When Can I Sue the Government for Damages From a Car Accident?
Government agencies enjoy certain protections not available to private citizens. Under the doctrine of sovereign immunity, citizens are generally powerless to sue the government for losses arising out of government employees’ mistakes.
Fortunately, while sovereign immunity protects the government from millions – if not billions – of dollars in liability every year, its protections are not absolute. In Texas, two important exceptions give car accident victims the right to sue for their accident-related injuries.
In this article, we are focusing on claims against state and local government agencies under the Texas Tort Claims Act. If you have been injured in a car accident and believe the federal government may be responsible, the federal Tort Claims Act provides similar protections as well. In either case, we invite you to contact one of our lawyers for more information.
Car Accident Claims Under the Texas Tort Claims Act
Section 101.021 of the Texas Tort Claims Act allows individuals to sue state and local government agencies for:
- Losses sustained in car accidents caused by government employees’ negligence, and
- Losses sustained due to dangerous conditions on government-owned property.
As a result, citizens can generally sue the government for car accidents involving:
- Negligent driving of government vehicles
- Faulty road design (including inadequate lighting)
- Inadequate road maintenance
In each case, victims are entitled to bring claims against the government only to the extent that they could have sued a private party. In other words, the Texas Tort Claims Act does not create extra liability for the government. Rather, it puts the government on somewhat equal footing with individuals and businesses when it comes to facing the consequences of their actions.
We say “somewhat equal” footing because the Texas Tort Claims Act places caps the government’s liability in car accident claims. The caps vary at different levels of government (see section 101.023), but range between $100,000 and $250,000 per victim, with maximum liability of $500,000 per incident.
If You Have a Car Accident Claim Against the Government, You Need to Act Fast
In order to file a car accident claim against the government, you first need to submit notice of your intent to file. Under the Texas Tort Claims Act, you must send this notice so that the government receives it no later than six months after the date of the accident. But, this notice window can be shortened by local ordinance, and in some cases is as short as 30 days.
This notice requirement and other considerations make claims against the government significantly more complicated than ordinary auto accident litigation. So, if you think you may have a claim against the government, we urge you to contact us right away.
Speak with a Houston Car Accident Lawyer at Morrow & Sheppard LLP
At Morrow & Sheppard LLP, we provide experienced and aggressive representation for victims of Texas car accidents. If you have been injured in an accident and the government is to blame, we want to help you win the compensation you deserve. To speak with one of our attorneys, call our Houston law offices at (800) 489-2216 or send us an email now.