During the late autumn, winter, and early spring months, when the temperatures dip below freezing and snow begins to fly, slipping and falling on ice and snow is a common occurrence in Denver and Colorado Springs. Many times, a slip and fall on ice simply results in embarrassment—or at worst a bruised tailbone. But sometimes a slip and fall on ice can cause serious and potentially catastrophic injury. A person can twist and bend in awkward, injurious ways as they fall, pulling, straining, or tearing muscles, tendons, and ligaments. Landing hard on the ground can result in broken bones. Some of the worst slip and falls can result in herniated discs, a brain injury from a blow to the head, and even paralysis. The risks are especially high when a person slips on snowy or icy stairs. A slip and fall can even result in death.
When a person slips and falls on ice or snow, resulting in personal injury, the first step should, of course, be to seek out medical care. The second step—if the person believes that their slip and fall injuries were caused by someone else—should be to contact an experienced Colorado slip and fall lawyer to determine if there is a way to obtain compensation for lost income, medical bills, future care needs, out-of-pocket costs, pain and suffering, or permanent impairment.
THE COLORADO PREMISES LIABILITY STATUTE
In Colorado, property owner liability is governed by the Colorado Premises Liability Statute. The premises liability statute, § 13-21-115, C.R.S., is the exclusive remedy for parties injured on the property of another. When you talk to a Denver or Colorado Springs slip and fall attorney, they will ask you questions to determine what your status was on the property at the time of the slip and fall. Under the premises liability statute, the scope of the duties owned by the landowner depend on whether the person injured is classified as a “trespasser,” “licensee,” or an “invitee.”
Many times, slip and fall cases involve a person who is considered an “invitee” of the property owner. Under the premises liability statute, an invitee is defined as “a person who enters or remains on the land of another to transact business in which the parties are mutually interested or who enters or remains on such land in response to the landowner’s express or implied representation that the public is requested, expected, or intended to enter or remain.” Typically, invitees are customers of a business or tenants of a landlord. (Social guests in another person’s home are categorized as “licensees”).
Under the Premises Liability Statute, if a landowner unreasonably fails to protect an invitee against a dangerous condition that the landowner knows about, or should have known about, the landowner can be liable. Licensees and trespassers are owned lesser duties under the Premises Liability statute. It’s important to contact an experienced slip and fall lawyer to help determine what your status is on a particular property.
ICY WALKWAYS, DRIVEWAYS, STEPS, OR PARKING LOTS CAN CREATE LIABILITY FOR A LANDOWNER
While some municipalities have ordinances that required property owners to removed snow within a certain time after a storm, some do not. Whether or not there are ordinances that dictate when snow must be removed, the failure of a business or landlord to clear ice and snow from their property within a reasonable amount of time can create liability under the Premises Liability Statute. An experienced slip and fall attorney can evaluate the potential liability of a landowner who has failed to clear ice or snow from their property.
Beyond clearing snow after a storm, a landowner may find himself in trouble when the property has broken or leaky gutters that create pools or streams of water on walkways, driveways, and parking lots. With the almost daily thaw and freeze cycle common in Colorado, those pools and streams can quickly turn into dangerous sheets of ice. An injured invitee will often have a strong liability case when a landowner has failed to repair gutters, downspouts, or drainage.
A landowner will occasionally have strong liability defenses to a Premises Liability claim. As an example, a person may be deemed to have assumed the risk of injury if the person was aware of the snowy or icy dangerous condition but proceeded to walk on the snow or ice anyway. Proving liability under the Premises Liability statute depends on the circumstances, and each case is unique. An experienced slip and fall lawyer will be able to assess the relevant liability issues and determine if filing a lawsuit may be warranted.
THE INJURIES AND DAMAGES ARISING FROM A SLIP AND FALL CAN DETERMINE IF A LAWSUIT IS WARRANTED
Beyond the liability issues, many slip and falls do not result in serious enough injuries or damages to support hiring a lawyer to bring a lawsuit. A person who is injured may quickly recover and have no lasting problems. However, when the injuries are serious and the resulting damages are significant, bringing a lawsuit can allow you the opportunity to obtain fair compensation from the person or entity responsible. An experienced slip and fall lawyer can help evaluate your injuries and damages for potential claims and litigation and help recover past and future medical and rehabilitative care, damages for pain and suffering and loss of enjoyment of life, damages for permanent impairment, and damages for lost of income.
Whether it is a car accident or a slip and fall, seeking legal help from a personal injury lawyer is critical to making sure your rights are protected. When you need a dedicated, sympathetic, and talented slip and fall accident attorney with a proven track record of success who will fight for your best interests, contact Whalen Injury Lawyers today. We’re happy to offer you a free consultation with one of our slip and fall accident lawyers to review the details of your case and discuss your legal options. You can reach us in Denver at (720) 307-2666 or in Colorado Springs at (719) 644-7000 to learn more.