Protection and Insurance for liability for the University, faculty and staff, and authorized volunteers is provided by statute: 24-10-101 CRS et seq is the Governmental Immunity Act which provides for immunity in tort liability, and 24-30-1501 CRS et seq is the Risk Management Act which provides for self insurance by the State of Colorado (except the University of Colorado). No separate commercial insurance policy covering liability is purchased by the State or University.
COLORADO GOVERNMENTAL IMMUNITY ACT (24-10-101 CRS et seq)
Sovereign immunity arose from the feudal concept that the monarch or king, having ascended to his position as a matter of divine right, could do no wrong. Therefore the king could not be sued. This concept persisted, as a matter of legal theory, and has been applied to the government, so that the government is "immune" from suit and cannot be sued without its consent. With the growth and expansion of government, this basic concept proved too oppressive and barred recovery in circumstances that were thought to be fundamentally unfair. Accordingly, exceptions to the general rule of immunity have been created over time.
Prior to 1973, public entities in the State of Colorado were protected by sovereign immunity which was common law. In 1973 the Colorado Supreme Court abolished the common law doctrine of sovereign immunity and declared that any immunity in this State would thereafter come from legislated immunity only. The State Legislature then passed the Governmental Immunity Act which applies to all public entities in the State.
The Governmental Immunity Act applies to all liability that lies in tort (negligence) or could lie in tort and provides immunity for public entities and employees of those entities while acting within the scope of employment, as long as such acts are not willful and wanton.
WAIVER OF IMMUNITY
The Governmental Immunity Act waives immunity in six areas which are, paraphrased:
- operation of an owned or leased motor vehicle; (note: no protection is provided for loaned, rented, or other non owned/leased vehicles)
- operation of any public hospital, correctional facility or jail;
- dangerous condition of any public building;
4. dangerous condition of a public highway, road, or street (within certain defined limits);
- dangerous condition of any public hospital, jail, public facility located in any park or recreation area maintained by a public
entity, or public water, gas, sanitation, electrical, power, or swimming facility;
- operation and maintenance of any public water, gas, sanitation, electrical, or swimming facility.
LIMITATION OF JUDGMENTS OF THE ACT
In the six areas of waived immunity, the Act limits the amount of judgments that can be recovered from any public entity and/or a public employee to:
- $150,000 for any injury to one person in any single occurrence;
- $600,000 for any injury to two or more persons in any single occurrence; except that, in such instance, no person may recover in excess of $150,000.
EMPLOYEES AND AUTHORIZED VOLUNTEERS
All paid employees of the University are provided the same protections of the Governmental Immunity Act as is provided to Colorado State University. Such immunity protections are the same for all classes of paid employees.
Additionally, "authorized volunteers" also enjoy the protections of the Governmental Immunity Act as long as functions or operations performed are for the benefit of the University, at the request of the University and subject to the control of the University.
Students participating in service activities that are required for completion of a course and/or are required for obtaining a degree (including internships and work exposure programs) are considered "authorized volunteers" and are provided the protections of the Governmental Immunity Act.
EXCLUSION OF PROTECTION
No individual is provided liability protection for acts that are outside the scope of assigned duties or that are willful and wanton, intentional, or criminal in nature. Individuals must ordinarily exercise that degree of care that a "reasonable person" would use under the same or similar circumstances. Additionally, there is no protection for:
- Independent Contractors
- Any person who is sentenced by the courts to participate in any type of useful public service.
RISK MANAGEMENT ACT (Self-Insurance 24-30-1501 CRS et seq)
The six areas of waived immunity, cited earlier in this document, are areas of liability for which insurance must be maintained. These areas include the two types of liability commonly referred to as General Liability and Automobile Liability. Insurance protection for the State of Colorado, including Colorado State University as an institution of the State, is provided through a self-insurance fund established by the Risk Management Act, 24-40-1501 CRS et seq.
The self-insured liability fund of the state is the sole insurance provision for all claims of tort against the State, its agencies and institutions, and employees and authorized volunteers. This fund also provides liability insurance for claims brought against the State (et al) of a federal civil rights nature.
Further, administration of this fund, including response to claims such as legal defense, settlement or denial of a claim or lawsuit, is delegated by Colorado law to the Division of Risk Management for the State of Colorado. No other authority of the State may assume responsibility (liability) on behalf of the State for any injury or damage experienced by any party/ies, nor make any statements that could compromise settlement of any claim or lawsuit.
INCIDENT HANDLING/CLAIM PROCEDURES
Always report any serious injury or damages to property to the Office of Risk Management at 491.1432 immediately; leave message after hours. Upon the occurrence of a claim of injury of any individual or group of individuals, or of damage to property of any individual or group of individuals, there are two processes which should occur. Those processes are:
- Inform the injured party/ies of claims procedures;
Colorado law is very explicit how a claim may be made against a public entity, i.e. all specific information regarding the incident must be reported in writing within 180 days of the incident, by the injured party to the attorney for the public entity.
A four part snap-out form which can be completed by the injured party is available by contacting the Office of Risk Management at 719.549.2531. The form states the procedures that must be followed and the address to which it is to be sent by registered mail as required by Colorado law.
- University Reporting of Incident Details (For vehicle accidents, the driver must complete the driver accident form available in the glove box of the vehicle and provide to the Office of Risk Management).
All specific details as shown below should be reported, in writing, to the Office of Risk Management, as soon after knowledge of an injury or damages as is possible. This report must be a University report, and not a report completed by the injured party/ies. Include in this narrative report:
- Date and Time of the incident;
- Where it happened;
- Who, including addresses and telephone numbers, was involved in the incident and University status, i.e. injured party/ies, witnesses, and whether employee, student or campus visitor;
- Identify observed injuries or property damages;
- University equipment involved;
- University employee/s and department/s involved;
- What happened;
- Name and contact info for employee making report.
ADDITIONAL INSURED'S FOR LIABILITY INSURANCE
The self-insured liability fund is financed with tax based monies of the State of Colorado and can be expended only for the benefit of the State. Therefore other parties, individuals, corporations public or private, cannot be added to this insurance.
INDEMNIFICATION AND HOLD HARMLESS AGREEMENTS
The State Constitution (under Article XI Public Indebtedness, Section 1) forbids the pledging of the faith or credit of the State for any amount or for any purpose. This prohibition extends to acceptance of debt or liability of any person, company or corporation, public or private, in or out of the State. This is the precise prohibition under which we cannot sign indemnification (hold harmless) clauses in agreements/contracts.