Texas cities, municipalities, and the state of Texas are generally immune from lawsuits under the principle of Sovereign Immunity. However, if you fell on a city sidewalk or government-owned property, there are some exceptions that allow you to recover for your injuries. The most common of these situations include the following:
- Special Defects;
- When the plaintiff pays to use the premises; and
- A person other than an agent of the governmental unit created the dangerous condition.
The Texas Tort Claims Act provides for certain exceptions to sovereign immunity and allows an injured person to hold governmental units accountable for slip and fall injuries. One of those exceptions is when the premises defect is a special defect and not an ordinary defect.
A special defect is very specific and limited to certain situations. The Texas Tort Claims Act defines “special defect” by listing examples of defects “such as excavations or obstructions on highways, roads, or streets.” If a special defect caused the plaintiff’s injury, the injured person might be able to get around the doctrine of sovereign immunity and hold the governmental unit responsible for the defective premises that led to the injury.
Plaintiff Pays to Use the Government Owned Premises
A second exception that allows an injured person to sue a governmental unit or the state for a slip and fall or trip and fall injury is when the plaintiff pays to enter the premises on which he or she was injured. If the injured person paid to use the premises, the governmental entity that controls the premises has the same duties or a regular business or property owner (because they are akin to a business in this scenario).
Another Person Creates the Dangerous Condition
In some circumstances, if a person has a slip and fall, or trip and fall injury on a public sidewalk, roadway, etc. they can sue the person who created the dangerous condition, even when the governmental unit would otherwise be immune from lawsuit.
Texas courts have agreed that a person who creates a dangerous condition and leaves the premises in an unsafe condition can be liable for injury to third parties even if she is not in control of the premises at the time of the injury.
You Must Act Quickly – Time Is Not On Your Side
If you’ve been injured on property owned or controlled by a governmental entity, such as the State of Texas, or a city or municipality in the state, you need to act quickly because there are very strict time limits when making a claim against a governmental entity.
If you or a family member have been injured on government property, you probably have a lot of questions about your case. The experienced slip and fall attorneys at Barrus Injury Lawyers offer a FREE 5-Point Case Evaluation to help you understand your case, answer your questions, and know your rights and options.