Odessa Texas - Ector County & Odessa Governmental Liability Lawyers
Odessa Federal Tort Claims Act attorneys & Odessa Texas Tort Claims Act attorneys serve Odessa residents injured by government actions to ensure that they receive quality legal representation in their claims against the government. If you find yourself facing off against the government, an Odessa government lawsuit lawyer can help you get the compensation you deserve, whether your claim is against the Texas state government or the federal government.
Texas Tort Claims Act Lawyers - Government Liability Lawyers Serving Odessa Residents Injured by the State or Municipal Government
An old Latin adage advises “Rex non potest peccare,” or, in English, “The King can do no wrong.” This saying expresses the Old World notion that the ruling class was essentially immune from any liability and could reign as they wished, breaking any laws they saw fit. In fact, at English common law, it was impossible to sue the Sovereign or King for redress. Since every state in the United States—with the notable exception of Louisiana—adopted the English common law, it was also historically impossible for an Odessa, Texas resident or any other Texas citizen to sue the City of Odessa, Ector County, or the State of Texas. In other words, no government liability existed whatsoever.
Of course, much has changed since our country’s modest beginnings. In 1969, the Texas legislature adopted the Texas Tort Claims Act, which is now found in Chapter 101.001 et seq. of the Texas Civil Practice & Remedies Code. Prior to the enactment of the Texas Tort Claims Act, Odessa residents would have been completely barred from suing the Texas government for any harms it inflicted on them.
In a nutshell, the Texas Tort Claims Act § 101.125 allows persons or companies to sue the government for certain things, while also limiting the amount of recovery they may receive for the governmentally-inflicted harm:
The maximum the State of Texas can be held liable for is $250,000.00 per person, $500,000.00 per single occurrence for bodily injury, and $100,000.00 for property damage.
The maximum the City of Odessa can be liable for is $250,000.00 per person, $500,000.00 per single occurrence for bodily injury, and $100,000.00 for property damage.
The maximum Ector County or a “unit” of local government, can be liable for is $100,000 for each person, $300,000 for each single occurrence for bodily injury or death, and $100,000 for each single occurrence for injury to or destruction of property.
- The maximum liability of an Odessa Police Department, Ector County EMS, or other emergency service is limited to a maximum amount of $100,000 for each person, $300,000 for each single occurrence for bodily injury or death, and $100,000 for each single occurrence for injury to or destruction of property.
The Texas Legislature was very conservative when it finally allowed Odessa and other Texas municipalities to face suit and it did not extend this governmental liability to all acts of negligence. In fact, only certain enumerated events may create governmental liability under the Texas Tort Claims Act. Some of the more important items in Section 101.0125, which are actionable if they cause injury or harm to someone in the city of Odessa or another location within Texas include:
(1) police and fire protection and control;
(2) health and sanitation services;
(3) street construction and design;
(4) bridge construction and maintenance and street maintenance;
(5) cemeteries and cemetery care;
(6) garbage and solid waste removal, collection, and disposal;
(7) establishment and maintenance of jails;
(9) sanitary and storm sewers;
(21) regulation of traffic;
(22) transportation systems;
(23) recreational facilities, including but not limited to swimming pools, beaches, and marinas;
(25) parking facilities;
(31) maintenance of traffic signals, signs, and hazards;
(32) water and sewer service; and
(33) animal control.
Thus, the Texas Tort Claims Act represents a significant step forward in recognizing that government bodies, like all other persons and entities, should also be held responsible for their actions, at least under certain circumstances. However, even though the Texas legislature waived governmental immunity and created the possibility of governmental liability, it may still be very difficult to hold the City of Odessa or Ector County legally accountable for negligence or wrongdoing. There are still various pitfalls and obstacles that can befall any case against the government. A knowledgeable Odessa government liability attorney can help you avoid these pitfalls and pursue your case against the government.
Notice Provisions of the Texas Tort Claims Act
One way that victims of government action can harm their legal case is by waiting too long to make a claim. Section 101.101 of the Texas Tort Claims Act, entitled “Notice to State of Texas,” provides that the Odessa governmental claims attorney must provide written notice within six (6) months after the accident. The notice must also be sufficiently detailed, and must reasonably describe:
- the damage or injury claimed;
- the time and place of the incident; and,
- the incident.
Additionally, Section 101.101(b), which gives “Notice to the City of Odessa & Ector County,” specifically adopts Odessa's City Charter, as well as the charters of all other Texas cities, allowing an even shorter time period of ninety (90) days for actions against the municipality (“A city’s charter and ordinance provisions requiring notice within a charter period permitted by law are ratified and approved.”).
Finally, notice is not required if the governmental unit has actual notice of one of the following three things:
- that death has occurred;
- that the claimant has received some injury; or,
- that the claimant’s property has been damaged.
In order to make sure that you comply with these requirements, contact an Odessa government liability lawyer to discuss your claim.
City of Odessa Charter
The City of Odessa Charter is set forth below, in an effort to demonstrate some of its requirements and complexities:
Sec. 12. Liability for negligence.
(a) The City of Odessa shall not be liable to any person for damages caused from streets, ways, crossings, bridges, culverts or sidewalks being out of repair because of negligence of said corporation unless the same shall have remained so for ten days after special notice in writing is given to the mayor and city council.
(b) The City of Odessa shall not be liable to any person for damages sustained in any park, playground or public building belonging to said city or because of any apparatus, furnishings, fixtures or improvements thereon or thereupon situated being defective or out of repair unless the same shall have remained so for ten days after special notice in writing is given to the mayor and city council.
(c) Before the City of Odessa shall be liable for damages for personal injuries of any kind or for injuries to or destruction or damage to property of any kind, the person injured or the owner of the property so injured, damaged or destroyed, or someone in his behalf, shall give the mayor and city council notice in writing of such injury, damage or destruction, duly verified, within sixty days after the same has been sustained, stating in such written notice when, where and how the injury, damage or destruction occurred, the apparent extent thereof, the amount for which the claimant will settle, the street and residence number of the claimant at the time and date claim was presented and the actual residence of such claimant for the six months immediately preceding the occurrence of such injuries, damage or destruction, and the names and addresses of the witnesses upon whom he relies to establish his claim; and a failure to so notify the mayor and city council within the time and manner provided therein shall exonerate, excuse and exempt the city from any liability whatsoever.
(d) Civil process may be served on the city secretary or mayor.
(Char. art. III, sec. 8; Ordinance 97-19, sec. 2, adopted 5/6/97)
State law references–Texas Tort Claims Act, V.T.C.A., Civil Practice and Remedies Code, ch. 101; notice procedures, V.T.C.A., Civil Practice and Remedies Code, sec. 101.101.
Procedures to follow when filing a claim in Texas:
Provide the information required in Article IX, Section 11, Notice of Claim for Damages, referenced above, in writing and sign the letter before a Notary Public.
Mail the letter to:
City Secretary’s Office
411 W 8th Street
Odessa, TX 79761
with the following attachments:
- three property damage estimates,
- photographs of damage, if any,
- accident report, if available,
- photocopy of Certificate of Title of damaged vehicle,
- photocopy of medical bills, if any, and
Mail a copy to:
City Attorney’s Office
411 W 8th Street
Odessa, TX 79761
Federal Tort Claims Act Lawyer - Serving Odessa Residents Injured by the Federal Government
Just like Texas, the Federal Government traditionally enjoyed sovereign immunity, and therefore those injured by actions of the federal government could not sue to recover damages. However, the federal government was the largest employer in the United States and many injured employees of the federal government needed compensation for their injuries. In addition, many people not employed by the federal government were also being injured by it and they too needed compensation. For example, if a federal government employee was negligently driving a car and injured an Odessa resident, that person would likely seek damages from the federal government to compensate them for their injuries. This is just one example of a myriad of ways in which the issue of federal government liability arose over the years. It became clear that sovereign immunity had become outmoded, and, in 1946, Congress passed the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA). The FTCA is similar in nature to the Texas Tort Claims Act; however, there are some key differences.
Prior to filing suit under the FTCA, a claimant must present his or her claim to the federal agency out of whose activities the claim arises. 28 U.S.C. § 2675.
This must be done within two years after the claim accrues. 28 U.S.C. § 2401.14.
If, within six months after receiving a claim, the agency mails a denial of the claim to the claimant, then the claimant has six months to file suit in federal district court. 28 U.S.C. §§ 2401, 2675.
No period of limitations applies to a plaintiff if the agency fails to act within six months after receiving his claim.
Suits under the FTCA are tried without a jury. 28 U.S.C. § 2402.
An agency may not settle a claim for more than $25,000 without the prior written approval of the Attorney General or his designee.
United States attorneys are authorized to settle claims in amounts up to $1 million.
Attorneys who represent claimants under the FTCA may not charge claimants more than 25 percent of a court award or a settlement made by the Attorney General or his designee after suit is filed, or more than 20 percent of a settlement made by the agency with whom a claim is filed. 28 U.S.C. § 2678.
- A court may not order the United States to pay a claimant’s attorneys’ fees unless the court finds the United States to have acted in bad faith. 28 U.S.C. § 2412(b).
The Federal Tort Claims Act Statutes:
- 2671. Definitions
- 2672 Administrative adjustment of claims
- 2673 Reports to Congress
- 2674 Liability of United States
- 2675. Disposition by federal agency as prerequisite; evidence
- 2676 Judgment as bar
- 2677. Compromise
- 2678 Attorney fees; penalty
- 2679. Exclusiveness of remedy
- 2680. Exceptions
Exceptions to the FTCA
There are three (3) main exceptions to the FTCA. They are:
- The Feres doctrine. This doctrine prohibits lawsuits by military personnel for injuries sustained “incident to service.”
- The discretionary function exception.
- The intentional tort exception.
An Odessa government liability lawyer can explain these exceptions to you in greater detail.
Who can seek recovery under the FTCA?
The FTCA applies to many government employees that are injured. For example, employees in the E & A Welding & Oilfield Services in Odessa are often injured and seek the help and advice of Odessa personal injury lawyers. A variety of other government employees and private residents of the Odessa and Ector County, Texas areas may also be injured by actions of either the federal, state, or municipal government. If you, or a loved one, has suffered an injury due to the negligence of the government, or while on the job as a government employee, call one of the Odessa governmental liability lawyers on this page for a consultation regarding your right to recovery.
To read the full text of the Federal Tort Claims Act, click here.
To read the full text of the Texas Tort Claims Act, click here.
Personal Injury Attorneys Serve Odessa and Surrounding Cities
Serving clients throughout Western Texas, including Andrews, Barstow, Big Lake, Coahoma, Coyanosa, Crane, Elbow, Forsan, Garden City, Gardendale, Goldsmith, Goldsmith - Penwell, Grandfalls, Greenwood, Imperial, Kermit, Lenorah, Lindsay, McCamey, Mentone, Midkiff, Midland Rural, Monahans, Pecos, Pleasant Farms, Pyote, Rankin, Royalty, Stanton, Sterling City, St. Lawrence, Tarzan, Thorntonville, Toyah, Tubbs Corner, West Odessa, Wickett, Wink and other communities in Ector County.
Rest assured that an Ector County government liability attorney will be familiar with both federal and state laws and will have the expertise necessary to aggressively pursue your claim and get you the financial recovery you deserve. Contact one of the qualified Odessa torts claims act lawyers on this site today.