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Recovering Compensation After Injury From Federal Vehicle

Steven Matz
April 27, 2015 | Car Accident

A row of USPS government mail trucks

AAuto accidents are frightening situations that can leave victims with serious injuries. In the aftermath of a car crash, accident victims often face extensive medical expenses and damage to their motor vehicles.

In Michigan, no-fault insurance laws can help after a car accident, but it is crucial to understand that Michigan’s no-fault insurance has limitations. If you or your loved one suffer from severe injuries and want to sue the negligent driver, you have the right to do so in Michigan. In most circumstances, it would run like a standard case, but it would be difficult to seek compensation if the collision occurred with a government employee.

It is difficult to recover compensation from a car accident with a federal vehicle because Michigan has laws to protect government employees. Suing may not be an option. The Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA) allows you to sue the government for injury incidents, but this only applies if you can prove that the driver and vehicle, not you, caused the incident.

This does not mean suing is impossible. As a victim, you deserve justice and compensation for your injuries and losses. Contact the Michigan car accident attorneys at Matz Injury Law at 1-866-22Not33 for a free consultation to see how we can help you fight for that compensation. Our experienced Michigan car accident lawyers will outline your options and work hard to see you get what you need under the constraints of the laws protecting federal employees.

The Federal Tort Claims Act

The Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA) provides sovereign immunity to federal employees. The complexities of this law make it challenging to sue the federal government. However, you might have a case if you believe a government employee’s negligent actions led to your injury.

Due to the complex nature of the FTCA and how challenging it is to bring a case against a government agency, you should hire a personal injury attorney if you are in a car accident with a federal employee. There are several steps to follow, and specific criteria must be met when filing an administrative claim. Under the FTCA, the government agency has six months to respond to your personal injury claim after you file.

Working with an experienced Michigan law firm can provide the tools to fight for compensation to help pay for your medical bills, future health care, wage losses, and property damage.

Can I Recover No-Fault Damages and Pain and Suffering Damages if I am Injured by a Federally-Owned Vehicle?

EMT medics carry a man away from a car accident on a stretcher

If the accident happens in Michigan, and you have auto insurance coverage (even if you were a pedestrian), your Michigan no-fault benefits will pay your lost wages and medical expenses.

You could still sue for pain and suffering under the FTCA. However, Michigan law would still apply in your federal suit to the extent that you would have to prove that you have a “threshold” injury such as serious impairment or disfiguring scarring.

If you were so unfortunate as to have been 1) hit by a mail truck, 2) in Michigan, it was 3) your fault, and 4) you aren’t covered by any no-fault policy of your own or a resident relative, you would have to apply to the Michigan Assigned Claims Plan for your no-fault coverage.

Finally, Don’t try to handle this type of claim yourself. There are strict time limits and procedural requirements under the FTCA that you must follow, or the court will dismiss your case. Look for a Michigan lawyer who not only handles auto cases but who knows the FTCA specifications, as well.

What is the Statute of Limitations for a Car Accident in Michigan?

In Michigan, an injured party has three years from the date of the accident to file a claim for personal injury or wrongful death against the at-fault driver. Three years sounds like a lot of time, but building a strong case takes time, so seek legal advice immediately. Also, do not assume you missed the statute of limitations. Schedule a free consultation with a Michigan accident attorney to see if your situation falls under one of the exceptions to this time-limit rule.

Injuries That Meet the Threshold For a Lawsuit for a Car Accident in Michigan

To meet the threshold for a car accident lawsuit in Michigan and to pursue non-economic compensation for pain and suffering, an injured person must be able to prove they sustained certain injuries resulting in one of the following.

  • Permanent disfigurement (scarring or loss of a limb)
  • Loss or impairment of a body function
  • Death

Under state law, if a person was not hurt severely enough by a motorist, they cannot pursue compensation for pain and suffering.

Can I Sue the State Government in Michigan?

In most cases, you cannot sue the state government in Michigan, as it has immunity. However, there are a few circumstances where you can pursue a claim.

Government Liability for Negligence

If an employee acts negligently when driving a state-owned motor vehicle, the agency may be held liable. In this case, you or your family member must file a claim for injury or wrongful death.

Government Employee Exception

If the driver of a government vehicle acted with gross negligence outside of their duties, they could be considered negligent.

You can only sue based on the operation of the vehicle and not for the use or maintenance of the vehicle. Injuries are subject to a “threshold” requirement.

Timeline for Filing a Federal Tort Claim

When filing a federal tort claim, there is a two-year statute of limitations instead of the standard three-year timeframe. There is also a notice provision where the victim must:

  • Provide notice of the claim
  • Provide facts supporting the claim
  • Declare the amount requested before filing suit

The federal government then has six months to reply to the notice. Once the victim receives a reply, they have six months to file a lawsuit formally. In practice, this usually only happens with one entity, the United States Postal Service (USPS). Most federal employees do not drive a motor vehicle during the course and in the scope of their employment. FBI agents are another example, but 100 percent of the federal tort claims Matz Injury Law has handled have been against the USPS.

To file a claim against the government, you must file a Standard 95 with the agency that employs the negligent driver.

Taking On the Government Will Be Challenging When You Do It Alone

Lawyer shaking hands with his client after a case.

If you or someone you know was injured in a federally owned vehicle, whether a truck accident or a car accident, contact the caring and compassionate team at Matz Injury Law for a free case evaluation. Building trusting relationships is very important to us, and our accident attorneys will handle your case with the utmost care.

Our legal team has been practicing law in Michigan for decades and knows all the tricks an insurance company will use to get victims to agree to low settlements, even the provider of the victim’s own auto insurance policy. Sadly, they often don’t care how much you’ve paid in premiums to maintain your insurance policy. Adjusters typically do what is best for their company rather than consider what you or your loved ones need for current and future medical care.

The Michigan personal injury lawyers at Matz Injury Law can also assist with other types of injury cases, such as motorcycle accidents, uninsured drivers, medical malpractice, boating accidents, bicycle and pedestrian accidents, drunk driving accidents, and other types of fault law accident claims. Our law firm serves clients throughout Michigan state.

To learn more about how we can help you, call our phone number at 1-866-22Not33 or fill out our convenient online contact form.

steven matz headshot

Written By Steven Matz

Founding Shareholder

Steven J. Matz is a founding shareholder of Matz Injury Law. The firm’s concentration is on personal injury litigation, with an emphasis on traumatic brain injury.

The maximum contingency fee permitted by law is actually 331/3%. Michigan court rules require that the attorney fee be computed on the net sum recovered after deducting all disbursements properly chargeable to the enforcement of the claim.

What does 22not33 mean, exactly?

We can charge 22% while virtually all other injury attorneys charge 331/3% because we are very, very, good at obtaining results for our clients.

We do not spend millions of dollars on television ads; instead, we offer a lower fee to all our clients. We do not have dozens of lower paid associates handling our work. All our clients are represented by Steven and Jared Matz. Steven Matz started the firm in 1977 and since then has dedicated his life to representing injury victims. Jared joined the firm in 2016 but grew up listening to stories, discussing theories, and generally learning at the dinner table about how to effectively and compassionately represent injury victims. Jared Matz was literally born to represent individuals involved in motor vehicle crashes.

All of our cases are handled on a contingency fee and all our cases are handled at 22%. Whether the case settles or goes through trial, the fee does not change. While our competitors make excuses as to why they charge so much, we are obtaining results for our clients at a lower fee.

At a typical television advertising law firm, your first call will be handled by a receptionist, who may refer you to an intake person, who will discuss your claim with an intake manager, who then discusses your claim with an associate, who may then report to a partner. You may never speak with the person whose name is at the top of the letterhead. At Matz Injury Law you will always speak with either Steven Matz or Jared Matz.