Can the State Ever Be Liable for My Car Accident?
When a car accident occurs, most of the time, the blame is laid at the door of one or more drivers involved. However, in some situations, there may be another entity that might bear some of the liability for injuries sustained in such a crash: the local, state or even federal government. While it is not always possible, there are many occasions when a governmental entity may be found liable or partially liable if you are injured in an auto accident. Understanding the big picture may help you decide whether or not to include such an entity in any lawsuit you bring.
Can I Even Sue?
The first question one must ask in this type of lawsuit is to determine which specific entity maintains the road where you had your accident. Roads in Texas are maintained by a host of different municipalities and government agencies, and as one might imagine, it is imperative to ensure that the right agency is the object of your suit. Sometimes, agencies will even share maintenance duties (for example, one might fill potholes, while another might be responsible for signage).
The next issue is to determine whether the relevant entity has waived sovereign immunity. Sovereign immunity is a concept that dates back to English common law, and it holds that the sovereign or state “cannot commit a legal wrong,” meaning that they cannot be sued. While some jurisdictions in Texas retain this, some have expressly waived sovereign immunity under the Texas Tort Claims Act. Indeed, the TTCA explicitly states that street maintenance is one of the activities for which a municipality may be held liable.
Proof Can Be Difficult
Once you are certain that you are able to bring suit for your injuries, the difficult part comes - you must be able to prove two things: that the relevant agency was negligent or could have been negligent in its upkeep of the road, and that its negligence led directly to the injuries you sustained. A personal injury negligence lawsuit has four tenets: the existence of a duty must be proven, a breach of that duty must be proven, harm done to the plaintiff must be shown, and it must also be shown that the harm suffered was directly caused by the defendant’s breach of duty.
This is not an easy thing to prove, especially if you lack the aid of accident reports and/or witness testimony. However, without a showing that the maintenance company or municipality breached their duty, you will likely not be able to receive compensation for your injuries because there are too many other factors that might conceivably have caused the harm to you. Texas operates under what is referred to as a comparative fault system, which means that if a plaintiff is shown to be more than 50 percent at fault for the accident in which they were injured, they may not recover.
Contact Our Auto Accident Lawyers Today
When you have been injured, all you want to do is get on with your life, and a good attorney can help you to do that, even if it means bringing suit against a governmental entity. The passionate New Braunfels car accident attorneys at the Bettersworth Law Firm can sit down with you and try to help you determine who to sue and when, and how strong your case might be. Call us today to set up an appointment.