Articles Posted in Personal Injury

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While walking past respondent Alexander Trujillo’s home on his way to the playground, petitioner N.M. became frightened when Trujillo’s two pit bulls rushed at the front-yard fence. Although the dogs did not get out of the yard or touch N.M., N.M. ran across the street and was struck by a passing van, which seriously injured him. N.M., by and through his parent and legal guardian, sued Trujillo for, as pertinent here, negligence. Trujillo moved to dismiss that claim, contending that N.M. had not sufficiently pleaded the requisite element of duty. The district court agreed and dismissed the case, and in a split, published decision, a division of the court of appeals affirmed. The Colorado Supreme Court granted certiorari, and found given the circumstances presented here, concluded Trujillo did not owe N.M. a duty of care. Because N.M.’s claim against Trujillo was predicated on Trujillo’s alleged nonfeasance, or failure to act, and because this case was distinguishable from cases in which a dangerous or vicious animal attacks and directly injures someone, N.M. was required to plead a special relationship between himself and Trujillo in order to establish the duty of care necessary to support a negligence claim. View "N.M. v. Trujillo" on Justia Law

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A provision of the mandatory form settlement document promulgated by the Director of the Division of Workers’ Compensation (“Director”) did not waive an injured employee’s statutory right under section 8-43-204(1), C.R.S. (2016), to reopen a settlement based on a mutual mistake of material fact. Petitioner Victor England was a truck driver for Amerigas Propane. He filed a workers’ compensation claim after sustaining a serious injury to his shoulder in December 2012 while making a delivery for Amerigas. England’s claim was governed by the Colorado Workers’ Compensation Act, which required that settlements between employer and employee must be written, signed by both sides, and approved by the Director or an administrative law judge (“ALJ”). Pursuant to section 8-43-204, the Director promulgated a form settlement agreement (“Form”), which the parties are required to use to settle all claims. In this case, the parties’ settlement agreement was consistent with the Form. England’s pain continued after the settlement agreement was signed and approved. In October 2013, he sought further medical evaluation, which revealed a previously undiagnosed stress fracture in the scapula (shoulder blade) of England’s injured shoulder. Up to this point, no one was aware that this fracture existed. England claims that if he had been aware of this fracture, he would not have settled his claim. England filed a motion to reopen the settlement on the ground that the newly discovered fracture justified reopening his workers’ compensation claim. An ALJ agreed, and the Industrial Claim Appeals Office (ICAO) affirmed. The court of appeals reversed, concluding that the Form waived England’s right to reopen. The Colorado Supreme Court held that because provisions of the form document must yield to statutory rights, the court of appeals erred in its conclusion. View "England v. Amerigas Propane" on Justia Law

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A non-negligently constructed and maintained piece of playground equipment cannot be a “dangerous condition” under the Colorado Governmental Immunity Act’s recreation-area waiver. Nine-year-old Alexa Loveland fell while using her elementary school playground’s zip line apparatus and severely fractured her wrist and forearm. Alexa and her parents filed a tort action against the school district, seeking damages for Alexa’s injuries. Because the Colorado legislature limited when public entities such as the school district may be sued, the issue this case presented for the Colorado Supreme Court’s review was whether the Lovelands’ lawsuit fell within one of the limited exceptions to sovereign immunity under the Act. The Supreme Court concluded the facts as the Lovelands have alleged them, did not satisfy the dangerous-condition requirement, and that the trial court was correct to conclude the recreation-area waiver did not apply. View "St. Vrain Valley Sch. Dist. RE-1J v. Loveland" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff Jessica Ferrer and her companion, Kathryn Winslow, were injured when a taxicab driven by Tesfamariam Okbamicael struck them as they crossed a street in Denver. Okbamicael worked for Colorado Cab Company (“Yellow Cab”), which owned the taxicab. Ferrer brought this suit against Okbamicael and Yellow Cab (collectively, “Defendants”), alleging that Okbamicael was negligent and that Yellow Cab was vicariously liable for his negligence under the doctrine of respondeat superior. Ferrer also alleged that Yellow Cab was liable for her injuries suffered in the collision under theories of direct negligence (negligence as a common carrier) and negligent entrustment, hiring, supervision, and training. In an amended answer to the complaint, Yellow Cab admitted that Okbamicael was an employee acting within the course and scope of his employment with Yellow Cab at the time of the accident. Defendants then moved for partial judgment on the pleadings, seeking to dismiss Ferrer’s direct negligence claims against Yellow Cab. The trial court granted Defendants’ motion, applying the rule from “McHaffie v. Bunch,” (891 S.W.2d 822 (Mo. 1995)), that an employer’s admission of vicarious liability for an employee’s negligence bars a plaintiff’s direct negligence claims against the employer. Agreeing with the trial court’s application of the “McHaffie” rule, the Supreme Court affirmed. View "In re Ferrer" on Justia Law

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At issue in this case was whether Colorado had jurisdiction to award benefits for out-of-state work-related injuries and to impose a statutorily penalty on an employer under 8-41-204, C.R.S. (2016), when the employer was not a citizen of Colorado, and had no offices or operations in Colorado, only that the employer hired a Colorado citizen within the state. The Supreme Court held that on the facts presented here, Colorado lacked personal jurisdiction over the employer. View "Youngquist v. Miner" on Justia Law

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Petitioner Arnold Calderon was injured in a vehicle accident with an uninsured motorist. At the time, petitioner was insured with respondent American Family Mutual Insurance. American Family paid the policy limit to petitioner's medical providers; it denied payment with respect to his uninsured/underinsured (UM/UIM), disputing the amount of petitioner's damages. A jury returned an award in petitioner's favor. The trial court offset the amount of the jury award by the amount already paid to the medical providers. Petitioner argued on appeal of that offset, that the "MedPay" coverage was separate from the UM/UIM coverage, and that the MedPay amount should not have been deducted. The Supreme Court reversed, finding that the amount of UM/UIM coverage, as listed in petitioner's policy, in this case should not have been reduced by the MedPay amount. View "Calderon v. American Family Mutual Insurance Company" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff Christine Griffith filed a complaint against eleven entities and two individuals alleging they injured her father, who was a resident of a nursing home operated by defendant SSC Pueblo Belmont Operating Company (d/b/a Belmont Lodge Health Care Center). Plaintiff alleged that her father's injuries eventually caused his death. The individuals and four of nine entities conceded jurisdiction and answered the complaint. Five entities contested jurisdiction, arguing they were nonresident companies not subject to Colorado's jurisdiction. The issue for the Colorado Supreme Court's review centered on when a nonresident parent company could be subject to jurisdiction in Colorado based on the activities of its resident subsidiary. The Court held that trial courts had to perform a two-step analysis before concluding a nonresident parent company was subject to personal jurisdiction in Colorado. Because the trial court in this case did not perform that analysis, the case was remanded for further proceedings. View "Griffith v. SSC Pueblo Belmont Operating Co." on Justia Law