What You Need to Know About Personal Injury Claims Against the Government in Texas
The Kishinevsky Law Firm is a personal injury law firm in the greater Houston area. If you or a loved one has suffered an injury due to the fault of a government employee, contact us today for a free consultation to discuss your legal options.What is Sovereign Immunity and How Does it Affect My Texas Injury Claim?
Most Claims for Money Damages Against Governmental Units are Barred
Sovereign immunity is the legal principle that the government cannot be sued without its consent. This doctrine was inherited by the United States legal system from English common law. It exists today to various degrees in all fifty states and in claims against the federal government, though the details vary greatly between jurisdictions.
In Texas, the doctrine of governmental immunity generally bars most claimants from seeking money damages against the State government or its political subdivisions including but not limited to agencies, boards, hospitals, universities, counties, school districts, hospital districts, and utility districts. Claims against municipalities for money damages are also generally barred if the claim arises out of the municipality performing a governmental function.
Texas Tort Claims Act Exception for Premises Liability and Motor Vehicle Collisions
The Texas Tort Claims Act, Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code §101https://statutes.capitol.texas.gov/Docs/CP/htm/CP.101.htm sets out the exceptions to the general rule where the Texas Legislature has waived governmental immunity and authorized lawsuits against governmental units.
Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code Chapter 101.021 makes governmental units in Texas liable for property damage, personal injury, and death proximately caused by the negligence of a governmental employee acting in his scope of employment if (1)the claim arises out of the use of a motor vehicle or (2) it is a claim for premises liability such as a slip and fall.
The Texas Tort Claims Act Requires Notice of the Claim Within Sixty Days
To successfully bring a claim against a governmental unit under the Tort Claims Act and not have the case be dismissed, the procedural requirements of the Tort Claims Act must be strictly followed. Perhaps the most important of these is the requirement set out in Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code Chapter 101.101 which requires that the governmental unit must receive notice of the claim within six months or have actual notice that death, serious injury, or property damage have occurred. Whether a governmental unit had actual notice of a claim is often a disputed fact issue in these types of cases. To avoid this potential pitfall, the best practice is to always send a written notice letter to the governmental unit the claim is against within six months of the incident on which the claim is based.Texas Tort Claims Act Damages are Capped
Damages for injury claims under the Tort Claims Act are capped by Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code Chapter 101.023 at two hundred fifty thousand dollars for each person and five hundred thousand dollars total for each incident for state government units, and one hundred thousand dollars for each person and three hundred thousand dollars total for each incident for local government units. The Texas Tort Claims Act does not allow punitive damages to be recovered.
If you or a loved one have suffered an injury due to the fault of a government employee contact us today for a free consultation. We will be happy to answer all of your questions and discuss how we may be able to help you.