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Colorado Premises Liability Act Updates

Posted by Ben Volpe | May 28, 2022

Premises liability is a cause of action which encompasses many different factual scenarios and impacts many individuals throughout Colorado. Whether you are being sued for premises liability - or looking to bring a premises liability lawsuit against another - the need for swift and efficient resolution is of utmost importance.

What is the Premises Liability Act?

The Colorado Premises Liability Act (“PLA”) is a sweeping state statute that addresses landowner responsibility as pertains to individuals on their property.1 Specifically, the PLA applied to “conditions, activities, and circumstances on the property that the landowner is liable for in its legal capacity as a landowner.”

The PLA in effect establishes two separate elements for landowner liability: (1) breach of duty to use reasonable care to protect against danger on the property, and (2) actual or constructive knowledge of danger.

However, not all individuals on a landowner's property are treated equally. In most instances, the injured individual will fall under one of three categories: (1) trespasser, (2) licensee, and (3) invitee. Depending on the category, landowners owe a certain duty of care. For ease of reference, see the chart below for the corresponding duties landowners owe to each:

In addition, the PLA serves as Colorado's exclusive remedy for civil actions brought against landowners for injuries caused by the condition of the property.This means that other common law causes of action like negligence are unavailable to an individual for injury at and caused by the property of another.

April 2022 Revisions to The Colorado Premises Liability Act

The legislature amended the PLA to clarify that the recent Supreme Court and Appellate decisions involving the planned parenthood shootings do not accurately reflect the legislative intent of the PLA. The legislature specified:

(I) The Rocky Mountain Planned Parenthood, Inc. v. Wagner, 2020 CO 51, 467 P.3d 287, and Wagner v. Planned Parenthood Federation of America, Inc., 2019 COA 26, 471 P.3d 1089, decisions do not accurately reflect the intent of the general assembly regarding landowner liability and must not be relied upon in applying this section to the extent that the majority opinions determined:

(A)The foreseeability of third-party criminal conduct based upon whether the goods or services offered by a landowner are controversial; and

(B) That a landowner could be held liable as a substantial factor in causing harm without considering whether a third-party criminal act was the predominant cause of that harm, as noted by the dissenting justices and judge.

Premises Liability Defenses

The main defense available to a premises liability defendant is comparative fault/negligence. If the injured individual was not acting with the necessary care to avoid getting the injury, then the landowner's fault may be mitigated by that individual's comparative blame.

Another available defense is called “assumption of risk.” This defense is utilized when the facts of a dispute show that the individual knew what could happen while on the premises before the injury occurred.

At Volpe Law, our premises liability lawyers prioritize our client's interests and work diligently to resolve any and all situations where premises liability is at issue. Contact us today at 720-441-3328 or complete a Consultation Request Form to request a Free Consultation.

[1] C.R.S. § 13-21-115

[2] Vigil v. Franklin, 103 P.3d 322 (Colo. 2004)

About the Author

Ben Volpe

BEN VOLPE | FOUNDING MEMBER. Ben is a founding member of the firm. He has a broad range of experience involving business litigation; construction defect litigation; commercial, fraud, and civil litigation; commercial and residential leases; insurance; trademarks; business and construction contracts; and rea...

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