Colorado Governmental Immunity – Three Injured after RTD train Derails in Aurora

On September 21, 2022, three were injured after a RTD train derails in Aurora. Three people were taken to the hospital after a Regional Transportation District (RTD) light rail train derailed in Aurora, Colorado.  The R Line train derailed at the intersection of Exposition Avenue and Sable Boulevard around 3:45 p.m. The Aurora Police Department (APD) said paramedics checked out 24 people riding on the train and three people were taken to the hospital and are expected to be okay.  While the injured parties may allege civil claims for injuries arising out of RTD’s action/inaction, injured parties must be aware of independent notice requirements to preserve any claim.  The injured party must file a written notice within one hundred eighty-two days after the date of the discovery of the injury, regardless of whether the person then knew all of the elements of a claim or of a cause of action for such injury. Compliance with the notice provisions is a jurisdictional prerequisite to any action and failure of compliance shall forever bar any such action

The Colorado Governmental Immunity Act (COGIA) imposes limits on when injured people can sue state, county, city, and other governmental entities for negligence. This article explains the most important concepts about COGIA, covering when you cannot sue a government entity, what kinds of actions are covered by the law, and more.

RTD, among other entities, are subsidiaries of active local government, and therefore subject to the Colorado Governmental Immunity Act.

When Can You Sue a Government Entity in Colorado?

After three Injured after RTD train Derails in Aurora, can the injured parties sue? The general rule is that you can sue a government entity if its negligence caused your injuries. To prevail, you must show that the government entity was negligent and that the negligence caused your injury.

Notice requirements under the Colorado Governmental Immunity Act – Three injured after RTD train derails in Aurora – what should injured parties do to preserve claims?

Under Colo. Rev. Stat. §24-10-106 sovereign immunity is waived into eight general areas: operation of a motor vehicle owned or leased by a public entity, by a public employee while in the course of employment; operation of a public hospital, correctional facility or jail; a dangerous condition of any public building; a dangerous condition of a public highway, road or street; a dangerous condition of any public hospital, jail, public facility located in any park or recreational area maintained by a public entity, or public water, gas, sanitation, electrical, power, or swimming facility and; the operation and maintenance of any public water facility, gas facility, sanitation facility, electrical faculty, power facility, or swimming facility by such public entity; the operation and maintenance of a qualified state capital asset that is the subject of a leveraged leasing agreement; Failure to perform an education employment required background check as described in 13-80-103.9, C.R.S.  While there exists a statute of limitations for the underlying claim, a claimant must submit  notice as required by C.R.S 24-10-109.   The notice shall contain:  The name and address of any public employee involved if known; A concise statement of the nature and the extent of the injury claimed to have been suffered; A statement of the amount of monetary damages that is being requested.  If the claim is against the state or an employee thereof, the notice shall be filed with the attorney general. If the claim is against any other public entity or an employee,  the notice shall be filed with the governing body of the public entity or the attorney representing the public entity. Such notice shall be effective upon mailing by registered or certified mail, return receipt requested, or upon personal service. Notice is properly filed with a public entity’s agent listed in the inventory of local governmental entities pursuant to C.R.S. 24-32-116, which is deemed to satisfy the requirements of the statute. When the claim is one for death by wrongful act or omission, the notice may be presented by the personal representative, surviving spouse, or next of kin of the deceased.

When You Cannot Sue a Government Entity

You cannot sue a government entity if it was exercising discretion. It is not liable for harm caused by exercising its discretion. However, the government entity can be liable if it failed to use its discretion. Some examples of when you cannot sue a government entity include failure to enact statutes. The government is not liable for failing to enact statutes its members think are a good idea. The government is not liable for failing to pursue a policy even if the policy is reasonable and would have reduced the risk that caused your injury. The government is not liable for failing to act. This includes failing to protect the public from risk even if the risk is obvious and easy to avoid.

Discretionary Function Exclusion

Most important, the government is not liable for its discretionary acts. When the government acts within its discretion, it has immunity from liability for any damages that result. This is sometimes called “discretionary function” and sometimes “governmental immunity.” If you want to sue a government entity that used its discretion, you must show that the government acted outside its discretion.

Negligence Actions Under COGIA

You can sue a government entity for negligence if its negligence caused your injury. The government’s immunity is triggered only if negligence is a discretionary function. – If the government’s negligence is not a discretionary function, then the COGIA does not apply. COGIA applies only to negligence actions. COGIA does not apply to intentional torts such as assault and battery.

Defenses to COGIA Claims

In certain cases, you can use certain defenses even if the government’s negligence was discretionary. The government cannot be held liable if its negligence was due to a political or policy decision. The government cannot be held liable for failing to protect you from risks that are unforeseeable. If you are the government, the other side can use the government would have protected you if it could.


When you are injured by the government, you have to decide whether to file a government liability claim or a COGIA claim. A government liability claim alleges that the government failed to protect you. A COGIA claim alleges that the government acted outside its discretion and that this discretionary act caused your injury. If you file a COGIA claim, you are challenging the government’s right to decide how to govern. You are asking the court to second-guess the government’s policy decisions. COGIA is an important part of our government and our democracy. It protects government decisions on policy matters and political issues and allows government entities to perform their functions without fear of a lawsuit.

If you’ve been involved while riding an RTD train or by a vehicle owned by a public entity and you’re ready to discuss your options,  call Mandelaris Law, or use our free claim calculator for a free case evaluation to learn what your case is worth. Mandelaris Law has advocated for injured parties and their families for over 16 years, helping them recover fair compensation for their losses, pain, and suffering. Schedule a free consultation with a trusted Denver, Colorado attorney by calling (303)357-9757.