If you’ve slipped, tripped, fallen or otherwise suffered an injury while out and about, you may be wondering if you have the option of bringing a lawsuit to compensate you for your medical expenses and time off of work. When is the owner of the store, plaza, restaurant or hotel where your injury occurred responsible for the injury, and how likely are you to succeed in a lawsuit?
Your status on the premises matters
Colorado law places a large amount of importance on the status of a visitor on someone else’s property for the purposes of premises liability. Your status means your level of permission to be on the property. When it comes to visitor status, the three categories that you can be in are invitee, licensee, and trespasser.
An invitee is someone who the owner specifically invites onto the land. If the property is a store or restaurant, any clients who enter the property are invitees. A licensee, on the other hand, is someone who enters a property for their own interest, but with the owner’s permission (such as a guest in your home). Finally, a trespasser is someone who enters the land without the owner’s permission.
When the landowner is liable
If a trespasser suffers an injury on someone’s property, the property owner is only liable for willfully or deliberately causing them injury.
If a licensee suffers an injury, the situation is a bit more complicated. The property owner is only liable if they unreasonably fail to exercise reasonable care to protect against dangers on the land that they caused, or to warn about dangers that they didn’t cause but knew about.
Finally, if you are an invitee and you suffer an injury on someone’s property, the owner can be liable for failing to take steps to protect you against dangers that they knew about, regardless of who caused the danger.
If you suffer an injury on someone else’s property, you should start by figuring out what your visitor status on their property was. From there, you can get a pretty good idea of how successful you’re likely to be if you decide to go through with a premises liability lawsuit.