First responders and police officers dedicate their lives to protecting the safety of their communities. Unfortunately, some first responders and police officers are injured while on duty. Whether it's due to a car accident, an incident with a suspect, or another cause of injury, these brave individuals must be aware of their legal rights following an injury in the line of duty.
In this blog post, The Shellist Law Firm, PLLC will discuss the options that first responders and police officers have for a personal injury claim in Texas. We will also discuss who can be liable for negligence if a first responder was harmed on duty.
When Can a First Responder File A Personal Injury Claim?
It must be established that negligence was involved in filing a personal injury claim as a first responder or police officer. Proving negligence is typically done through an investigation or review of your work environment and the circumstances surrounding your injury.
It is important to note that negligence claims must be filed within two years of an incident occurring. Otherwise, they cannot be considered by the court.
Common Injuries Sustained By First Responders On Duty Due to Negligence of Another
Negligence is the failure to exercise reasonable care, which can cause catastrophic injuries to first responders due to the dangerous situations they encounter regularly. When the negligence of another entity is a contributing factor, first responders suffer even more severe long-term consequences from their injuries.
Negligent behavior resulting in first responder injuries can come from many sources. Examples of negligence that has caused harm to first responders include:
- An employer's failure to provide sufficient safety equipment, such as protective clothing or respirators, results in burns or toxic exposure
- Failing to conduct regular vehicle inspections before a response could result in motor vehicle incidents.
- Lack of proper training and policy enforcement
- Inadequate backup during dangerous calls
Negligence can easily lead to tragedy with effects that can last a lifetime; employers and government entities need to ensure safety protocols are followed at all times to protect first responders. Neglecting these duties leads to an unacceptable risk of preventable injuries, not just for the first responder but also those they serve.
Who Can Be Held Liable for Negligence?
Depending on the circumstances surrounding a first responder or police officer's injury, someone may be liable for negligence if they acted recklessly or without regard to safety standards. When filing a personal injury claim, the responsible party may include the following:
- A local government entity (such as a city or county)
- Individual officers
- Private businesses
- Manufacturers of defective products used by first responders
- And more
Filing Process for First Responder Personal Injury Claims in Texas
In Texas, two specific statutes limit liability regarding personal injury claims involving first responders and police officers—the Firefighter's Relief Fund Act (FRFA) and the Peace Officer's Relief Fund Act (PORFA).
These claims can be filed against government entities responsible for providing public safety services. To file one of these claims successfully, you must follow specific steps within particular time frames set by law. It's important to act quickly to ensure your right to compensation is secured.
It is best to consult an experienced attorney before deciding which option suits your case. They will also be able to eliminate the guesswork by walking you through the process while fighting for the best outcome for you and your case.
The First Steps of The Filing Process
The first step in the filing process is to obtain an "Affidavit of Claim" from the relevant governmental entity. This document must be filled out accurately and completely with all pertinent information regarding your claim.
The affidavit must be mailed back within six months from when it was issued to remain valid.
A lawsuit must then be filed within two years after you receive notice that your claim has been denied or not acted upon by the governmental entity responsible for providing fire/police protection services in your area. This timeline may vary depending on other circumstances, so it is essential to consult with an experienced attorney who can guide you through this process accordingly.
Related article you might find helpful: Common on the Job Injuries of First Responders
Contact The Shellist Law Firm, PLLC
Filing a personal injury claim as a first responder or police officer in Texas can be complicated given the stringent requirements set forth under FRFA and PORFA laws. Therefore, seeking help from an experienced lawyer is strongly recommended if you have been injured during duty as a first responder or police officer.
If you have any questions about filing such claims or need assistance navigating this process, contact us today at (713) 999-6855. Our team will provide compassionate legal guidance throughout every step of your case so you get the justice you deserve following an injury while serving your community!