Claim Bills and Personal Injury Verdicts Against Government Officials
The 2018 legislative session doesn’t begin until January, but Florida senators have already filed 18 claim bills, including one attempting to collect $17.8 million from the city of Tampa. That is the largest jury verdict ever awarded against the city.
According to a legislative manual, a claim bill is legislation “that compensates a particular individual or entity for injuries or losses occasioned by the negligence or error of a public officer or agency. It is a means by which an injured party may recover damages even though the public officer or agency involved may be immune from suit. Majority approval in both chambers of the Legislature is required for passage. “
Generally, government actors don’t have to pay large jury awards because of a legal concept called “sovereign immunity.”
Sovereign immunity is a legal doctrine that prevents government actors from being sued without their consent. State law waives this liability in tort actions (i.e., personal injury claims against the government) but imposes a cap on available damages. The state of Florida can be held liable for up to $200,000 per person and $300,000 per tort claim. The damages limit in personal injury claims against municipalities like Tampa is $100,000.
Largest Personal Injury Verdict Against Tampa
In 1996, Ramiro Companioni Jr. suffered extensive injuries when a Tampa water department truck crashed into his motorcycle. He spent a month in an induced coma, needed 300 units of blood and has to wear a colostomy bag (which collects waste products) for the rest of his life. A 2004 jury verdict awarded him $18 million in damages. It’s been 21 years since the accident and 13 years since the verdict, and Companioni has only recovered $100,000 from Tampa — the city’s liability limit.
This is the sixth time that a claim bill has been filed on Companioni’s behalf.
Other Claim Bills that Have Been Filed
Other claim bills filed on behalf of Florida residents include:
- A $1.95 million settlement to the estate of a 20-year-old woman who suffered a traumatic brain injury and eventually died after a police officer used a Taser on her and she fell in a parking lot;
- $312,500 to a man who was injured in 2001 when he was shot in the neck by a police officer; and
- $10 million to a former Broward County sheriff’s deputy who suffered a permanent brain injury when he was shot in the head by a motorcyclist (the claim contends that the motorcyclist should have been in jail when the accident occurred and that the Department of Corrections hadn’t followed its probation policies).
Contact Us Today
Contact a Tampa personal injury attorney at The Pendas Law Firm today for a free consultation if you have been injured in an accident caused by a city official. We will help you recover damages for your injuries.
The Pendas Law Firm also represents clients in the West Palm Beach, Orlando, Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Jacksonville, Fort Myers, Daytona Beach and Bradenton areas.