Icy conditions are inevitable in Colorado and so is the potential injury resulting from a slip and fall on ice. The following will address, in general, the potential liability involved if an injury occurs when a pedestrian slips and falls on an icy public sidewalk adjacent to private property in Colorado. The facts and circumstances of each incident should be reviewed by a qualified attorney to analyze the municipal ordinances, whether the sidewalk is public or private, the potential liability of the pedestrian and other relevant factors.
Colorado courts have found landowners are not liable for injuries which occur to pedestrians on adjacent public sidewalks caused by the natural accumulation of ice and snow. See Bittle v. Brunetti, 750 P.2d 49 (Colo. 1988); Burbach v. Canwest Investments, LLC, 224 P.3d 437 (Colo. App. 2009). Even when a landowner violates a municipal ordinance requiring him or her to remove snow from an adjacent public sidewalk, the landowner may not be found liable if the ordinance does not create civil liability to pedestrians. Moreover, a Colorado court has held public sidewalks are not the property of the adjacent property owner and Colorado’s premise liability statute does not impose liability on the adjacent landowner.
Liability may attach to a landowner for injuries which occur on a public sidewalk if he or she affirmatively creates a condition which leads to the snow and ice accumulation. See Woods v. Delgar Ltd., 226 P.3d 1178 (Colo. App. 2009). Affirmatively causing a condition includes “negligently constructing or maintaining” a premises causing water to discharge on the public sidewalk. See Sill v. Lewis, 344 P.2d 972 (Colo. 1959). Therefore, if there is evidence establishing a landowner affirmatively caused a sidewalk to become icy, liability may be imposed for a slip and fall injury.
With numerous exceptions, municipalities are immune from civil lawsuits involving personal injuries. The applicable exception to Colorado’s governmental immunity doctrine is for a dangerous condition existing on a sidewalk within a municipality. C.R.S. § 24-10-106. Therefore, a municipality can be liable for injuries resulting from a slip and fall on an icy public sidewalk if the facts establish a “dangerous condition.”
Statute of limitations
There is a two year statute of limitations for all tort actions; generally speaking the injured party must bring a claim within two years of the accident. C.R.S. § 13-80-102(1)(a). Additionally, written notice must be provided within 180 days from the date the injury is discovered if a claim is being brought against a public entity, such as a municipality. C.R.S. § 24-10-109.
If someone slips and falls on a sidewalk and sustains serious injuries, a review by a qualified attorney should be considered.