What Happens If A Public Works Vehicle Damages My Property in Southfield, MI?

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Few events are more frustrating than suffering damage to your property due to a negligent driver and dealing with the financial aftermath. However, recovering your losses is only more tedious when the careless driver is a government employee. If you sustained property damage or suffered injuries as a result of a public works employee’s negligence, a variety of factors can affect the type of damages available and how you can recover them. Fortunately, you can turn to a personal injury attorney to learn more about your legal options.

Can a Government Entity be Liable for a Car Accident in Michigan?

Anytime the at-fault driver in an auto accident drives a company vehicle, it can complicate the process. For example, the trucking company is often liable for the driver’s actions if you suffered injuries and property damage in an accident involving a semi-truck. The situation is similar to accidents involving a government employee. However, you generally cannot sue the government if the driver was operating the vehicle within the scope of their job at the time of the crash.

Exceptions to the Government Immunity Rule

To hold the public works driver responsible for bodily harm or property damage, you must prove their negligence caused the accident. Even then, you can only seek damages through a negligence claim if your injuries meet the state threshold for serious injury. Michigan is a no-fault state, which means you must use your own insurance to cover the financial costs associated with injuries unless those injuries are severe enough to cause permanent impairment to a body function or result in severe disfigurement or death.

The Driver’s Private Insurance

Michigan law mandates that any licensed driver with a vehicle registered in the state must purchase property protection insurance, which protects you should you ever cause an accident that results in damage to another person’s vehicle or property. For example, if a public works employee damaged your fence or house with their car, PPI insurance may cover the cost to repair it. Likewise, if you are an out-of-state driver hit by a Michigan public works employee, their property damage insurance could cover the cost of repairing or replacing your vehicle.

What Should You Do After a Car Accident With a Public Works Vehicle?

If you are involved in an accident with a public works vehicle and the other driver is at fault, you can immediately begin taking steps to protect your right to compensation in case you can file a claim seeking damages. However, should you miss any of the following steps, a personal injury attorney can help you build your case regardless:

  • Report the accident to the police. Even if the damage is minor and no one suffers any injuries, you should still call the non-emergency line to report the collision. The police may not come for accidents with minor property damage and no bodily harm, but you can still file your report at the station in person or online. The purpose is to have a written record of what happened, and typically police will mention who was at fault in their report.
  • Gather all available evidence at the scene. You can take photographs of everything, including the damage to both vehicles, any road signs or traffic lights in the area, and any visible injuries. If you see any buildings nearby, ask if they have security cameras so you can look for possible footage of the accident. You could even record the scene and voice over the events as they occurred while you have a reliable memory of the accident.
  • Collect contact information. You should ask the public works employee for their name, phone number, address, and employer information. You can request proof of insurance as well. Talk to all eyewitnesses and ask for their names and contact information in case you need them to provide statements about the accident.
  • Have a doctor perform a complete medical evaluation. Not all accidents result in injuries. However, even a minor accident could lead to a debilitating injury, such as whiplash. Additionally, the adrenaline rush accompanying an auto accident could easily mask pain for hours or even days, leaving you with damage from an internal injury you could have caught with an evaluation.
  • Speak with an auto accident attorney as soon as possible. Where you have minimal or substantial damage following an accident involving a government employee, you can still talk to an attorney about the best legal option, given the circumstances of your case. Most personal injury lawyers work on contingency and charge no fees for a case evaluation, so you have nothing to lose and everything to gain from the experience.

Waiting too long to do anything could inadvertently place holes in your claim. For example, delaying medical attention allows the public works company to claim you sustained your injuries somehow other than the accident.

How Could a Personal Injury Lawyer Help Your Case?

Accidents involving a government employee from any governmental agency can quickly become complex. The governmental immunity in Michigan protects them from liability in some tort cases, but you do not have to determine how to access compensation on your own. A large majority of personal injury cases involve auto accidents, and personal injury lawyers in Michigan help victims recover the compensation they need by taking over as the active representative in the case. Some tasks they perform include:

  • Investigating your case to identify all the available damages you could recover
  • Talking to a representative from the public works company about your claim
  • Negotiating with the insurance company in an effort to settle the case
  • Completing all necessary paperwork to file a claim or lawsuit against the at-fault party
  • Identifying the evidence needed to prove the driver’s actions warrant an exception to the governmental immunity
  • Gathering all the evidence necessary to support your claim for damages, including non-economic losses such as physical and emotional pain and suffering and the loss of your ability to enjoy life
  • Acting as an objective, professional presence in your place throughout the entire legal process

Remember that not all accidents warrant the help of a legal representative, and a personal injury attorney will let you know if they think you have a strong case. They typically work on contingency, which means you have nothing to lose from hiring them. In addition, they usually do not get paid unless you get paid, so you can trust that your attorney feels confident in their ability to secure a settlement.

When Should You Schedule an Appointment With a Personal Injury Lawyer?

There is no time too soon to contact an attorney following an auto accident, especially if the at-fault party is a government employee. While you may not have the right to file a lawsuit, an experienced lawyer can still guide you toward the best legal option available, given the circumstances of your case. At Mike Morse Law Firm, we help auto accident victims of varying circumstances get the compensation they need to rebuild their lives or adapt to a new one. The first step is the initial, risk-free consultation. We charge no fees to discuss your case and answer your questions. Call or text Mike Morse Law Firm at (855) 738-2606 to schedule a consultation with a Michigan auto accident lawyer today.

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