For the second time in two years, a vehicle jumped a curve on South Hulen Street, causing massive property damage.
Following a similar incident in 2018 at the same location, the City of Fort Worth promised to make the intersection safer. Some of those plans, such as a lower speed limit and a traffic signal, never materialized. The City did install some flashing LED signs. But two of them have non-working lights and two others were destroyed in crashes. Residents want to see a guard rail or other barrier to protect pedestrians, but the city refused to install one, citing concerns about a nearby gas line.
Yvonne Brady remarked that these crashes occur frequently. “One of these days, I’m afraid, it’s going to be a child,” she said. “And I don’t want anybody to get hit, but especially not a little school kid who’s just trying to get to and from school.”
Faulty Roadway Collisions: Who is Responsible?
Overall, counties and other government entities have a duty to design roadways which are reasonably safe. However, Texas’ sovereign immunity law usually draws a difference between the following:
Discretionary Acts: Policy decisions, such as the decision to build a road that connects Point A and Point B, are discretionary acts. Generally, decisionmakers cannot be sued for these policy-level decisions.
Ministerial Acts: Maintenance matters are ministerial acts. They require no deliberation. So, ministerial acts clearly include things like repairing damaged stop signs and changing lightbulbs. Governmental entities could be liable for damage if they fail to perform ministerial acts and that failure substantially causes a crash.
There is a lot of grey area between these two extremes. Street and road design is a good example. Government lawyers would almost certainly argue that such matters are discretionary acts. They involve, well, discretion. However, a Fort Worth personal injury attorney could argue that immunity should only apply to high-level policy decisions.
Claims Against Governmental Entities
Procedurally, these claims are a bit different from ordinary civil claims. However, the bottom line is much the same. Victim/plaintiffs must still establish liability by a preponderance of the proof, a legal term which means “more likely than not.”
Frequently, victim/plaintiffs must file notice of claims before they pursue civil cases. These notices give the government a chance to evaluate the claim and offer to settle it. If the two sides cannot reach an agreement, or if the government does nothing within the time allotted, the matter could proceed to civil court.
Different times deadlines sometimes apply in notice of claim situations. So, attention to detail is critical.
The city or county might be responsible for defective roadway crashes. For a free consultation with an experienced personal injury attorney in Fort Worth, contact Herreth Law. We do not charge upfront legal fees in negligence cases.