Houston Man Ends Up in Debt After Getting Hit by Bus
A Houston man is saddled with hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of debt after he got hit by a bus. The accident was not his fault.
The crash occurred in 2019. Matthew Leger was on his way home from work. He cannot recall the details of the accident. What he knows is what others who witnessed the accident have told him. He woke up in the hospital where nurses explained to him that he’d been hit by a bus.
Unfortunately for Leger, he did not have health insurance and his medical bills came up to nearly half a million dollars. But because Houston’s bus line is protected by the Texas Tort Claims Act, which extends sovereign immunity to companies that contract with the state, his compensation is limited to $100,000.
Sovereign Immunity Laws
Sovereign immunity laws shield the taxpayer’s coffers from liability claims. However, other bus lines, such as Greyhound, carry millions in liability coverage while Texas’ metro service pays for accidents out of your tax money. Why does it work this way? Well, one could argue that it lowers the overall costs to riders. But that explanation would be no consolation to Matthew Leger who through no fault of his own is now nearly $400,000 in debt for medical expenses.
Leger wants his story told because it’s something that could happen to anyone and has. Since 2017, Texas’ metro system has been involved in over 1000 accidents and paid out nearly $4 million in settlements. The same statutes that cap an individual compensation at $100,000 also cap incidents at $300,000. If, for example, a metro bus were to negligent damage a school bus causing death and injury to several children, all of the parents would have to fight over a total $300,000 payout.
The courts are beholden to the law when it comes to sovereign immunity and even if juries award verdicts into the millions of dollars, the court is required to restructure the verdict to fit the $100,000 cap.
Leger, who now has to relearn how to do basic things like feeding himself and walking, is utterly incapable of working. He has since moved back home with his parents but could face a lawsuit from the hospital in a bid to recover some of the money.
How Do Lawyers Handle Situations Like This?
Leger has two options available to him. The first option is bankruptcy. Since Leger is out of money and can’t work, he’s basically judgment-proof. That means that even if the hospital files a lawsuit against him and wins, they may not be able to recover anything from Leger’s assets. Discharging the remainder of his bill in bankruptcy would wipe the slate clean but put a blemish on Leger’s credit report. The other option would be to negotiate with the hospital under the threat of filing for bankruptcy. Since recouping some money is preferable to recouping none, the hospital may be willing to negotiate, but that depends on Leger having enough money to make a payment the hospital is willing to live with.
Talk to a Houston Personal Injury Attorney Today
If you’ve been injured due to the negligence of another person, the Houston personal injury attorneys at Livingston & Flowers can help you recover damages related to your medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering. Call today to schedule a free consultation.