Immunity Law & Legal Definition


Immunity is an exemption granted by statute or government authorities from a legal duty, penalty or prosecution. There are generally three types of immunity at law:

  1. witness immunity in exchange for information or testimony in a criminal matter, granted by the prosecutors, a judge, a grand jury or an investigating legislative committee;
  2. public officials' protection from liability for decisions made in the course of their official duties
  3. governmental or sovereign immunity, which protects government agencies from lawsuits unless the government agrees to be sued;
  4. diplomatic immunity which exempts foreign ambassadors from most U.S. criminal prosecution.

The following is an example of a Colorado law dealing with immunity;

  1. " Any action against a public employee, whether brought pursuant to this article, section 29-5-111, C.R.S., the common law, or otherwise, which lies in tort or could lie in tort regardless of whether that may be the type of action or the form of relief chosen by the claimant and which arises out of injuries sustained from an act or omission of such employee which occurred or is alleged in the complaint to have occurred during the performance of his duties and within the scope of his employment, unless the act or omission causing such injury was willful and wanton, shall be subject to the following requirements and limitations, regardless of whether or not such action against a public employee is one for which the public entity might be liable for costs of defense, attorney fees, or payment of judgment or settlement under section 24-10-110:
  1. Compliance with the provisions of section 24-10-109, in the forms and within the times provided by section 24-10-109, shall be a jurisdictional prerequisite to any such action against a public employee, and shall be required whether or not the injury sustained is alleged in the complaint to have occurred as the result of the willful and wanton act of such employee, and failure of compliance shall forever bar any such action against a public employee. Any such action against a public employee shall be commenced within the time period provided for that type of action in articles 80 and 81 of title 13, C.R.S., relating to limitation of actions, or it shall be forever barred.
  2. The maximum amounts that may be recovered in any such action against a public employee shall be as provided in section 24-10-114 (1), (2), and (3).
  3. A public employee shall not be liable for punitive or exemplary damages arising out of an act or omission occurring during the performance of his duties and within the scope of his employment, unless such act or omission was willful and wanton.
  4. The fact that a plaintiff sues both a public entity and a public employee shall not be deemed to increase any of the maximum amounts that may be recovered in any such action as provided in this section or in section 24-10-114.

2.

  1. A public employee shall be immune from liability in any claim for injury, whether brought pursuant to this article, section 29-5-111, C.R.S., the common law, or otherwise, which lies in tort or could lie in tort regardless of whether that may be the type of action or the form of relief chosen by a claimant and which arises out of an act or omission of such employee occurring during the performance of his duties and within the scope of his employment unless the act or omission causing such injury was willful and wanton; except that no such immunity may be asserted in an action for injuries resulting from the circumstances specified in section 24-10-106 (1).
  2. Any member of any state board, commission, or other advisory body appointed pursuant to statute, executive order, or otherwise, and any other person acting as a consultant or witness before any such body, shall be immune from liability in any civil action brought against said person for acts occurring while the person was acting as such a member, consultant, or witness, if such person was acting in good faith within the scope of such person's respective capacity, makes a reasonable effort to obtain the facts of the matter as to which action was taken, and acts in the reasonable belief that the action taken by such person was warranted by the facts.

2.5 If a public employee raises the issue of sovereign immunity prior to or after the commencement of discovery, the court shall suspend discovery; except that any discovery necessary to decide the issue of sovereign immunity shall be allowed to proceed, and the court shall decide such issue on motion. The court's decision on such motion shall be a final judgment and shall be subject to interlocutory appeal.

3. Nothing in this section shall be construed to allow any action which lies in tort or could lie in tort regardless of whether that may be the type of action or the form or relief chosen by a claimant to be brought against a public employee except in compliance with the requirements of this article.

4. The immunities provided for in this article shall be in addition to any common-law immunity applicable to a public employee.

5. Notwithstanding any provision of this article to the contrary, a public entity may, if it determines by resolution adopted at an open public meeting by the governing body of the public entity that it is in the public interest to do so, defend a public employee against a claim for punitive damages or pay or settle any punitive damage claim against a public employee."

Relevant legal forms include:

Jury Instruction - Accomplice - - Informer - - Immunity
Jury Instruction - Accomplice - - Addictive Drugs - - Immunity