More than 1 million people arrive at emergency rooms every year with injuries resulting from a slip and fall. Those injuries range from minor to fatal. All come at a cost, and if they were caused due to someone else’s negligence, they are responsible for compensating the victim for their damages.

At Downs, McDonough, Cowan & Foley, we represent clients who suffer injuries in slips, trips, and falls caused by unsafe conditions. If you live or were injured in Durango, Telluride, Pagosa Springs, Cortez, or anywhere in the Four Corners, we may be able to help you recover compensation for the economic and noneconomic damages you have incurred.

What Are Slips, Trips, and Falls?

Slip or trip and fall accidents occur when someone fails to maintain a premises, such as a sidewalk, floor, or stairs, in a way that keeps it safe for others to use. The property owner or leaseholder owes a duty of care to provide safe premises. Colorado’s Premises Liability Act specifically holds parties responsible for the safety of their premises and liable for the damages of anyone who pays the price for their negligence.

A convenience store, for example, invites customers to come in the store and customers should expect that it is safe to do so. However, if a drink machine has been leaking onto the floor and the store has not cleaned up the liquid or marked the area as hazardous, and a customer slips and falls on the substance, the store is responsible for their injuries. The same is true with a governmental entity, such as a municipality, that fails to repair or clearly mark an uneven sidewalk in front of city hall which creates the dangerous potential for someone to trip, fall, and injure themselves.

You have two years from the date of the slip and fall to settle a third-party insurance claim or to file a lawsuit against the negligent party. If the negligent party is a governmental entity, this statute of limitations is only 180 days.



Who Can Be Liable?

The person or entity responsible for maintaining safe premises can be held at fault for the damages incurred by a slip and fall victim. The negligent party may be:

  • The owner of a property, including a homeowner;

  • The owner of a business, even if they do not own the property on which they operate their business;

  • A governmental entity; or,

  • You, if you fail to exercise your duty of care which requires you to pay attention to where you are, observe hazard signs, and watch for unsafe conditions you know or should have known may be on the premises. For example, if you are visiting the municipal swimming pool, you should walk with caution, knowing the pool decking will likely be wet and slippery.

How Do You Prove Who Was at Fault?

Premises liability claims are notoriously difficult to prove; however, that does not mean they cannot be proven. Proving fault hinges on proof of three key factors:

  1. The owner or entity responsible for maintaining the safety of a premises caused the unsafe condition that led to the slip or trip and fall;

  2. The owner or responsible entity failed to fix the unsafe condition; and,

  3. The owner or responsible entity knew about the hazard or should have known about it as any reasonable person would have.

Can More Than One Person Be Responsible?

Colorado uses a comparative negligence rule that can, indeed, hold more than one party at fault, including you. If you are assigned a percentage of fault for your own injuries, any insurance settlement or jury award will be reduced by your percentage of fault.

Perhaps when you tripped and fell on that uneven sidewalk outside city hall, you were texting on your smartphone and not paying attention. Maybe you were running into the convenience store when you slipped on the wet floor. Or perhaps you got out of your car in freezing rain in high heels, then slipped and fell in the parking lot.

In any of these situations, you could be assigned fault for failing to exercise your own duty of care. If you are assigned 30% of fault, for example, any settlement or award would be reduced by 30%.


Pursuing compensation for damages caused by a slip and fall can be challenging. These challenges are welcomed by the experienced personal injury attorneys at Downs, McDonough, Cowan & Foley. We fully investigate slip and fall incidents, document evidence of negligence, and pursue successful personal injury claims in and around Durango, Colorado. Set up a free consultation today.