Premises liability in Colorado is a legal theory that states property owners and business owners (and sometimes land occupiers or renters) are liable for accidents and injuries that occur on their property. These types of cases can be complex, and so naturally many questions arise when a situation occurs. Here, we provide answers to frequently asked questions our clients have when they first visit our office.
At Hagen Nares PLLC, our premises liability attorney in Colorado wants you to be informed before you make any rash decision. If you have questions specific to your premises liability case, contact us at 720-772-8513 today to get the answers you need to move forward.
What does it mean to be a visitor, licensee, or trespasser on a property?
Liability in premises liability cases depends in large part on the status of the injured party because it's the status that helps determine if the property owner owed a duty and, if so, what that duty entails.
Invitees are individuals who are invited to be on the property of the owner. The property owner owes the highest amount of duty to invitees. To determine whether you are an invitee or not, consider if the property owner would expect you on the property. For example, an owner of a grocery store would expect you to enter the land/store to purchase goods.
Licensees are individuals who enter upon the property of another to visit for personal reasons. Licensees are typically asked to come and are friends or relatives. Property owners (including renters) are required to keep the premises reasonably safe but the standard is not as high as it is for invitees and property owners.
Trespassers are individuals entering the property of another without authorization. Property owners generally do not owe a duty of care to trespassers, but there are exceptions.
Are premises liability and negligence the same in Colorado?
Premises liability is a legal theory that refers to liability of a property owner when someone is injured on their property. For an injured party to be successful and recover compensation, they must prove fault (except in a few cases, like dog bites, fault may not be necessary but is dependent on the specific jurisdiction). Negligence is the legal standard to prove fault and identify liability. Under negligence, it must be shown that property owners failed to follow state-specific rules to keep property safe and because of the latter, you were injured.
Premises liability, therefore, is a form of negligence dealing specifically with property and property owners rather than, for example, medical malpractice, which is a negligence case too dealing specifically with medical professionals and patients.
What does a dangerous condition mean in Colorado?
When a property owner is legally at fault for another person's injury, this type of claim or lawsuit is known as premises liability cases. Under these types of cases, the plaintiff must typically show that:
- A dangerous condition existed on the property
- The property owner knew or should have known about it.
- The dangerous condition caused the injury.
A dangerous condition is any condition on or of property that creates a substantial risk of injury when the property (or even adjacent property) is used with due care in a manner that is reasonably foreseeable. Substantial is distinguished from conditions on the property that may be minor, trivial, or otherwise insignificant and do not pose a risk of harm when care is taken and the property is used in a way that is reasonably foreseeable.
How does Colorado define attractive nuisance?
Under all jurisdictions, trespassers are not treated the same as visitors and licensees on a property. The general rule is that property owners owe no duty of care to trespassers, but exceptions exist. Attractive nuisance is one such exception.
When a child trespasses onto another property and is injured because of an attractive nuisance, the property owner may be held liable. Most jurisdictions require that the property owner knew or should have known that a child might be attracted to the “nuisance.” Attractive nuisances are conditions on a property that might excite or entice a child to trespass. Examples include swimming pools or other bodies of water, construction areas, or playground equipment. The property owner has a duty to take all possible precautions to prevent the child from accessing these so-called attractive nuisances in order to avoid liability.
Who is responsible when someone is injured at another person's home in Colorado?
Property owners in Colorado have a duty to maintain their property in a manner that permits safe use by others. Under premises liability, a breach of this duty might make property owners accountable for accidents on their property. When the injury occurred at someone's home, possible responsible parties include homeowners, renters, or property management companies. It all depends on the status of the injured party (e.g., licensee, invitee, or trespasser) and the circumstances involving or dangerous condition causing the injury.
Who is responsible when someone is injured at a hotel, store, restaurant, or another establishment in Colorado?
Commercial property owners and business owners or employers must uphold the highest standard of care for their guests (i.e., invitees). They are, therefore, typically responsible for any injuries that occur on the property. Other parties may also be responsible, depending on the facts and circumstances. Third-party vendors, contractors, or even employees or other private persons may be responsible if they cause a dangerous condition to exist on the property and then someone is injured because of that dangerous condition.
Government entities and public actors can also be responsible for injuries if it occurs on public property.
I was assaulted in Colorado. Is the property owner responsible?
First and foremost, the person committing an assault is almost always a responsible party in an assault injury. Not only is assault a crime in all jurisdictions, but victims can sue in civil court for damages.
The person who committed the assault, however, may be the only one criminally responsible for it, but others may be civilly responsible for it. Property owners, business owners, or occupiers and renters can be liable for assaults or attacks on their property if they fail to take reasonable steps to prevent foreseeable criminal acts. Additionally, for some properties, like hotels and apartment complexes, adequate security is required to prevent assaults and other criminal acts.
Do I really need to hire a premises liability lawyer in Colorado?
Premises liability cases can be difficult cases. Proving fault will require documentation and strategy. You may be up against a business or insurance company that has a handful of resources to fight against your claim. A premises liability lawyer is your means to successfully filing a claim and obtaining just and fair compensation from all liable parties.
But you don't want to hire just any premises liability lawyer. At Hagen Nares PLLC, our premise liability attorney in Colorado will:
- Investigate the accident
- Determine liability
- Calculate damages
- Level the playing field between you and big corporations
- Bring in expert witnesses as needed
- Negotiate your settlement or go to trial
At Hagen Nares PLLC, we have the resources needed to file a well-documented and well-argued lawsuit.
Speak to A Personal Injury Attorney in Colorado Today
If you've been injured while on someone else's property and you believe they are responsible for your injuries, you might have a viable premise liability suit. At Hagen Nares PLLC, our premises liability lawyer in Colorado is here to explain your options and help you get the relief you deserve. Call 720-772-8513 or fill out an online form today to schedule a Free Consultation.