A person injured on someone else’s property may recover damages from the owner. Every year, many Coloradoans suffer injuries as the result of poor property conditions. Examples include icy sidewalks, crumbling stairways, and uneven floors. Fortunately, there’s a law—Colorado Premises Liability Act (CPLA)—that helps injured victims get compensation for their injuries.

Passed in 1986, the CPLA provides a legal framework for individuals to makes claims against landowners for unsafe conditions. The statute defines “landowner” as “… an authorized agent or a person in possession of real property and a person legally responsible for the condition of real property or for the activities conducted or circumstances existing on real property.” Therefore, companies responsible for maintaining a property can also be liable for any dangerous conditions.

Categories of Injury Victims

The CPLA provides different standards for the injured person’s right to recover, depending on why they were on the property. Victims fall into one of three categories:

(1) Trespasser–a person who enters or remains on the land of another without the landowner’s consent;

(2) Licensee–a person who enters or remains on the land of another for the licensee’s own convenience or to advance his own interests, pursuant to the landowner’s permission or consent. “Licensee” includes a social guest;

(3) Invitee– 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.

Damages for Each Category of Injured Person

Also, the statute sets the following specific criteria for victims in each category to make a claim:

(a) A trespasser may recover only for damages willfully or deliberately caused by the landowner;

(b) A licensee may recover only for damages caused:

(I) By the landowner’s unreasonable failure to exercise reasonable care with respect to dangers created by the landowner of which the landowner actually knew; or

(II) By the landowner’s unreasonable failure to warn of dangers not created by the landowner which are not ordinarily present on the property of the type involved and of which the landowner actually knew.

(c) An invitee may recover for damages caused by the landowner’s unreasonable failure to exercise reasonable care to protect against dangers of which he actually knew or should have known.

When the Injury Occurs at a Business

Many slip-and-fall incidents occur at business and therefore fall under the “invitee” category of the CPLA. When a customer is injured on their property, a business may respond in a few different ways. The business should make sure the injured person gets any needed medical attention. Then, document the details of what happened (including taking photos), and contact the company’s insurance company. By taking these steps, the business is protecting itself and the injured individual.

Unfortunately, many companies fail to take these steps. Instead, they try to cover up the incident or placate the injured person with a small amount of money. Some naive business owners may even destroy evidence thinking it helps them. While destruction of evidence is illegal, it nevertheless continues to be a common practice. As a result, an injured person likely needs a lawyer to help them navigate the claim.

Get the Help you Need

For these reasons, if injured in a business as the result of unsafe conditions, you should speak with a lawyer you can trust immediately. Even if your injuries don’t seem serious, it’s always a good idea to talk to a skilled personal injury lawyer.