Oftentimes, people will approach law firms with potential claims against what are legally deemed “charitable organizations”. A charitable organization is an organization that is listed as an exempt organization in Section 501(c)(3) or 501(c)(4) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986. This distinction can be found in Chapter 84 of the Texas Civil Practices and Remedies Code. This is an important fact to note under Texas law because bringing a claim against these organizations can be quite different than a claim against any other kind of defendant. Different rules and statutes apply, meaning that your case may need a trained legal eye for proper evaluation.
Under this chapter of the Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code, charitable organizations are liable for up to $500,000.00 per person or $1,000,000.00 per occurrence of bodily injury. This is an important distinction to note. Hypothetically, someone who is permanently disabled or who incurred a large amount of medical bills may be entitled to hundreds of thousands of dollars in damages in a typical lawsuit. However, if the defendant happens to fall under this exception, the most they would likely be required to pay in a trial, regardless of the amount of the judgment against them, is $500,000.00. This more often than not gives them significant leverage in negotiations, as they know what the worst case scenario for them will be.
In other cases not involving a charitable organization, there is a chance that there is no ceiling for a plaintiff’s recovery. This means that if a plaintiff suffered a very serious injury or incurred a lot of medical bills, the defendant may not be able to know exactly what their worst day in court could be and is exposed to a lot more risk.
Additionally, volunteers for these charitable organizations are typically immune from any kind of liability if they were acting within the course and scope of their functions within the organization. This is an important consideration due to the fact that the at-fault volunteer may have substantial assets that would typically be accessible in a lawsuit. If they fall under the definition of “volunteer” in this chapter, these assets will be protected and they will be shielded from any liability.
These kinds of claims can be very complicated, as the first piece of the puzzle is to determine if the defendant falls under the definition of a “charitable organization”. From there, you must determine what that means for your claim, whether good or bad. It is imperative to consult with a legal professional regarding your claim in order to make sure you maximize the recovery possible.
If you or a loved one have been involved in an accident, feel free to contact the law offices of Herrman & Herrman, P.L.L.C. for a free case consultation.