Injuries and accidents in Colorado restaurants can lead to injuries and loss of income. These damages can be recovered in a personal injury lawsuit filed against:
- the restaurant owner;
- a parent company;
- third-party food suppliers; and
- other third-party contractors.
Common Injuries in a Colorado Restaurant
While almost anything can happen in a Colorado restaurant, more common injuries include:
Below, our Colorado personal injury attorneys address frequently asked questions about injuries in a Colorado restaurant in personal injury lawsuits and the injuries you may have suffered.
- 1. What do I have to prove for a claim of restaurant negligence in Colorado?
- 2. What duties of care do Colorado restaurants owe to their guests?
- 3. What are some common ways Colorado restaurants breach the duty of care?
- 4. Who can I sue if I am injured in a Colorado restaurant?
- 5. What damages can I recover in a successful personal injury lawsuit?
1. What do I have to prove for a claim of restaurant negligence in Colorado?
Colorado law requires that an injured person (the plaintiff) prove that the restaurant was negligent when it committed the harm against you.
To prove negligence occurred, a person who is injured (the plaintiff) must prove:
- that the person being sued (the defendant) owed a duty of care to the plaintiff;
- that the defendant breached that duty of care;
- that the defendant’s breach was the cause of the injury; and
- that the plaintiff sustained monetary damages from his or her injuries.1
2. What duties of care do Colorado restaurants owe to their guests?
Colorado restaurants are required to comply with the standard of care and duties imposed by Colorado law. Breach of these duties can result in financial compensation to the injured victim through a personal injury lawsuit.
These duties include, but are not limited to:
- keeping all parts of the restaurant clean and in good repair;
- serving drinks at a reasonably safe temperature;
- not serving alcohol to underage drinkers,
- not continuing to serve alcohol to drunk customers;
- keeping restaurant furniture safe and in good repair;
- cleaning up all spills promptly and safely;
- maintaining adequate lighting in the parking areas;
- appropriately contacting 911 or other emergency personnel in the case of an emergency;
- having emergency plans, such as fire evacuation plans;
- complying with Colorado food safety regulations; and
- complying with Colorado and federal anti-discrimination laws.2
Failure to comply with these requirements can lead to harm to a restaurant guest. A personal injury lawsuit filed by the injured victim can lead to significant compensation for injuries.
2.1 What is Colorado premises liability law?
Restaurants are required to comply with and follow Colorado’s premises liability laws. Premises liability is a type of negligence action that:
- holds owners of land responsible
- for certain injuries to others
- that occur on their property.3
Different standards of care are owed to people on the property depending on their legal status.
There are three legal statuses relevant to premises liability cases:
- Licensees; and
2.2 What premises liability status is a restaurant guest or customer?
A customer who comes into a restaurant to eat is generally considered an invitee.
An invitee is a “person who enters or remains on the land of another to transact business in which the parties are mutually interested or who enters or remains on such land in response to the landowner’s express or implied representation that the public is requested, expected, or intended to enter or remain.”5
An invitee can recover for damages:
- caused by landowner’s failure;
- to use reasonable care;
- to protect against dangers;
- he or she actually knew about or should have known about.6
3. What are some common ways Colorado restaurants breach the duty of care?
Restaurants can breach their duty of care in many ways, but some happen more frequently than others.
A breach occurs when a restaurant fails to exercise a duty of care in such a way that an ordinary and careful person would exercise under the same or similar circumstances.
Common breaches include:
- Slip and fall accidents, as a result of:
- torn carpeting;
- defective handrails;
- broken stairs;
- wet surfaces;
- spilled food;
- cracked tiles; or
- uneven pavement in the parking lot.
- Food poisoning;
- Injuries from broken or defective products within the restaurant.
3.1 What can I do if I got food poisoning at a Colorado restaurant?
When a restaurant supplies food that is contaminated with bacteria, viruses, or other pathogens:
- the restaurant and the supply company can be held responsible for
- any illness caused and any damages that resulted
- under Colorado’s product liability laws.
When any company manufactures and sells a defective product, it is held strictly liable for the injuries caused, even when the company or a person is not negligent.
In food poisoning cases, the injured person will have to prove four things:
- the company sold or distributed a contaminated or defective food product;
- the product was contaminated when it left the company’s control (not contaminated after);
- the injured person used the product in the way it was intended or was foreseeable; and
- the injured person suffered some type of harm as a result.8
4. Who can I sue if I am injured in a Colorado restaurant?
Restaurant guests have the right to sue the person or people responsible for their injuries in a personal injury lawsuit. However, sometimes, the actual person who caused the injury is someone like:
- a cook;
- a waiter;
- a custodian; or
- another diner
who may not have sufficient funds or assets to compensate you for your loss. When this is the case, you can often sue the restaurant itself.
4.1 What if a restaurant employee was the cause of my injuries?
When a restaurant employee is the cause of your injuries in Colorado, you can sue the restaurant itself (the employer) through Colorado’s doctrine of respondeat superior.
Employers are responsible for their employee’s actions under Colorado’s respondeat superior laws.
Respondeat superior is a legal term that means a person is responsible for the acts of his or her “agents” or employees. If a certain legal relationship exists between two or more parties:
- one party (person or entity) may be responsible for the actions or inactions of the other party
- that led to an injury to another person
- even when that person or business is not directly responsible.7
This allows an injured person to sue the restaurant itself, which likely has more assets and potential ability to pay than does an individual employee of the business.
5. What damages can I recover in a successful personal injury lawsuit?
Both economic and non-economic damages can be recovered as part of a restaurant injury settlement.
Economic (pecuniary) damages include:
These damages are more easily identifiable through documentary evidence and usually have a defined value.
Non-economic damages are those that are not typical “out-of-pocket” expenses. These losses are more subjective and include:
- pain and suffering;
- emotional distress;
- emotional distress;
- loss of enjoyment of life; and
- loss of consortium.
Call us for help…
For questions about restaurant injuries 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.
- Lopez v. Trujillo, 399 P.3d 750 (Ct. App. Div. 1 2016). (To prove a prima facie negligence claim, the plaintiff must prove: (1) the defendant owed a legal duty of care; (2) the defendant breached that duty; (3) the plaintiff was injured; and (4) the defendant’s breach caused that injury. citing Vigil v. Franklin, 103 P.3d 322, 325 (Colo.2004). Of these elements, duty is the threshold element.)
- 1 CO ADC 203-2:47-218. Colorado Administrative Code. (Restaurants).
- CRS 13-21-115(1). (Actions against landowners).
- CRS 13-21-115(5)(a)-(c).
- CRS 13-21-115(5)(a).
- CRS 13-21-115(5)(c).
- 7 COPRAC 14:4 (Employees, servants, and agents–Course and scope of employment).
- Walker v. Ford Motor Company, 406 P.3d 845 (2017).