The Basics of Colorado Slip-and-Fall Accidents and Premises Liability Lawsuits
Premises liability is an area of law that is based on the legal theory that property owners can sometimes be held liable for injuries sustained on their premises.
There are generally two types of private property: commercial and residential. People injured on private property in Colorado, be it in a retail store or the home of a friend, can potentially file a premises liability lawsuit to recover damages.
Some potentially dangerous conditions that could result in an injury on private property include:
- Steep driveways
- Uneven sidewalks
- Slippery stairs or walkways
- Loose or broken handrails
- Dark or dimly lit conditions
- Puddles left on the floor
- Cluttered conditions that prevent or impede access
- Structural defects.
The Colorado Premises Liability Act provides a means to recover damages for physical injuries sustained on private property. The law helps define the relationship between the owner of the property and the injured victim in order to determine whether the property owner was negligent, and thereby liable for the incident.
Compensation for an injury on private property depends largely on whether the injured party has the legal status of an invitee, a licensee, or a trespasser.
- An invitee is one who is invited to the premises for business dealings with the property owner, e.g. a customer in a store or a hotel guest. A business owner is held to a relatively high standard of care in maintaining safe conditions in and around the property. The failure to warn an invitee of dangers present on the property may constitute negligence on the part of the property owner and require compensation to the injured party. However, if a warning is given and the invitee chooses to ignore it, the business owner is generally free of liability for injury.
- A licensee is someone invited to enter private property for any purpose other than a commercial one, such as a social guest. If you injure yourself on private property as a social guest, an owner is generally held liable for the physical injuries of a licensee resulting from a dangerous condition present on his property. Although many injured parties are reluctant to sue a neighbor, relative, or friend over an injury, most homeowners carry homeowners insurance, so unless they are severely underinsured or your injury is particularly serious, your host’s insurance company will pay for your injuries, not the homeowner.
- A trespasser is a person who is on another person’s property uninvited, for his own purposes. Property owners almost never have a duty to warn such people of any dangers on the property, especially if they are unaware of the trespasser’s presence. Property owners who are aware of a trespasser’s presence may be required to take ordinary care in relation to his or her safety, however.
Before you brush off an injury you suffered on private property, you should carefully consider the consequences of not filing a claim, which could include paying for the costs associated with your injury out of your own pocket.