigan Court of Claims, which will depend on the amount of your claim. If your claim is for less than $1,000, you must file your claim with the State Administrative Board. If your claim is for more than $1000, you must file with the Michigan Court of Claims. It’s in your best interest to work with an experienced personal injury lawyers that handle claims against the government.

To file your claim with the State Administrative Board, fill out the free form DTMB-1104, available at the State Administrative Board website, and follow the instructions provided in the form documents. The Michigan Court of Claims also provides filing instructions on its website for your claim exceeding $1,000.

Every local government entity generally has its own set of local rules for properly filing claims against it. For example, in Detroit, claims are handled by the City of Detroit Claims Department. The claim forms are found on the Claims Department  website, where you'll also find instructions about what to include with the form as proof, such as doctor's bills or verification of lost wages.

How Long Do I Have to File a Governmental Tort Claim?

A governmental tort claim in Michigan must be filed within the time limits set forth by law, which are as follows:

  • 120 days to file a written notice of claim regarding defects in a highway or public building.
  • 6 months to file a formal notice of claim against the state of Michigan.
  • 2 years to file suit against the state of Michigan (if your claim is rejected).

Contact an Automobile Accident Attorney Today

If you or a loved one have been injured as a result of a car accident, you are urged to contact the attorneys of The Joseph Dedvukaj Firm. An Detroit car accident lawyer can help you get the compensation you deserve. Call now 248-352-2110 to start your claim or fill out online contact form below for a free, no-obligation case evaluation.

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The Joseph Dedvukaj Firm, P.C represents Michigan clients in a full range of personal injury matters. If you have been injured, contact us for a free consultation.
The information on this website is for general information purposes only. Nothing on this site should be taken as advice for any individual case or situation. This information is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing does not constitute a client relationship.
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