What Is Negligence?
Negligence is a notoriously broad cause of action that affects individuals and businesses across the state regularly. Whether you are being sued for negligence - or looking to bring a negligence lawsuit against another - the need for swift and efficient resolution is of utmost importance.
At Volpe Law, our negligence lawyers prioritize our client's interests and work diligently to resolve any and all situations where negligence is at issue. Contact us today at 720-441-3328 or complete a Consultation Request For to request a Free Consultation.
What is the Colorado Duty of Care in Negligence?
To recover on a negligence claim, a plaintiff must establish the existence of a legal duty on the part of the defendant, a breach of that duty, causation, and damages.[i] Importantly, legal duties only arise in particular situations. In determining whether a person has a duty to act or refrain from acting to avoid injury to others, the nature of the inquiry is essentially whether recognizing a duty would comport with fairness under contemporary standards.[ii] In deciding whether recognizing a duty would comport with fairness under such standards, courts must consider several factors, including:
- The risk involved;
- The foreseeability and likelihood of injury as weighed against the social utility of the actor's conduct;
- The magnitude of the burden of guarding against injury or harm; and
- The consequences of placing the burden upon the actor.[iii]
Types of Negligence in Colorado
In Colorado, there are two main categories of negligence: “nonfeasance” and “misfeasance.” Nonfeasance involves an alleged negligent failure to act, i.e., a failure to take affirmative action to protect others from harm[iv] (as opposed to misfeasance, which involves a negligent act). In nonfeasance cases, the first requirement of negligence - proving that there was a duty - is only met in limited circumstances involving special relationships such as:
- Common carrier/passenger;
- Landowner/invited guest;
- Parent/child; and
Have you encountered a situation involving negligence?
The most common situations involving negligence include, but are not limited to:
- Auto Accidents (between vehicle operators);
- Healthcare (between a physician and patient);
- Construction Defect (between a property owner and a contractor);
- Restaurants (between an individual and a restaurant); and
- Employment (between an employer/employee and a third party).
What are the Remedies for Negligence?
Damages in negligence cases are always monetary; the plaintiff will be seeking money damages for the underlying acts in the lawsuit. Generally, monetary damages fall under three categories: (1) non-economic losses or injuries, (2) economic losses or injuries, and (3) physical impairment or disfigurement.
Non-economic losses might include:
- Pain and suffering;
- Emotional stress; and
- Impairment of the quality of life.[vii]
Additionally, one may recover for “derivative noneconomic loss or injury,” which is defined as “harm or emotional stress to persons other than the person suffering the direct or primary loss or injury.”[viii]
Economic losses might include:
- Loss of future earnings;
- Lost wages or income;
- Hospital and medical expenses; and
- Costs of repair.
What are the Defenses to Negligence Claims in Colorado?
There are many potential defenses one may levy in a negligence case. The one most widely used - contributory/comparative negligence - applies “in any action by any person or his legal representative to recover damages for negligence resulting in death or in injury to person or property” in which the comparative negligence of the plaintiff has been raised as a defense and there is evidence that would support a finding that both the plaintiff and the defendant were negligence and that such negligence caused the plaintiff's injuries.[ix]
It is also possible to allege negligence on that part of a designated “nonparty.” This defense can aid in attributing most or all of the fault in a case to an individual or entity that has not been included as a fellow defendant.[x]
Contact a Negligence Attorney Today.
[i] United Blood Servs. v. Quintana, 827 P.2d 509 (Colo. 1992); Observatory Corp. v. Daly, 780 P.2d 462 (Colo. 1989); Perreira v. State, 768 P.2d 1198 (Colo. 1989); Leake v. Cain, 720 P.2d 152 (Colo. 1986).
[ii] Peterson v. Halsted, 829 P.2d 373 (Colo. 1992).
[iii] Casebolt v. Cowan, 829 P.2d 352 (Colo. 1992); Lyons v. Nasby, 770 P.2d 1250 (Colo. 1989).
[iv] Univ. of Denver v. Whitlock, 744 P.2d 54, 57 (Colo. 1987).
[v] See Rocky Mountain Planned Parenthood, Inc. v. Wagner, 2020 CO 51, ¶ 44, 467 P.3d 287; N.M. v. Trujillo, 2017 CO 79, ¶ 27, 397 P.3d 370; Garcia v. Colo. Cab Co., 2019 COA 3, ¶ 10, rev'd on other grounds, 2020 CO 55, 467 P.3d 302; Groh v. Westin Operator, LLC, 2013 COA 39, ¶ 28, 352 P.3d 472, aff'd, 2015 CO 25, 347 P.3d 606; English v. Griffith, 99 P.3d 90 (Colo. App. 2004); Lewis v. Emil Clayton Plumbing Co., 25 P.3d 1254 (Colo. App. 2000).
[vi] See, e.g., Grynberg v. Agri Tech, Inc., 10 P.3d 1267 (Colo. 2000) (distinguishing between tort and contract claims); Town of Alma v. AZCO Constr., Inc., 10 P.3d 1256 (Colo. 2000) (under economic loss rule, no tort action for negligence where only damages are for economic loss).
[vii] C.R.S. § 13-21-102.5(2)(b).
[viii] C.R.S. § 13-21-102.5(2)(a).
[ix] C.R.S. § 13-21-111; DeBose v. Bear Valley Church of Christ, 890 P.2d 214 (Colo. App. 1994), rev'd on other grounds, 928 P.2d 1315 (Colo. 1996); see also Reid v. Berkowitz, 2013 COA 110M, ¶ 52, 315 P.3d 185.
[x] C.R.S. § 13-21-111.5(b)(3).
The information contained on this website is provided for informational purposes only. It is not legal advice and should not be construed as providing legal advice on any subject matter. Laws frequently change and therefore this content is not necessarily up to date, nor comprehensive. Contact us or another attorney with any legal questions specific to your matter. You may request a consultation by completing our consultation request form.