“I was injured because of a dangerous condition on a trail. Can I make a claim against the City/State/Owner?”

The Texas Recreational Use Statute (Tex. Civ. Prac & Rem Code Sec 75.02 (c)) essentially bars your claim. It states that:

(c) If an owner, lessee, or occupant of real property other than agricultural land gives permission to another to enter the premises for recreation, the owner, lessee, or occupant, by giving the permission, does not:

  1. assure that the premises are safe for that purpose;
  2. owe to the person to whom permission is granted a greater degree of care than is owed to a trespasser on the premises;  or
  3. assume responsibility or incur liability for any injury to any individual or property caused by any act of the person to whom permission is granted.

(d) Subsections (a), (b), and (c) shall not limit the liability of an owner, lessee, or occupant of real property who has been grossly negligent or has acted with malicious intent or in bad faith.

So, in short, the only way that the City/Property Owner could be liable if they were grossly negligent or acted with malice towards you. This is an almost impossible standard to meet.

The Texas Supreme Court has simply bent over backwards to protect property owners and governmental entities when it comes to the recreational use statute. Based on the Texas Supreme Court’s ruling in State v. Shumake, 199 S.W.3d 279 (Tex. 2006), Texas Courts have been consistent in ruling that cyclists’ claims are barred by the Texas Recreational Use Statute. See Stephen F. Austin State Univ. v. Flynn, 228 S.W.3d 653 (Tex. 2007)(Cyclist fell on bike trail because of sprinkler water).

In an even more conservative opinion, (Univ. of Tex. at Austin v. Garner, 595 S.W.3d 645 (Tex 2019) – attached), the Texas Supreme Court ruled that a student who was hit by a University of Texas employee in a parking lot of an apartment complex owned by the University of Texas had no claim because it was bared by the Recreational Use Statute. The cyclist was not on a trail or recreational land and was hit by a state employee who was driving a car. It would seem to have been a straight up clear Tort Claim for which immunity had been waived. But no, the Texas Supreme Court somehow found that the because the cyclist was in route to ride on a trial she was engaging in recreation under the statute.

In other words, the Texas Supreme Court expanded the recreational use statute to those situations in which a person is even thinking about recreating. Their logic was tortured to say the least, but more importantly, it shows the temperament of Texas Courts towards cyclists…. and it is very conservative.