The State of Texas is immune from liability and from suit with respect to most causes of action against it under the doctrine of sovereign immunity. This means that the State of Texas cannot be sued in its own courts without its legislature’s consent. Wichita Falls State Hospital v. Taylor, 106 S.W. 3d 692 (Tex. 2003). The Texas Constitution provides that the State cannot give, lend or pledge the credit of the State to any person, association or corporation, or make any grant of public monies to any person, association or corporation without express authority. Article 3, Sections 50-52, Texas Constitution. Unless the Texas Legislature by resolution permits a suit against the State, the State is not authorized to pay claimants and likewise is unable to indemnify a third party for the expenses associated with defending against such a claimant since such an indemnity would be an unauthorized grant of public monies to the putative indemnitee.
In certain limited circumstances, the Texas Tort Claims Act (Chapter 101, Texas Civil Practice & Remedies Code) provides a waiver of the State of Texas’ sovereign immunity with respect to liability and suits against governmental units like The University of Texas System and its individual institutions for property damage, personal injury, and death proximately caused by the wrongful act or omission or the negligence of an employee acting within the scope of his or her employment. The property damage, injury, or death must have arisen from the operation or use of a motor-driven vehicle or motor-driven equipment or caused by a condition or use of tangible personal or real property, Section 101.021. In cases meeting all of the requirements of the Texas Tort Claims Act, the University has consented to be sued for the alleged negligence of its employees and may possibly be found liable for damages proximately caused by such negligence. The limits of this liability are: (i) $250,000 per person for personal injury or death, up to $500,000 per occurrence, and (ii) $100,000 per occurrence for injury to or destruction of property.
GENERAL LIABILITY. In general, it is the stated policy of the State of Texas not to acquire commercial general liability insurance for torts committed by employees of the state who are acting within the scope of their employment. Rather, third parties must look to the Texas Tort Claims Act for relief with respect to property damage, personal injury, and death proximately caused by the wrongful act or omission or negligence of an employee acting within his scope of employment as more fully set out above. One exception to the above stated policy of the state authorizes agencies and institutions of the state to acquire commercial automobile insurance for the use and benefit of their employees who operate state owned, motorized vehicles and special equipment.
WORKER’S COMPENSATION. Employees of The University of Texas System are provided Worker’s Compensation coverage under a self-insuring, self-managed program as authorized by Chapter 503, Texas Labor Code.
MEDICAL MALPRACTICE. For the acts or omissions of its physicians, each institution of The University of Texas System is self-insured pursuant to The University of Texas System Professional Medical Liability Benefit Plan, under the authority of Chapter 59, Texas Education Code.
Disclaimer: The materials on this website are for information purposes only. It is not intended to serve as or in place of legal advice. Please contact the Office of General Counsel or your own legal counsel for specific advice on this topic.