CAN I SUE THE GOVERNMENT? SOMETIMES, YES. SOMETIMES, NO.
You might think after an unfortunate injury or death—at the hands of the government—to a friend, family member, or yourself, you can sue and recover damages for that injury. In some cases, you can. In some cases, you cannot.
Generally, a governmental unit in Texas such as the state, city, county, school district, or local bus service is protected by what is called “Sovereign Immunity.” Sovereign immunity refers to the fact that the government cannot be sued without its permission.
In Texas, the legislature passed the Texas Tort Claims Act many moons ago giving permission to sue governments inside of Texas’s borders, but on a very limited basis and limited to a certain amount of money damages depending on which governmental unit you are suing. For example, a school district may only be held liable, under Texas law, for damages arising out of a school district employee’s negligent operation or use of a motor vehicle while working in the course and scope of employment with the school district. Under Texas law, if injuries and/or property damages have not occurred as the result of the negligent use or operation of a vehicle by a school employee, there is no school district liability. In addition, when you are permitted to sue the government in Texas, notice must be given to that governmental unit with very specific information notifying it of the claim and within six (6) months or less of the injury depending on the which governmental unit you are suing.
While Texas has protected itself and other governmental units inside of its borders from most injury claims, there are limited circumstances under which a claim can be made outside of Texas law—under Federal law.
A Livingston & Flowers lawyer successfully pursued and settled claims against Terrell Independent School District following the sexual assault of three students by one of the school district’s teachers. The claims were filed in federal court under federal (not state) law pursuant to federal civil rights laws 42 U.S.C § 1983 – Civil action for deprivation of rights (a/k/a Section 1983) and Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 (a/k/a Title IX). Section 1983 provides an individual the right to sue state government employees and others acting “under color of state law” for civil rights violations. Title IX protects people from discrimination based on sex in education programs or activities that receive federal financial assistance.
Talk to a skilled Houston personal injury attorney
Navigating the rough waters of filing a claim against the government can be frustrating. If you have been injured due to the conduct of the government, such as the state, city, county, school, or local bus service, call the Houston personal injury attorneys at Livingston & Flowers today to schedule a free consultation and discuss your options moving forward.