The roads and highways of Texas are traversed by all kinds of vehicles; cars and minivans, pick-ups and commercial trucks. But we also share the road with garbage trucks and police cars; ambulances, school buses, and mail trucks and other kinds of vehicles that are driven by government employees conducting government business.
If you get injured in an accident with a government vehicle and want to seek compensation for your injuries, the rules that apply are more complicated and the time limits in which you need to file a claim are shorter than those that apply when you get into an accident with another private vehicle.
If you don’t know the rules or if you miss the tight deadlines for notifying the government of your claim, you could lose your right to any recovery at all.
Governments are Treated Differently for Personal Injury Claims
As is the case in so many other aspects of the law, federal, state, and local governments and employees are treated differently when it comes to personal injury claims. For centuries, a legal concept known as “sovereign immunity” meant that the government and its employees were immune from any liability for injuries they caused if the employees were acting within the scope of their duties when the accident that caused the injuries occurred
Over time, both the federal government and all of the states recognized that sovereign immunity led to unfair results, with injured citizens left out of luck with no chance of getting the compensation and resources they needed to recover from acts of government negligence.
As a result, they passed laws that allowed people to file claims against the government for compensation under specific circumstances. These laws also contain very strict rules about when and how injury claims against the government can be made.
Strict Notice Requirements
The Texas Tort Claims Act governs personal injury claims against Texas state government agencies as well as counties and municipalities. It waives immunity for certain acts, specifically including claims for personal injury or death “arising from the operation or use of a motor-driven vehicle or motor-driven equipment” if “the employee would be personally liable to the claimant according to Texas law.”
One of the key differences between injury claims against private citizens and those against the government is that you need to give the government entity or agency a “heads-up” about your injuries and your claim before you can file a lawsuit.
Specifically, a Texas governmental unit is entitled to receive notice of a claim against it not later than six months after the day that the incident giving rise to the claim occurred. The notice must also reasonably describe:
- the damage or injury claimed;
- the time and place of the incident; and
- the incident itself
This six month notice requirement is significantly shorter than the two years Texas law allows for personal injury claims against private individuals. Additionally, some Texas cities have even shorter notice periods, some as short as 90 days from the date of the accident.
Quite simply, you don’t have time to waste after you’ve been injured by a government vehicle.
If you’ve been in an auto accident involving a government vehicle, it is crucial that you contact an experienced Dallas car accident attorney as quickly as possible so they can take the steps necessary to protect your rights and preserve your claim. Please give attorney Robert Greening a call today at (972) 934-8900 or fill out our online form to discuss your case.