Under Colorado law, property owners are responsible for ensuring their property is safe for others to enter. When they fail in this duty and someone becomes injured on their property, victims may be able to hold the property owner liable for paying compensation for their injuries.
Although this sounds straightforward, there are many nuances in this area of law known as premises liability. Anyone who has been hurt in a slip and fall or other accident on a dangerous property should speak to a Denver premises liability lawyer about their legal rights.
At the Olson Law Firm, we provide an unwavering client experience and deliver outstanding results for accident victims who have been harmed due to negligence. Sean Olson and his trusted legal team are ready to review your case for free and answer all your questions. Please reach out to us today for help with your case.
Understanding the Burden of Proof in a Premises Liability Case
While it is true that injured individuals have a right to claim compensation from property owners when they have been hurt on someone else’s property, this is not always easy to do. The burden of proof in these cases rests on the plaintiff, or the injured party. That means that those hurt must prove that someone else most likely caused the accident that led to their injuries.
There are four components that must be proven in a Denver premises liability case:
- Duty to the plaintiff: Property owners owe a different duty of care depending on the type of visitor that’s on their property. Those who are invited onto the property (invitees) and those who are allowed on the property (licensees) are owed a higher duty of care than others, such as trespassers.
- Breach of duty: The second element of proof must show that the defendant, or property owner, breached that duty of care. This can be proven by showing that the defendant didn’t maintain the property, correct a known problem, or warn the plaintiff of the hazard.
- Causation: Proof of causation is simply proving that the property owner was negligent or careless. While the definition is straightforward, proving this is not. Negligence in premises liability lawsuits is usually very subtle, and it takes a keen legal eye to understand what the negligent act was.
- Damages: Lastly, the plaintiff must also prove that the negligent act caused injuries or losses. Without these, there is nothing to compensate for, and so, there is no case.
All four components of the burden of proof present their own unique challenges. Anyone who has been injured on someone else’s property should speak to a Denver premises liability lawyer about the specifics of their case.
Common Types of Premises Liability Cases We Handle
Any time a person is injured on someone else’s property, the victim may have a valid premises liability claim. However, there are some causes of these accidents that are more common than others. These include:
- Inadequate security: Property owners are responsible for ensuring all areas of their premises are safe. This includes parking lots, parking garages, nursing homes, schools and other areas. When someone is a victim of theft, assault, vandalism, or any other wrongful act due to the fact that the property had inadequate security, the property owner can be held liable.
- Slip and fall accidents: Falls may be caused by spills, torn carpets, broken stairs, or other dangers on the property. In order to keep a premises safe, all aspects of it must be properly maintained. This includes floors, escalators, elevators, stairways, and more.
- Uncontrolled animals: Property owners aren’t just responsible for the property, but everything on the property, too. When an uncontrolled dog or other animal hurts another person on the property, victims can seek compensation from the property owner.
These are just examples of some of the more common types of premises liability cases that our firm handles. If you believe your injury was due to negligence on the part of a property owner, we encourage you to contact our Denver premises liability lawyer to discuss the details of your case in a free consultation.
How Can a Denver Premises Liability Attorney Help?
When you suffer an injury on someone else’s property, it’s natural to wonder whether or not you need a lawyer to represent you in your case. The law does not require that you retain an attorney to handle a personal injury claim. However, an attorney will not only give you a better chance of receiving proper compensation, an experienced premises liability lawyer in Denver will also handle every aspect of your claim. When you’re struggling to recover from serious injuries, that sense of relief is very important.
When you choose to work with the Olson Law Firm, our knowledgeable premises liability attorney will:
- Investigate the scene of your accident, inspecting the site and collecting evidence such as photos or videos to support your claim
- Interview any witnesses and collect their statements
- Gather all of your medical documentation to demonstrate the extent of your injuries
- Work with experts to calculate how your injuries will affect you in the future
- Manage all communication and negotiate with the insurance companies and at-fault party as you work toward a premises liability settlement
- Argue your case all the way to verdict if a trial is necessary
Throughout the duration of your case, Sean Olson will never stop working in your best interests. Our firm fights for you like family, and we will support you every step of the way.
Compensation Available for Injury Victims
When you are injured on someone else’s property due to the property owner’s negligence, Colorado law states that you should not have to pay for any losses related to the injury. This is commonly called compensation, although the legal term for it is damages. This compensation is meant to make up for any losses you experienced as a result of the accident. This may include payment for:
- Medical bills (past, current, and future)
- Lost income
- Loss of future earning capacity
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of consortium
Punitive damages may be awarded when the defendant has acted with gross negligence or recklessness. These are meant to punish the defendant for those actions. They are also meant to deter the defendant from behaving in the same manner in the future.
What to Do If You’ve Been Hurt on Someone Else’s Property
What are you supposed to do immediately following a slip and fall or other accident on someone else’s property? This is a question that accident victims often have. In general, we advise that:
The first step you should always take after any accident is to seek medical attention. Even if you don’t think you’re severely hurt, you should still see a doctor. During an accident, adrenaline and shock will kick in, and they can both mask symptoms of an injury. Seeing a doctor right away will ensure you get the treatment you need. Not only is this important for your own personal health, but it will also begin the injury documentation process for your claim.
After any accident, it’s also important that you document as much as possible from the accident scene. Take pictures of your injuries and of anything that caused your accident. Speak to witnesses and get their contact information and a brief statement relating to what they saw. Save any torn clothing, shoes, or other evidence that may help show what caused your accident.
If the accident happened on commercial property, they probably have an incident report that you should fill out. Do not sign the report, but do ask for a copy of it. The business will likely take steps immediately to correct the problem, and you don’t want to potentially sign off on their version of events.
If the accident happened on private or public property, report it to the proper person. When the accident happened on private property, report the accident to the property or land owner. If the accident happened on public property, report it to the appropriate entity, such as the transit authority or the city government.
Lastly, once you have left the accident scene and gotten proper medical treatment, you should speak to our Denver premises liability lawyer. An insurance company is likely going to contact you very soon, and you don’t want to deal with them on your own. Additionally, attorney Sean Olson can begin advocating for you from the very beginning, when evidence is still available and the memories of witnesses are still fresh.
Dealing with Insurance Companies After a Slip and Fall or Other Accident
Insurance companies make their money by offering protection to individuals in case there is ever an accident. Ironically, when an accident occurs and it is time for them to pay out on those settlements, they don’t want to because it takes away from their profits.
If you’ve been in an accident on someone else’s property, the insurance company will not want to pay out on your claim. They’ll offer low settlements that don’t even begin to cover the costs of your injuries, or try to get you to accept blame. Due to this, accident victims must know how to deal with the insurance company afterwards. Here are some tips to help:
- Keep records: Insurance companies don’t work on estimates, and they’re not going to pay compensation if you “think” your medical bills were a certain amount. Keep all documentation you receive including medical records, diagnoses, doctor recommendations, repair estimates, and any other paperwork you receive.
- Say as little as possible: You do not have to give a statement or speak to the at-fault party’s insurance company. The best course of action is to refer all communication to your attorney.
- Do not sign anything: There are two important documents an insurance company will try to get you to sign. One is a settlement offer that will be worth only a fraction of your claim. Once you sign this, you forfeit your right to sue. The second will be a release for your medical records. Do not sign this. The insurance company will scour these records looking for a pre-existing condition or other factor that led to your accident. They have no right to this information, and you are not obligated to provide it to them.
- Retain legal counsel: The best thing to do when dealing with an insurance company is to let an experienced attorney do it for you. Your lawyer will know what to say, what not to say, and how to hold the insurance company liable for paying compensation.
Time Limit on Premises Liability Claims in Colorado
When you’ve been injured on someone else’s property, you only have two years from the date of the accident to sue in Colorado. This is known as the statute of limitations, and any claims filed after that time are typically barred from receiving compensation.
While courts take the statute of limitations very seriously, there are some exceptions to it. Due to this, anyone wishing to file a claim should speak to an attorney as soon as possible for advice on their specific claim.
Talk to a Denver Premises Liability Attorney Today
If you have been injured on someone else’s property, you may be eligible for compensation. These are some of the most complex and challenging cases to pursue, however, so you should only do so with the help of an experienced Denver premises liability lawyer.
At the Olson Law Firm, we are well-versed in crafting compelling arguments to prove you were hurt, and that someone else was to blame. We have the experience and the resources necessary to fight for full compensation you. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help.