Personal Injury Liability: How Liability Is Determined

Posted: January 26, 2021

If you or somebody you care about has been injured in an accident caused by the careless or negligent actions of somebody else in Colorado, you deserve compensation for your injuries and losses.

However, securing compensation can be difficult, particularly when it comes to determining liability. Here, we want to discuss how liability is determined in a personal injury case.

What is liability in a personal injury case?

 

Under the law in Colorado, every person is assumed to be responsible for their own actions. Every person has a responsibility to act in a way that will not cause harm to others. This is called the duty of care that we owe others. If a person fails to uphold their duty of care (breaches their duty) due to their negligence and causes injury to another person, they can be held liable for their actions.

Proving negligence?

 

Proving negligence in the aftermath of an injury can be complicated. Often, an injury victim will lack the resources or legal expertise necessary to fully investigate what happened.

That is why it is crucial for an injury victim to work with a Denver personal injury attorney who has extensive experience handling these cases.

When an attorney takes a case, they will work to prove liability by obtaining any evidence involved in the case.

This can include:

  • Any video surveillance of the incident
  • Photographs were taken at the scene of the incident
  • Company safety records if the incident involves a business
  • Employee safety records
  • Mobile device data after a vehicle accident
  • Vehicle “black box” data
  • Statements from eyewitnesses
  • Accident reports

The exact type of evidence gathered by an attorney to prove liability will vary depending on the situation. The evidence gathered after a slip and fall accident will inevitably differ from the evidence gathered after a commercial truck accident.

Often, determining liability requires working with expert witnesses who can examine various aspects of what happened and provide testimony for insurance carriers or a personal injury jury.

Additionally, we need to point out that it is not enough simply to prove negligence. In order to hold another party liable in these cases, the plaintiff will need to prove that they sustained injuries and other losses.

This will involve obtaining medical records, proof of lost wages, proof of out-of-pocket expenses, and more.

What if more than one party shares liability?

 

There are times when more than one party may be negligent in a personal injury case. Colorado operates under a “modified comparative negligence” system.

This means that any party involved in an accident can recover compensation for their injuries and other losses so long as they are less than 50% responsible for the incident.

However, the total amount of compensation that they receive will be reduced based on their percentage of fault. Any injury victim 50% or more responsible for an incident will not be able to recover any compensation at all.

For example, if a person sustains $10,000 in medical bills after slipping and falling on a milk spill at a grocery store, they may be able to recover compensation from the store owner.

However, if it is determined that the injury victim was 30% responsible for the incident because they were texting on their phone and did not see this bill, they may only receive $7,000 in compensation to account for their 30% of the responsibility.