In Colorado personal injury law, people have a legal duty to act as a reasonable person would in their situation. This means using normal care and caution when doing their jobs or moving in public. If a person fails to act with reasonable care and another person is injured as a result, they “breach” their duty and can be found legally liable for the other person’s damages. 

If you or a loved one has been injured due to another person’s breach of duty, a Colorado personal injury lawyer can help you prove liability and collect the financial compensation you deserve. First, it helps to understand what duty of care is and how a breach of duty is established in Colorado. 

Duty of Care in Colorado 

In a personal injury case, four essential elements must be proven in order to win your case. 

These elements are: 

  1. Duty of care
  2. Breach of duty
  3. Causation
  4. Damages

A case cannot succeed without first demonstrating the duty of care element. Whether a duty exists will depend on the circumstances and the relationship between the victim and the at-fault party. 

Some examples where a duty of care exists include: 

  • A driver’s duty to drive with caution and respect for other drivers and to obey the rules of the road; 
  • A dog owner’s duty to keep their dog from biting other people or pets; 
  • A gun owner’s duty to handle and store a gun safely; 
  • A store owner’s duty to keep their store safe and free of hazards to shoppers; 
  • A doctor’s duty to treat their patient with care. 

Some factors a jury might be instructed to evaluate would include: 

  • Any risk involved with the defendant’s conduct; 
  • Whether the plaintiff’s injury would have been reasonably foreseeable to another person in the defendant’s position; 
  • The overall importance of protecting people from the type of harm that occurred; 
  • Whether it is fair to place the burden of a “duty of care” on the defendant under the circumstances. 

A defendant in a personal injury case is not expected to have acted perfectly in the situation they were in. Rather, they are expected to act as an average person should have acted. In a trial, jurors are asked to put themselves in the defendant’s shoes and ask if they would have acted in the same manner and if there was a duty of care. 

Defining Breach of Duty 

Breach of duty is the second element of negligence under Colorado personal injury law. Proving a breach of duty can be straightforward, for example, when a driver runs a red light and crashes into another driver as a result. In other cases, proving a breach can be more complex and dependent on the facts involved. 

A party breaches the duty of care when they fail to act as a “reasonable person” would in the situation involved. Of course, the next question would be: what is a “reasonable person,” and how do they act? In these scenarios, a jury is asked to answer that question themselves, and a personal injury lawyer will try to guide them to the proper answer. 

Some examples of breach of duty might be when: 

  • A doctor fails to order lab tests that other doctors would order based on the patient’s symptoms; 
  • A bartender over-serves a customer who later causes an accident; 
  • A trucker fails to properly secure his cargo;
  • A restaurant owner doesn’t clean up a spill, even after noticing its presence;
  • A motorist turns into a crosswalk without looking for pedestrians. 

A defendant does not necessarily need to break the law to breach their duty of care to others. For example, a driver can cause an accident even while driving the speed limit. Each case is unique and depends on all facts involved. 

Proving Breach of Duty in a Colorado Personal Injury Case 

After establishing that a duty of care existed, the plaintiff must establish a breach of duty. Proving a breach of duty in a Colorado personal injury case can be a tough task at times. 

An experienced personal injury lawyer will seek to prove their case by using any of the following: 

  • Eyewitness testimony
  • Expert witness testimony
  • Statutes governing the defendant’s conduct (for example, Colorado law on liability for dog bites, car accidents, and more)
  • Medical records 
  • Physical evidence 
  • Digital evidence. 

In some cases, a defendant might try to claim that the plaintiff was the one who breached a duty of care toward others. Or, they might argue that the plaintiff was more than 50% responsible for the accident and, therefore, not entitled to collect damages. 

Colorado is a modified comparative negligence state, meaning that a plaintiff can be compensated as long as they were less than 50% responsible for the accident. However, the amount they are entitled to can be reduced in proportion to their fault for the accident. A plaintiff that was 40% at fault will collect less than a plaintiff that shared no fault whatsoever. 

Whether seeking to counter such a claim or trying to prove their own claim, a personal injury plaintiff will need skilled legal help to establish that the other party breached their duty of care. 

Contact a Boulder Personal Injury Lawyer to Discuss Your Claim 

If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident, you have legal options, including the right to seek financial compensation for your injuries. Proving negligence in Colorado involves proving that a defendant breached their duty of care. To learn more about this process and to talk about your case further, contact an experienced Colorado personal injury attorney from Tenge Law Firm, LLC at (303) 665-2929.