Can I Sue the Government for Car Damages?

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Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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Written by Jeffrey Johnson
Insurance Lawyer Jeffrey Johnson

UPDATED: Jul 15, 2021

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Unfortunately, due to “sovereign immunity,” chances are you’ll get about as far in attempting to recover funds for your damaged vehicle as you will driving on that flat tire. Sovereign immunity protects government entities from liability very well. Lawsuits against any kind of government entity, especially a lawsuit like this one, typically fail, and there are few to no examples on record of a suit that’s paid out to an individual for damage to a vehicle just from debris in a roadway.

Government Liability for Damages

States, counties, towns, and all other governmental entities have “immunity” against occurrences such as road signs falling in the street, and are not liable for damage arising from such situations. Most communities protect themselves from lawsuits of this type for obvious reasons, one being that if the precedent were set that allowed an individual to file a successful suit against a local or state government for running over any type of debris in the road, there would be local governments across the country filing for bankruptcy as you read this.

The fact of the matter is, if someone else ran down a traffic sign and left it lying in the middle of the road, or if the wind took a road sign down and it fell in the road just before you ran it over, the government wasn’t responsible for this or negligent in any way and it would be unfair to hold them to a standard of care that they could never meet. How could a state, for example, check every road for rocks, debris, road signs or other damage?  As such, unfair though it may seem, the damages that are incurred to your vehicle are your responsibility to deal with. 

Getting Help with Government Liability Issues

If you have questions about your rights, or if you believe there may have been special circumstances in your case that should render the government liable, then you should strongly consider speaking with a lawyer to find out if you have any options.

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