Auto Accident Injury Claim Against the Government...

Personal Injury Case Study

This auto accident injury claim example deals with a prisoner transport van that hits a parked car, injuring the prisoners inside. We'll discuss some important legal issues involved in these types of cases. We review the accident, damages, liability, negotiations, and the final case resolution.

The Accident...

Ivan was arrested and booked on 10 counts of possession and placed in the Sonoma County Jail on a Friday night. Once booked, the officers realized that Ivan had 2 outstanding warrants in neighboring Yuba county that he should answer for while in holding.

On Monday, Ivan was transported to Yuba county in a California State Department of Corrections vehicle for the hearing on his warrant. While he was being transported, the van hit a parked car. He was shackled to another inmate at the time and both were sent flying to the van's floor.


Since the car was parked legally, the driver of the California Corrections van was liable for the collision and was clearly negligent. Both the driver, a California Department of Corrections employee, and the employer would be liable in this auto accident injury claim.


Ivan experienced immediate sharp pains to his back and neck and reported these to the officer, however he was told to remain in the van, shackled to the other injured inmate until back-up could arrive. This took in excess of one hour and Ivan was not seen by medical personnel for three hours post accident.

The other inmate, Mark was also injured and experienced the same back and neck symptoms but was also denied treatment for three hours.


Neither Ivan nor Mark had insurance for their injuries and were technically in the care and custody of the California Department of Corrections at the time of the accident. Both were seen at the emergency room and received CT scans and Tylenol with Codeine for pain.

They were then transported back to Sonoma county where Ivan served the remainder of his time (3 months) without treatment. Upon his release, he went to a physical therapist for 4 months and incurred $4,800 in medical bills. He submitted a government claim to the State of California for $15,000 which was denied.

The State claimed that he was not injured because there was too great a gap in treatment, however Ivan insisted that the facility refused to treat him while incarcerated.

Mark was released 5 months after the incident and did not receive any further medical care and did not submit an auto accident injury claim.

Final Settlement...

Government claims are required anytime you are suing a government entity such as the Department of Corrections. Typically, you will need to submit these claims within six months of the incident (versus the 2-3 year statute for other personal injury cases).

Once the claim is submitted, the normal civil rules apply, however failing to submit the government claim within the time frames required will completely bar the suit from that point forward. This is a mere formality as it is common for government claim forms to be denied.

Ivan filed a lawsuit and served the Officer who was driving the State transport van and the Department of Corrections. After 2 years of protracted litigation, the case settled for $5,000 which barely covered Ivan's medical expenses.

At that point, Ivan had been referred to collections for his outstanding medical bills and was primarily interested in addressing his credit rather than receiving any large settlement.

Important Points...

  • If you are suing a government entity, there will be an administrative claim form and a shorter window within which to comply.

  • Often, medical bills will get referred to collections if the plaintiff does not explain that the bills are the result of a personal injury accident.

  • Gaps in treatment may be used by the insurance adjuster to try and prove that a person is not really inured.

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