Every property owner is legally obligated to ensure that they do not put others in danger. This means that when you visit a store, the owner has a legal obligation to make sure the premises are safe. Similarly, when you walk on a public sidewalk, the government must make sure that the sidewalk is in a safe condition so that pedestrians do not trip on a crack or step into a large hole. As a Denver personal injury law firm, we are experienced in helping our clients to maximize their recovery following slip and fall accidents.
Causes of Slip and Fall Accidents
Slip and fall accidents can happen almost anywhere. Restaurants, stores, sidewalks, private homes, hospitals, apartment buildings, and hotels are all common places in which visitors fall and injure themselves. Some of the most common causes of slip and fall accidents include:
- Slippery floors such as marble or ceramic tile floors
- Wet floors
- Overcrowded or debris-strewn store aisles
- Stairs with uneven or narrow treads
- Stairs with broken railings
- Walkways or pathways with debris
- Cracked or uneven sidewalks
- Flooring with uneven surfaces
- Carpets that slip or slide on floors
- Sudden dips or drops in flooring elevation
- Ice and snow on sidewalks and parking lots
How to Prove a Slip and Fall Case
The basic elements of a negligence claim are a duty of care; a breach of that duty; and injury resulting from the breach. To establish liability against a business owner following a slip and fall accident, you will have to show that the defendant caused the dangerous condition that led to the accident and did nothing to repair or correct it and/or to warn visitors. There is also an important “notice” requirement in that it must be shown that the defendant was aware – or should have been aware – that the dangerous condition existed.
Potential Damages Recoverable in a Slip and Fall Case
As with any personal injury case, there are several categories of damages you may be able to recover, including economic damages (such as medical expenses and lost income), noneconomic damages (for your pain and suffering), and, in rare cases involving egregious conduct, punitive damages. While Colorado does not place a cap on the amount of economic damages recoverable, there is a limit on the amount recoverable for noneconomic damages. Colorado caps noneconomic loss at $250,000 (plus inflation), although the court can increase the award to no more than $500,000 if it “finds justification by clear and convincing evidence.” There is no cap on pain and suffering damages for plaintiffs who have suffered a permanent physical impairment.
A Word About Comparative Negligence in Colorado
Colorado has what is referred to as a comparative negligence law, meaning that if you are found to be more than 50% at fault, you are not entitled to recover. If you are 50% or less at fault, you are entitled to a recovery, but any award of damages will be diminished by the percentage of negligence attributed to you.