Sinkhole Accident Lawyers in Colorado
CALL (800) 863-5312 TO SPEAK TO A PREMISES INJURY ATTORNEY IN COLORADO FOR FREE
We encounter a variety of dangers in everyday life and usually take steps to avoid them when possible, such as by unplugging unused devices to help prevent a house fire, or by driving carefully to avoid an accident. However, many are unaware of a danger literally lurking beneath the surface that can strike with little or no warning, providing very little opportunity for avoidance. Sinkholes can occur suddenly, almost always without warning, causing serious injuries and property damage to anyone or anything unfortunate enough to be caught within the sinkhole.
If you or a loved one have been injured after falling into a sinkhole in Colorado, you should call the skilled Colorado sinkhole injury lawyers at Zinda Law Group at (800) 863-5312 as soon as possible for a free consultation. If we are not able to win your case, you will not owe us anything.
WHAT ARE SINKHOLES?
Sinkholes occur when bedrock is composed of porous rock, such as limestone, which can develop cracks through which water flows. The flow of water will eventually wear away the rock; this in turn widens the cracks, eventually transforming them into tunnels and caverns. Once the roof of this eroded area becomes too thin to support the weight of the ground above, it can collapse, causing a sinkhole.
There may be little or no warning to signal an imminent collapse. A sinkhole that collapses under a building or roadway poses a significant danger to the occupants of the building or any vehicles on the roadway. While some sinkholes are small and shallow, other sinkholes can cover hundreds of acres and be over 100 feet deep.
Sinkholes Caused By Human Activity
Most sinkholes occur due to naturally occurring phenomena, such as water drainage or mineral composition. However, sinkholes are also increasingly occurring due to human activity as well. If a sinkhole by which you were injured was caused by human activity, the person or business responsible may be liable. Activities that may potentially cause a sinkhole and result in their liability include:
- groundwater pumping
- alteration of natural drainage patterns
- construction of new water diversion systems
- construction of artificial lakes and ponds
Each sinkhole will vary wildly in size and cause, but all sinkholes can be very dangerous, as they can cause buildings and roadways to collapse, potentially injuring occupants or motorists. While injuries caused by sinkholes are relatively rare, they can occur, and in some instances, may even be fatal. If you think a sinkhole may be forming, you should take the proper precautions immediately, which may include leaving the premises until you are able to contact the local authorities to investigate and determine whether it is safe to return.
WHO MAY BE LIABLE?
If you have fallen into a sinkhole and been injured, you may have mounting medical bills potentially compounded by lost income from time off work spent recovering from your injuries or seeking treatment. An experienced attorney from Zinda Law Group can help you determine who may be liable for your accident, and help you seek any compensation you may be entitled to for your injuries.
If the sinkhole is determined to have occurred naturally, you may only be able to pursue compensation if your insurance policy covers sinkhole damage. However, if your attorney is able to prove that the sinkhole was caused by human activity, or that such activity contributed to causing the sinkhole, the person or entity responsible for causing the sinkhole may be liable.
Trespassers Beware If you have been injured by a sinkhole on private property, the property owner may be liable for your injuries in some cases as long as you were authorized to be on the property. If you were trespassing on private property and fell into a sinkhole, the property owner may not be liable in many cases depending on the facts of the case.
To prove a private property owner may be liable for your injuries sustained due to a sinkhole on their property, your Colorado premises injury attorney will generally need to prove the property owner was negligent in causing the sinkhole or in failing to warn you of the sinkhole. Proving the property owner’s behavior may have contributed to the sinkhole is often not enough if you are not able to prove that such behavior was negligent. There are multiple ways in which the property owner may have negligently caused or contributed to the formation of the sinkhole; on the other hand, they may simply have negligently failed to prevent your injuries or property damage caused by the sinkhole.
COMMON SIGNS YOU MAY HAVE A SINKHOLE
While sinkholes often happen suddenly and unexpectedly, there are still several signs that a sinkhole may be forming that you should be mindful of in Colorado, especially if you live in an area prone to sinkholes or where there has been significant underground activity, such as near a mining area. Common warning signs that may indicate a sinkhole is forming include:
- cracked or damaged foundations
- cracks in ceiling
- cracks in exterior walls
- cracks in interior joints
- depressions in the ground or street
- doors or windows no longer open or shut properly
- freshly exposed tree roots
- gaps and cracks in concrete
- presence of nearby sinkholes
- settling foundation
- sloping floors
- standing water accumulation increasing
- unexpected loss of water from pool
What You Should Do If A Sinkhole Emerges on Your Property
If the sinkhole has already started to collapse, you should immediately leave your house or wherever the affected area is if you are near the hole. Even if the sinkhole may not immediately appear to be large enough to collapse the ground where you are standing or where your vehicle is, the sinkhole can quickly expand without warning because you may not know immediately how weak the ground beneath you may be when the hole opens up. Once you are aware of a sinkhole forming, do these things promptly:
1. Stay Away from the Sinkhole
To prevent possible serious injuries to yourself, your loved ones, and to any others lawfully on the property, stay away from the area of the sinkhole and contact the proper authorities.
2. Warn Others Who May Come Into Contact with the Hole
Once you have gotten yourself and any loved ones or other visitors to your property safely away from the area of collapse, you should also take steps, if possible, to block entry into the affected area if it occurred on your property. You may accomplish this by closing a gate or entryway to the property, by roping off an entrance or pathway to the area of collapse, or even by putting up a warning sign of a sinkhole ahead so as to warn of the existence of hazardous conditions on your property. In many cases, the authorities may also section this area off, especially if the sinkhole is near the road or any other area of high traffic.
3. Seek Medical Attention for Any Injuries
If a loved one or you were injured after you fell in the sinkhole in Colorado, you should seek medical attention as soon as possible to treat any injuries. Even if you only appear to be sore or shaken up, you should still get checked by a doctor to make sure that you did not suffer more serious injuries that may not be readily apparent, such as internal injuries. These injuries are common in falls. Failing to receive prompt medical treatment may cause many other injuries to worsen, such as internal bleeding or unnoticeable internal injuries.
4. Contact the Authorities
If the sinkhole was on someone else’s property and you suffered any injuries or property damage, you should contact local law enforcement to file an accident report. This report, similar to accident reports used in car accidents, may be necessary to seek compensation from your own insurance company or from the property owner who may be liable for your damages. You may also need to contact the local utility companies or other authorities if the sinkhole has impacted utility lines, such as gas, power, or water, so that they may be able to take proper action to prevent further damage or injuries from occurring.
5. Contact the Insurance Company
If the sinkhole was on your property and your homeowner’s or property policy covers sinkhole damage, you should also report the incident as soon as possible to help ensure your insurer will cover any damages that may have occurred. If the sinkhole was on someone else’s property, after reporting the incident to law enforcement, you may also need to file a claim with the other person’s homeowner’s or business insurance company.
6. Document Everything
Be sure to document and photograph the sinkhole and any damage resulting from the hole collapsing as well as of any injuries you may have suffered falling into the hole. You should continue to document any damage that may occur as a result of efforts to repair the sinkhole. This may help you seek the maximum amount of compensation you may be entitled to for any injuries or damage to your property.
7. Contact an Experienced Sinkhole Premises Liability Lawyer in Colorado
Even if your injuries or damages do not appear concerning or significant, or even if they may be covered by your insurance policy, it is still best to at least consult an attorney about the accident and discuss your legal options. Insurance companies have teams of lawyers to keep them from paying as much as possible. To this end, an attorney may help you better understand your legal options and whether you may need to hire a lawyer. Consult a Colorado premises injury attorney to help ensure you have the representation you need to pursue compensation and protect your rights.
STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS
The statute of limitations essentially places a legal time limit upon how long you will have to file any potential lawsuit to seek compensation for your injuries after an accident. Claims filed after this time limit has expired may not be allowed to proceed. In Colorado, the statute of limitations for personal injury and property damage claims is 3 years from the date of the accident. This means that you will have to file any lawsuit within three years from the date you or a loved one fell into a sinkhole in Colorado and were injured or suffered damage to property, like to your vehicle.
CONTACT A COLORADO SINKHOLE INJURY LAWYER TODAY
If you have been injured by falling into a sinkhole or your property has been damaged by a sinkhole, the experienced team at Zinda Law Group may be able to help you seek the maximum compensation you may be entitled to. In the aftermath of a sinkhole accident, the process of seeking compensation for your injuries and damages may seem overwhelming or confusing as these accidents are often complex and it may be difficult figuring out your options.
However, the attorneys at Zinda Law Group are familiar with the legal complexities that may be encountered when pursuing a personal injury case as well as Colorado sinkhole premises liability cases. Our attorneys will use this experience and skill to work with you and handle your case, while you focus on recovering from the accident.
Meetings with attorneys are available by appointment only.