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Newport Beach Pedestrian Killed in Accident Involving State Park Vehicle

By Allen Flatt Ballidis & Leslie on November 7, 2019

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According to the Orange County Register, a pedestrian was fatally injured when he was struck by an on-duty state park vehicle in late July 2019. The incident occurred in Newport Beach, near Crystal Cove State Park. Police were called at approximately 10 p.m. and the victim, a 41-year old man, according to the LA Times, was pronounced dead at the scene of the accident.

Who Is Liable When a State Vehicle Is Involved in a Collision?

Who is responsible for damages, if surviving family members of the pedestrian who died file a wrongful death claim? The vehicle that struck and killed the pedestrian was the property of the state, and the driver was a state employee on duty at the time of the crash. With these factors present, family members of the deceased may be entitled to bring a claim for wrongful death against the State of California.

When Is State Government Liable for a Traffic Crash?

A government entity, or its employees, can be liable for pedestrian accidents and other traffic collisions, either wholly or in part. For example, if a state employee driving a state-owned vehicle hits and kills a pedestrian, provided the employee was on the clock, both the state and its employee may be liable for damages. The same applies when a bus owned and operated by a city or county hits a pedestrian or causes a crash, injuring others on the road.
State governments may also be held responsible for accidents caused by hazardous road conditions. Examples of dangerous highway conditions for which the state might be sued include:

  • Improperly marked construction zones
  • Obstructions to the line of sight
  • Pavement edge drops
  • Dangerous rail-highway grade crossings
  • Roadside hazards

Different Process for Suing the Government in California

You can sue the government for personal injury in California, but the process is different than that of standard personal injury claims. The process of filing a lawsuit against state agency differs from other personal injury claims in several ways, including the following:

  • Administrative claim requirement: Before you can sue the government in California, you must first file an administrative claim with the relevant agency, which has 45 days to address the matter. This allows the government adequate time to evaluate and possibly settle your claim.
  • Different statutes of limitations: The statute of limitations is two years for most personal injury claims in California. This time limit may not apply when you are filing a suit against a governmental agency. In most cases, you must file a claim with the government agency within six months of the date of the incident, according to California Courts. If your claim is denied, you have six months to file a lawsuit from the date the denial was mailed or hand-delivered to you. If you do not receive a denial letter, you have two years from the date of the incident to sue – but don’t count on it, as this is a rare occurrence.

There are many additional procedures and requirements under state law when you are pursuing a personal injury claim against a government agency, but it can be done. Every state in the U.S., including California, has passed some version of the Federal Tort Claims Act, which essentially waives sovereign immunity and allows injury claims against the government based on acts or omissions by employees acting on behalf of the government.

Why You Need a Lawyer

If a state agency is at fault for your accident and injuries, recovering compensation can be a challenging task. Different rules and procedures apply to personal injury claims against the government, and you could lose out altogether with one missed deadline. It is in your best interest to hire an experienced Orange County personal injury attorney with the knowledge, skills, and resources to effectively handle your claim.

Allen Flatt Ballidis & Leslie was established in 1974. Our lawyers have more than 40 years of experience and a successful track record, recovering hundreds of millions of dollars in settlements and verdicts for our clients. Call us at (949) 752-7474 today if you have been injured in a crash caused by the driver of a state-owned vehicle.

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