Notable Personal Injury Cases in Texas History

Personal injury law in Texas has a storied history with numerous landmark cases shaping the legal landscape. These cases not only highlight the evolution of the law but also underscore the importance of legal advocacy in ensuring justice for victims. Here, we explore some of the most notable personal injury cases in Texas history.

1. Liebeck v. McDonald’s Restaurants (1994)

While not originating in Texas, this case had significant implications nationwide, including in Texas. Stella Liebeck suffered third-degree burns after spilling hot coffee purchased from McDonald’s. The jury awarded her $2.86 million, later reduced to $640,000. This case brought attention to product liability and the responsibility of corporations to ensure consumer safety.

Key Takeaway: The importance of holding corporations accountable for product safety. Learn more about product liability laws at the Texas Department of Insurance.

2. Texas City Disaster Lawsuits (1947)

The Texas City Disaster is one of the deadliest industrial accidents in U.S. history. A ship carrying ammonium nitrate exploded, resulting in over 500 deaths and extensive property damage. The lawsuits that followed highlighted the need for stricter industrial safety regulations and compensation for victims.

Key Takeaway: Industrial safety and employer liability are critical areas of personal injury law. For more information, visit the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

3. Garcia v. City of Lubbock (1986)

In this case, the plaintiff sued the city of Lubbock after a police officer shot him, alleging excessive force. The case went to the Texas Supreme Court, which ruled in favor of Garcia, emphasizing the liability of government entities in cases of police misconduct.

Key Takeaway: Government entities can be held accountable for the actions of their employees. Explore more about governmental liability at the Texas Attorney General’s Office.

4. Meritor Savings Bank v. Vinson (1986)

Though a federal case, its implications were felt in Texas. This landmark case established that a claim of sexual harassment could be brought under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. This case reinforced the rights of employees to a workplace free from harassment and discrimination.

Key Takeaway: Workplace safety and the prevention of harassment are crucial. Learn more about employee rights at the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

5. Williams v. Steves Industries, Inc. (1990)

In this case, the Texas Supreme Court ruled that an employer could be held liable for the criminal acts of an employee if the employer had knowledge of the employee’s propensity for violence. This case underscored the importance of thorough background checks and employee supervision.

Key Takeaway: Employers must ensure proper vetting and monitoring of employees. For more details on employer liability, visit the Texas Workforce Commission.


These notable cases highlight the evolving nature of personal injury law in Texas. They demonstrate the critical role of legal advocacy in protecting victims’ rights and ensuring justice. For more information on personal injury law in Texas, visit the Texas State Law Library.