Can you sue a county or state for wrongful death?

My sisters were in an accident and my niece was killed. The driver of the other vehicle is only 21 and has 16 previous speeding and reckless driving tickets. Can we sue the county or state for negligence?

Asked on June 7, 2012 under Personal Injury, Texas


B.H.F., Member, Texas State Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

The only person that you will be able to sue is the actual driver (or if the driver is also deceased-- then their estate.)  There are two reasons you can't sue the state.  The first is has to do with causation.  Even with this driving history, you'll have a hard time proving that the tickets contributed to this event which caused the nieces's death.  The State would simply argue that even if his license was suspended, it does not mean that he would not still have driven with a suspended license-- like many people unfortunately do.  The second reason, is governmental immunity.  County governments have immunity-- but State immunity is even tougher to pierce.... and it would be a state agency that issued the driver a license (as opposed to a county government).  Immunity means that government agencies are "immune" or protected from lawsuits.  The instances where a governmental entity can be sued are very rare, and this situation would not qualify.

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