Texas government liability for injuries on its premises.
[/caption] Suing the Government For Premises Liability When Paying to Use the Premises Governmental units in Texas are generally immune from liability and lawsuits resulting from accidents on government owned property unless that immunity is waived. Governmental immunity prevents a court from possessing subject matter jurisdiction in a suit against a governmental entity unless consent to sue has been provided. Tex. Dep’t of Parks & Wildlife v. Miranda, 133 S.W.3d 217, 225-226 (Tex. 2004). So, a plaintiff must first show that the governmental unit being sued has waived its immunity for the type of cause of action the plaintiff is bringing and then the plaintiff must prove its underlying cause of action, as it would in any other lawsuit. The Texas Tort Claims Act provides exceptions to governmental immunity for certain causes of action, one of which is premises liability. See State v. Shumake, 199 S.W.3d 279 (Tex.2006) (“The Legislature, however, has provided a limited waiver of the state’s immunity from suit for certain tort claims….The Texas Tort Claims Act includes, among other things, a limited waiver of the state’s immunity from suits alleging personal injury or death caused by premises liability.” 199 S.W.3d at 283, citations omitted). The Texas Tort Claims Act provides: Sec.101.021. GOVERNMENTAL IMMUNITY. A governmental unit in the state is liable for: (1) property damage, personal injury, and death proximately caused by the wrongful act or omission or the negligence of an employee acting within his scope of employment if: (A) the property damage, personal injury, or death arises from the operation or use of a motor-driven vehicle or motor-driven equipment; and (B) the employee would be personally liable to the claimant according to Texas law; and (2) personal injury and death so caused by a condition or use of tangible personal or real property if the governmental unit would, were it a private person, be liable to the claimant according to Texas law. In a premises liability case, the duty owed to the plaintiff depends upon the status of the plaintiff at the time of the incident. M.O. Dental Lab v. Rape, 139 S.W.3d 671, 675 (Tex.2004). A claimant who is injured on a governmental property is an invitee, by law, if the claimant pays for use of the premises. TEX. CIV. PRAC. & REM. CODE §101.022. A landowner owes a duty to an invitee “to use ordinary care to reduce or eliminate an unreasonable risk created by a premises condition that it knew about or should have known about.” Western Investments, Inc. v. Urena, 162 S.W.3d 547, 550 (Tex. 2005).
In summary, if you paid to use a government owned property and were injured while on that property, you may have a cause of action under the Texas Tort Claims Act. Please call me at 214-880-9988 in Dallas or, outside of Dallas, 800-589-1413 to discuss your case or go to premises liability for more information. Connect with Murray Bristol on Google+.
Murray has been a member of the Texas State Bar since 1993, the Oklahoma Bar since 1995 and a member of the US District Court, Northern and Western District of Texas and Northern, Eastern and Western District of Oklahoma. Murray is a trial lawyer that practices personal injury law and seeks recovery for families and individuals that have been seriously injured or killed throughout Oklahoma and Texas.