What Is the Process for Recovering Damages for Your Losses?
When you’re involved in a truck, car or motorcycle accident, and the at-fault party was a private citizen, it’s a pretty straightforward process to pursue damages for your losses. You’ll file a personal injury lawsuit, typically in state court, and go through the civil litigation process. When you suffer injuries in an accident on a city bus or any other form of public transportation in Texas, though, the process is significantly different. You’ll want to work with an experienced attorney, someone who knows how to get compensation from a governmental body.
Filing a Notice of Claim
To initiate legal action against a private party, you file a civil lawsuit. Under the statute of limitations for personal injury in Texas, your complaint must be filed within two years of the actual date of the injury or the date that you discovered any injuries arising out of the accident.
When the defendant is a governmental entity, as will be the case with a public bus or commuter train, you must typically file a Notice of Claim directly with the municipality or governmental body. The time frame for submitting your Notice of Claim will vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, but may be as little as 30 days.
The Fundamental Nature of a Public Transportation Accident Claim
In many respects, a claim for injuries suffered on a public bus or commuter train are similar to claims involving private parties. To succeed with a personal injury claim, you must prove three things:
- That the defendant (party from who you seek compensation) did not use the appropriate level of care
- That the failure to use the necessary level of care caused an accident
- That you suffered actual losses as a result of the accident
In a personal injury claim involving a private party, the level of care required is that of “an average person ordinary prudence.” When the defendant is a public transportation service (or a service for hire), the defendant may be considered a “common carrier” under the law. As a common carrier, a defendant will typically be held to a higher standard of care. In Texas, a common carrier must employ the care that would be expected from a “very cautious, competent and prudent business or person.”
In theory, the higher standard of care should make it easier to recover damages for a bus or commuter train injury. However, Texas has a longstanding history of governmental tort immunity, where governmental entities could not be sued for any reason. The Texas Tort Claims Act, passed in 1969, now allows for some personal injury claims against governmental bodies, but it can still be difficult to recover compensation against a city, county or other governmental entity. Furthermore, the Texas legislature has imposed what are referred to as “damage caps,” limiting the amount a person may recover in a personal injury lawsuit against the government:
- A maximum of $250,000 per person and $500,000 per claim, as well as a ceiling of $100,000 for property loss or damage for any claim against the state of Texas
- A maximum of $250,000 per person and $500,000 for each instance of bodily injury or death, as well as a limit of $100,000 for each occurrence of property loss or damage for any claim involving a municipality
Contact the Proven Public Transportation Accident Injury Lawyers at Bailey & Galyen
At the law offices of Bailey & Galyen, we aggressively protect the rights of people who have suffered any type of injury or illness, including victims of bus, commuter train and other public transportation accidents. We’ll fight for you throughout the legal process, working hard to help you get full and fair compensation for all your losses. Contact us by e-mail or 844-402-2992 call our offices at one of the convenient locations listed below. Our phones are answered 24 hours a day, seven days a week.