Texas is a big and beautiful state, but it is also a common site of accidents. In fact, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety reports that with 3,294 in 2019, Texas has the second most fatal accidents of all states, coming only after California.
Government vehicles are a common cause of accidents. Government employees are people too and are just as likely to crash as anyone else.
Work zone accidents are common–recent data reports that there were over 26,000 work zone-related crashes in Texas in 2019.
If you’ve been in an accident with a government vehicle in Texas, read through this article to understand how government vehicle accidents happen, how to prove liability, and what to do if you’re in one. Then get in touch with a Fort Worth personal injury attorney to help you make the best decision about what to do next.
What is Considered a Government Vehicle in Texas?
In Texas, many vehicles can be considered government vehicles. Vehicles are allowed to register for this license if they are: “owned by and used exclusively in the service of: (A) the United States; (B) this state; (C) a county, municipality, or school district in this state; or (D) an open-enrollment charter school;”
Other vehicles that could be considered government vehicles include:
- School buses used to provide transportation to public schools
- Firefighting engines and other vehicles used in firefighting services
- Police cars
- Vehicles used by the Marines, the Coast Guard, etc.
If a vehicle is used solely for the purpose of serving the state and/or federal government, it is considered a government vehicle. The driver of a government vehicle will be subject to all laws that regulate government accidents. The government takes responsibility for its’ drivers and will usually pay for damages they cost ordinary citizens.
What to Do After an Accident Near Fort Worth, Texas
Being in an accident can result in fear and confusion. If you have been in an accident and aren’t sure what to do next, follow these steps:
- Keep calm and get off the road if you can.
- Call the ambulance to help you and others with any injuries.
- Call the police to get an official accident report filed.
- Get witness statements.
- Exchange contact information with witnesses and the other party in the accident.
- Get in touch with a personal injury lawyer to guide you through the process of proving liability and getting compensation from the government.
Once you’ve been treated for your injuries, keep extensive records of your injuries, any lost income of loss of earning capacity, and other things you may have suffered from your accident.
You will need these records to pursue any case, whether for settlement or in the courts. They are necessary to prove injury and the liability of the government driver to receive compensation for your auto accident.
Understanding Liability in an Accident with a Texas Government Vehicle
According to the Federal Tort Claims Act, “Individuals who are injured or whose property is damaged by the wrongful or negligent act of a federal employee acting in the scope of his or her official duties may file a claim with the government for reimbursement for that injury or damage.”
There are a few things you have to prove before you bring a claim for reimbursement. You must prove that:
- You were injured or a federal employee damaged your property
- The employee was acting in his official duties
- The employee was acting with negligence
- The employee’s negligence or wrong actions caused the injury you suffered
The government acts as the insurer in this case, which means it will pay for any damage you may have suffered.
Here is how the Texas Law puts it: “A governmental unit in the state is liable for:
- Property damage, personal injury, and death proximately caused by the wrongful act or omission or the negligence of an employee acting within his scope of employment if:
- The property damage, personal injury, or death arises from the operation or use of a motor-driven vehicle or motor-driven equipment; and
- The employee would be personally liable to the claimant according to Texas law; and
- Personal injury and death so caused by a condition or use of tangible personal or real property if the governmental unit would, were it a private person, be liable to the claimant according to Texas law.”
Some governmental bodies are able to buy liability insurance and worker’s compensation insurance as well, so you should always talk with a lawyer to understand the exact circumstances in your case.
Filing a claim against the government can be a complicated and confusing process. After suffering through the pain and devastation of an accident, you shouldn’t have to go through all the stress of a legal battle as well.
If you’ve been hit by a government vehicle and need to file a claim, call the expert personal injury attorneys at Patterson Law Group today to get answers to all your questions. We will help you work through the legal stuff and get back to living your life the way it was meant to be.