Holding Property Owners Accountable
Whether you live in Boulder or are just traveling through, the city provides a friendly atmosphere that makes you feel at home. Downtown Boulder’s walkability allows easy access to hiking trails, trendy shops, and a variety of restaurants. Families come out year-round to enjoy street entertainers, visit the Boulder Theater, and hike the Flatirons. Boulder’s eclectic fusion of experiences makes it a city like no other, but its popularity has a downside. As crowds gather in public places, unsafe conditions can result in unexpected injuries.
For example, adults slip and fall on debris and poorly maintained stairways; children fall while playing; and intoxicated college students can turn fun events into unforeseen tragedies. Such incidents may result in fatal or catastrophic injuries, including fractures, spinal injuries, and brain trauma. These serious conditions may require extensive treatment, ongoing care, and physical therapy. Lost wages and unreimbursed medical costs may trigger long-term financial disruption. Negligence is at the root of many of these injury-causing incidents, which generally occur when property owners fail to maintain their property, resolve safety issues, and protect against hazardous conditions.
At the Tenge Law Firm, LLC, we believe that negligent property owners should pay for the injuries that they cause. Under Colorado law, property owners are required to maintain their properties and keep them safe. When they fail to meet this standard, they may be liable for resultant injuries. Our legal team devotes the necessary time, effort, and resources to build a winning case for each of our clients. We manage legal complexities, and work toward the best possible outcome, while our clients focus on healing.
Our Case Results
The Tenge Law Firm, LLC has represented numerous injured clients over the years, and we’re dedicated to delivering the best possible results for each individual client. Our personal injury attorneys have negotiated settlements with reasonable property owners and insurance companies, we have resolved our clients’ cases through alternative dispute resolution techniques, and we have prepared for trial when negotiations proved unproductive. Each premises liability case is different, and we can’t guarantee any specific outcomes, but we can share our case results to demonstrate some of our past successes:
- $675,000: an older woman tripped and fell due to a hazard encountered while shopping. She underwent surgery and spent six weeks in an inpatient facility. The retailer initially denied liability, but we eventually settled the case.
- $1,050,000: a truck driver rear-ended our client’s car, causing a serious back injury. Our client endured hospitalizations, surgery, and disabilities that decreased his work capacity. We settled for the negligent driver’s policy limits.
- $1,350,000: another vehicle struck our client head-on. The severe impact injured her ankle, foot, and leg, requiring surgical repairs. We settled for the limits of three policies under which the defendant had liability coverage.
Common Premises Liability Issues
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) “Important Facts About Falls” reveals that each year, 800,000 people seek emergency treatment for injuries caused by falls. One out of every four older adults falls each year, and falls cause 95% of the 300,000 hip fractures that hospitalize older adults annually. Falls are also the leading factor in traumatic brain injuries.
Other types of premises liability accidents also cause serious, catastrophic, and even fatal injuries. WISQAR, the CDC’s injury reporting database, tracks a range of accident statistics. Unintentional falls, fires, inhalation, struck-by incidents, and assaults are among the top ten non-fatal injury-causing events in the country. According to the statistics, drownings and falls also cause a high number of fatalities, and safety violations by employers and/or property owners also contribute to significant injuries. Such violations may include:
- Inadequate safety and security measures
- Poorly maintained and lighted stairways
- Poorly maintained amusement park rides
- Inadequate swimming pool safety
- Unsafe diving boards and slides
- Poorly maintained elevators and escalators
- Inadequate snow and ice removal
- Unsafe retail merchandise displays
- Poorly maintained and cleaned floors
- Inadequate lighting
- Defective handrails
- Damaged sidewalks and pavement
What Are the Potential Premises Liability Injuries?
Falls are the leading cause of property-related serious and catastrophic injuries. The National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center’s data shows that falls cause 31 percent of all spinal cord injuries, and violence causes 13.8 percent. Furthermore, statistics from the National Data and Statistical Center show that falls caused 27 percent of all brain injuries, and violence causes 11 percent. Falls are just one cause of accidents that may involve premises liability law; the injuries from such accidents vary, but may include:
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Spinal cord injuries with paralysis
- Hip fractures
- Chemical burns
- Fatal injuries
Who Can Be at Fault?
Under Colorado law, property owners have a duty to keep their property safe. While that is the basic premise of the law, it can be complicated to determine actual liability at trial. According to Colorado premises liability laws, the term “landowner” is broadly defined to include a person who is:
- An authorized agent
- In possession of the property
- Responsible for the property’s condition
- Responsible for activities conducted on the property
Under this definition of landowner, a building manager, leasing agent, maintenance company, security firm, or anyone else entrusted to run or care for property can potentially be held responsible for any injuries that occur on the property. The duties a landowner owes visitors under Colorado law vary, depending on the injured person’s status while they’re on the premises. A visitor may be classified as:
- An invitee: a guest who has been invited on to the property, such as a customer. A landowner owes an invitee reasonable care to protect them against hazards.
- A licensee: an individual on the property with the owner’s permission, but for the individual’s own benefit. Landowners owe licensees reasonable care concerning hazards the owner creates, and to warn of known hazards that may be unique to the property.
- A trespasser: a person who doesn’t have permission to be on the property. The landowner owes only a duty to not deliberately harm a trespasser.
Types of Damages a Victim Might Recover
Premises liability claims usually involve the potential to recover both economic damages and general damages. Economic damages are based on out-of-pocket expenses that the injured person actually incurred, or expects to incur, such as:
- Lost wages
- Reduced earning capacity
- Medical expenses
- Prescription drug costs
- Prosthetics and mobility devices
- Physical therapy
- Medical transportation costs
- Costs for care and household services
General damages, on the other hand, are difficult to evaluate, as they consider the injured person’s subjective personal feelings. At the Tenge Law Firm, LLC, we have experience securing general damages for our clients. In establishing an argument for general damages, we often discuss our client’s feelings and emotions. To assess how their injuries and disabilities have affected their lives, we consider the following:
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Loss of consortium
- Inability to care for family
- Loss of bodily functions
- Scarring and disfigurement
- Permanent disabilities
In the rare case where a defendant’s conduct goes beyond negligence, such as intentionally harming the victim, a court might also award punitive damages.
In What Ways Do Those Responsible Try to Avoid Paying Damages?
Colorado law clearly requires property owners to maintain and secure their property. Despite this responsibility, property owners and their insurance companies often refuse to negotiate or offer a reasonable settlement amount. Defendants in premise liability cases frequently cite several defenses in an effort to avoid paying an injured person, including:
- Comparative negligence: if the defendant proves that the injured person was more than 50% negligent in causing his or her own injuries, the defendant can avoid paying damages. To accomplish this, they may allege that the injured person suffered from vision problems, was wearing improper footwear, or struggled with sobriety issues. Even if an injured person is found to be 49% or less responsible for any injuries, this percentage of negligence may reduce the final settlement amount.
- No negligence: defendants often try to prove that they did not act negligently. If they’re successful, they may not be required to pay anything.
- Plaintiff is a trespasser or licensee: as a property owner owes a higher duty of care to an invitee, defendants often try to establish that the injured person was either a licensee or a trespasser, rather than an invitee.
- Injury dispute: defendants may try to reduce the injured person’s damages award by denying that the injuries occurred on their property or disputing the severity of the injuries.
How Much Does a Premises Liability Lawyer Cost?
If you or a loved one was injured on someone else’s property in Boulder or the surrounding area, you should contact the Tenge Law Firm, LLC immediately to schedule a free consultation with one of our experienced Boulder premises liability attorneys. We will discuss the events that caused your injuries and determine if we can help you. Our firm never charges our clients fees unless we settle their case or win a court verdict.
Contact Our Boulder Premises Liability Attorneys Today
If you or your family member was injured on someone else’s property, we want to help. Premises liability accidents may involve serious injuries and can get complex once the insurance companies become involved. The economic and personal losses from such an incident may last a lifetime. The Tenge Law Firm, LLC works hard to hold Boulder commercial and private property owners responsible for preventable injuries that occur on their property. Contact us today at (303) 665-2929 or complete our online contact form to schedule your free consultation.