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Legislature Sees Movement On Claims Bills

State lawmakers pushed through six claims bill on Monday.  The 2015 session could be one of the few times the state pays claimants in two years.

Some Floridians have been waiting for relief from the state since 2000. Take the case of Hialeah resident Lazaro Rodriguez.

“On July 30, the year 2000, officer George Rodriguez crashed his police cruiser into the driver side of 29-year-old Lazaro Rodriguez Ford Explorer, causing massive and fatal blunt trauma injuries. Officer George Rodriguez ran the red light and operated his vehicle in a careless manner,” says an aide to Sen. Denise Grimsley.

Grimsley’s bill isn’t the only bill moving. Lawmakers could be awarding several hundred thousand dollars to the Rodriguez family and others residents who have been injured wrongly by state and county officials. Often, the claimants don’t get all the money they won in courts. That’s because government entities have a cap on the amount of money they can pay out when they are responsible for accidents. It’s $200,000. Anything more has to go through the legislature in what has become a tedious process. Here’s Capital critic Brian Pitts.

Six million and you get to nine forty. This is a person now. And if I’m, correct they’re deceased. You don’t see anything wrong with that? You spend money on people. You be cheap on things,” Pitts says.

Pitts makes a notable point: Claimants are paid much less through the claims process than they earned through litigation. The claims process is considered lengthy and many choose to take the $200,000 state immunity maximum.