Those who suffer injury on someone else’s property can pursue compensation for their damages if the property owner’s negligence led to or failed to prevent injury. If the government owns the property, claimants must follow applicable rules to file their claim. Identifying whether a government owns the property is, therefore, very important.
Determining Ownership of Government Property
All government property (local, state and federal) must be kept in a manner to prevent someone from being injured. If the establishment or government fails to do so and the existence of dangerous conditions causes harm to someone – like a slip and fall on a sidewalk – the government could be responsible for damages.
Once the owner has been identified, the claimant files a notice of claim. But what if you don’t know who is responsible for the property? Sometimes this requires a little research. Aurora spans three counties: Adams, Arapahoe and Douglas. Depending on the county, contacting the local assessor’s office is one way to determine ownership.
The Risk Management Division of Human Resources (at City Hall) handles liability claims for the city of Aurora. Claims must be submitted in writing. They have up to 90 days to make a decision.
Victims can also contact the Attorney General for Colorado. The AG website provides a list of government agencies and services that can help identify ownership of a property. There is also the option of having an attorney locate this information for you. In fact, it’s usually a good idea to secure legal representation when filing a claim against a government entity, as these claims can be more complex.
Filing a Premises Liability Claim against a Government Entity
Once the injured party determines if the property is local, state or federal and has identified the appropriate agency, he or she will file a notice of claim. The rules for filing the claim will depend on whether you are filing against a local, state, or federal government.
The Colorado Government Immunity Act provides guidance on filing a claim against the state or a local government. It provides 180 days in which to file a notice of claim. If filing against the state, the claimant files with the Attorney General.
If filing against any other public entity in Colorado, the claimant files the governing body of the entity. Any resultant legal action must be filed within the statute of limitations for property liability claims, which is two years.
The Federal Tort Claims Act, meanwhile, covers filing a claim against the federal government. Claims against the federal government must be presented within two years of the accident. Of course, it’s not enough to claim that the government agency is responsible for your injuries. There must be evidence that supports the claim.
An example is photographs of the injury scene, your injuries, and anything else of relevance. Contact information from witnesses and any accident or incident reports can also help establish the circumstances of the accident.
You can establish the extent of the damages with:
- medical records;
- previous paystubs; and
- other documentation like an excess of prescription receipts.
Finally, contact an attorney. There can be numerous challenges in pursuing a claim against a government agency. Get help for a claim in Aurora from D.J. Banovitz: call (303) 300-5060.