Galveston Texas - Galveston County & Galveston Governmental Liability Lawyer
Galveston Federal Tort Claims Act attorneys & Galveston Texas Tort Claims Act attorneys serve Galveston residents injured by government actions to ensure that they receive quality legal representation in their claims against the government. If you find yourself facing off against the government, a Galveston government lawsuit lawyer can help you get the compensation you deserve, whether your claim is against the Texas state government or the federal government.
Texas Tort Claims Act Lawyers - Government Liability Lawyers Serving Galveston Residents Injured by the State or Municipal Government
An old Latin adage advises “Rex non potest peccare,” or, in English, “The King can do no wrong.” This saying expresses the Old World notion that the ruling class was essentially immune from any liability and could reign as they wished, breaking any laws they saw fit. In fact, at English common law, it was impossible to sue the Sovereign or King for redress. Since every state in the United States—with the notable exception of Louisiana—adopted the English common law, it was also historically impossible for a Galveston, Texas resident or any other Texas citizen to sue the City of Galveston, Galveston County, or the State of Texas. In other words, no government liability existed whatsoever.
Of course, much has changed since our country’s modest beginnings. In 1969, the Texas legislature adopted the Texas Tort Claims Act, which is now found in Chapter 101.001 et seq. of the Texas Civil Practice & Remedies Code. Prior to the enactment of the Texas Tort Claims Act, Galveston residents would have been completely barred from suing the Texas government for any harms it inflicted on them.
In a nutshell, the Texas Tort Claims Act § 101.125 allows persons or companies to sue the government for certain things, while also limiting the amount of recovery they may receive for the governmentally-inflicted harm:
The maximum the State of Texas can be held liable for is $250,000.00 per person, $500,000.00 per single occurrence for bodily injury, and $100,000.00 for property damage.
The maximum the City of Galveston can be liable for is $250,000.00 per person, $500,000.00 per single occurrence for bodily injury, and $100,000.00 for property damage.
The maximum Galveston County or a “unit” of local government, can be liable for is $100,000 for each person, $300,000 for each single occurrence for bodily injury or death, and $100,000 for each single occurrence for injury to or destruction of property.
- The maximum liability of a Galveston Police Department, Galveston County EMS, or other emergency service is limited to a maximum amount of $100,000 for each person, $300,000 for each single occurrence for bodily injury or death, and $100,000 for each single occurrence for injury to or destruction of property.
The Texas Legislature was very conservative when it finally allowed Galveston and other Texas municipalities to face suit and it did not extend this governmental liability to all acts of negligence. In fact, only certain enumerated events may create governmental liability under the Texas Tort Claims Act. Some of the more important items in Section 101.0125, which are actionable if they cause injury or harm to someone in the city of Galveston or another location within Texas include:
(1) police and fire protection and control;
(2) health and sanitation services;
(3) street construction and design;
(4) bridge construction and maintenance and street maintenance;
(5) cemeteries and cemetery care;
(6) garbage and solid waste removal, collection, and disposal;
(7) establishment and maintenance of jails;
(9) sanitary and storm sewers;
(21) regulation of traffic;
(22) transportation systems;
(23) recreational facilities, including but not limited to swimming pools, beaches, and marinas;
(25) parking facilities;
(31) maintenance of traffic signals, signs, and hazards;
(32) water and sewer service; and
(33) animal control.
Thus, the Texas Tort Claims Act represents a significant step forward in recognizing that government bodies, like all other persons and entities, should also be held responsible for their actions, at least under certain circumstances. However, even though the Texas legislature waived governmental immunity and created the possibility of governmental liability, it may still be very difficult to hold the City of Galveston or Galveston County legally accountable for negligence or wrongdoing. There are still various pitfalls and obstacles that can befall any case against the government. A knowledgeable Galveston government liability attorney can help you avoid these pitfalls and pursue your case against the government.
Notice Provisions of the Texas Tort Claims Act
One way that victims of government action can harm their legal case is by waiting too long to make a claim. Section 101.101 of the Texas Tort Claims Act, entitled “Notice to State of Texas,” provides that the Galveston governmental claims attorney must provide written notice within six (6) months after the accident. The notice must also be sufficiently detailed, and must reasonably describe:
- the damage or injury claimed;
- the time and place of the incident; and,
- the incident.
Additionally, Section 101.101(b), which gives “Notice to the City of Galveston & Galveston County,” specifically adopts Galveston's City Charter, as well as the charters of all other Texas cities, allowing an even shorter time period of ninety (90) days for actions against the municipality (“A city’s charter and ordinance provisions requiring notice within a charter period permitted by law are ratified and approved.”).
Finally, notice is not required if the governmental unit has actual notice of one of the following three things:
- that death has occurred;
- that the claimant has received some injury; or,
- that the claimant’s property has been damaged.
In order to make sure that you comply with these requirements, contact a Galveston government liability lawyer to discuss your claim.
City of Galveston Charter
The City of Galveston Charter is set forth below, in an effort to demonstrate some of its requirements and complexities:
Section 7. Notice of Claims.
The City of Galveston shall never be liable for damages for the death or personal injuries of any person or for the damages or destruction of property of any kind, which does not constitute a taking or damaging of property under Article I, Section 17, Constitution of Texas, unless the person injured, if living, or the person's representatives, if deceased, or the owner, the person's attorney, or the person's agent of the property damaged or destroyed, shall give the City Council a notice in writing, duly verified by affidavit, of such death, injury, damage or destruction, within one hundred eighty (180) days after the same has been sustained, unless a longer notice period is otherwise provided by applicable state or federal law. The written notice shall specifically state when, where, and how the death, injury, damage or destruction occurred, the apparent extent of any such injury, the amount of damages sustained, the actual residence of the claimant by street and number at the date the claim is presented, the actual residence of such claimant for six months immediately preceding the occurrence of such death, injury, damage or destruction, and the names and addresses of all witnesses upon whom the claimant relies to establish the claim for damages. Failure to notify the city council within the time and manner specified herein shall exonerate, excuse and exempt the City of Galveston from any liability whatsoever. This provision shall not shorten the notice period provided in Section 101.101 of the Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code, as amended, or in a successor statute, nor shall this provision govern notice of any claim brought under federal statute or require the giving of notice by a person incapable of managing his or her own affairs by reason of minority or physical or mental incapacity.
(Ord. No. 89-17, § 3(22), 1-26-89; Ord. No. 91-95, § 4(22), 11-14-91; Ord. No. 96-59, § 17, 6-16-96)
Section 7 of Article XIV of the charter was originally amended by the approval of Proposition No. 6 at a city charter amendment election held April 8, 1969. The results of the election were confirmed by Ord. No. 69-35, enacted April 17, 1969. The amendment changed the time for filing claims from 90 days to 45 days; deleted notice to the city manager; deleted provisions relating to actual notice by the city council or city manager and the waiver of notice by the city council.
Procedures to follow when filing a claim in Texas:
Provide the information required in Article IX, Section 11, Notice of Claim for Damages, referenced above, in writing and sign the letter before a Notary Public.
Mail the letter to:
City Secretary: Douglas Godinich
P.O. Box 779
Galveston, TX 77553
with the following attachments:
- three property damage estimates,
- photographs of damage, if any,
- accident report, if available,
- photocopy of Certificate of Title of damaged vehicle,
- photocopy of medical bills, if any, and
Mail a copy to:
City Attorney’s Office
Attn.: Claims/Subrogation Division
Federal Tort Claims Act Lawyer - Serving Galveston Residents Injured by the Federal Government
Just like Texas, the Federal Government traditionally enjoyed sovereign immunity, and therefore those injured by actions of the federal government could not sue to recover damages. However, the federal government was the largest employer in the United States and many injured employees of the federal government needed compensation for their injuries. In addition, many people not employed by the federal government were also being injured by it and they too needed compensation. For example, if a federal government employee was negligently driving a car and injured a Galveston resident, that person would likely seek damages from the federal government to compensate them for their injuries. This is just one example of a myriad of ways in which the issue of federal government liability arose over the years. It became clear that sovereign immunity had become outmoded, and, in 1946, Congress passed the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA). The FTCA is similar in nature to the Texas Tort Claims Act; however, there are some key differences.
Prior to filing suit under the FTCA, a claimant must present his or her claim to the federal agency out of whose activities the claim arises. 28 U.S.C. § 2675.
This must be done within two years after the claim accrues. 28 U.S.C. § 2401.14.
If, within six months after receiving a claim, the agency mails a denial of the claim to the claimant, then the claimant has six months to file suit in federal district court. 28 U.S.C. §§ 2401, 2675.
No period of limitations applies to a plaintiff if the agency fails to act within six months after receiving his claim.
Suits under the FTCA are tried without a jury. 28 U.S.C. § 2402.
An agency may not settle a claim for more than $25,000 without the prior written approval of the Attorney General or his designee.
United States attorneys are authorized to settle claims in amounts up to $1 million.
Attorneys who represent claimants under the FTCA may not charge claimants more than 25 percent of a court award or a settlement made by the Attorney General or his designee after suit is filed, or more than 20 percent of a settlement made by the agency with whom a claim is filed. 28 U.S.C. § 2678.
- A court may not order the United States to pay a claimant’s attorneys’ fees unless the court finds the United States to have acted in bad faith. 28 U.S.C. § 2412(b).
The Federal Tort Claims Act Statutes:
- 2671. Definitions
- 2672 Administrative adjustment of claims
- 2673 Reports to Congress
- 2674 Liability of United States
- 2675. Disposition by federal agency as prerequisite; evidence
- 2676 Judgment as bar
- 2677. Compromise
- 2678 Attorney fees; penalty
- 2679. Exclusiveness of remedy
- 2680. Exceptions
Exceptions to the FTCA
There are three (3) main exceptions to the FTCA. They are:
- The Feres doctrine. This doctrine prohibits lawsuits by military personnel for injuries sustained “incident to service.”
- The discretionary function exception.
- The intentional tort exception.
A Galveston government liability lawyer can explain these exceptions to you in greater detail.
Who can seek recovery under the FTCA?
The FTCA applies to many government employees that are injured. For example, military personnel on the Dyess Air Force Base in Galveston are often injured and seek the help and advice of Galveston personal injury lawyers. A variety of other government employees and private residents of the Galveston and Galveston County, Texas areas may also be injured by actions of either the federal, state, or municipal government. If you, or a loved one, has suffered an injury due to the negligence of the government, or while on the job as a government employee, call one of the Galveston governmental liability lawyers on this page for a consultation regarding your right to recovery.
To read the full text of the Federal Tort Claims Act, click here.
To read the full text of the Texas Tort Claims Act, click here.
Personal Injury Attorneys Serve Galveston and Surrounding Cities
Serving clients throughout Southeastern Texas, including Algoa, Alta Loma, Alvin, Bacliff, Bayou Vista, Caplen, Crystal Beach, Dickinson, Friendswood, Galveston, Hillcrest, Hitchcock, Houston, Jamaica Beach, La Marque, League City, Missouri City, Nassau Bay, Pelican Island, Port Bolivar, San Leon, Santa Fe, Seabrook, South Houston, Texas City, Tiki Island, Webster and other communities in Galveston County.
Rest assured that a Galveston County government liability attorney will be familiar with both federal and state laws and will have the expertise necessary to aggressively pursue your claim and get you the financial recovery you deserve. Contact one of the qualified Galveston torts claims act lawyers on this site today.