When government workers cause accidents that result in serious injuries to the public they can be held legally responsible for those injuries through civil lawsuits. Under current Colorado law, the state government is only required to pay a maximum of $150,000 for individual claims and $600,000 per accident. Now, a proposed bill is looking to increase the amount the government is liable to pay in damages.
The proposed bill is headed to the governor’s desk and it would increase the maximum amount to $350,000 for individual and $990,000 per single incident. If the bill is signed into law, it would only apply to future claims and not retroactively to previous liability lawsuits against the government in Colorado.
The bill was proposed by lawmakers after the state had a controlled burn that led to a deadly fire that destroyed 23 homes and killed three people. The lawmakers wanted to increase the cap on damages for the state after learning that the victims of this fire will be required to share $600,000 despite the actual estimated damage to these families was near $11 million.
Lawmakers who supported the bill said that the cap on damages needs to be increased so victims of government negligence can receive adequate compensation compared to accidents with private citizens. They said that victims of accidents caused by governmental employees should not suffer just because they happened to be the victim of negligence caused by the government instead of a private citizen.
If the bill is signed into law, it would have a significant impact on future civil lawsuits filed against the government and their employees.
Source: Gazette, “Bill that doubles state’s liability headed to governor’s desk,” Megan Schrader, March 25, 2013
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