Immunities - Law 101
Hello, I'm attorney Kyle Bachus. The legal world is full of overly complicated jargon and terminology that can be intimidating if you don't know what it means. In my law 101 video series, I'm breaking down some commonly used legal terms so you can be informed and confident should you ever need to take legal action.
In this episode of law 101, we're going to break down the legal term immunities.
What are immunities? In other videos, we've talked about negligence, right? Let's say that you meet all of the qualifications to present a negligence claim. Well, we always have to ask a final question before we can bring a negligence claim. Is there something about the law that prevents us from bringing a claim against that entity or person? And that's what an immunity is. So what are examples? Governments. When governments write statutes, they write immunities into those statutes.
You have state government, and then you have the federal government. Let's talk specifically about state government. State governments in most states they write immunities in one of two ways. The first is they write a law that says we are immune from any lawsuits at all, except for those that are specifically enumerated in our immunity statute. The second way a government can do it is they can write a law the opposite that says, we can be sued for everything except those categories of lawsuits that we have identified in our statute.
In Colorado, our state government has said state local governments are immune from liability in all circumstances, except for those specifically enumerated in a statute. So you have to look at the statute and see whether you fall under an exception to governmental immunity. The federal government similarly has immunities. These are very expansive and very detailed. But it's important for you to understand that immunities exist and that the next step is to try to identify what immunities might exist in a particular legal setting and to see whether there are notification requirements.
Let's say it's a school teacher working as an employee for the school, going to get supplies, runs a red light, and causes harm. We got to try to identify very quickly whether or not the person who caused the collision might be subject to some immunities because the consequences are real. The timeframes may result in no claim at all; the immunities might result in no claim at all. So when we look at immunities, it's extremely important to see, is there an immunity that applies? And then to look at the governmental immunity statute, to see whether you fall under an exception and to see how you need to give notice and under what circumstances, and to whom notice must go out.
If you have a question about a particular matter and whether there are immunities, whether there's state government or federal government immunity, we're happy to answer those questions for you at Bachus and Schanker. To learn more about other law topics that can help you feel informed and confident about the law, make sure to check out more videos in this series.
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