Posted in Blog on May 2, 2016
Depending on the state in which you live or where you plan to file a personal injury lawsuit, it is important to know that there are many state-specific laws that apply to personal injury claims. If you live in the Denver, CO area, you should understand some of the specific Colorado laws that may impact your personal injury lawsuit. To help Denver residents understand some of the issues they may face in a personal injury claim, we have compiled a list of some of Colorado’s specific laws that often come into play when a plaintiff files an injury lawsuit.
If you get hurt in an accident and file a personal injury claim to seek compensation, you should know about comparative fault, or comparative negligence. In short, the other party can allege that you, the plaintiff, also played a role in the accident, and thus that you should also be financially responsible for your losses. Under the Section 13-21-406 of the Colorado Revised Statutes, comparative fault does not bar a plaintiff from recovering after she has suffered a serious harm. What it does do, however, is to reduce the damage award by the proportion for which fault is attributed to the plaintiff.
What does this mean in practice? Take this example: a plaintiff gets hurt in an accident and files a lawsuit against the defendant. The defendant argues that the plaintiff was also to blame for the accident that caused her injuries. The jury decides that the defendant was 80 percent to blame for the accident, while the plaintiff was 20 percent to blame for the accident. Now, if we say that the jury awarded $100,000 to the plaintiff before taking into account the “modified” comparative fault rule, then that award would be reduced by 20 percent—the portion for which the plaintiff was deemed liable—and the plaintiff would ultimately be awarded $80,000.
In addition to reducing damage awards based on comparative fault, there is also a damage cap in Colorado for non-economic damages. Under Section 13-21-102.5(3)(a) of the Colorado Revised Statutes, non-economic damages are limited to $250,000 unless the court finds “justification by clear and convincing evidence” that the damage award should be increased. Even if the court decides that the award should be increased, however, it cannot go above $500,000. Non-economic damages are those for which an objective dollar figure is not known, such as pain and suffering or emotional stress.
In Colorado, parents can be held liable for accidents and injuries that occur when their children are driving a family vehicle. The “family car doctrine” is a type of law that, when a parent shares a household with a child of driving age and that child uses the family’s automobile and causes an accident, the parent can be legally responsible for the injuries that result. According to a handbook from the Colorado Bar Association, the family car doctrine does not apply in situations where an adult child is living outside the household and supports himself or herself.
In some types of accident and injury cases, Colorado law imposes strict liability. In other words, the plaintiff will not have to prove that the defendant behaved negligently in order to recover damages. Instead, the plaintiff will only need to demonstrate that the defendant engaged in certain behavior—that alone can be enough to impose liability in strict liability cases. According to a document from the Denver Bar Association, two key areas in which Colorado uses a strict liability standard include product liability claims and dog bite cases.
The laws we mentioned are just a few examples of Colorado personal injury laws that could impact your case. If you have questions about filing a personal injury lawsuit, you should speak with an experienced Denver personal injury attorney as soon as possible. Contact Zaner Harden Law today for more information about how we can help.