Perhaps you rented a gazebo in a public park for a wedding. While preparing for the wedding, you tripped over loose bricks and fell. In most states, public property is covered by sovereign immunity. This means even though you were hurt on public property and even though the property was in disrepair, you cannot sue the government.
The state of Texas is one of the few exceptions to that rule. While not every case of being hurt on public property has come under new rules, there are now eight types of accidents that the government can be held liable for. They are:
- Government vehicle-related accidents
- Personal property misuses or abuse
- Improper use of a motor vehicle being operated by an inmate
- Premises defects
- “Special” defects on roadways
- Accidents caused by traffic control device problems
- Premises defects after paying to use the facilities
- Premises defects on real property for recreational purposes
Under these exceptions, you would be able to seek financial damages. You paid for use of the property and you were injured due to premises defects.
This is in no way meant to be a complete list. There are many exceptions and many special circumstances. Only an attorney can give you all the specifics.
Don’t Celebrate Just Yet
As you can imagine, the government does not make anything that easy. Before your attorney takes this case on, they will have a lot of preparation to do. Some counties have “Notice Requirements.” In some Texas counties, before you can file your suit, your attorney must prepare the case and present it to the county government within a particular time frame. Your presentation must lay out all the details of exactly what happened. They want to know how much money this injury cost you and how long you were injured. They then want the dollar amount that you are willing to take to settle the case.
At that point, if the county accepts your settlement demands, they will pay the amount and your case ends right there, never seeing a courtroom. However, if they decline, your case can be filed and prepared for trial.
Other Things You Need To Know
Only employees who work for the actual government can claim Sovereign Immunity. For example, if you were injured in a public park where a contractor was installing a fountain, and the installer was a contractor and not a city-paid employee, he or she cannot claim sovereign immunity. This suit would be between you and the contracting company. If it was a county employee putting in the fountain, it would fall under sovereign immunity unless it falls under one of the 8 special categories.
Your premises liability lawyer must be experienced and needs to know the law very well to wade into this legal pool.
If you are injured while on public property, seek medical attention immediately. Then, contact a personal injury attorney and present the situation to them. Only our skilled premises liability attorneys will make any headway in this arena, so don’t wait.