An Update from Our Firm about COVID-19

Abraham, Watkins, Nichols, Sorrels, Agosto, Aziz & Stogner remains fully operational and committed to serving our clients and colleagues throughout the Coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis. As we follow the CDC guidelines and practice social distancing, we remain available for phone consultations and scheduled in-person meetings with both current and prospective clients and colleagues. Please contact our office by email or by calling 713-222-7211 with any questions. We look forward to hearing from you.

Supreme Court Favors Government Over Injured Woman

Last Friday, the Texas Supreme Court once again ruled that an injured citizen may not be compensated for damages caused by a defective road. The case was City of Denton v. Paper, ___ S.W.3d___ (Tex. 2012).

In this case, a cyclist received significant injuries from an unexpected, sunken area in the street left by the city after sewer work. To have gone around it, she would have had to ride into the oncoming lane of traffic, according to the court of appeals. The Supreme Court disagreed, saying someone could have ridden around it without getting into the opposing lane.

Generally, people injured on premises open to the public are treated as "invitees." The premises owner owes the duty of ordinary care to them, which simply means the obligation not to injure them negligently. This requires a premises owner, such as a shopping mall, to fix a problem or warn people about it.

The government, however, has reduced the standard of care for itself. By a statute, normally the government only has the standard of care owed to "licensees." This is the duty not to injure someone by willful or wanton acts or gross negligence. It has to warn or fix a defect only if it has actual knowledge of it. Thus, the government must take far less effort to discover hazards and protect the public from injury, and it is consequently far more difficult to require the government to take responsibility for the injuries it causes.

There is an exception. If the premises have a "special defect," the government then owes the injured victim the duty of ordinary care: namely, not to unreasonably injure him. The statute says a special defect is like an excavation or obstruction in the road. Over the years, however, the Supreme Court has imposed a very narrow reading on this provision, making it nearly impossible for an injured person to obtain justice and to require the government to bear the obligation not to cause injuries to the public.

In City of Denton, the Court once again imposed a narrow reading on the statute. It said that the hole was not a special defect and that, even though the city had already been required to return to the site once to further repair the sewer line when the area sank, it had no "actual knowledge" of this hazard. Therefore, the citizen was left to suffer on her own the costs of her medical bills and injuries.

If you or someone you know has been injured as a result of negligence of a governmental unit, contact the attorneys at Abraham, Watkins, Nichols, Sorrels, Agosto & Friend by calling 713-396-3964 or 1-800-594-4884.

No Comments

Leave a comment
Comment Information
  • $50+ Million Fire & Explosion

    The firm successfully represented nearly 100 victims who suffered personal injuries and damages to property from a large fire and explosion resulting in a settlement of more than $50 million. The firm served as lead lawyers on the steering committee in this litigation.

  • $80 Million Plant Explosion

    The firm successfully represented 270 plaintiffs, taking a lead role in the plaintiffs’ steering committee, who suffered injuries in a large plant explosion resulting in a settlement of nearly $80 million.

  • $50+ Million Plant Fire & Explosion

    The firm successfully represented 45 personal injury victims in a plant fire and explosion, serving on the plaintiffs steering committee, concluding with a settlement of more than $50 million.

  • $22+ Million Worksite Accident

    The firm prevailed in a personal injury trial for a worksite injury client with the jury returning a verdict and resulting in a judgment of over $22 million for the firm’s client.

  • $12 Million 18-Wheeler Collision

    The firm successfully achieved a $12 million settlement for the family of a man who died in an 18 wheeler collision.

  • $48 Million Catastrophic Burns

    The firm prevailed on behalf of three burn victims with settlements totaling nearly $48 million.

Our Record Of Success

When you are hurt and you choose a law firm to represent you in court or at the negotiation table, you need to carefully consider the firm's record.

Read More Success Stories

Let Us Help You Request a Free Consultation Today

Get Help Now

Bold labels are required.

Contact Information
disclaimer.

The use of the Internet or this form for communication with the firm or any individual member of the firm does not establish an attorney-client relationship. Confidential or time-sensitive information should not be sent through this form.

close

Privacy Policy

Back to top