Houston Accidents Involving State or Local Government Agencies
1 Riverway Suite 2500
Houston, Texas 77056
If you were injured in a Houston accident that was caused by, or involving, a government (public) agency or an employee of such an agency, you have the right to be compensated for your injuries and other losses. However, as our Houston personal injury and accident lawyer at the Doan Law Firm explains, there are certain procedures that must be followed to protect your legal rights in accidents involving a public agency.
Under the Civil Law of Texas, a government or public agency can be defined as any unit or branch of a city, county, or state government that routinely uses public funds (“tax money”) to pay its operating expenses. Examples of government agencies include city police and fire departments, county sheriff’s office and deputies, public airports and transportation agencies, and (of course) public schools and colleges. By law, the employees of a government agency are considered part of the agency itself along with any vehicles or other “hardware” (equipment) that the agency routinely uses.
In order to recover damages from a public agency or employee, you should know that Texas law requires that you must first file a claim for damages with the agency and/or its employee that you believe was responsible for your injury. This claim for damages must be filed with the government agency within 180 days (six months) of the date of your injury, although each city is free to set its own time limits. As examples, Dallas demands that any claims against one of its operating agencies be filed with 60 days and Austin sets its time limit at 45 days. If you do not file your claim within the time limit set by local governments you will forever lose your right to pursue your claim in court.
Due to the complexity of the process of filing a claim filed against a government agency, it is strongly recommended that you consult the personal injury lawyer at the Doan Law Firm by calling (800) 349-0000 to arrange a free review of your case and advice on how to proceed with your claim.
Once your claim is filed, the agency must review your claim to decide if it is a valid claim and then to respond, in writing, within 30 days. The agency has two options when dealing with your damages claim. It can either 1) accept your claim and pay the damages you requested or 2) reject your claim and notify you of the reasons behind its denial. Once your properly-submitted claim is denied you are free to file a lawsuit against the agency.
Filing a Lawsuit Against a Public Agency in Texas
If your claim was rejected by the government agency, or if you feel that the damages it offers to pay you are inadequate, you are free to sue that agency and have your case heard in a Texas court. From this point onward to the time your case is decided by a judge or a jury, your case will be treated as any other lawsuit. There are, however, some other points of Texas law that you must consider.
If you are suing an individual employee, the employee will usually ask that his or her employer be substituted as the defendant. In doing so the employee will be shielded from further legal actions that directly target him or her.
Damages are the compensation that you are asking for in your lawsuit. In a lawsuit against a government agency, the Texas Tort Claims Act sets certain “caps” on the maximum amount of damages that may be awarded. These caps are controversial and subject to change. Contact the Doan Law Firm of Houston at (800) 349-0000 for the latest information regarding personal injury damages involving a government agency.
Types of Damages Available in Texas
These damages are awarded for injuries or losses that can be assigned a “dollar value.” These damages include medical expenses, repair or replacement of personal property, wages or income that you lost because you were unable to work, and the ongoing effects of any disability due to your injuries. There is usually no limit on these damages when you are suing a government agency.
These are damages that are difficult to measure in dollars. They include “pain and suffering,” loss of time spent with your family, inability to participate in your family’s social life, or even the psychological trauma of your injury. There is usually no limit on non-economic damages except in cases involving medical malpractice.
Texas allows you to sue for punitive damages, damages that are intended to punish an act of gross negligence or an injury that was the result of a criminal act. There are limits placed on these damages, and these limits are subject to various interpretations that do not always agree with one another. This matter should be discussed with the personal injury lawyer who is managing your lawsuit.
Call a Personal Injury Lawyer from The Doan Law Firm today!
Collecting damages from a government agency after an accident can be a complicated matter and, in many cases, Texas law will not be on your side. The personal injury and accident lawyer at the Doan Law Firm is ready to assist you at all stages of your injury claim, from your initial contact with us to presenting your case to a jury. Whether you need assistance with a Houston car accident lawsuit or a premises liability case, we can help.