5 Things to Know About Your Slip and Fall Injury in Denver
If you have been injured in a slip and fall in Denver, or simply as a result of a dangerous condition on someone else’s property, you could benefit from a free consultation with a slip and fall lawyer in Denver. Although this post will highlight some important factors that will be considered in almost any premises liability case in Colorado, there is no substitute for calling an expert to discuss your specific facts.
1. It Matters Why You Were There
Denver slip and fall cases and trip and fall cases are governed by the Colorado Premises Liability Act. These cases are not decided based on a straight-forward negligence question. The CPLA creates different levels of responsibility for different landowners and operators based on the reason the injured person was on the property. That means one of the first things a slip and fall lawyer in Denver will want to know is whether the injured person was an invitee, licensee, or trespasser at the time of the injury.
In Colorado, landowners have very little obligation to try to prevent injuries to trespassers. Their obligations increase for someone who has permission to be on the property, and increase even more for someone who was invited to be on the property for the purpose of conducting business.
For example, a store owner is typically required to identify and either resolve, or set out warnings about, dangerous conditions at the store before inviting the public to the business. Failure to resolve a dangerous condition in the store, or in entry or exit paths, or even parking areas, could mean liability if and when a customer gets hurt.
Liability for injuries on property can apply to homeowners, too. Homeowners have an obligation to visitors to make reasonable efforts to identify and resolve dangerous conditions, although the standard applied in most of these circumstances is typically not as strict as those applied to businesses who invite customers onto their property.
Landowners who intentionally harm trespassers can be liable to them for their injuries, but the CPLA is unlikely to make them liable for unintentional harm.
The injured person’s reason for being on a property is central to determining which legal standard of care applies, and whether compensation is available under the law. For that reason, any slip and fall lawyer in Denver will seek to answer this question during their first consultation with an injury victim.
2. There may be more than one party at fault
In most car accident cases one at fault driver can be easily identified. Slip and fall and trip and fall injuries often involve more than one defendant, and require additional investigation before the plaintiff will know exactly who is at fault.
If you have been injured in a slip and fall or trip and fall in Denver, you may be thinking the homeowner or store owner of the location where you fell is at fault and their homeowner’s insurance or business policy will be paying full compensation for your losses. That may be true. However, it may also be true that a homeowner’s association or apartment leasing company actually had some responsibility for maintaining the area where you fell, or for removing dangerous conditions there. There may be relevant agreements between that company and a maintenance or landscaping company that you are not yet aware of.
If your slip and fall case involves an injury that occurred at a store, there may be additional insurers in play, and there may be franchise agreements, lease agreements, office or retail landlords, easements for use of equipment and access points, maintenance agreements, equipment warranties, subcontracts, manufacturers or even government interests that can make what you thought was a simple case against one defendant more complicated. You may think you are bringing a claim against a store owner, only to find your particular injury was the result of a failure by some other company or entity to do something they had agreed to do, or that company is legally protected by an agreement with some other company.
Why does this matter to you? If an at-fault party can blame someone who isn’t at the table they probably will. So it pays to investigate early, and pursue compensation with a full knowledge and understanding of who should pay and why.
3. Shorter Time Limits
Statute of Limitations:
Unlike most car accident cases in Colorado, the statute of limitations in premises liability cases is not 3 years from the date of injury. For slip and fall cases in Denver, the injured person has two years from the date of injury to file a lawsuit. Failing to file within that time period can mean loss of the claim.
In addition to the two year statute of limitations, slip and fall cases may involve multiple defendants, as covered above. Failing to file the case early enough could leave the injured party unable to add additional defendants as information is provided in the discovery phase of the case indicating others are liable. This feature of slip and fall cases and trip and fall cases weighs in favor of filing these cases earlier. Like any case, there are many factors to consider when it comes to deciding when is the best time to proceed with formal litigation.
The preference for filing early enough to add additional defendants ahead of the statute of limitations may be in tension with the need to complete treatment for injuries, etc. Experienced slip and fall lawyers in Denver can help you weight these competing factors and make the best decision based on the specific facts of your case.
Any case involving a government agency as a potential defendant will require consideration of government immunity. The Colorado Government Immunity Act prohibits some cases against government agencies. Fortunately government immunity has some limits and exceptions, but even those almost always require a notice of claim be sent within 182 days of the date of injury.
Preservation of Evidence:
In slip and fall cases and trip and fall cases, preservation of evidence tends to be very time sensitive. Surveillance video helps prove that an injured person fell, as well as exactly where, why, and how they fell. However, surveillance video can disappear quickly. Some surveillance systems overwrite video every month, every week, and sometimes even every day. The importance of capturing evidence like video and photographs of conditions at the time of the fall can be hard to overstate.
Witness testimony can also make a difference in these cases, and unfortunately long periods of time are more likely to favor the wrongdoer than the injured person. Memories fade and witnesses move, or change jobs, or both. While this is true of many cases, slip and fall cases and trip and fall cases often depend on small details which are more likely to be credibly established by clear memories.
4. Reasonable Care
Reasonable care is what it sounds like, and it is also one of the most common defenses in slip and fall cases in Denver. Landowners will almost always claim that no matter how bad a dangerous condition was on their property, they were reasonable in their efforts to prevent or resolve it.
Because this is such a common defense and usually a central issue in a case, it is not something that can be considered once at the beginning of a case and then set aside. As a case develops through investigation and disclosure of information on both sides, your Denver slip and fall lawyer will help you build your case that the landowners actions, or failures to act, were unreasonable.
Another side of this defense is the assertion that the injured person is at fault for not watching where they were going. Few of us walk around staring at the floor. We expect business owners to make reasonable efforts to clear the area of dangers. We trust them to follow the law and do that. Reasonable is the key word here.
5. The Details Matter
Slip and fall cases in Denver get very detailed. The injured person will be asked how they fell, when they fell, why they fell, where they fell, and every conceivable variation of those questions many, many times during the course of their case. The mechanics of the fall will matter. These cases often require the assistance of experts, who may be called in to explain to a jury why a particular slip or trip resulted in a particular type of fall, and how that particular fall resulted in specific injuries.
Descriptions of the dangerous conditions that led to a slip or trip, or conditions that worsened a fall and the injuries that resulted from it, are all likely to be important. It can be difficult in a blog post to cover all the variables, but precise locations and periods of time are almost always pivotal issues. How long was the slip hazard present before the fall? Where and how did the victim land? On what?
The variety of details that can become important in slip and fall and trip and fall cases make the help of a slip and fall lawyer in Denver all the more necessary, and support the need for quick action to preserve evidence.
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If you have been injured by a dangerous condition on someone else’s property, timing and details are very important to your ability to pursue compensation for your injuries. It would be unfair and unwise to expect someone who knows little or nothing about how these cases work to handle a slip and fall cases by themselves, all while trying to recover. You don’t have to. You can focus on your treatment and recovery while I handle the legal fight for you. Call me now at (303) 339-8846 to discuss the specific facts of your Denver slip and fall case.