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Can I Sue the City for My Car Wreck?

As a San Francisco car accident lawyer, I have worked with clients that want to sue the city or another government agency for their accidents. This is certainly possible to do, but there are some things you should know first:

Am I required to identify the city in my accident report?

You are supposed to file an accident report within ten days of the initial accident. Your report should include where the accident took place and who was involved. If the other driver was working for the city, you would identify that here. Otherwise, if the roads themselves were to blame for the crash, you could make a notation, but the location of the accident is really the most relevant factor in that scenario.

Who should I sue after my car crash?

This is the first place to start. While suing the city may sound good, you need to have a concrete reason for doing so. Begin by investigating your case to determine what caused the accident. This will enable you to determine who is responsible and who you should sue.

How do I identify who is to blame for my crash?

Start by examining the circumstances surrounding the crash. For example, if you were in an accident while pulling back onto the freeway, and you think the cause was that the drop-off was too severe, you could have a case against a government agency. With no other driver to blame and you following the rules of the road, this would be the logical thought process. However, you will need to investigate who was responsible for maintaining the roads to legal standards. Just because you were driving through San Francisco, it does not mean that the city is in charge of maintaining the freeway. For help with your investigation, call and schedule a consultation.

Do I need to open a claim with my insurance company during the process?

You will want to file an insurance claim as they will give you a claim number that can then be used for medical bills and car repairs. Even if you do eventually sue the city, county, or state, time will pass before you can go to trial. Your insurance company will help to cover your expenses in the meantime.

Will I get more money by suing the city versus a private party?

Not necessarily. When you are in a car accident, the amount of money you are entitled to is based on the damages that you have suffered. The amount that it costs to repair your car or receive medical care is going to be the same regardless of who caused your accident. If a government agency was severely negligent and that caused your crash, a jury may award you greater financial damages. However, as a general rule you are entitled to the money that you have lost and the expenses that you have accrued due to being in an accident regardless of who caused it.

Is it more complicated to sue the city?

Yes. Suing any government agency will require evidence and clear proof. They will have experienced attorneys representing them, whose jobs it will be to discredit you and your claim. This makes it important to work with an attorney that you can trust. Also, as a car accident lawyer, I recommend calling my office right away because you have a set amount of time to sue before reaching the statute of limitations and being unable to do so.

Will I have to go to trial?

That really depends on whether the city, county, or state attorney is willing to negotiate. In some cases, they would rather negotiate and resolve the case quietly. In that case, they may offer you a settlement that is fair without requiring you to go to court. As an attorney, I have seen it go both ways and can provide you with advice related to your specific case when you come in for a consultation.

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