Today, Colorado governor John Hickenlooper will sign the Claire Davis School Safety Act. This fiercely debated law will now hold public and charter schools accountable if they fail to exercise “reasonable” care to protect students, faculty, and staff from school shooters and other ne’er-do-wells.
Specifically, the new legislation holds that if another person commits, attempts to commit, or conspires to commit murder, first degree assault, or felony sexual assault against another student, faculty member, or staff member, and the targeted victim suffers serious bodily injury or death as a result, the school (and any other “suable” party) can be held liable if they failed to exercise reasonable care in preventing the crime from happening in the first place.
Opponents say that the bill will open up the floodgates to litigation from greedy Denver personal injury attorneys; that it will bankrupt smaller school districts; and that it will result in a higher number of school suspensions and expulsions. But people in favor of the legislation, including Claire Davis’ parents, say that enough’s enough and that Colorado schools need to be properly incentivized to make sure that Colorado and Colorado families never go through another horrific school shooting again.
And the incentive is there. The Colorado General Assembly has made it very expensive for a Colorado school to lose one of these cases. If a victim files suit and is successful, she can recover up to $350,000 in any single occurrence (the school’s total liability caps out at $900,000 for injuries to multiple persons in any single occurrence). Moreover, if there is an award of damages on behalf of plaintiffs, the court may also award personal injury attorney fees and costs up to $350,000.
Luckily, for the victims and their families, the Colorado General Assembly has also made it fairly straightforward for a a Denver personal injury lawyer to make his case in court. He need only show that the school acted negligently when it failed to protect its students or staff. In other words, a Denver personal injury lawyer must show that the school failed to behave with the level of care that someone of ordinary prudence would have exercised under the same circumstances.
It would take another blog to go into what “negligence” means under Colorado law, but you should know that the legal standard that will define school violence cases in the future is the same standard that defines the majority of auto accident or slip-and-fall cases that are already being litigated in Colorado.
As an experienced Denver personal injury lawyer, Jeffry Dougan has personally seen his clients’ lives changed forever by events over which they had no control. And many times there is nothing that he or his clients can do to reverse the pain and destruction that’s already been done. But this doesn’t mean he and his clients don’t go after the people responsible. A lawsuit will never bring back a loved one or reverse the harm that’s been done, but it can hold those responsible to account and at least try to make sure that something as horrific as a school shooting never happens in Colorado again.
If you or a family member has been a victim of school violence, please contact Denver personal injury lawyer Jeffry Dougan today and set up your FREE consultation. Put your mind at rest and get a Denver personal injury lawyer on your side who is going to fight for you and get the justice that you deserve.