A Premises Liability Lawyer's Guide to Premises Liability Claims in Colorado

W. Neal Hollington
W. Neal Hollington

Apr 01, 2024

3 minute read

Premises Liability

Navigating the aftermath of an injury on someone else's property can be overwhelming. In Colorado, like in many other states, the legal framework of premises liability is in place to ensure that property owners maintain safe conditions for visitors. However, understanding your rights and the steps to take in the event of an injury is crucial for securing the compensation you deserve. As a premise liability lawyer in Colorado, I'm here to provide a roadmap for individuals facing such circumstances.

Colorado's Premises Liability Act

Premise liability is a legal doctrine that holds property owners accountable for ensuring the safety of individuals who enter their premises. This duty of care extends to invited guests, customers, and, in certain circumstances, even trespassers. In Colorado, property owners are required to maintain their premises in a reasonably safe condition to prevent foreseeable injuries to those on their property. These duties are addressed under Colorado's Premises Liability Act.

Types of Incidents Covered by the Premises Liability Act

Premises liability claims can arise from a wide range of incidents, including slip and fall accidents, dog bites, inadequate lighting, inadequate security leading to assaults or robberies, swimming pool accidents, and more. Any situation where a property owner's negligence contributes to an injury may warrant a premises liability claim. Due to the wide variety of circumstances that may lead to a premises liability claim, it is advisable to speak with a qualified premises liability attorney to discuss the particular facts and circumstances surrounding your injury.

The Premises Liability Act is the "Exclusive Remedy" Against a Landowner for Injuries on their Property

Colorado's Premises Liability Act provides, "In any civil action brought against a landowner by a person who alleges injury occurring while on the real property of another and by reason of the condition of such property, or activities conducted or circumstances existing on such property, the landowner shall be liable only as provided in subsection (3) of this section..." The Supreme Court of Colorado has clarified that the Premises Liability Act is the "exclusive remedy" for a parties' injured on another's property. Vigil v. Franklin, 103 P.3d 322 (Colo. 2004).

For purposes of the Premises Liability Act, a "landowner" is defined as the legal owner of the property, as well 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." Given this language, liability for premises-related injuries may extend beyond the property owners to include, tenants, property managers, maintenance companies, and other who are legally responsible for the condition of the property. As you can imagine, there is often confusion as to whether a person or entity qualifies as a "landowner" for purposes of the Premises Liability Act. Accordingly, it is always advisable to consult with a Colorado premises liability lawyer to discuss your claim and those potentially responsible.

A Landowner's Duty of Care Under the Premise Liability Act

Under the Premises Liability Act, a person injured on property falls into one of three categories: a “trespasser,” a “licensee,” or an “invitee.” A landowner has a separate level of care, depending on the classification of the person injured.


C.R.S. § 13-21-115(5)(a) defines an invitee as “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.” In short, an invitee is a person who is invited to the property for a mutually beneficial purpose. Typical examples of invitees include tenants and customers. For instance, if you purchase a ticket at a movie theater, you are considered an invitee is you are harmed at theater.

Under the Premises Liability Act, landowners owe invitees the highest level of care. Specifically, C.R.S. § 13-21-115(3)(c)(I) provides that “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.” Due to the heightened level of care owed, invitees generally stand the highest chance of recovering compensation for a premises liability claim in Colorado.


C.R.S. § 13-21-115(5)(b) defines a licensee as “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." In short, a licensee is someone who enters or remains on a property with the permission of the property owner. Generally, licensees are social guests. For instance, if you were injured as a dinner guest at someone else’s home, you would likely be considered a licensee.

A property owner owes a licensee a more limited duty of care than an invitee. Specifically, C.R.S. § 13-21-115(3)(b) states that licensees may recover only for damages caused:

  • 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

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


C.R.S. § 13-21-115(5)(c) defines a “trespasser” as “a person who enters or remains on the land of another without the landowner’s consent.” Under the Premises Liability Act, “a trespasser may recover only for damages willfully or deliberately caused by the landowner.” As you can imagine, it is particularly difficult for a personal who is considered a trespasser to recover under Colorado's Premises Liability Act.

Statute of Limitations for Premises Liability Claims

Every cause of action has an applicable "statute of limitations," which can be thought of as a deadline in which to file a claim in court. For premises liability claims in Colorado, the statute of limitations is two years from the date of injury. If a claim is not timely brought, then the claimant will be "barred" from asserting a claim in the future. Given this, it is always advisable to discuss your particular claims and injuries with a Colorado premises liability lawyer, so that the statute of limitations does not expire. As a premises liability lawyer, I have seen a number of good cases that had to be passed on because the injured victim did not timely seek legal representation following a premises liability injury.

Damages a Premises Liability Lawyer Can Help You Recover Under the Premises Liability Act

In Colorado, individuals injured due to premises liability may be entitled to various types of damages. Recoverable damages in premises liability cases are typically broken into two main category of damages: compensatory and punitive. Though there is no hard and true formula for calculating damages, a Colorado premises liability lawyer can discuss these categories of damages with you to determine whether you may be able to recover them in your particular case.

Compensatory Damages

Compensatory damages aim to compensate an injured person for losses that are directly attributable to the incident at issue. They are intended to financially make the injured victim "whole," or as they were prior to the injury, or as close to whole as possible. Compensatory damages are typically broken down into "economic" and "non-economic" damages.

Economic damages refer to damages that can be reasonably quantified into monetary compensation. Typical examples include:

  • Medical Bills and Treatment: An injured person's past, present, and future medical care and treatment attributable to the injury at issue. These typically include medical bills, pharmacy receipts, and other healthcare expenses.

  • Income Loss: Following a premises liability injury, it is not uncommon for an injured person to lose income. Lost income can include missed work days for medical treatments. It can also include future income loss from the inability to maintain the same type of work or profession they had prior to the injury.

In contrast to economic damages, "non-economic" damages account for additional losses and hardships that are attributable to the incident at issue, but not easily quantifiable. Typical examples of non-economic damages include:

  • Pain and Suffering: Pain and suffering includes the physical discomfort or suffering following a premises liability injury. This can include both past and future pain and suffering.

  • Loss of Enjoyment of Life: A personal injury can turn a person's life upside down. Beyond the conscious pain and suffering endured, the injured victim may not be able to maintain the same level of activeness or partake in the same hobbies they did prior to the accident at issue.

  • Physical Impairment and Disfigurement: Depending on the injuries involved, a person may be physically impaired or permanently disfigured following a personal injury. These damages include compensation for visible scars, paralysis, brain damage, and more.

Unlike economic damages, it is important to note that Colorado currently caps non-economic damages (excluding physical impairment and disfigurement) to $729,790.00, though Colorado Ball Initiative 2023-2024 #150 seeks to remove these caps for catastrophic injuries and wrongful death.

Punitive Damages

Punitive damages are reserved for particularly egregious conduct on behalf of the defendant. They on not intended to compensate an injured victim. Instead, they are intended to punish the defendant and deter similar conduct in the future. For example, within the context of a premises liability claim, punitive damages may be appropriate when a landowner had advance notice of a seriously dangerous property condition and consciously disregarded their obligations to mitigate the dangers. In Colorado, a claim for punitive damages may not be brought during the initial stage of litigation. Instead, a claimant must "move to amend" their complaint to include a request for punitive damages. C.R.S. § 13-21-102. As such, it is always advisable to consult with your premises liability attorney to discuss your particular set of facts and whether a request for punitive damages is appropriate.

Comparable Negligence or Fault in Premises Liability Cases

Comparative fault, also known as comparative negligence, is a legal principle that reduces the amount of financial compensation that an injured victim can recover in a personal injury claim. Under this rule, if a plaintiff contributed to his or her injuries, the financial recovery available will be reduced by a matching amount. For instance, if you are injured on another person's property, but had notice of the dangerous condition and could have avoided the accident at issue, your compensation may be proportionately reduced by the amount of negligence that is attributable to yourself in causing your injuries.

Colorado law applies a "modified" comparative negligence scheme. This law is found in Colorado Revised Statutes Section 13-21-111, which states that contributory negligence will not bar recovery in any action brought to recover damages for personal injury or wrongful death, as long as the plaintiff’s negligence is not as great as the negligence of the defendant. This means that if a plaintiff is declared to be 50 percent or more at fault for the injury, the plaintiff will not receive any financial compensation. For example, if a judge allocates 80 percent of fault to the defendant but the other 20 percent to you, your compensatory award would be diminished by a matching 20 percent, reducing a $50,000 verdict to $40,000.

A plaintiff's comparative fault is difficult factual issue to address in any lawsuit or legal proceeding. Given this, it is advisable to speak with a premises liability lawyer to address any issues of comparative negligence at issue that may affect your claim and potential recovery.

What to Do After a Premises Liability Injury

If you or someone you know experiences a slip and fall injury or other injury on another's property, it's crucial to take the following steps:

  • Seek medical attention promptly.

  • Document the scene, including taking photographs.

  • Obtain contact information from any witnesses.

  • Report the incident to the property owner or manager.

  • Preserve any evidence, such as the shoes or clothing worn at the time.

Prompt action can strengthen your premise liability claim by providing evidence of the dangerous condition and the injuries sustained. Following the above will also be helpful when retaining a property liability lawyer. Your property liability attorney will utilize this information and documentation to bolster your claim against the negligent landowner.

When to Consult with a Premises Liability Attorney

It is advisable to consult with a premise liability attorney if you have experienced a slip and fall or other property-related injury in Colorado as soon as possible, following the injury at issue. An experienced premise liability attorney can:

  • Evaluate the strength of your case.

  • Navigate complex legal procedures.

  • Gather evidence and witness statements.

  • Negotiate with insurance companies.

  • Represent you in court if necessary.

Given the time-sensitive nature of legal claims, consulting with an experienced premise liability attorney promptly can enhance your chances of a successful outcome.


Facing an injury on someone else's property can be daunting, but with the right knowledge and legal guidance, you can protect your rights and seek the compensation you deserve. If you've been injured due to the negligence of a property owner or manager in Colorado, don't hesitate to reach out to a knowledgeable premises liability lawyer for assistance. By taking proactive steps and asserting your legal rights, you can work towards a resolution that provides you with the resources you need to recover and move forward with confidence.

The information provided on this website is for general informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice or legal opinion. You should not act or refrain from acting on the basis of any information provided on this website without seeking legal advice from an attorney.

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