Typically, car accident cases in Colorado are pretty simple- the person who is legally responsible for your car accident injuries is legally bound to pay you damages. But when it comes to car accidents with government vehicles, it’s gets substantially more complicated.
As governed by the Colorado Governmental Immunity Act (CGIA), Colorado governmental entities are granted immunity from most kinds of lawsuits. Auxiliary institutions of the state including universities and colleges, special districts, and county/city governments are also protected by the CGIA. In the past, governments were granted complete immunity from any kind of personal injury claim. However, most areas, including Colorado in 1972, abandoned this idea and set up a system which regulates what citizens can sue for, and curbs the amount of damages they can recover.
When Can I Sue the Government After a Car Accident in Colorado?
Generally, anytime a state, county, or city causes an accident during the course of their employment, a person is allowed to sue the government for damages. There are, however, certain procedural discrepancies and limitations that do not apply to ordinary Colorado car accident lawsuits.
The statute of limitations is one major difference. In Colorado, you have 3 years from the date of a car accident with a private individual to file a lawsuit. If you are in an accident with a Colorado governmental entity, you have only 180 days from the date of the accident to file an administrative claim in writing with the agency whose employee caused your accident. Your written claim must include:
- Your name and address
- Facts surrounding your accident
- Date of the accident/injury
- Amount of damages you are seeking (maintain precise records of expenses)
Make certain your claim is tendered within 180 days. Failure to do so will leave you unable to ever recover any damages to compensate you for your medical expenses, lost income, or any other injury-related losses.
While proving fault in claims against law enforcement and ambulance or fire services is substantially more difficult, they can still be examined.
Additionally, provisions of the CGIA forbid the immediate filing of a lawsuit. An injury victim must wait either 90 days or for the responsible agency to deny your claim- whichever comes first.
Can I Collect Car Accident Damages from a Government Entity?
While, the law typically allows plaintiffs to collect any amount necessary to make them “whole” again, including punitive damages, a plaintiff’s recovery will be capped in claims against on-duty Colorado state employees. In these cases, punitive damages are not allowed to be collected and injured persons are not allowed to collect any more than $150,000 each.