Lawmakers are expected to approve a $700,000 claims bill to compensate an engineering professor at Florida State University who suffered serious injury after he was struck by a garbage truck while riding a bicycle five years ago.
It may seem an odd step in the civil litigation process, but the reason the case took this route is because in Florida, claims against the government are capped at $200,000 - no matter what the circumstances or expenses incurred. The legal doctrine of sovereign immunity prevents people from bringing claims against the government unless the government approves. Capping damages is one of our state's limitations on civil claims. Even when the court finds or the government concedes liability for a higher sum, the additional amount must get a final approval stamp from the state legislature in the form of a bill.
In this case, the city of Tallahassee, where this accident occurred, conceded liability and agreed to pay the cyclist $900,000. It gave him the $200,000 it was allowed to give by law, but in order to fulfill the rest of the out-of-court settlement obligation, the case had to go before state lawmakers.
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