This article looks at Colorado law as it affects slip and fall accidents that occur in the state, including the amount of time a plaintiff has to file a court claim after an injury, and what happens to your settlement or jury award if you are found to be partly at fault for the accident. Finally, we'll summarize the special rules that apply to slip and fall claims filed against a state, county, or city government in Colorado.
For more in-depth information about slip and fall cases, browse all the articles in our Slip and Fall Claims section.
Colorado law gives two years from the date of a slip and fall injury for the victim to file a case in court. This two years includes weekends, holidays, and other dates in which the courts may not be open. If you fail to file your case within this two-year "window," you will almost certainly lose the opportunity to file it at all.
The two-year time limit only applies to cases filed in court, not the amount of time you have to file an insurance claim (such as a third-party claim with the property owner's insurance carrier, for example). However, it's helpful to file your insurance claim as soon as you can after an injury occurs. That way you can expect a settlement offer well before the two-year time limit for going to court runs out. Then, if the settlement offer is not adequate, you can still go to court if you're within the two-year window -- or you can plausibly threaten to do so in order to get settlement negotiations moving again.
More information: Do I Have a Slip and Fall Case?
Each state sets its own rules for determining how a slip and fall case is impacted if the injured person is found to be partly at fault for the accident. Colorado uses a "modified comparative fault" rule in these cases. This rule reduces or eliminates damages if an injured claimant or plaintiff is found to be partly at fault for their slip and fall accident.
Here's an illustration of the modified comparative fault rule in action. Suppose that, while shopping in a mall one day, you see the big-screen plasma television of your dreams sitting in a storefront. Though you keep walking, you're so busy texting your friend about your discovery that you don't notice a puddle of melted ice cream lying in your path, and an orange cone put there by mall staff. You slip and fall, suffer a back injury, and decide to file an insurance claim or a lawsuit seeking compensation for your injuries.
After investigating the details of your insurance claim or looking at all the evidence presented in court, the insurance adjuster or jury decides that your medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other damages add up to $30,000. However, the adjuster or jury also decides that you are 30 percent at fault for your accident, because you allowed your dream TV and your cell phone to distract you instead of paying attention to where you were walking.
How does this affect your insurance settlement or jury award? Colorado's modified comparative fault rule applies to reduce the amount of money you can receive by an amount equal to the percentage of your fault. Here, that means that you can receive $21,000, or $30,000 minus $9,000 that represents the 30 percent of the fault attributed to your actions.
Keep in mind that this calculation only applies to cases in which you are found to be less than 50 percent at fault. If the adjuster or jury decides you were 50 percent or more at fault, your damages amount drops to zero, and you will not be allowed to collect anything at all from any other at-fault party.
Learn more about How Your Own Conduct Can Affect a Slip and Fall Case.
Some slip and fall cases involve the potential liability of government agency or employee -- for instance, if you slip on a puddle of water in the lobby of City Hall or you trip on a pothole in a state building's parking lot. Colorado requires that people injured in slip and fall accidents on government property play by a different set of rules than those injured in accidents involving private parties.
Claims against the state government of Colorado must be filed with the state's Office of Risk Management within 180 days of the date of injury. The form for filing Colorado injury claims is available online from the Office of Risk Management. Claims against city and county governments must be filed with the city or county directly. The 180-day deadline also applies to city or county claims. For instance, the City of Boulder provides information about filing claims against the Boulder government with the city attorney's office.
To learn more about filing liability claims against the Colorado government, see the Office of Risk Management's Liability Program page.