Houston Government Vehicle Accidents
While driving in the Houston area, it is common to share the road with state-owned automobiles and vehicles. If you are unfortunately involved in a government vehicle accident, you must be well-informed on the steps you should take because they are different that if you are involved in an accident wiht a non-government vehicle. We have created this guide for you using our years of experience with government vehicle crashes.
Here are the options you must consider to obtain the maximum compensation you deserve. Our personal injury lawyers in Houston, TX can help you throughout the this process.
What is a Government Vehicle?
The government, whether local, state, or federal, are entitled to possess and use various kinds of vehicles to perform daily work and operations. These vehicles may include the following:
- Road maintenance or construction vehicles that owned by the city, county or state
- Garbage trucks owned by a city, municipality or a county.
- Government Emergency responders (i.e.: fire trucks, ambulances, police cars, etc.)
- Government official or employee vehicle
- Mail trucks
- City or school buses
However, these must not be confused with government-subsidized or state-funded vehicles, since they are generally considered private.
Accidents Involving Government Vehicles — A Tricky Scenario
While it may seem simple to file a case against the local, state, or federal government, there are some factors that may hinder you from smoothly claiming your compensation should you be involved in an accident involving their vehicle.
Below are some of the things that may make it challenging for you:
Sovereign Immunity in Houston Governmental Vehicle Accidents
Navigating accidents involving government vehicles can be overwhelming due to a legal concept known as sovereign immunity. This doctrine shields the government from being sued and is regulated by both The Federal Tort Claims Act and Texas Tort Claims Act. Although this protection isn’t absolute, it’s still necessary to understand when these defenses may not apply in order for you to seek justice against the state or federal entity responsible for your damages.
When deciding if you have the right to sue the government, it is important to consider what their employee was doing at the time. Were they on a work-related trip or were they running an errand for themselves?
Additionally, did that driver demonstrate any dangerous behaviors such as texting and driving, disobeying traffic laws, or driving under intoxication? If so, then you may be able to take legal action against them individually; however if this person was acting within the scope of their employment then suing may be more challenging.
If the employee was working outside their job description, you may be able to seek monetary damages from them personally.
A personal injury lawyer in Houston, TX can help guide you through the process of determining what is best for your situation. A knowledgeable attorney at your side will review all available options and provide sound legal advice on how to proceed with seeking justice and compensation.
Damage Caps when injured by a government employee driving a government vehicle.
In Texas, the amount of money you can recover when hit by a government, employee driving a government vehicle is regulated by the statute. Section 101.23 of the tort claims acts sets the maximum damage limits for these claims. This area of law is very confusing, and we highly recommend you contact a lawyer if you were involved in an accident, where a government employee is responsible. The limits are as follows:
State government vehicles and employees
The most one person can recover is $250,000 for personal injuries to one person and the most the state will pay for anyone accident is $500,000 for personal injuries or death to multiple people. Furthermore, the state will pay a maximum of $100,000 for destruction of property.
Local governments, except municipalities
The most one person can recover is $100,000 for personal injuries and the most the state will pay for anyone accident is $300,000 for personal injuries or death. Furthermore, the state will pay a maximum of $100,000 for destruction of property.
The most one person can recover is 250,000 for personal injuries and the most the state will pay for anyone accident is $500,000 for personal injuries or death. Furthermore, the state will pay a maximum of $100,000 for destruction of property.
Timeframe of Filing Administrative Claims
Filing a legal claim against the government is a complex process which differs from suing an individual and requires filing an administrative claim prior to commencing any lawsuit. The timeframe for submitting such claims can be much shorter than the normal two years limitation in the State of Texas, particularly depending on the governing level and relevant agency in question, so it’s important to remain vigilant about deadlines or else you could find yourself taken by surprise. You will need a lawyer to help you meet these deadlines.
If you have a claim against the federal government under the Federal Torts Claims Act, it is essential to file a claim within two years of the incident. On the other hand, if your dispute is against Texas state authorities under the Texas Torts Claims act, then remember that you only have 180 days (six months ) from its occurrence to submit your complaint.
When you have submitted an administrative claim, the government will decide and determine if it should be approved or declined. The federal agency is given six months to respond.
However, Texas state agencies are provided fifteen days for their response. If either deny your suit or offer a partial payment, you can then file legal proceedings against them.
- If you are filing a lawsuit against a federal agency, it must be within six months from the date your claim was rejected.
- If you are filing a lawsuit against the State of Texas, it must be within two years.
The rules may be similar or may vary from one municipality or county to another. If you want to receive more accurate advice, you can contact a personal injury lawyer in Houston, TX. Deadlines are crucial on securing the compensation you deserve to receive.
Knowing Who to Sue When Hit By A Government Vehicle
Prior to bringing a lawsuit, you must initially consider who held ownership of the vehicle. It is essential that you verify if any distinctions exist between federal, state and local laws.
Following this analysis, you should determine whether or not the driver was acting within their employment obligations at the time of accident; otherwise, legal action needs to be taken against them on an individual basis.
5 Things to Do After Having an Accident with a Government Vehicle
- Contact Law Enforcement Units A police report is a necessity for any accident; it documents the facts of what happened and captures essential details like names, contact info, and an account of the incident.
- Seek Medical Assistance In the event of an injury to you or anyone else, obtain medical attention posthaste.
- Document the Scene Capture pictures of the incident, your wounds and any destruction to your car or property.
- Consult a Personal Injury Lawyer in Houston, TX Seeking compensation for a government vehicle accident is more intricate than other car crashes, thus making it imperative to work with an attorney.Many attorneys offer free initial consultations and will help you make sure all deadlines are met so that the best possible outcome is achieved.
- Report to the Relevant Government Agency – When a vehicle is government-owned, contact the controlling agency to familiarize yourself with their particular claim submission process. It’s important to be aware that proceedings and deadlines by governmental entities are often much quicker than those in standard courts—so don’t hesitate when it comes time to take action!
Don’t let the complexity and length of government vehicle accidents drag you down. Talk to Fitts Law Firm about your situation, so that you can make an informed decision without delay!
Call Today 1-800-99-FITTS.