Types of Denver Personal Injury Claims
If you suffered an injury that was someone else’s fault, the type of claim you pursue depends on the facts of your case. The type of claim you pursue is important because it determines exactly what you have to prove to win. Three main types of claims are available in Denver personal injury claims: negligence claims, intentional tort claims, and strict liability claims.
Negligence claims are the most common type of personal injury claims. An approximate definition of negligence would be carelessness, although the legal definition is a bit more complex. A person is negligent when he fails to act with at least the same degree of care that a person of reasonable prudence would observe in a similar situation. A negligence claim may arise, for example, when a careless or intoxicated driver causes an injury accident. Another type of negligence claim would be a medical malpractice claim in which a doctor injured you by performing in a manner inconsistent with the standard established for doctors performing that task. To be liable for negligence, a party must breach a duty of care owed to you, thereby causing you damages.
The extent of a defendant’s duty to you varies based on the circumstances. For example, a doctor may be held to a professional standard of care while operating on you but only be held to an ordinary standard of care if he caused an auto accident in which you were injured. The defendant’s breach of his duty of care must have actually caused the accident. Even if the defendant was driving while intoxicated, for example, you cannot win a judgment against him unless you can prove that his intoxication actually caused the accident that injured you.
A company can sometimes immunize itself against a negligence claim by disclaiming liability. For example, a company may have you sign a waiver of liability prior to doing business with them. Even a waiver of liability, however, is unlikely to immunize a company against “gross negligence,” which is a particularly extreme form of negligence.
There is an additional type of behavior called reckless conduct, which falls into a grey area between ordinary carelessness and intentional actions. Depending on the circumstances, the court may award higher damages upon a showing of reckless conduct, which is why it sometimes is classified as a separate fault category.
An intentional tort is a willful act that caused you injury. An example would be someone who beats you during a mugging, leading to severe harm. Normally, an intentional tort is a crime as well as a tort. Nevertheless, the standard of proof is lower for a civil lawsuit than for a criminal prosecution. Consequently, even if the defendant is acquitted of the crime, you might pursue a successful civil case against him.
In a strict liability lawsuit, you can win without proving that the defendant was careless, reckless, or acting in an intentional manner. In Colorado, strict liability applies when you are injured by a defective product. To win against a manufacturer or seller you must show that:
- The product was defective (it had a design defect, a manufacturing defect, or a marketing defect such as inadequate warnings);
- The product reached you without a significant change in its condition;
- The product was “unreasonably dangerous” (normal risks associated with using the product are insufficient to support liability); and
- The defect actually caused your injury.
Once these elements have been established, you can receive a damages award under strict liability.
Experienced Denver Personal Injury Lawyers
Zinda Law Group is a personal injury law firm that serves the greater Denver area. If you have been injured in Denver, our knowledgeable and dedicated personal injury lawyers can help you obtain the justice you deserve. Call us immediately at 800-863-5312 for a free consultation.