Modified comparative negligence in Colorado is a:
- method of determining
- the degree of fault of each party
- to determine the amount of damages he or she may receive.
Personal Injury Cases
Modified comparative negligence is used in a Colorado personal injury case when a plaintiff is argued to be at least partially responsible for his or her own injuries.
Effects on Damage Awards
The jury will determine the amount of fault each party has in causing the injuries. The amount of damages awarded by the jury will be adjusted based on the plaintiff’s degree of fault in causing his or her own injuries.
Below, our Colorado personal injury attorneys address frequently asked questions about modified comparative negligence in personal injury lawsuits and the injuries you may have suffered:
- 1. What is modified comparative negligence in Colorado?
- 2. When is this method used in Colorado personal injury cases?
- 3. How will this affect my award of damages in my lawsuit?
- 4. How do I prove who was responsible for the accident?
1. What is modified comparative negligence in Colorado?
Modified comparative negligence in Colorado is a:
- system of figuring out
- each parties’ degree of fault
- to figure out the amount of damages he or she may receive.
(Also see our article on gross negligence cases.)
2. When is this method used in Colorado personal injury cases?
Modified comparative negligence is used in a Colorado personal injury case:
- when one person accuses another
- of committing negligence
- that caused him or her harm.
This method is used when:
- a plaintiff
- is at least partially responsible
- for his or her own injuries.2
3. How will this affect my award of damages in my lawsuit?
The jury decides the amount of fault each party is responsible for. The money damages awarded by the jury will be adjusted based on the plaintiff’s degree of fault in causing his or her own injuries.
If the plaintiff is 50% or more responsible for his or her own injuries, the plaintiff is not allowed to recover anything in damages.
If the plaintiff is 49% or less at fault for his or her injuries, the plaintiff can still recover, but the damage award will be adjusted down by the percentage the jury decides.
3.1 How does this all work in a real situation?
Understanding how this works in a real life lawsuit is important, and the following examples are designed to help.
Example 1: Reginald steps in a puddle of water, slips, and falls while shopping at his local grocery store. His fall causes him to crack his skull and suffer a concussion. At trial, the jury decides that the store is 90% responsible for the accident for allowing a puddle of water to remain on the floor without any warning and that Reginald is 10% at fault for not looking where he was going. The jury awarded him $50,000 for his injuries in medical bills and pain and suffering. Because he was found to be 10% at fault, his damages are reduced by 10% ($5,000). His end award is now $45,000.
Example 2: Ed and Helene are both speeding while on the highway and are driving in lanes next to each other. Helene fails to check her blind spot and attempts to change lanes into Ed’s lane. Her car slams into his, causing him to hit a guardrail. He is severely injured and sues Helene in a personal injury lawsuit. The jury finds that Ed was 20% at fault (for speeding) and Helene was 80% at fault. The jury awards Ed $100,000. The Court must then reduce the award by Ed’s percentage of fault: 20%. Instead of $100,000, Ed now will only be awarded $80,000.
Example 3: Allison is texting and driving as she approaches an intersection and runs a stop sign. Fredrick is watching Netflix while driving and makes a left turn at the intersection without making sure the intersection is clear. Frederick’s and Alison’s cars collide. Allison is badly hurt in the car accident and sues Fredrick for negligence. At trial, the jury determines that Allison is 60% at fault and Fredrick is 40% at fault. Under the modified comparative negligence rule, Allison is not entitled to damages because she is 50% or more at fault.
4. How do I prove who was responsible for the accident?
To avoid having the jury award reduced, it is important to properly prove that the other party was responsible for the accident and not the plaintiff.
With the help of an experienced personal injury attorney, a plaintiff can use evidence such as:
- Accident Reconstruction: Accident reconstruction experts can recreate the accident to show who was at fault and why. This will help prove to the jury that the other party was the real cause of the accident.4
- Witness Testimony: Witnesses to the accident can testify to who caused the injuries. Proper questioning of witnesses is critical to prove a case.
- Police Reports: Police officers respond to the scene of most accidents and usually file a report about the cause of the accident. These reports and the testimony of police officers can be very useful in proving who caused the injuries.
The best way to avoid a reduction in the personal injury award is to properly prove that the other party caused the accident and that it was through no fault of the plaintiff.
Call us for help…
For questions about modified comparative negligence in personal injury cases in Colorado or to confidentially discuss your case with one of our skilled Colorado personal injury attorneys, do not hesitate to contact us.
We represent clients in and around Denver, Colorado Springs, Aurora, Fort Collins, Lakewood, and several nearby cities.
- CRS 13-21-111 (Negligence cases–comparative negligence as measure of damages).
- Alhilo v. Liem, App.2016, 412 P.3d 902 (2016).
- White v. Hansen, 837 P.2d 1229 (1992).
- Dolan v. Mitchel, 179 Colo. 359, 502 P.2d 72 (1972).