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Premises Liability Law in Colorado – Recent Events Affecting Defenses

Premises liability, the area of law covering Colorado slip and fall cases, is complicated and ever-evolving. The Colorado Premises Liability Act (CPLA) today governs the remedies for injured parties who claim the injury occurred while on the land of another.

While premises liability law is still evolving, the most significant recent change occurred with the Martin decision (Martin v. Union Pacific R. Co., — P.3d — WL 2728625 (Colo. App. 2007) in September, 2007, which set forth a ruling on defenses allowed by the accused in a premises liability case. This may impact your premises liability case as you seek to recover damages for a slip and fall accident occurring in Colorado.

The case: Melissa Martin was driving to school when her car stalled just before crossing train tracks. Her boyfriend attempted to push her car across the tracks to the other side but was unable to do so and her car was hit by the oncoming train with Melissa still inside.

The defense tried to limit their liability by asserting the defenses of negligence, assumption of risk and pro-rata liability, but the Court ruled that they were prohibited from doing so. This ruling was significant because between the time of Melissa Martin’s accident and the law suit, the CPLA had been amended by Colorado’s General Assembly to specifically state that these defenses are available to defendants in CPLA actions. The Court determined that the amendment to the CPLA does not have retroactive effect, and therefore, do not apply to cases that accrued prior to the date of the amendment, April 5, 2006.

The jury agreed with the plaintiffs that the engineer should have applied the brakes as soon as he saw Melissa and awarded $11,627,834 in damages.

What this means for slip and fall accident victims: The Boulder County Bar Association writes: “It is not yet four months since the Martin decision and its effects have been far reaching. Plaintiffs’ attorneys have recognized the strategic advantage in having a case pre-amendment as opposed to post-amendment. However, to their dismay, they discovered that some district courts have chosen not to follow the Martin decision. Martin is currently on petition for certiorari, and members of both sides of the bar are most certainly anticipating the outcome. Those who have pre-amendment premises cases should carefully read Martin and attempt to strike any defenses not enumerated in the prior version of the CPLA and watch out for the evolution of the CPLA.”

As you can see, the Colorado Premises Liability Act is still evolving. The Babcock Law Firm will help you understand your rights under premises liability law as well as the defenses that the opposing party may use to help you recover the damages due to you from your slip and fall accident.

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Categories: Premises Liability
Tags: Premises Liabilityslip and falls
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