If you have been injured in a fall or slip and fall, you have certain legal rights. There is no “magic formula” to determine average slip and fall settlement amounts. In Colorado, an owner of property has certain duties to maintain the property and keep it safe. It used to be that property owners’ fault was determined by common law. The duties owed by a landowner were determined by whether one is an invitee, licensee or trespasser. Then, the Supreme Court of Colorado ruled that a landowner would be held at fault based upon a standard of reasonable care and whether the fall/injury was foreseeable. Then, in 1971, Colorado passed a legislative statute called the Premises Liability Statute which was basically a statute to provide greater rights to the property owners and to cut down on the number of rising lawsuits which was more of a benefit to the insurance companies than to injured victims.
Now, in Colorado, if one falls or slips and falls on someone else’s property, they must make a claim against the property owner pursuant to the Premises Liability Statute. So, an attorney cannot bring claims for negligence or negligence per se anymore, but must file a lawsuit exclusively according to the dictates of this 1971 statute. But, if you are bitten by a dog on someone else’s property, you may bring a claim pursuant to the civil dog bite statute. So, there are certain exceptions to the Premises Liability Statute and it is very important to contact a personal injury lawyer/specialist who knows his way around all the exceptions to the statutes.
Let’s say you slip on ice when visiting your local supermarket or Wal-Mart. First, you must show who is the actual owner of the land because that can vary depending on the circumstances. Even a tenant can be considered to be a “landowner” under the statute so again it is important to consult a personal injury law specialist who knows the case law interpreting the statute. Different factual situations may fall under different case law interpreting the statute. In some situations, a landowner may not be held liable at all and all liability will be found to fall upon the particular tenant who is leasing the subject property. Thus, it is very important to analyze who is the actual “owner” of the property at the time of your fall as it can sometimes be a tenant or leasing party.
Next, the attorney must analyze what duties are owed by the owner of the property to the fall victim. First, it has to be determined whether you are an invitee, licensee or trespasser. Depending on your status at the time of your fall, this will determine the duty owed to you by the landowner. When you enter a business to buy a product, or go by food at a supermarket or enter your local Wal-Mart, you are classified as a business “invitee”. Land owners have a duty to use reasonable care to protect invitees from dangerous conditions of which he knew about or should have known about. So, in the fall on ice example, the attorney has to prove that the owner of the property “knew or should have known” about the dangerous condition of the ice. Sometimes it can be difficult to prove that the owner knew about the condition but can be easier to prove that the owner should have known about the dangerous condition. The duty of care owed by a land owner to the public is less when one is a licensee and much less when one is a trespasser.
When proving fault, the personal injury attorney most likely will proceed under the theory that the land owner “should have known” of the dangerous condition. It is generally known that when it snows, ice and snow will accumulate on walkways, sidewalks and business entrances. Thus, a land owner should make sure that he or she has proper measures in place to get rid of this snow and ice. If not, then he or she could become liable for subsequent injuries sustained by an injured victim. I know the law and procedure with regard to fall cases and slip and fall cases. If you are injured in a slip and fall or fall on another’s property, then it is important to call an attorney like myself who specializes in personal injury cases.
A personal injury lawyer with over 10 years of experience, Ryan Malnar serves Colorado Springs with honesty & integrity.