Can I Sue the Government if I Crashed on a Poorly Maintained Road?

Written by Jeremy D. Earle, JD

April 11, 2023


Colorado’s Department of Highway Safety and Motor Cars FLHSMV has recorded more than 150,000 traffic collisions resulting in injury per year for the last few years. Accidents happen for several causes, many of which are avoidable and the consequence of drivers making bad decisions behind the wheel.

Even the most cautious drivers might be involved in a traffic collision via no fault of their own. The planning and maintenance of Colorado’s roads and highways is the responsibility of the state, city, and municipal government organizations. Drivers who fail to do so put themselves in danger of an accident and injury.

If you are injured due to a collision on a badly maintained road, Colorado law allows you to sue the relevant government agency for damages. This tutorial will provide a general overview of what defines a badly maintained road, why you may sue the government after a collision, and the unique procedural criteria for launching a lawsuit against a government body after a traffic accident on a poorly maintained road.


When people think of badly maintained roads, they often think of potholes, but many various forms of road hazards might cause a traffic accident.

Roads that flood due to blocked drainage or inadequate drainage design Road construction cuts in the pavement

Missing manhole covers, potholes, and sinkholes, all of which are particularly widespread in Colorado

Uneven pavement

Excessive oil or other spills on the road Guardrails missing or damaged

Unmarked roads with no shoulder or centerline markers Dangerous bends and poor sightlines


Signage that is insufficient, erroneous, or absent

Inadequate illumination due to burnt-out street lights or a lack of street lights Foliage that obstructs sight or obstructs traffic signals or traffic signs

Trees that have fallen and obstructed a road • Other debris and road impediments

Weather, not government incompetence, is to blame for several of these road problems. In your specific situation, a skilled personal injury attorney can assist in determining whether routine maintenance or timely attention to the danger may have avoided an accident.


The fact that a person may sue the government may seem paradoxical. After all, a long-standing legal notion known as sovereign immunity protects the government in the United States from being sued. This legal tradition stems from the principle of rex non-protest peccare, which means “the monarch cannot do wrong” in English.

Sovereign Immunity shielded the governing king from his people throughout early British rule. In the United States today, federal and state government institutions have the same Immunity unless they relinquish their right to be sued and agree to be sued. Municipal governments are created by the state’s laws in which they are situated. Hence the breadth of their Immunity from lawsuits is determined by those laws.

State agencies and subdivisions that have waived their sovereign Immunity and agreed to be sued in certain cases under Colorado law include:

Executive branches Legislative branches

Judicial branch, which includes public defenders State universities

Counties Municipalities

Corporations that act as state, county, or municipality agencies

A lawsuit against the government for personal injury, such as injuries incurred in traffic accidents caused by a government agency or employee, is one of the sorts of litigation permitted under these statutes. A Colorado person who has been injured in a car accident caused by a badly maintained road in or around Colorado Springs may sue the government if the following requirements are met:


Negligence resulted in the injuries sustained. This implies that to win a court action, a plaintiff must establish carelessness, which involves demonstrating the government knew or should have known about the badly maintained road.


In the same circumstance, a Colorado court would hold a private person accountable.

In Colorado, these are the basic prerequisites for bringing a lawsuit against a government institution. Each case has its own set of circumstances that may add to or alter these requirements. An expert car accident lawyer can assist you in determining the problems that are important to your specific situation.


Even though Colorado law allows you to sue the government for damages if you were injured in a car accident caused by poorly maintained roads, the law also contains some exceptions that apply to government claims:

You cannot hold a government employee personally liable unless you can prove that the employee acted maliciously, which is rare in these types of cases; instead, you must seek damages from the employer government agency or subdivision.

You cannot recover more than $200,000 in damages; if more than one party is involved, the cap increases to $300,000.

In the rare instance when a government organization has obtained liability insurance higher than the legal limit, the court may award extra damages up to the policy amount.

Punitive damages are nearly never granted in cases involving a government agency or subdivision. A court may impose punitive damages in relatively rare circumstances of government agency egregious negligence.


Colorado is a no-fault insurance state requires drivers to have medical payments coverage (MedPay) and property damage liability (PDL) coverage on their cars. This implies that when a traffic accident happens, responsibility does not immediately come into play. To recoup damages from their accident and injuries, each party claims with their insurance provider. PIP insurance, under Colorado law, covers 80% of medical treatment expenses and 60% of lost income resulting from an accident or hospitalization, up to the policy level. If you are involved in a car accident caused by a badly maintained road, the first thing you should do is submit a claim under your PIP coverage.

If your accident resulted in serious injuries, it’s extremely probable that you’ve already surpassed or will shortly exceed your PIP coverage limits. After your PIP limitations have been exhausted, you may be able to initiate a lawsuit to collect any leftover losses. When and if you should sue


one or more government bodies for extra losses not covered by your PIP coverage, an expert personal injury attorney can guide you. Once you’ve decided to sue the government, you’ll need to follow precise processes with the aid of a trained attorney that go beyond what you’d do if you were using a private party.

Procedure for Filing a Lawsuit Against the Government Following an Accident on Poorly Maintained Roads

A lawsuit against a government institution is significantly more complicated than one against a private party. Plaintiffs who file a lawsuit against the government in Colorado must meet the following requirements:

You can’t bring a lawsuit unless you’ve notified the government agency or subdivision in charge of maintaining the road where the accident happened in writing.

You have three years to contact the Colorado Department of Financial Services about your claim.

You have three years from the date of injury to file a claim against the government agency or subdivision.

The government has a six-month inquiry period after you alert them before you may initiate a civil action.

You usually have three years from the date of the accident to file a claim against the government agency or subdivision. However, whether you are a living family member or the executor or administrator of an estate, you only have two years to file a wrongful death lawsuit.

The complex nature of claims against the government needs the assistance of an experienced personal injury lawyer. He or she will walk you through the procedure and verify that all of the criteria are met. If you do not follow the appropriate procedures while initiating a lawsuit against the government, you may be unable to obtain damages linked to your accident and injuries.


Colorado courts assign a percentage of blame to each party named in a lawsuit in personal injury cases. This kind of comparative negligence, also known as comparative blame, is based on the idea that plaintiffs’ acts may occasionally contribute to the cause of an accident and the injuries that occur. For instance, if a plaintiff was speeding at the time of a collision, the defense may claim that the plaintiff is to blame for a collision on a badly maintained road.

Let’s assume the court determines that the plaintiff is 20% at blame. The court lowered the number of damages awarded based on the plaintiff’s proportion of the blame. The plaintiff may only get $800,000 if the court awards $1,000,000 in this instance. Comparative negligence allows the defense to transfer responsibility to the victim to minimize financial obligation after an accident, among other defense strategies.



Any party designated as a defendant in a lawsuit, whether a private party or a government institution, will do everything possible to escape blame. Counties and small communities in Colorado have an added incentive to contest claims since paying a big judgment may deplete or impair the community’s available revenues. Suppose the government entity you’re suing refuses to settle, and you have no choice but to launch a civil action. In that case, it may employ one or more of the following defensive strategies to limit its liability:

Establishing negligence requires demonstrating that the government was aware of or should have been aware of the traffic danger. Fixing roads is a long process, and the agency or subdivision you’re suing will almost certainly claim that they were unaware of the situation. Time may also be a consideration, with the defense arguing that the city or municipality did not have enough time to learn about the threat.

The defense may argue that you had pre-existing injuries that were not caused by accident, or that the severity of your injuries was exaggerated, or that you caused the accident by driving while intoxicated, distracted, or carelessly. They might even allege that you broke other driving laws, which caused the collision.

The defense may argue that they were aware of the risk and placed warning signs that you disregarded.

An experienced personal injury lawyer will anticipate and fight against these techniques to optimize your chances of getting damages for your injuries.


Colorado law allows you to sue the government if you are injured in an car accident caused by badly maintained roadways. However, doing so is a difficult undertaking with certain procedural requirements, not to mention that government litigation is sometimes convoluted since several parties are involved.

It’s in your best interests to employ a qualified and skilled attorney who can handle the paperwork details, so the government doesn’t dismiss your claim based on a technicality. A qualified lawyer can also examine your accident, develop a case against the proper agency or subdivision, and conduct talks to get the best possible result for your situation.

Serious injuries can cause sufferers extra mental distress and financial difficulty in addition to the physical suffering of healing. Concentrate on recuperating and dealing with the repercussions of your injury during this trying period while a skilled attorney fights for you against the government agency accountable for your accident and injuries.

For a free case examination and understanding of how our expertise and knowledge may assist you after an accident on a badly maintained road, call Warrior Car Accident Lawyers in Colorado Springs at 719-300-1100. Typically, our clients do not have to pay legal costs up ahead. Most personal injury cases are handled on a contingency basis, with our fees deducted from any compensation we get for our clients in the form of a settlement or a favorable judgment.

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