Are Landlords Liable for Violent Acts in Colorado?
Are landlords liable for violent acts that occur on their property? It is a hot topic in Colorado and one that trial lawyers are watching closely. Under the Colorado Premises Liability Act, landlords and property owners can be held liable for damages caused by people on their property. The law requires landlords and property owners to exercise reasonable care and implement safety procedures to protect against both known dangers and dangers they should have anticipated.
Known Dangers and Anticipated Dangers
But, what is “known” danger and “anticipated” danger? That is where the black and white text of the law blends to become gray. In fact, it is being argued in Colorado courts as the case against Planned Parenthood over the November 2015 Colorado Springs shooting moves forward. Early this summer, lawyers for the plaintiffs in the case argued successfully before the Colorado Supreme Court that Planned Parenthood should have anticipated a threat to the safety of the people on clinic grounds.
This is far from the first time that Colorado’s high profile case has made its way into the headlines. In fact, the Colorado Court of Appeals reversed an earlier Colorado Supreme Court decision that held Taco Bell liable for injuries suffered by a patron who was shot during a robbery.
In both cases, attorneys argued that the landlord should have anticipated threats based on a wide range of factors. These include a history of violent acts against the business, a history of violent acts in the area of the business, and direct threats made against the business or its employees.
Banks, Schools, Bars, & Other Landlords
Banks can be robbed, school shootings happen, and conflicts regularly erupt in bars. These are well-documented dangers, and the landlords of these properties and the owners of the businesses within them are required to take reasonable steps to protect patrons, students, and residents from harm. This means installing barriers, restricting access, installing security alarms and cameras, and training staff, students, and tenants how to respond in an emergency situation. As of now, it most certainly appears that the Colorado Supreme Court and other courts in the state will continue to hold them to this high standard.
Contact Sloat, Nicholson & Hoover, P.C. at (303) 447-1144 for more information about premises liability in Colorado. We can explain your rights and the responsibilities of your landlord, employer, and the owners of businesses you patronize.
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