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What Are the Different Types of Negligence in Colorado?

August 13, 2020

Negligence occurs when someone, through a certain act or failure to act, fails to uphold his or her duty of care in certain situations. If you are filing a personal injury lawsuit against a person or entity, you will have to prove that the at-fault party acted in negligence at the time of your accident.

Colorado has specific laws surrounding different types of negligence, how to prove negligence occurred, and whether or not your case actually constitutes negligence.

What Are the Elements of Negligence?

All personal injury cases rely on the concept of negligence to justify your need for compensatory damages. To prove a Colorado personal injury case, you must gather enough evidence to establish a series of specific elements.

  • Duty of care: The defendant must owe you a duty of care at the time of your accident. This element will depend on the circumstances surrounding your case; for example, if you suffer an injury on someone else’s property, the landowner has a duty of care to maintain safe premises.
  • Breach of duty: After establishing that a duty of care existed, you must prove the at-fault party breached the duty in some way. This may include failing to repair broken stairs in an apartment building, running through a red light while driving, or ignoring safety regulations on construction sites.
  • Causation: Next, you must prove the at-fault party’s breach of care directly caused your injuries. You can prove this element by providing certain pieces of evidence, like medical reports, expert testimony, and witness statements.
  • Damages: Finally, you must establish that you suffered damages as a result of your injuries you can claim in your lawsuit. You can claim funds for medical expenses, lost wages, property damage, and emotional distress, among others.

Different Types of Negligence in Colorado

Outside of establishing the traditional elements of negligence, your case may involve an instance of gross or vicarious negligence, or negligence per se. These types of negligence occur in specific cases.

  • Gross negligence occurs when a person acts in an unreasonable manner or acts in a way that another reasonable person would not. Your case qualifies for gross negligence if you can prove the at-fault party showed a complete disregard for your safety, such as a drunk driver.
  • Vicarious negligence occurs when a person fails to take reasonable steps to prevent you from suffering harm at the hands of another person or animal. This type of negligence is common in claims involving dangerous animals, such as dog bite lawsuits.
  • Negligence per se occurs when the at-fault party violates a law or statute during your accident. To prove that negligence per se played a role in your case, you will need to prove that the at-fault party violated the law, the law was supposed to protect you from your specific injury, and the violation caused your injury.

In addition, your case may involve modified comparative negligence if the court determines that you share a portion of the liability for the accident. At the conclusion of your case, the court will decide whether or not you qualify for damages and the amount of your settlement.

Under modified comparative negligence, Colorado courts will reduce your award by the percentage of liability you share. If you share 50% or more of the liability in your claim, you cannot claim any damages at all. For example, if you are seeking $10,000 and share 20% of the fault, you will only receive $8,000. If you share 50% of the fault, you will receive $0.

Talk to a Colorado Personal Injury Attorney

Understanding negligence can be difficult, especially after a recent injury. Before taking any legal action in your personal injury claim, speak to a Denver personal injury attorney as soon as possible. Your attorney will advise you on your pathway to optimal compensation, investigate your claim, help you recover damages, and guide you through the litigation process.

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