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Collecting Car Accident Damages from a Government Entity in Colorado

Car accident attorney R. Mack Babcock explains the process if you’re in a car accident involving a Colorado governmental entity

Colorado car accident cases are pretty straight forward most of the time. You have the right to collect damages or sue an individual who is legally responsible for injuries you suffer in a car accident.

Colorado governmental entities have limited liability however, as governed by the Colorado Governmental Immunity Act (CGIA).

The CGIA grants immunity from most types of lawsuits to the State of Colorado, subsidiaries of the state like colleges and universities, special districts and county/city governments. Historically, governments had full immunity, or “sovereign immunity”, from any type of personal injury claim. Most jurisdictions however, including Colorado in 1972, scrapped this concept in favor of establishing limitations and restrictions on what citizens can sue the government for and how much they can collect.

In what instances can I sue/collect damages from the state of Colorado?

Car accidents involving a state, county or city employee during the course of their employment is the main instance where a person can sue the government for damages. However, there are different procedures and limitations as compared to a standard car accident lawsuit in Colorado.

First is what’s called the “statute of limitations” – or the amount of time from the occurrence of an accident to when you must file a claim – is 3 years for a car accident in Colorado involving a private individual. But for an accident involving a Colorado governmental entity, you have 180 days to file an administrative claim in writing to the appropriate agency (i.e. the agency whose employee hit you).

Your letter/claim to the agency must include the following information:

  • Your name and address
  • Statement(s) on the factual basis of your claim
  • Date of injury
  • Amount of compensation you’re seeking (keep meticulous records on your expenses, etc.)

Claims involving police, fire or ambulance services are a bit more problematic in proving fault but can be pursued nonetheless.

Just be sure you submit the administrative claim within 180 days of your injury, no more. Being even one day late means your case will never be heard and you will be completely left holding the bag for your injuries, damages and lost wages.

Also, under provisions of the CGIA act, you cannot immediately file a suit. You must wait either 90 days or until the agency responds to and denies the claim, whichever comes first.

How much in damages can I collect from a government entity in Colorado?

Car accident attorneys can usually collect any amount needed to make you “whole” again along with punitive damages when the case involves a private individual.

But damages are capped in car accident cases involving Colorado government employees who are on-the-job. The limit for any single occurrence involving one or more public entities and employees is $150,000 for one person and $600,000 for two or more injured persons. However, a single individual cannot collect more than $150,000. Punitive damages are not allowed in any instance.

 What about accidents involving the federal government?

Collecting damages for a car accident involving a federal government employee works much the same way as it does with Colorado state/local government, but with different timelines.

The Federal Tort Claims Act governs these suits and requires the claimant file an administrative claim with the agency responsible for the alleged negligence within 2 years of the incident. According to the act, the government can only be sued “under circumstances where the United States, if a private person, would be liable to the claimant in accordance with the law of the place where the act or omission occurred.”

You still need to include facts and damages in your claim, which can be filed using a standard government form known as a Standard Form 95.

The agency in question has six months to respond to your claim. You then have six months from the date they reject your claim to file a lawsuit. If the agency fails to respond to your claim within 6 months, you can go ahead and file a lawsuit. There’s no time limit to file your lawsuit as long as the agency is reviewing your claim but once they issue their decision, you must file your lawsuit within 6 months.
You must file your lawsuit in a federal court either where you live or where the car accident occurred. Colorado’s federal district court is located in Denver.

A car accident attorney can help you prepare your administrative claim, deal with the agency in question and represent you in any lawsuit that may arise, especially if all administrative options to settle the case are exhausted.

Have you been involved in a car accident with a Colorado or federal government employee? Contact Denver car accident attorney R. Mack Babcock today to discuss your case and see if you are eligible to collect damages.

Continue reading these related articles for more information…

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Discuss the details of your claim with a Colorado auto accident attorney at The Babcock Firm today. No matter where you are in the state of Colorado, if your case falls within our practice area and we feel our representation can benefit you, an attorney will conduct an in-depth consultation at no charge. We are here to help you secure a successful outcome. Contact us today and learn more about how representation works.

Disclaimer

While the Babcock Law Firm tirelessly works to obtain successful outcomes for its clients, prior positive outcomes are no guarantee of future success. Indicating prior positive results is in no way intended to guarantee future results.

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