Each year hundreds of children are hurt at school varying from falling down on the school premise, from the negligence of a teacher, recklessness of bus driver, or intent from another student. These injuries are of high concern to parents and although parents may want to file a normal premise liability or personal injury negligence case, there are certain laws in place that may not allow such a claim. In Texas, there are laws that prevent claims such as these, called sovereign immunity.
Sovereign Immunity is based on English common law and now adopted in American law whereby the state or sovereign is protected by governmental immunity or from having lawsuits and similar claims filed against them. This rule is based on the theory that the state cannot commit any wrong and thus immune from civil or criminal prosecution.
Under the Texas Civil Practices and Remedies Code, Texas has adopted sovereign immunity for two main reasons. First, sovereign immunity would allow the state to be run more efficiently and productively. That is, the government’s interests trump an individual’s interest. Second, sovereign immunity protects the state from the ‘cost and consequences of imprudent actions of their government”. The Tex. Civ. Prac. & Rem. Code § 101.021 states:
“A governmental unit in the state is 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.”
Tex. Civ. Prac. & Rem. Code § 101.021.
Although schools cannot be sued for a child being injured on school premises, whether by school employees or other students, there are some exceptions. That is, Texas courts have allowed a lawsuit to be brought against schools for any personal injury caused by the negligence of the operator of moving vehicle where that driver would be personally liable. However, these damages are capped at $100,000.00 per incident. That is, if 10 children were hurt in a bus auto accident caused by the negligence of the bus driver, then all ten children would be able to file suit but would be limited to $100,000.00 altogether. That is, if sufficient damages are shown, these ten students would have to split this amount between them. Further, private and religious schools are not protected by sovereign immunity. If you have a legal question regarding whether you or someone you know are entitled to damages caused by a school employee, please contact a qualified attorney.
About the Author: Mala Sharma has been practicing family law and personal injury with her family at the Law Offices of Sharma & Associates, founded in 1997. Mala has been appointed leadership roles for the American Bar Association GP Solo and GP Solo YLD division, is Board member of the Houston Trial Lawyers Association, Past President of the Houston Northwest Bar Association, and prior board member of the South Asian Bar Association. She is also a member of the Houston Bar Association. Mala Sharma has been selected to the 2019 Texas Rising Stars by Super Lawyers. Mala has also been selected as 10 Best Attorneys by the American Institute of Personal Injury Attorney for 2018-2019, Top 40 under 40 by the National Trial Lawyers for 2018-2019, and Texas Top 10 Personal Injury Attorney by Attorney and Practice Magazine for 2019.
This material is available for informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing legal advice. You should contact an attorney to obtain advice with respect to any particular issue or problem. If you require advice or assistance, you may contact her at office number 281-893-8644 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule a free consultation to discuss your case.
About the Author: Mala Sharma has been practicing family law and personal injury with her family at the Law Offices of Sharma & Associates, founded in 1997 with over 42 years of combined experience. Mala is a Board of Advocates for the Houston Trial Lawyers Association, Vice-Chair of the American Bar Association GP Solo YLD, member of the Houston Bar Association, President Emeritus of the Houston Northwest Bar Association, and prior board member of the South Asian Bar Association.
This material is available for informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing legal advice. If you require advice on any particular legal question, you may contact Sharma & Associates at 281-893-8644 or by email at email@example.com to schedule a free consultation to discuss your case.