Texas Court Discusses the Notice Requirement in Claims Against Government Entities

In Texas, car accident injury victims typically have a two-year window from the collision date to file claims against the responsible party. However, if the responsible party is a state political subdivision, the injured party must provide them notice of the claim well before the statute of limitations runs. Failure to comply with them can lead to the dismissal of your claims, even if filed within the statute of limitations.  A recent ruling issued in City of Houston v. Bustamante (NO. 01-22-00699-CV) discussed what constitutes sufficient notice in such cases. If you were involved in a car accident, it is smart to consult a Texas car accident attorney promptly to protect your right to recover compensation.

Factual and Procedural Background

It is reported that in 2019, the plaintiffs were traveling eastbound on a street in Houston, Texas. The firefighters and paramedics employed by the defendant were traveling northbound on another street in response to a 911 call. As the defendant’s employees proceeded through the intersection of the two streets, they collided with the plaintiff’s vehicle. The plaintiff and her children were transported to a hospital for evaluation and treatment.

Allegedly, an officer from the Houston Police Department investigated the accident and charged the plaintiff with failure to yield to an emergency vehicle. In April 2021, the plaintiff sued the defendant for negligence, alleging that the defendant’s employees failed to yield the right of way and T-boned the plaintiff’s vehicle in the intersection. She claimed to have timely provided written notice of their claim and damages to the defendant. The defendant responded by asserting governmental and official immunity as defenses, arguing that the plaintiff failed to provide timely written notice of their claim as required by Texas law.

It is stated that the defendant then moved for summary judgment, contending that the trial court lacked subject matter jurisdiction over the plaintiff’s claim due to the failure to provide timely written notice. The court denied the motion, and the defendant appealed.

The Notice Requirement in Claims Against Government Entities

On appeal, the defendant contended that the trial court erred in denying its motion for summary judgment because the plaintiff failed to provide formal notice of their personal injury claim within ninety days of their injuries as required by the defendant’s charter. The defendant further argued that the plaintiff failed to demonstrate a fact issue concerning the defendant’s actual notice of their claims, a requirement for waiving governmental immunity under the Texas Tort Claims Act.

The plaintiff countered that they did not argue, either in the trial court or on appeal, that the crash report put the defendant on notice of their claim. Instead, they claimed that evidence suggested the defendant’s fault and the defendant should have been aware of it.

The court ultimately concluded that there was a genuine issue of material fact regarding whether the defendant had actual notice of the plaintiff’s claim, and thus, the trial court correctly denied the defendant’s motion for summary judgment on immunity grounds.

Meet with a Skilled Texas Attorney About Your Case

If you’ve suffered from physical and emotional trauma due to a car accident caused by someone else’s negligence, you may be owed damages, but you should act promptly to preserve your claims. Earl Drott is a skilled Texas attorney who has the knowledge and resources to prove liability in car accident cases, and if you hire him, he will fight tirelessly on your behalf. Contact Mr. Drott for a free consultation via the online form or at 903-531-9300.

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