The Texas Tort Claims Act and Motorcycle Lawsuits

Motorcycle at sunset

Typically, lawsuits against government entities are barred by sovereign immunity. However, under the Texas Tort Claims Act, the government can lose its immunity for liability for certain claims, including personal injury. When a government employee operates a vehicle negligently – either their personal vehicle or a government-issued motor vehicle – the usually immune sovereign can be sued for resulting injuries and/or damages. Additionally, The Texas Tort Claims Act waives the sovereign immunity of liability for injuries caused by hazardous conditions on government property. While the Texas Tort Claims Act waives sovereign immunity in certain cases, it does contain exceptions that can prove especially difficult to navigate if an experienced and knowledgeable attorney does not represent you.

For motorcyclists, stakes can be high at busy intersections, roads, and highways. For those who ride frequently or daily, there is still potential for a fatal accident to occur. While some events may be caused by the negligence of a rider, more likely than not, the driver of a passenger or commercial vehicle causes a motorcycle-related accident. Due to blind spots, distracted driving, or simply not paying attention, motorcyclists typically bear the brunt of collisions with motor vehicles due to their lack of physical protection. For this reason, it’s important that motorcyclists understand their rights if they’re ever involved in an accident with a government official or government vehicles, such as a school bus, metro bus, or even a city landscaping truck.

The Texas Tort Claims Act

Passed in 1969, the Texas Tort Claims Act waives the state’s immunity to liability for injuries or death caused by the wrongdoing of a governmental unit. Any of the entities listed below could be considered a government unit if involved in a roadway accident with a motorcycle. The Act identifies a governmental unit as any one of the following:

  • Government agency
  • Government organization at either the state or federal level, including bureaus, boards, commissions, councils, courts, and offices
  • Political subdivision of the state, including any city, county, school district, junior college district, levee improvement, drainage, or irrigation district

A governmental unit in the state is liable for:

  • 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

  • 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.

If these two conditions are met, there is a greater likelihood the claim will move forward. Successful claims have mandated damages caps, usually at a limit of no more than $250,000 in damages per person, $500,000 per occurrence of bodily injury, and $100,000 per occurrence of property damage.

Texas Motorcycle Accident Attorneys

Though the road to a successful claim against a government unit under the Texas Tort Claims Act may sound complicated, it is a welcome challenge for the experienced personal injury trial lawyers of Liggett Law Group. Motorcyclists and their loved ones who have been involved in serious accidents understand firsthand the trauma and pain that is suffered. No person should feel alone after an accident. If you or a loved one was seriously injured or killed in a motorcycle accident involving a government entity, contact us today to learn more about how we can help.