If you recently suffered injuries and a government agency is responsible, you must follow a different procedure than with a traditional personal injury case. Claims against the government are highly specialized and require quick assistance from an attorney with specific experience in municipal claims. Claims against the government have a small window of opportunity, so if you’ve suffered harm at the hands of a city, county, or state entity in Texas, contact a personal injury attorney for a case evaluation as soon as possible.
The Texas Tort Claims Act
Claims against the government fall under the Texas Torts Claims Act’s jurisdiction. In the past, it was virtually impossible to file a claim against an at-fault government entity, even if that entity were clearly negligent. Prior to 1969, government officials enjoyed sovereign immunity against culpability whenever an individual tried to file a lawsuit against them. Thanks to the Texas Tort Claims Act, however, individuals can file claims against the government, assuming the following conditions apply:
- The government employee in question was acting within the scope of his or her employment.
- The at-fault party was not responding to an emergency call, reacting to a life-or-death situation, or subject to any other exemption outlined in the Act.
- The claimant filed within an appropriate time.
The Importance of Acting Quickly
If you believe that a government entity’s negligence played a role in your injuries, it’s essential to act as quickly as possible. While most personal injury claims have a statute of limitations of two years in Texas, claims against the government could be as short as 45 to 180 days. The state of Texas allows up to 180 days to file a claim, but several local bodies have even shorter time limits. The city of Dallas, for example, has a 90-day statute of limitations, while Austin’s time limit is a mere 45 days.
Schedule a free initial consultation with a personal injury attorney as soon as possible, even if you’re not sure you have a case. Your case evaluation is at no cost and your attorney will take on the case with a contingency-fee basis if you qualify. This means you won’t owe any fees unless you win a settlement or court judgement.
Caps on Damages
Under the Texas Tort Claims Act, there are also special caps on damages. Damage caps limit the amount a victim of negligence can collect regarding personal injury claims. If you’re suing the state government of Texas, for example, your damage caps are $250,000 per person or $500,000 per accident. Local entities have smaller damage caps, at $100,000 per person or $300,000 per incident.
Examples of Municipal Claims
There are several instances in which you may be able to collect damages from a municipal entity. Examples include:
- A slip and fall incident at a public park
- Assault or battery arising from negligent security on a municipal property
- An accident with a municipal vehicle not on an emergency call
- Being struck by a vehicle as a pedestrian or bicyclist
- Car accidents arising from negligent road maintenance
- Injuries sustained while using public transportation – for example, municipal busses or trains
If you sustained injuries in any kind of accident involving a state, local, or municipal body, contact a personal injury attorney to discuss your legal options as soon as possible. Remember, you have a limited time in which to act and defend your right to compensation. Neglecting to file a claim within an appropriate amount of time could lead to dismissal of your case. Ask a Houston personal injury attorney about your rights under the Texas Torts Claims Act today.