The Colorado Highway Patrol recorded a total of 4,847 crashes in 2016. So far in 2017, there have been 4,948, although not halfway through the year. Crashes for 2016 involving either an injury or a fatality totaled 523, and for 2017 year-to-date the total is 509. For 2016, they reported 26 highway fatalities, and so far for in 2017 we have 32. These disturbing trends have led them to heighten safety enforcement tremendously on Colorado highways. A recent case is one that would not be reflected in these reports because the auto accident and injury occurred on someone’s private property.
Tancrede v. Freund in Denver District Court
Plaintiff Faith Tancrede was a passenger in a vehicle traveling via a private alley on the private property of Duane Freund and Denver East Machinery Co. Freund carelessly turned a corner and failed to slow when he suddenly collided with the plaintiff’s car, causing her injuries. The police completed an accident report which determined that Freund was at-fault, which led Tancrede to pursue a negligence claim in a Denver Court.
The defendant asked for summary judgment because the accident had occurred on private property, thus action was only appropriate if asserted under the Premises Liability Act. The court concurred and granted the motion; however, the plaintiff was able to amend her actions accordingly. In the subsequent proceeding, the defense again requested summary judgment, citing the plaintiff’s status according to the Act what that of a trespasser.
CO Premises Liability Laws
Three classifications apply to those on the property of another: invitee, licensee, and trespasser. The Act was implemented to limit liability attributed to landowners for injuries that others incur on their property. The injury must have resulted from dangerous conditions which existed upon property. The owner owes a basic duty of care to maintain the conditions of the property in a reasonably safe condition.
This duty applies to invitees, there for mutual purposes, or because the property is represented as being open to the general public. It also applies to licensees, who may be present to advance their own interests; however, the owner is aware of their presence and has directly (or indirectly) consented. A trespasser is one who enters the land without consent and is not subject to such a duty from the property owner. Those trespassing may only recover for damages resulting from deliberate, intentional, or malicious action by the owner.
Appeals Court Ruling
On appeal, the court determined that the plaintiff’s injuries would not have been possible if she had not been trespassing. The plaintiff was unable to refute her status as a trespasser. The court found the defendant’s actions were not done in a deliberate or willful manner, thus her claim was dismissed.
The Law Firm of Jeremy Rosenthal has tirelessly stood for the rights of injury victims. We pride ourselves on providing excellent client-focused service from the free initial consultation, to the steps along the way toward securing financial compensation. Contact our Denver office today at (303) 825-2223.