Everyone has accidents. Even police and firefighters. Lawsuits against police and firefighters are governed by different laws than civilian lawsuits. A person who has been in an accident with a government vehicle may be entitled to file a lawsuit but it will proceed slightly differently than a private lawsuit. These types of lawsuits must be approached with extreme caution to avoid violating any of the specific regulations pertaining to these cases.
These cases can be tricky because the laws and responsibilities that apply to negligent civilian parties do not pertain to government entities or employees. While the law provides us with the California Code of Civil Procedure, Section 335, which summaries the rules for filing a personal injury lawsuit, it does not fully cover the proper procedure for lawsuits against public entities.
In Sacramento, Statutes of limitation, restrictions, immunities and requirements for claim presentation allow government entities to be exempt from civilian lawsuits in most cases. The Tort Claims Act, or California Government Code Section 810 explains most of these restrictions. In order to file a lawsuit you must determine if the case is covered under the government immunity.
An attorney will investigate your case by asking the following questions:
- Was the person or entity that caused your injury covered by the Tort Claims Act?
- Is the type of assistance you are seeking covered by the Tort Claims Act?
- Is there a legal basis for liability on the part of the person or organization in question?
- Does immunity apply?
Who and What is Covered Under The Act?
The Tort Claims Act defines a public employee or entity as all district, city, county, and state employees which includes civil servants and judicial employees regardless of pay grade. These people are covered by the Act and are exempt from any lawsuits. The Act covers contract disputes and all tort claims. The Act does not apply to writ of mandamus, injunctions, or other lawsuits involving non-monetary relief. It also doesn’t apply to federal civil rights litigation cases.
Basis of Liability
The basis of liability for civilian lawsuits is different than what the Act sets forth. The very reasons for lawsuits under the act are different than what you can sue a private person for. Public entities and their employees have immunity unless the reason is listed in the Acts basis for liability.
It is a common misconception that all government employees get immunity from lawsuits. Employees have limited liability within the scope of their responsibilities. If the accident occurred outside the framework of those responsibility and duties, the employee can be held liable. In cases such as fraud, the basis of liability is even larger than in the civilian world.
If a police officer hits you, it would depend largely on what he was doing when he hit you. If he was in the commission of his duty will make him immune. Watching an old western will not.