A Texas woman recently found herself with no recourse after a large traffic sign fell on her Lexus SUV. Stephanie Hawkins was stopped at a light with her teenage daughter when she felt her vehicle shake violently. Thinking she'd been in an accident, she stepped outside only to find a sign had fallen over onto her vehicle. After taking photos of the incident and receiving a repair estimate of $2,791.25, Hawkins filed a claim with the Texas Department of Transportation. TxDOT quickly responded by saying the state government was not responsible for the damage and therefore would not pay to fix her vehicle.

How is that possible? According to Texas, government agencies are not liable for damages caused while performing government safety functions. That includes maintaining signs. The ruling is part of the Texas Tort Claims Act and the Doctrine of Government Immunity. In a separate statement, TxDOT said it investigated the claim and found no negligence on its part. Take a look at the local news report on the incident below.

TxDOT won't pay for falling-sign damage

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 2 Years Ago
      What if it fell on someone in a convertible or on a motorcycle and they were seriously hurt or even killed? I find it hard to believe they would be able to claim they weren't responsible then.
      • 2 Years Ago
      The only reason why they even came up with the notion of government immunity is to cover for the incompetence of these agencies.
      Dennis Faulkner
      • 2 Years Ago
      This can not be accepted - Texas has to pay! What did the woman due wrong that she should have to pay? I wonder about the legality of her not paying registration and such until this is paid off? It seems like so many government agencies always say "it is not their responsibility" for matters that they know full well IS their responsibility, just to get out of many claims. This must be followed up on, and Texas held accountable. Where is the incentive for Texas to make sure their roadsigns are secure?
      • 2 Years Ago
      So, a falling sign is performing with safety in mind?
        Jim Pease
        • 2 Years Ago
        That's where I think she would win in court, MyerShift.
      • 2 Years Ago
      Ah, government immunity-- that's as bad as arbitration rules with companies nowadays.
      • 2 Years Ago
      So, in TX, everyone on the road is at risk of vehicle damage and/or death because of an ill-maintained sign that may fall on them. Obviously, it is not by accident, but rather by design that this can happen since the State knows it is absolved of all liability through the Texas Tort Claims Act and the Doctrine of Government Immunity. Where is the motivation to properly maintain the signs? It seems there is an argument that could be successfully made in criminal court with the right lawyer!
      • 2 Years Ago
      Frivilous lawsuits (like this one) were touted by Texas Republicans to be the reason for skyrocketing insurance rates in all areas. Texas has had TORT reform regarding all kinds of insurance policies INCLUDING MEDICAL for decades (since 2003). So you should be able to see the national ranking by states of which states have the LOWEST insurance rates. You won't see Texas on that list. Texas insurance rates have CONTINUED to increase at the SAME RATE (12-16% annually) since 2003. No savings to the "customer" here. But we do see big profits to Big Insurance and Big Negligent Companies when lawsuits can't "interrupt" their day and profit/loss balance sheet.
        • 2 Years Ago
        You idiots blame Republicans, but its republicans that have to always come in and fix the messes that democrats make. I moved out of Texas in 1992, so I have no idea. What I do know, is that republicans are NEVER the problem, its always Democrats.
          • 2 Years Ago
      David Sheehan
      • 2 Years Ago
      80% of the people don't have a clue what tort reform is all about. The ones that due think of the lady that got burned at McDonalds by a cup of coffee ( in which McDonalds was negligent). Talk to your local Chamber of Commerce. They are the one's who push through tort reform to protect the public from the thiefs and the scammers. The problem is it hurts all people who are truly wronged by the Govenment, Doctors, Lawyers, large corporations, yes and even small business, and any one else who can pay enough to get on the list. So they don't have to worry about being negligent. Pay the person in the wheel chair 10K and walk away.
      • 2 Years Ago
      wow that's sheer ignorance on the goverment part,what would have happen if that car had lost control and hit several other cars injuring other people.
      rich lapinski
      • 2 Years Ago
      if they want to perform a real safety function,they should abolish TxDOT.
      • 2 Years Ago
      What if the sign had fallen on them and injured one of them too. Like the teenage daughter? Would they still be **** out of luck? You put the sign up. Your sign was not put in correctly. Your sign fell and smashed up a teenager who was in a car. You have some responsibility yes?
      • 2 Years Ago
      Why not sue the people who installed the signs personally for negligence and damage of property, etc. If an employee of TxDOT had a loved one hurt by government negligence, could they seek damages?
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