Colorado Revised Statute 13-21-111 CRS is the state’s modified comparative negligence law. In personal injury cases, the plaintiff’s damages get reduced by their proportion of negligence (if any). And if plaintiffs are 50% or more at fault, then they receive no damages at all.
The full text of the statute reads as follows:
CRS 13-21-111. (1) Contributory negligence shall not bar recovery in any action by any person or his legal representative to recover damages for negligence resulting in death or in injury to person or property, if such negligence was not as great as the negligence of the person against whom recovery is sought, but any damages allowed shall be diminished in proportion to the amount of negligence attributable to the person for whose injury, damage, or death recovery is made.
(2) In any action to which subsection (1) of this section applies, the court, in a nonjury trial, shall make findings of fact or, in a jury trial, the jury shall return a special verdict which shall state:
(a) The amount of the damages which would have been recoverable if there had been no contributory negligence; and
(b) The degree of negligence of each party, expressed as a percentage.
(3) Upon the making of the finding of fact or the return of a special verdict, as is required by subsection (2) of this section, the court shall reduce the amount of the verdict in proportion to the amount of negligence attributable to the person for whose injury, damage, or death recovery is made; but, if the said proportion is equal to or greater than the negligence of the person against whom recovery is sought, then, in such event, the court shall enter a judgment for the defendant.
Under Colorado Revised Statute 13-21-111 CRS, plaintiffs in personal cases recover less damages in proportion to their degree of negligence. And plaintiffs are eligible for damages only if they are less than 50% at fault.1
Example: Jack rear-ends Tom after Tom stopped short at a red light. Tom sues Jack for his injuries. At trial, the jury determines both Jack and Tom were 50% at fault: Tom for stopping short, and Jack for not breaking in time. Therefore, Tom would receive no money damages because they were equally negligent.
When personal injury plaintiffs are 49% or less at fault for their injuries, the court will reduce their damages in proportion to their fault (if any). Therefore the more at fault the plaintiff, the lower the plaintiff’s damages.2
Example: Jack’s car hits and injures Tom, who was jaywalking. Tom sues Jack for $10,000. At trial, the jury determines that Tom was 25% at fault because he was jaywalking. Therefore, Tom would be eligible for only 75% of his damages: $7,500.
Typical evidence that juries use to determine fault includes video surveillance video, eyewitness testimony, and accident reconstruction expert testimony. And damages typically consist of:
- Colorado Revised Statute 13-21-111 CRS – Negligence cases – comparative negligence as measure of damages.
- Same. See also Alhilo v. Liem, App. (2016), 412 P.3d 902 ; White v. Hansen,(1992) 837 P.2d 1229; Dolan v. Mitchel, (1972) 179 Colo. 359, 502 P.2d 72.