Colorado Personal Injury Law: The Basics
Personal injury law in Colorado is based on the theory of law known as negligence. Car accidents, slips and falls, injuries on another's premises, and wrongful death actions are various types of personal injury actions we handle in Colorado.
What Is Negligence?
Negligence is the careless actions or the inactions of another when they owe a duty to the person who was injured. A person is negligent if they do not act with the requisite amount of care that society would expect a person to use. A negligent person does not act with the intention of bringing about the result. However, the law inquires whether the hypothetical reasonable person would act differently in that situation. If yes, then the person was negligent.
Negligence can only arise if the person has a duty to keep other people safe. A few concrete examples of breaches of duty follow:
- Causing an accident by turning in front of another car;
- A surgeon leaves a piece of surgical equipment in the patient's body;
- Failing to mop a floor when the business owner knows there is a danger to customers because of the liquid on the floor; and
- Failure to maintain and keep amusement rides in good order.
In Colorado, the test for whether the breach of duty caused the injuries is called the "but for" test. The tests simply asks "but for defendant's actions, would have plaintiff been injured?" The injuries were caused by the breach of duty if the answer to the question is "yes." If the answer is no, then the breach of duty did not cause the injuries. The injuries must be foreseeable and not too remote from the event in question. Since each case is different, your personal injury attorney can explain this to you in greater detail.
What Damages Can I Claim From The Defendant's Negligence?
A person injured by another's negligence is entitled to compensation for their injuries. Colorado law entitles a person to claim the following damages without limitation:
- Physical impairment;
- Lost wages;
- Lost earning capacity;
- Past and future medical bills;
- Out of pocket expenses; and
- Property damage
Colorado's legislature passed a law capping the amount of non-economic damages a person may recover. Non-economic damages are pain and suffering, inconvenience, emotional stress, or impairment of the quality of life. The law at present caps the maximum recovery for non-economic loss at $468,010.00 unless the injured person proves by clear and convincing evidence that the amount should be higher in the interest of justice. However, non-economic damages may not exceed $936,030.00. The statute calls on the Colorado Secretary of State to issue new limits after accounting for inflation on a periodic basis.
Are There Any Defenses To Personal Injury Claims?
Colorado recognizes defenses to personal injury actions.
- The most common defense is comparative negligence. In short, the defendant will argue that you were responsible, either fully or partially, for the event that caused your injuries. If so, then your recovery will be reduced by that percentage of your fault.
- Another common defense the injured party failed to mitigate damages. An example of failing to mitigate damages is not wearing a seatbelt. Colorado law does not permit someone to argue the person would not have been hurt if they wore a seatbelt on the one hand. On the other hand, failure to use a seatbelt can be argued to reduce non-economic damages.
- Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, is Colorado's statute of limitations. Generally, the statute of limitation is two years on personal injury claims except for motor vehicle accidents, which is three years. However, a wrongful death suit must be filed within two years. Missing the statute of limitations date bars the injured person from ever filing a lawsuit.
Where Should You Turn For Representation For Your Personal Injury Claim In Colorado?
The Denver personal injury lawyers at Zinda Law Group know how to handle these situations to achieve the best results for our clients. Our accident attorneys will provide you legal advice while working diligently to reach a fair and just resolution for your claim. We have a passion for winning compensation for our clients. Contact us at 303-800-1501 today to schedule a free consultation and to learn how we can help you with your Colorado personal injury claim.