Slip and Fall Attorneys in Denver Helping Clients Recover and Get Back on Track
Slipping and falling is not uncommon, but was your slip and fall caused by someone else’s negligence? If so, you may have the right to seek compensation for any injuries you suffered as a result. Business owners, homeowners, and others have the legal obligation to prevent accidents whenever possible. If you slipped on a spill in a grocery store that should have been cleaned up or fell on the ice on a sidewalk that should have been shoveled, for example, you may have a claim to make that can give you the financial help you need to pay for your medical bills, cover your lost wages, and even compensate you for the pain you have suffered.
Being injured as you go about your daily life can disrupt your work, your family life, and your peace of mind. If someone else failed to do what they were required to do to keep you and others safe, they should bear the responsibility for taking care of the costs their carelessness caused you. A slip and fall lawyer from Greer Law Group has the experience and know-how to get you the compensation you deserve, while taking the burden of investigation and legal paperwork off of your shoulders at a time when you need to rest and recuperate. Call Greer Law Group at our Denver office today at 303-331-6460 to speak to a slip and fall attorney and explore your options.
How is Negligence Defined in Colorado?
Negligence is broadly defined as the failure to do what a reasonable and careful person would do in the same situation. Legally, there are 4 factors that go into determining negligence in Colorado:
- The negligent person must have had a legal duty of care to the injured person. For example, a store owner has an obligation to keep customers safe while shopping. A carnival owner or manager has an obligation to make sure the rides are safe.
- The duty of care must have been breached. Something like leaving a precarious tower of boxes where it was likely to fall over or leaving a pile of broken glass on the floor in a grocery store could be considered a breach of the duty of care by a store owner. A breach in the duty of care for a carnival owner might involve not performing safety tests or routine maintenance on rides.
- The breach must have been the cause of the plaintiff’s injuries. There must be a direct link between the carelessness or negligence of the defendant and the plaintiff’s injury or injuries.
- The plaintiff must have injuries that can be quantified for monetary compensation. A skilled slip and fall attorney can help you determine whether your injuries meet this requirement and how much compensation you might be entitled to in your specific case.
What is the Difference between Negligence and Gross Negligence and Why Does it Matter?
The difference between negligence and gross negligence can be subtle, and is generally based on whether the negligent person should have known better. Gross negligence is usually defined as “the failure to exercise even the slightest amount of care.” For example, a store owner who fails to clean up broken glass for a few minutes because an employee was slow in reporting it might be considered negligent, but if the broken glass was left on the floor for days after many documented reports and complaints, the owner might be deemed to be grossly negligent. In gross negligence, the defendant must have acted in a way that is obviously dangerous, uncaring, and irresponsible.
The reason this distinction is important is that certain damages may be available in cases of gross negligence that are not available otherwise. Punitive damages, known as “exemplary damages” in Colorado, which are meant to punish the defendant for their irresponsible actions (or lack of action) and deter others from acting in similar ways, may be available in cases of gross negligence, while they are not in other cases. This can mean that you are entitled to recover more compensation in cases of gross negligence.
In Colorado, punitive damages (exemplary damages) are considered if the defendant’s acts were “purposefully committed which the actor must have realized as dangerous, done heedlessly and recklessly, without regard to consequences, or of the rights and safety of others, particularly the plaintiff.” If the defendant was knowingly breaking a law, for example, punitive damages might be awarded. An experienced slip and fall lawyer can help you determine what kind of negligence applies in your case.
What Kinds of Monetary Damages Can I Seek for my Slip and Fall Accident in Colorado?
A slip and fall case is a personal injury case, and in Colorado, there are two kinds of damages a plaintiff can seek. The first is called economic damages or pecuniary damages, which consists of actual costs that were caused by your injuries, such as medical bills, lost wages, the cost of necessary medical supplies or appliances like wheelchairs or crutches, and non-medical costs such as mileage to and from medical appointments. The second is called non-economic or non-pecuniary damages, which include compensation for intangible consequences of your injury such as physical pain, emotional suffering, or the loss of activities and relationships that you enjoyed before your accident. A possible third type of damages a plaintiff can seek is punitive damages, which may be available if the defendant was found to be grossly negligent in your slip and fall accident.
Economic damages are easy to prove with copies of medical bills, pay stubs, and receipts. Non-economic damages are slightly harder both to quantify and to prove, but a skilled personal injury attorney can help.
Is There a Limit on the Compensation I Can Seek for my Slip and Fall Accident in Colorado?
In Colorado, there is no limit on the economic damages you may seek or receive as the result of a slip and fall accident. These costs are easily proven with bills and receipts. Non-economic damages, however, are subject to certain limits. The current limit on non-economic damages in personal injury cases in Colorado is $613,760 for incidents that occur on or after January 1, 2020, and before January 1, 2022. For accidents that happen on and after January 1, 2022, and before January 1, 2024, the cap is $642,180.
In certain cases, however, the judge can increase the caps. The Colorado Secretary of State publishes a Certificate with all of the current damage caps, and it is a good idea to check it out to see what the caps are at the time of your personal injury claim.
Is There a Time Limit on When I Can File a Slip and Fall Accident Claim?
A time limit of when a person can file a lawsuit is called a “statute of limitations.” For slip and fall cases, the statute of limitations in Colorado is the same as it is for any personal injury claim filed in civil court. According to Colorado law, a personal injury claim must be “commenced within two years after the cause of action accrues.” This means that you have two years from the date of the accident to begin your case. The case does not have to conclude within the two-year limit; it must be started within that time period. There is no limit on how long the case might take to resolve as long as it is begun before two years have elapsed. The exception is a case in which the victim of the accident dies as a result of the accident. In that case, the clock starts at the time of death, which may not be the same as the date of the slip and fall accident.
What if the Defendant Claims That I Am at Fault for My Slip and Fall Accident?
A common defense against a personal injury claim in a slip and fall case is that the injured party is somehow at fault—they shouldn’t have been walking in the place they were walking, should have known about the danger, or were breaking a law at the time of the accident, for example. Don’t let these attempts to derail your case worry you. Even if the court were to determine that you are partially at fault for your slip and fall accident, you may still be eligible to recover damages for your injuries.
In some states, bearing any of the liability for an accident makes the plaintiff ineligible for any compensation at all. In Colorado, however, if you are found partially at fault, you can still recover damages as long as you are not 50% or more liable. Colorado employs a “modified comparative negligence” model in personal injury cases. What this means is that if you are found less than 50% responsible for your slip and fall accident, you are still eligible to recover damages, minus the percentage of your liability. In other words, if you are proven 10% liable, your damage award will be reduced by 10% of the total. If you are proven 50% or more liable for your own accident, however, you are not eligible for damages.
Why Do I Need a Lawyer for My Slip and Fall Case?
In any personal injury case, you are likely to be fighting a big insurance company. Those companies have teams of lawyers who are assigned the task of defending the company against claims. Trying to go up against these aggressive attorneys on your own is not a good idea—they have legal experience and knowledge that you are not likely to have, and they will use it to take advantage of you and deny you compensation.
A skilled slip and fall attorney will fight for you and the compensation you deserve. The burdens of investigating the accident, doing the legal paperwork, and either negotiating a fair settlement or arguing your case in court are not burdens you want to take on as you try to recover from the physical, emotional, and mental suffering that a serious slip and fall injury can cause. One of our experienced slip and fall lawyers will stand by you and relieve you of the stress and frustration of trying to handle your claim yourself. You don’t have to do it alone. The slip and fall attorneys at Greer Law Group know the law, care about you, and will stand by you to fight for what’s right. We will be with you, every step of the way. We are here to help. 303-331-6460