Four people were seriously injured when a gravel-laden dump truck sped out of control down an Austin street before tipping over and bursting into flame.
According to witnesses, the dump truck apparently had no brakes as it plowed through several cars waiting at an intersection, and narrowly averted rear-ending several more vehicles. Eventually, the dump truck went airborne, plunged down a 15-foot cliff, caught on fire, and tumbled onto its side. First responders transported four people to nearby hospitals with various injuries, but they are all expected to survive.
One witness simply described the horrific scene as “amazing.”
Suing the Government for Routine Matters
The principle of sovereign immunity typically limits an injured person’s ability to collect from the state or local municipality. In many cases, this concept protects government employees against negligence lawsuits. But sovereign immunity is not limitless. Generally, if a bus driver, truck driver, or other vehicle operator would be subject to a negligence lawsuit as a civilian, the injured victims may pursue administrative claims to get the compensation they deserve.
In other cases, it may be possible to bypass the administrative process altogether. Sovereign immunity only applies in cases that involve governmental action, and actions which require no independent judgment are considered proprietary functions.
Vehicle maintenance is clearly a proprietary function, because this task must be done according to a set of instructions. Other examples include:
Traffic Control Signals: Installation is something of a grey area, but maintaining these devices by changing the bulbs, tending to the wiring, and ensuring that the red-yellow-green timer complies with standards set forth in the Transportation Code are all clearly proprietary functions.
Enforcing the Law: This issue sometimes comes up in alcohol-related crashes if the driver was stopped for DUI and officers did not make an arrest, for whatever reason.
Care for Prisoners: Medical care and humane treatment are mandatory, although reasonable minds often differ as to what is medically necessary and what is humane.
According to respondeat superior, the government is liable for the damages that their negligent employee cause, if the tortfeasors (negligent actors) were acting within the course and scope of their employment. These damages include compensation for both economic and noneconomic losses. Punitive damages are also available, in some cases.
For prompt assistance in this area, contact an experienced New Braunfels personal injury attorney. A lawyer can arrange for victims to receive ongoing medical care, even if they have no money and no insurance.