Office of Sen.

Mike Johnston
Colorado General Assembly | 200 E. Colfax Avenue | Denver, CO 80203 | 303.866.4864

FACT SHEET MEMORANDUM
SB 13-023 Increase Damages Caps under CGIA Sen. Cadman & Sen. Morse

Staff Name: Colinford Mattis What the Bill Does: Currently, the “Colorado Governmental Immunity Act” sets the following limits on the amount of money that can “be recovered by a person(s) suing a public entity or public employee for loss or injury caused by the entity or employee in any single occurrence:” • $150,000 for any injury to one person. • $600,000 for any injury to two or more persons, but not to exceed $150,000 to any one person. In light of the effects of inflation since 1992, the last time the aforementioned limits were set, the proposed bill will increase the limits to the following amounts: • $478,000 for any injury to one person. • $990,000 for any injury to two or more persons, but not to exceed $478,000 to any one person. Furthermore, the proposed limits are exclusive of interest that may be awarded. Lastly, the attorney general will adjust the limits for inflation every four years starting January 1, 2018. The adjusted amount will be published on the attorney general’s web site. Colorado Context: Currently, the “Colorado Governmental Immunity Act” (CGIA) allows local and state governments in Colorado to defend themselves against negligence and other tort claims related to general liability, automobile liability, and medical liability. The State Claims Board—a body made up of the state treasurer, the state attorney general, and the executive director of the Department of Personnel and Administration—settle claims against the state, from the Risk Management Fund, up to the payment amount limits set by CGIA. The amounts limits detailed in CGIA were last adjusted in 1979 and 1992.1 National Context: The “Colorado Governmental Immunity Act” (Act) governs state sovereign immunity, legislative authority over immunity issues, and tort claims against the state. All 50 states have such a law in place.2 The act serves as statute to prohibit
1 2

SB13-023 Colorado Legislative Council Staff Fiscal Note. pp. 1-2 Rall, Jaime, “Weather or Not? State Liability and Road Weather Information Systems (RWIS)” (April 2010). National Conference of State Legislatures. pp 57.

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For a complete list of fact sheets, visit www.mikejohnston.org/in-the-legislature.

punitive damages against the State and provides limitations on recoverable damages.3 Twenty-nine states in the United States, including Colorado, prohibit punitive damages against the State in some form.4 Thirty-three states, including Colorado, provide limitations on recoverable damages against the State in a civil suit.5 Bill Provisions: The proposed bill has the following provisions, which amends Colorado Revised Statutes 24-10-114: • The maximum amount recoverable, whether from one or more public entities and employees, for any injury to one person in a single occurrence is $478,000. • The maximum amount recoverable, whether from one or more public entities and employees, for any injury to two or more persons in a single occurrence is $990,000; however, no one person can recover more than $478,000. • The aforementioned amounts do not include interest awarded. • The maximum amount recoverable limits will be adjusted based on “the percent change over a four year period in the United States Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Consumer Price Index for Denver-BoulderGreeley, all items, all urban consumers, or its successor index.” • On or before January 1, 2018 and every fourth January 1st thereafter, the attorney general will calculate and adjust the maximum amount recoverable limits—to the nearest thousand dollar, which will be applied for the next four years. • The attorney general will publish the adjusted maximum amount recoverable limits on the attorney general’s web site. • This act is effect July 1, 2013 and applies to civil actions filed on or after July 1, 2013. Fiscal Impact: The Colorado Legislative Council estimates there will be a fiscal impact that would increase state expenditures; the amount of increase has not been estimated for the following reasons: • An increase in the recoverable amount limit may lead to more claims, more litigation, and higher awards. • The number of settlements, and the amount paid for each, are expected to increase under the bill. • The bill permits interest to be awarded on top of any per person or total occurrence damages award. • The potential amount of increase of payments to the Risk Management Fund in DPA has not been estimated. • The future number of claims settled or awarded at the cap amounts cannot be estimated. • State agencies insured outside the state's self-funded pool could see an increase in premiums as insurers mitigate risk under the new caps.
3 4 5

Ibid. Ibid. pp 57-63 Ibid.

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For a complete list of fact sheets, visit www.mikejohnston.org/in-the-legislature.

• The built-in inflation adjustment is assumed to increase costs in four-year increments starting in 2018, to the entities covered by the CGIA • If the caps as proposed in the bill were in place in the current fiscal year, the CU system would experience an estimated increase in general liability damages payouts of $485,762, and an increase of $39,984 in payouts for automobile-related accidents. • Impacts at the local government level mirror those of state-level impacts.

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For a complete list of fact sheets, visit www.mikejohnston.org/in-the-legislature.

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