How to File a Construction Accident Lawsuit in Colorado

A victim of a construction accident can file a personal injury lawsuit in Colorado against the parties responsible for his or her injuries.

When a person is injured in a construction accident, he or she is entitled to damages, including:

Who is Responsible?

When a person is injured, the lawsuit can be filed against the responsible party or company. Depending on the type of accident and the individual case, responsible parties could include:

  • the property owner;
  • a construction worker;
  • the construction company;
  • an architect;
  • a machine operator;
  • a machine manufacturer;
  • an engineer;
  • a contractor or subcontractor; or
  • a city or government agency.

Personal injury claim in a construction site accident may be based on:

Worker's Compensation

If a person is injured at a construction site and is an employee of a construction company, his or her claim may be covered by the worker's compensation system. If this is the case, the person may not be allowed to file a separate personal injury claim.

However, this is not always the case. Many people who work on construction sites are independent contractors, not employees. Also, the accident may not be the employer's fault but rather the fault of some third party. A personal injury lawsuit is still appropriate in these types of cases.

Filing a lawsuit

To file a personal injury claim as the result of a construction accident, a person who has been injured should hire an experienced personal injury attorney to file a complaint.

A complaint is:

  • a legal document
  • that sets forth the basic details and allegations
  • of the alleged construction accident case.

Below, our Colorado personal injury attorneys address frequently asked questions about how to file a construction accident lawsuit in personal injury lawsuits and the injuries you may have suffered:

Construction crane
A victim of a construction accident can file a personal injury lawsuit in Colorado against the parties responsible for his or her injuries.

1. Who is responsible for a Colorado construction site accident?

When a person is injured, the lawsuit can be filed against the responsible party or company. Depending on the type of accident and the individual case, responsible parties could include:

  • the property owner;
  • a construction worker;
  • the construction company;
  • an architect;
  • a machine operator;
  • a machine manufacturer;
  • an engineer;
  • a contractor or subcontractor; or
  • a city or government agency.

2. When is a construction accident case based on negligence?

Most personal injury claims are based on negligence. 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 form his or her injuries.1

If the plaintiff can show that the defendant was negligent in causing the construction accident, the defendant will be responsible for the plaintiff's damages.

3. When is the case based on premises liability?

Property owners can be held liable for accidents that occur on their property under certain circumstances.

Property owners owe a duty of care to those on their property, depending on the legal status of the person.

  • Trespasser: only damages willfully or deliberately caused by the property owner;2
  • Licensee: only recover for damages caused:
    • by property owner's failure to use reasonable care concerning dangers he or she knew about; or
    • the property owner's unreasonable failure to warn of dangers he or she did not create and are not ordinarily present on the property.
  • Invitee: only recover for damages caused by landowner's failure to use reasonable care to protect against dangers he actually knew about or should have known about.3

Common accidents that occur in these situations include:

  • slip and fall cases;
  • falling down stairs due to the faulty railing;
  • loose flooring; or
  • dangerous items left unattended.

4. When is the case based in vicarious liability of an employee?

When a construction site accident is caused by another employee, the employer of that worker can be held responsible through Colorado's vicarious liability laws.

Certain factors must be met before an employer will be held responsible for the acts of its employees through vicarious liability. When these factors are met, an injured person may go after both the employee and the employer. These factors are:

  • a master and servant relationship exists; and
  • the employee acted within the course and scope of his or her employment.4

Example: Alice is jogging past a construction site while training for her upcoming charity 5K. Nelson is a construction worker working on a building's roof. Nelson is not paying attention and knocks his nail gun off of the roof. It falls on top of Alice's head, causing her serious injuries. Under vicarious liability, Alice can sue both Nelson individually and Nelson's employer. This will help her collect the full amount of her damages (as Nelson may not be able to pay all of them himself).

5. When is the case based on product defects law?

If the construction accident is caused because of a piece of defective equipment, the injured person can file a personal injury lawsuit against the manufacturer or designer of the defective product.

Strict liability can attach to claims involving:

  • manufacturing defects;
  • design defects; and
  • inadequate warning defects.

6. Can I file a lawsuit if I was an employee when I was injured?

If a person:

  • is injured at a construction site; and
  • is an employee of a construction company

his or her claim may be covered by the worker's compensation system.5

If this is the case, the person may not be allowed to file a separate personal injury claim.

The worker's compensation system limits an injured worker's rights to pursue damages to within the system. A claim in the worker's compensation system is meant to enable faster and less expensive compensation to injured workers.

6.1 When can I still file a personal injury case even as a construction employee?

Many people who work on construction sites are independent contractors, not employees. Independent contractors are not employees, and are not subject to the worker's compensation system.

Also, the accident may not be the employer's fault, but rather the fault of some third party. So long as the responsible party is not the victim's employer, a personal injury lawsuit is likely still appropriate.

7. How do I file a claim for a construction accident?

To file a personal injury claim as the result of a construction accident, a person who has been injured should contact an experienced personal injury attorney to file a complaint.

A complaint is:

  • a legal document
  • that sets forth the basic details and allegations
  • of the alleged personal injury case.

The case will then proceed with the defendant's answer, and the attorneys will conduct "discovery" to learn more about the facts of the case.

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Call us for help...

For questions about how to file a construction accident lawsuit in Colorado or to confidentially discuss your case with one of our skilled Colorado criminal defense attorneys, do not hesitate to contact us. For cases in California or Nevada, please visit our pages on construction accident lawsuits in California, and claims for construction site injuries in Nevada.

We represent clients in and around Denver, Colorado Springs, Aurora, Fort Collins, Lakewood, and several nearby cities.


Legal References:

  1. 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.)
  2. CRS 13-21-115(3)(a).
  3. CRS 13-21-115(5)(b).
  4. West's Colorado Practice Series, 7 COPRAC 14:3 (Employees, servants, and agents--Existence of master-servant relationship).
  5. CRS Article 40 et seq.

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