In Texas, the fault-based car insurance law is relatively simple. The driver responsible for causing the car accident will have to pay damages. If that driver was on-duty as a government agent at the time of the crash or the car was a government vehicle, the claims process may not be as straightforward. When a car accident case in Texas involves a government defendant, the rules for a claim change. You may need a car accident lawyer in San Antonio to assist you with the claims process.
What Is a Government Vehicle?
Collisions involving government vehicles are not uncommon in Texas. A government vehicle describes any motor vehicle owned by the federal, state, county or city government. These include fire trucks, ambulances, police vehicles, utility vehicles, garbage trucks, mail trucks, city buses and public school buses. Government agents and employees may also drive normal or unmarked vehicles. The government agency that employs the driver could be vicariously liable for a collision if the driver was performing job-related tasks and at-fault for the crash.
What to Do After an Accident With a Government Vehicle
If you get into an accident with a government vehicle or a driver working for the government, protect yourself by recording information and calling the police. You lawfully must call the police from the scene of any vehicle collision in Texas that causes personal injuries, fatal injuries or more than $1,000 in property damage. Exchange contact information with the government employee while you wait for the police to arrive. Do not admit fault for the collision.
Give the police officer your version of what happened. Otherwise, the government worker’s side of the story will be the only one that goes on the record. The officer will file a police report with the essential facts of the crash. You can use this police report for your insurance claim later. Take photographs at the scene of the crash before you leave, if you can. Then, go to the nearest hospital for immediate medical care. The government agency’s insurance company will want to see that you received emergency care for your injuries without delay.
How to File a Claim Against the Government in Texas
Before you begin the insurance claim process after getting hit by a government vehicle, contact a San Antonio car crash attorney in Texas for a free consultation. Claims against the government have different rules than typical car accident cases in Texas under the Texas Tort Claims Act. You will have a shorter deadline for filing, for example. Rather than having two years, which is Texas’ normal car accident claim statute of limitations, you will only have six months from the date of your crash to file a notice with the responsible government agency.
Some municipalities have even shorter deadlines. Houston, for example, has a 90-day time limit for claims against the city, while Austin gives claimants just 45 days. If you do not hear a response from the agency within a reasonable time, you will have the right to file a lawsuit. If you do hear a response, the agency may offer a settlement or deny your claim. With a settlement, you can negotiate for a fair amount with help from your attorney. If you receive a claim denial, your lawyer can help you file a lawsuit against the entity instead.
To receive compensation from the government agency, you or your lawyer must prove that the government or its employee negligently failed to fulfill its standard of care. This will have to be the direct cause of your car accident. Otherwise, the government agency may not absorb liability for the collision. Texas law restricts damages recoverable in a bodily injury claim against the government to $100,000 per person and $300,000 per occurrence. There is a cap of $100,000 per occurrence for property-damage-only claims.
If you get hit by a government vehicle in Texas, contact an attorney right away for a free consultation. You may need a lawyer’s assistance in going up against the government entity and successfully recovering fair compensation.