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What is the Texas Tort Claims Act?

November 19, 2009

The Texas Tort Claims Act is the set of laws that determine when a governmental entity may be held legally liable for tortious conduct under state law.

Before the Texas Tort Claims Act was adopted by the legislature, an individual could not recover damages from a state or local governmental unit for injured they suffered as a result of the actions of a government employee in an employee’s performance of a governmental function.

This concept is known as sovereign immunity, and it exists to protect the government’s time and resources from litigation and to encourage swift action by government officials.

However, in 1969, the Texas legislature adopted the Texas Tort Claims Act, waving sovereign immunity for governmental entities under certain circumstances. The relevant portion of the Act (Tex. Civ. Prac. & Rem. Code § 101.021) states that governmental units can be held 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.

The Act places a cap on the amount of damages an individual can receive when suing a governmental unit. The maximum amount of damages that can be received by an individual is $250,000. There is also a $500,000 cap for each single occurrence of bodily injury or death. Finally, there is a $100,000 limit on the amount that can be awarded for a single occurrence of injury to or destruction of property.

If you have been injured by the actions of a government employee, contact Fears | Nachawati today to determine whether you may be eligible to receive damages under the Texas Tort Claims Act. You can email us or phone us toll free at 1.866.705.7584.

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