Legal Options When Vehicle That Hit You Is Owned by the Govt | Shapiro, Washburn & Sharp

It can be difficult enough to recover the financial compensation you are entitled to when you are a victim of a car accident caused by another party. It is not uncommon for the other driver’s insurance company to drag out the claim process or try to minimize the victim’s injuries in an effort to decrease the amount of any settlement. This is why many victims obtain the services of a North Carolina car accident attorney.

However, when the accident involves a vehicle which is owned by the government, the process for filing a claim can become quite complex and if not done correctly, can result in the claim being dismissed entirely and the victim with no legal recourse. This is why it is critical to have a Carolinas injury attorney representing you.


When it comes to liability, there are two different types of immunity that the government may enjoy – sovereign immunity and governmental immunity. Sovereign immunity is the state’s immunity from many types of lawsuits unless the state agrees to be sued. Governmental immunity is the part of sovereign immunity that covers local municipalities.

Some of the more common types of accident claims that are filed against the state by injured victims include:

  • Malpractice claims, including medical negligence
  • Premises liability (i.e. slip and fall injuries and attacks because of inadequate security)
  • Vehicle accidents
  • Wrongful death claims

When a victim is going to sue a government entity in North Carolina (and the majority of other states in the country), the victim must first notify the entity of their intention to sue. The North Carolina Tort Claims Act (NCTCA) covers any claim that is filed as a result of the negligence or recklessness of any employee, officer, or other agent of the state while they are acting within the scope of their agency, authority, employment, office, or service.

Under the NCTCA, any claim against the state or local municipality must be filed with the Industrial Accident Commission within three years of the accident. If the victim died as a result of their injuries, then a claim must be filed within two years of the death and must be filed by a personal representative of the victim.

The NCTCA also places caps on how much a victim can be awarded. Any claim for injury is capped at $1 million per victim, minus any commercial liability the state or municipality may have purchased (if it is applicable to the individual claim).

One other important fact that victims need to be aware of is that North Carolina follows the doctrine of contributory negligence. This means that if the victim is found to be partially responsible, they are barred from recovering any damages from the at-fault party.