When a government worker or agency harms another individual because of their negligence, the government may be liable for the government worker’s actions. Plaintiffs with claims against the government, however, are subject to some different rules and limitations.
Government Immunity and Exceptions
The government is immune from liability in a lot of accidents involving government employees or agencies. This is known as sovereign immunity. Plaintiffs may be unable to sue the government for failing to exercise a discretionary power or for a lack of traffic control devices. Many circumstances are also off-limits for personal injury lawsuits against a government entity.
But there are certain exceptions to this rule, which may allow injury victims to recover compensation by filing a claim against the government. Generally, the government is liable in car accident and premise liability lawsuits.
The government is often not considered liable if a vehicle accident involved a government vehicle responding to an emergency like a:
- fire rescue;
- police cars; and
- other emergency vehicles.
Limits on Damages Cases against the Government
State law also restricts the amount of damages in these lawsuits based on the type of entity involved:
- State entities: $250,000 limit for injury to one person, $500,000 limit for each occurrence of negligence.
- Municipal entities: Same as state entities.
- Other levels: $100,000 limit for injury to a person, $300,000 for each occurrence.
Special Procedures in Personal Injury Claims against the Government
After the injury, plaintiffs are required to give notice within 180 days to the government entity they believe to be negligent. Per Texas Civil Practices & Remedies Code Section 101.101(a), the notice must include:
- “the damage or injury claimed;
- the time and place of the incident; and
- the incident.”
In some cases the time period within which to provide notice is even shorter, so be sure to discuss the issue with an attorney. If the government entity has actual knowledge of the injury, however, this requirement is not in effect.
When a plaintiff files a lawsuit against the state, they must serve notice of the suit to the Secretary of State’s Office. Other government defendants have specific places where notice must be served.
Other Factors to Consider in a Personal Injury Lawsuit
For any accident claim, plaintiffs need to be able to prove negligence and their damages using:
- accident reports;
- witness testimony;
- medical records;
- property damage estimates; and
- expert testimony.
Those considering filing a personal injury lawsuit against the government should speak with a personal injury attorney because just the paperwork required can be overwhelming.
For just one example, claimants often only have 60 days to file a “notice of claim” that simply alerts the government that you are planning to file a claim soon. An attorney can make sure that the plaintiff meets the special requirements for filing a lawsuit against the government and follows the necessary steps.
The Law Office of Julie Johnson is committed to protecting Dallas residents from unjust harm even if it means suing the government. Contact our office at 214-290-8001 to set up a consultation about your case and legal options to pursue damages.