Sovereign immunity is scary

Published 6:42 pm Friday, November 12, 2021

To the editor:

Having recently been exposed to the term “sovereign immunity,” I was compelled to research the origin of the term and how this particular term might someday affect my life.

Sovereign immunity is derived from the British common law that “the king could do no wrong.” So why is this particular term of any importance to you?

Imagine a municipal vehicle running into you on a local roadway. The Township could waive responsibility for the accident and refuse to pay damages to your vehicle using the term sovereign immunity. You may think that isn’t possible, but it most certainly is a possibility.

In Suffolk, a garbage truck backed into a person’s vehicle doing more than $4,000 in damages. The owner of the vehicle received a letter from the Virginia Risk Sharing Association on behalf of the city that they will not pay the damages due to sovereign immunity, forcing the owner to file a claim with their insurance as being hit by an uninsured motorist, and they will also pay the deductible out of their own pocket.

I began to wonder, does sovereign immunity apply if a municipal vehicle is speeding down a highway and hits you and causes severe injuries or worse? Can they claim sovereign immunity then?

Richard Reviello

Suffolk