Governmental Liability in Personal Injury Cases
- January 28, 2015
- Personal Injury
Personal injury law can be a very complex affair where many different factors will determine how the case proceeds and whether the claimant is actually entitled to compensation. One of the factors that can make big difference in the case is the nature of the defendant in the case. If the defendant is a government entity, a completely different set of rules may apply and you will need a personal injury lawyer in dallas that understands these rules.
Sovereign Immunity in Personal Injury Cases
The federal government gets what is known as sovereign immunity from the standard personal injury laws. The rules for governmental liability in Texas are outlined in the Texas Tort Claims Act. This provides the government with certain protections from liability and it also limits the level to which a government entity may be held liable.
To some citizens, it may seem unfair that the government is not held to the same standard as a private business or individual, but there is actually good cause to provide the government with these protections. The first reason is that the government’s money is also the taxpayer’s money and the laws protect the public budget from being diminished by lawsuits. Another reason is that, without these protections the government is perceived as a target with “deep pockets” and this invites the possibility of frivolous and fraudulent litigation and that can also be a drain on public funds.
State Government and Personal Injury Cases
For the state government, their liability is fairly clear. The law states that a government unit is liable if an injury is caused by the wrongful act or negligence of a government employee if the incident occurs through the normal scope of the employee’s duty either through the use of tangible or real property or through the use of a motor vehicle or motor driven equipment. The law also states that it must be a situation under which the employee would be personally liable under Texas law.
The claimant is also required to follow procedural rules that are specific to making a claim against the government. If some of these rules are not followed, it could jeopardize the status of the claim. One of the most important of these procedural rules is that the injured party must provide notice of the claim to the government within six months of the incident. This notice of claim must include a description of the injury, the time and place of the incident and an account of how the incident occurred.
Caps on Compensation
Claimants will also find that there are caps set on the level of compensation that they can recover. The amount of compensation that can be recovered and the different procedural rules that will apply depend upon a list of different factors including what type of government entity the claim is against and the type of event that caused the injury.
If you have been injured because of the negligence of a government employee or entity, you will be going against a defendant that has special protections. It may be less than ideal, but with a skilled personal injury attorney that understands these laws, you can still build a case and receive adequate compensation for your losses.