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What should public entities know about the Texas Tort Claims Act?

If you are a public employee, you may use government-owned vehicles in your daily work. However, if you were to get into an accident or damage someone’s property while using that vehicle, do you know who is held liable? While it is commonly thought that an individual cannot sue the government, this is not true in a situation like this because of the Texas Tort Claims Act.

The TTCA, as explained by the Texas Municipal League, enables citizens to make claims for injuries caused by government employees who were working at the time of the incident. This took away the sovereign immunity the government used to enjoy prior to 1969 when it was enacted.

Because of the TTCA, if you cause an injury to another person or damage their property while you are working, the government you work for can be sued by that person. However, any duties you are carrying out that are considered necessary for the public good are not covered under this act. These are called proprietary functions.  

Of course, there are limits set as to the liability of a government entity. These are strictly for monetary damages that can be awarded to a victim. For example, if you were injured by a government employee and sue the government for an injury, you could collect up to $250,000. If you and another person were injured, you would be held to a limit of $500,000 total because that is the maximum for each occurrence. For property damage, the limit is $100,000. This information is only intended to educate and should not be interpreted as legal advice.

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