Authored by: John M. Cooper
As a personal injury attorney practicing in Hampton Roads, Virginia (VA), I am all too aware of the special rules that apply to injuries caused by a city employee.
Under some circumstances a city employee can be held responsible for bad driving or other negligence, but sometimes a special law called sovereign immunity prevents the injured person from making a claim against the city, whether that is Norfolk, Virginia Beach, Chesapeake, Suffolk, Williamsburg, Newport News, or Hampton, Virginia (VA). The rule is not always clear as to when a city will be at fault and when they won’t be. The key is to contact a personal injury lawyer as soon as possible after an injury occurs especially when a Virginia (VA) city is involved. There are many special rules including deadlines for bringing a claim in order to make to get a recovery where a city is involved.
In 2004, Hampton, Virginia (VA) was forced to pay 7.5 million dollars to settle a case against the school district where a school bus driver hit a motorcyclist causing brain injury. The liability of the city depended on the fact that the bus driver had not yet gotten any students on the bus when the incident happened. The tricky rules as to when a city in Virginia (VA) is responsible for ordinary negligence, like the rest of us on the road, or where they are responsible only for gross negligence, which is very hard to prove, depends upon the specific facts.
Additionally, when you have against a city like Norfolk, Virginia (VA), for instance, you have to send a letter in a certain format to the government official specified in the Virginia (VA) code. If this letter is not sent out within six (6) months of the event there will be no insurance coverage or other city responsibility under Virginia (VA) law.
It is important that you have an attorney who knows about these complex rules, if you or a loved one gets hurt or killed by the fault of someone who is a government employee. We have successfully handled many of these kinds of cases over the years. Recently, my law partner Jim Lewis had successfully handled a case against a police officer in Albemarle County, Virginia (VA) who severely hurt a woman riding on a motorcycle. The accident was not the fault of the woman and she had horrible broken bones with hospitalizations and huge medical bills. It is a good thing that this lady contacted an attorney who was experienced in this area of the law to make sure that she was able to get compensation for her medical bills, permanent injury, and future lost wages.
For more information on this subject matter, please refer to our section on Car and Motorcycle Accidents.