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Accidents Involving a Government Vehicle in Washington State
Washington is a fault accident state, which means that drivers who are responsible for collisions must pay for their victims’ damages. Private drivers must uphold this responsibility, as well as government employees who are driving government vehicles or using their private vehicles for government purposes. However, the reporting process for accidents involving government employees differs slightly from collisions between private citizens.
How to Report an Accident with a Washington State Vehicle
If you are in an accident with a government vehicle that results in property damage or injuries, you will need to report the collision to the appropriate agency. For accidents involving Washington state vehicles, you will need to contact the Washington Department of Enterprise Services, Office of Risk Management (ORM).
The state employee will be responsible for reporting the crash to the ORM within 48 hours. To recover compensation for your injuries, you will need to file a Washington State Tort Claim Form with the ORM. You can file your claim online, submit the form in person, or send it via mail or fax.
How to Report an Accident with a Federal Vehicle
If you are in an accident with a federal government vehicle, you will likely need to contact the General Services Administration (GSA) Accident Management Center. The government employee will be responsible for filling out a series of forms and reporting the accident to his or her supervising agency.
As a private citizen who suffered injuries or property damage in the crash, you will need to submit a Claim for Damage, Injury, or Death to the agency leasing the vehicle, also known as Standard Form 95. You have two years from the date of the accident to file a claim with the GSA.
If the agency denies your claim within six months of receiving it, you have six months from the date of the denial to file a lawsuit in federal district court. If the agency fails to respond to your claim within six months, there is no statute of limitations for filing a lawsuit.
What to Do After an Accident in Washington
Even though you are in an accident with a government employee, you will need to complete the State of Washington Motor Vehicle Collision Report in addition to the required government forms. State law requires all drivers to report accidents that result in death, injury, or at least $700 in property damage. After your collision, the first step you should take is to call 911 and report the accident to law enforcement. The responding officer will create a report that you can use as evidence in your claim.
You should also take the following steps to preserve evidence and protect yourself following the collision.
- Seek medical attention as soon as possible and save all records related to your treatment and injuries. Always seek treatment after an accident, even if you do not feel hurt.
- Document as much evidence at the scene as you can. Take photographs of your injuries, vehicle damage, and the area around the accident, including traffic signs and signals.
- Collect information from the government driver, such as his or her agency name, vehicle tag numbers, and license details.
- If there are any witnesses in the area, ask for their contact details for use in your future claim.
After you seek medical attention, contact a Seattle car accident attorney as soon as possible. Your lawyer will evaluate your case, explain your next steps, and represent you in your claim against the at-fault government driver.