Suing Cities, Counties, the State, and Other Governmental Entities-Notice Requirements
by Brian T. Cartwright
When someone wants to sue a city, county, the State of Texas, or some other governmental entity (like a School District) for personal injuries or damage to their property, it is important for them to know that Texas Tort Claims Act requires the person to provide written notice of their claim not later than 6 months after the day that the incident giving rise to the claim occurred. Please note, however, that a city’s charter and ordinance provisions may dramatically shorten this 6 month period of time. I have seen ordinances that shorten the 6 month period to as short as 60 days (and there may be some that shorten the period any further). The notice must reasonably describe: (1) the damage or injury claimed; (2) the time and place of the incident; and (3) the incident itself. If the notice requirements are not met, the governmental entity can request that any lawsuit you file be dismissed, and the court will do so, unless you can establish that the governmental unit had actual notice that you received some injury or that your property had been damaged. This “actual notice” exception is sometimes difficult to prove; therefore, comply with the notice requirements if at all possible. Because the outcome of failing to provide proper notice can be harsh, I recommend that you consult with a qualified attorney to assist you with your case. I look forward to visiting with you next time. *Please note that this Blog does not apply to cases involving causes of action based on federal law or to a claim against a governmental employee based upon individual liability. Brian T. Cartwright, Board Certified, Personal Injury Trial Law, AV-Rated, Martindale-Hubbell, Shareholder, Alagood& Cartwright, P.C.