Recently, the Supreme Court of Texas issued a per curiam opinion in an appeal involving the Texas Tort Claims Act (TTCA). The lawsuit originates from an automobile accident that an injury victim filed against a Texas governmental entity. The plaintiff filed a lawsuit against Jefferson County, Texas, alleging that he suffered serious injuries when a police officer, driving a government-issued vehicle, crashed into him. The court instructed the plaintiff’s representative to direct his claims to a third-party risk management entity. Following this instruction, the representative notified the county of the negligence claim, provided identifying information and descriptions of the accident, and all required copies of statements and accident reports, ultimately expressing a desire to resolve the claim amicably.
In response, the risk management company denied the claim stating that it did not believe that the county was negligent. The county’s answer included all of the TTCA’s limitations but sought dismissal on non-TTCA grounds. The representative countered that he complied with the TTCA’s notice requirement, through his communications with the county’s risk assessment company.
Under the TTCA, claimants must provide “notice of the claim” to the governmental agency that they are pursuing a claim against. Section 101.101 of the TTCA requires that notice includes specific information unless the governmental agency has actual notice of the incident. The notice requirement mandates that the claimant provide information regarding the damage or injury, the time and location of the incident, and details of the incident itself. In contrast, actual notice means that the governmental entity was aware that they may hold some responsibility for damages, injury, or death.
In this case, the court did not need to determine whether the plaintiff’s written letter constituted formal notice, because the county had actual notice of the claim. The court reasoned that the county and risk management team knew about the plaintiff’s allegations. The fact that the county did not believe they were liable for the damages did not negate their knowledge of the claim. Ultimately, the court reversed the lower court’s ruling, finding that the representative of the plaintiff’s estate met the TTCA’s notice requirement. Thus, the claim was allowed to proceed.
Have You Suffered Injuries Because of the Negligence of a Governmental Employee or Agency?
If you or someone you know has suffered serious injuries as a result of the negligence of a governmental entity or employee, you should contact the Texas injury attorneys at Carabin Shaw. At Carabin Shaw, we have a long history of successfully recovering compensation on behalf of injury victims. Compensation in Texas personal injury lawsuits typically include payments for damages, including medical expenses, ongoing medical treatment, property damage, and pain and suffering. We understand and appreciate that each Texas wrongful death or personal injury case is unique, and our attorneys provide each one of our clients with individualized attention to ensure that they receive the highest quality representation. We are continuing to provide diligent and effective representation during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Contact our office at 800-862-1260 to schedule a conference with an attorney on our team.