Slip and fall lawsuits occur when a person is injured as the result of another person's negligence. They are based in Colorado premises liability law.
Not every slip and fall will result in the ability to file a lawsuit. In order for an accident which causes injury to be appropriate for a lawsuit, another person must have acted negligently.
A plaintiff is required to prove all of the elements of negligence exist in order to recover.
Slip and fall accidents are subject to the Colorado Premises Liability Act.
There are three legal statuses relevant to premises liability cases:
- Licensees; and
Each has its own definition and certain types of recovery for damages depending on the legal status.
The issue of comparative fault is a significant factor in slip and fall cases. If a person is injured in an accident, the responsible party will try to argue that the person who fell is at least partially responsible for his or her own injuries.
Below, our Colorado personal injury attorneys address frequently asked questions about slip and fall cases in personal injury lawsuits and the injuries you may have suffered:
- 1. What is a slip and fall lawsuit in Colorado?
- 2. Is every accident suitable for a personal injury lawsuit?
- 3. What is premises liability?
- 4. What is modified comparative fault in Colorado?
Slip and fall lawsuits occur when a person falls to the ground because of another person's wrongdoing.
These lawsuits are a type of personal injury case.
Many different types of accidents can be considered "slip and fall" accidents, but a few of the more common include, but are not limited to:
- falling in a grocery store;
- slipping on ice outside of a restaurant;
- landing in a hole you could not see; or
- hitting the ground from a height as the result of a broken barrier.
Not every case is suitable for a slip and fall lawsuit. Another person must have acted with some level of negligence in such a way that it caused the injury to the victim.
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 injuries that can be quantified in monetary damages.
In determining whether a person breached a duty of care, the jury will consider:
- whether a reasonable person
- of ordinary prudence
- would have acted in the same way
- in the same circumstances. 1
These types of accidents fall under the umbrella of the Colorado Premises Liability Act.
Premises liability sets forth certain legal statuses and accompanying standards of care associated with those legal statuses.
Depending on the legal status the injured person is determined to hold, that person can recover when the following applies:
- Trespasser: only recovers for damages willfully or deliberately caused by property owner.3
- Licensee: only recovers 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.4
- Invitee: only recovers for damages caused by landowner's failure to use reasonable care to protect against dangers he actually knew about or should have known about.5
Example: Annie walks into a pharmacy to pick up her prescription. In the sidewalk is a large hole, but the hole is not easily seen as a person approaches it. Annie steps into the hole, falls, and cracks her skull. It is discovered that the pharmacy knew about the hole and took no steps to fix it or warn visitors about it. Annie is an invitee and can sue the pharmacy for her injuries.
When issues arise regarding multiple individuals who could be at fault, including the victim him or herself, the modified comparative fault rule becomes an issue. The person responsible for the injuries will try to deflect blame onto the victim.
Colorado uses a modified comparative fault rule when figuring out how damages are awarded and adjusted. Adjustments are made based on how much the plaintiff was at fault for his or her own injuries, if at all.
If a plaintiff is determined to be 30% at fault for his or her injuries, the damages awarded to him by a jury will be reduced by 30%.
However, if a plaintiff is 50% or more at fault for his or her injuries, that plaintiff is not entitled to recover at all. The jury makes the decision about who was at fault and by what percentage.
Example: Continuing Annie's story from above, at the end of Annie's lawsuit against the pharmacy, the jury determines that Annie is 10% at fault (for not looking at the sidewalk closely enough) and that the pharmacy is 90% at fault. The jury awards her $100,000 in damages. The court will reduce the award by 10% because that is Annie's level of fault as determined by the jury. She will end up with $90,000 rather than the original jury award.
If instead, the jury decided that Annie was 55% responsible and the pharmacy was 45% responsible, Annie would not be allowed to recover at all, even if the jury awarded her damages.
Call us for help...
For questions about slip and fall cases or to confidentially discuss your case with one of our skilled Colorado personal injury attorneys, do not hesitate to contact us. (For cases in California or Nevada, please see our articles in slip and fall lawsuits in California and slip and fall lawsuits in Nevada).
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.)
- CRS 13-21-115. (Actions against landowners).
- CRS 13-21-115(3)(a).
- CRS 13-21-115(3)(b).
- CRS 13-21-115(3)(c).
- CRS 13-21-111 (Negligence cases--comparative negligence as measure of damages).