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Glossary of Terms

A glossary of legal definitions for the most commonly used personal injury law terms.

A Legal Dictionary for Colorado Personal Injury Law

If you’re going through a lawsuit, navigating the legal arena can sometimes feel like speaking a different language – especially if you’re unfamiliar with legal terminology.  Our personal injury lawyers have compiled a list of the most common phrases and words used in personal injury cases.  If you need help translating your personal injury case, reach out to Rocky Mountain Injury Law for a free consultation.


Bad Faith

The legal concept in which a party, typically an insurance company, acts in an intentionally dishonest or deceitful manner in relation to a contract or legal obligation. This can include failing to investigate or pay valid claims, hiding or altering evidence, or making false statements. There are also a lot of practices that some people consider to be implicit in the insurance process that can also be constituted as bad faith, like refusing to answer phone calls, emails, and messages. 

Examples of Bad Faith for insurance companies are:

  • Denying a claim without giving a reason
  • Failing to conduct a prompt and complete investigation
  • Offering less money than a claim is worth
  • Delaying or denying decisions on claims or request for approval for medical treatment
  • Refusing to pay a valid claim
  • Making threatening statements
  • Misrepresenting the law or policy language
  • Putting insurance company profits over a policyholder’s valid claim
  • Delaying the payment of a valid claim
  • Refusing reasonable requests for documentation
  • Failing to confirm, deny, or pay claims within a reasonable timeframe

These examples are not comprehensive. If you suspect that you may be a victim of insurance bad faith, contact Rocky Mountain Personal Injury Attorneys for a free consultation.

Bicycle Accident Injury

Any injury resulting from riding a bicycle. If the injury transpired as the result of someone else’s negligence, you may be entitled to financial compensation. Colorado Revised Statute 42-4-1412 states that cyclists have the same rights and duties as that of any driver of any other vehicle. 

Bicycle accident claims are typically handled by the at-fault driver’s insurance company, and will often dispute your injuries, deny your claim, or even refuse to pay for your damages. Having a personal injury attorney on your side will help ensure that the insurance company pays what it needs to. 

Common bicycle accidents where the driver of a car is at fault include:

  • Failing to yield right of way to the cyclist
  • Reckless driving
  • Speeding 
  • “Dooring”- when a driver or passenger opens the door of a parked vehicle and strikes the cyclist
  • Distracted driving
  • Drunk driving
  • Hitting the cyclist while turning

If you are the victim of a cyclist/vehicle collision, contact Rocky Mountain Personal Injury Attorneys. 

Class Action

A type of lawsuit in which a plaintiff or plaintiffs file a suit on behalf of themselves and as representatives of others. They are typically filed to hold a company accountable for the liability of its products. These lawsuits are different from Mass Tort lawsuits because it involved multiple plaintiffs grouped together in one lawsuit (see: Mass Tort). These plaintiffs typically share lawyers, court dates, evidence, and legal strategies. They will also share the settlement amount. 

Examples of class action suits you may be familiar with include:

Dog Bite Injury

Any injury resulting from a dog bite. Colorado’s dog bite statute states that a person who sustains a serious bodily injury or death after being bitten by a dog while lawfully on public or private property is entitled to bring a civil case against the owner of the dog. As a strict liability state, the injured victim can recover damages from the owner of the dog regardless of whether the owner was negligent or knew the dog could be dangerous. 

There is a strict time limit on the victim’s right to file a lawsuit for a dog bite injury. In most cases, you will have no longer than two years from the date of the attack to file a personal injury claim. The potential exception is for an injured minor, wherein the minor typically has two years from the date of their 18th birthday to file a claim. Missing the deadline almost always results in losing the right to recover damages from the dog’s owner. If you have sustained a dog bite injury, don’t wait. Schedule a free consultation with Rocky Mountain Injury Lawyers today.

Gross Negligence

A lack of care that demonstrates a reckless disregard for the safety of others. This is a more serious charge than ordinary negligence, as it implies an extreme neglect. It is typically considered to be purposeful behavior rather than simple thoughtlessness. If the defendant’s conduct is particularly egregious, you may be entitled to punitive damages as well as compensatory damages in the case of gross negligence.

Examples of gross negligence include:

  • A doctor prescribing medication that is listed as a drug allergy on the patient’s medical records
  • Nursing home staff failing to provide food and water to a resident for multiple days
  • A surgeon amputating the wrong limb on a patient
  • Speeding through a street or parking lot with a lot of pedestrian traffic
  • A business selling a product they know is harmful
  • A carnival ride operator deciding not to conduct a scheduled safety inspection of the ride

If you have been a victim of someone else’s gross negligence, having an experienced personal injury attorney on your side can make all the difference in bringing you justice.

Mass Tort

A civil wrongdoing that harms or injures multiple plaintiffs, typically on a large scale. Unlike a class action suit, mass torts are not single cases. Rather, they are groupings of individual lawsuits alleging the same issues against the same defendant(s). In the eyes of the court, each plaintiff is independent of the others. Thus, the recovery that each plaintiff receives is determined by the court to reflect the extent of each plaintiff’s damages. 

Common types of mass tort lawsuits include:

  • Injury due to dangerous drugs
  • Injury due to defective medical devices
  • Injury due to other defective products
  • Injury due to mass disasters and toxic conditions

Mold Poisoning

A type of injury/illness caused by exposure to toxic mold. The inhalation of mold spores and mold particles can often trigger an allergic reaction. Furthermore, exposure to toxic mold can cause respiratory problems, flu-like symptoms, headaches, and skin irritation. The removal of mold typically requires the destruction of all infected materials, like sheet rock, floorboards, and furniture. If medical treatment is needed, this will be included in the damages. 

Typically, mold lawsuits are filed against parties such as:

  • A landlord who knew or should have known about mold 
  • A business or public building where mold injuries occurred
  • A contractor or construction company who were negligent in their construction of the property (using improper materials, knowledge of the mold problem, etc). 
  • An insurance company who did not properly cover repairs, leading to a mold infestation

If you have suffered an injury or illness due to exposure to toxic mold, contact Rocky Mountain Injury Attorneys to see what damages you can recover. 

Multi Car Accidents

A car accident involving three or more cars. Insurance claims for these accidents are often difficult, as determining liability is tricky. Colorado’s fault-based insurance law is used to determine liability, and says that the driver or person most at fault for causing the crash will pay for the damages using their liability coverage. Often, an investigation will need to occur. 

What to do following a multi-vehicle crash
    • Document everything – Take pictures, write down your police report number, and ask for eyewitness contact information. Write down everything you remember as soon as possible, as you will start to forget the details quickly. 
    • Hire an attorney – These accidents are complicated, and insurance companies will try to avoid paying out for damages. We have the experience and the know-how to make sure you are not taken advantage of. 
  • Do not work with the insurance company – They may deny liability or delay the claims process. Do not give a recorded statement or sign a release of liability waiver until you’ve spoken with your attorney. 

Even if you are partially at fault, you can still recover some financial compensation for damages. Colorado’s comparative negligence law means that as long as your fault is less than the combined fault of all of the defendants, you can receive compensation reduced by your percentage of fault. To see what damages you can potentially recover, reach out to Rocky Mountain Personal Injury Lawyers today. 

Pain and Suffering Damages

Also called “non-economic damages,” these are damages that can be recovered for trauma, or general suffering. For instance, if a person loses both of their legs in an accident, the economic damages would be meant to cover medical expenses, wheelchair purchases, etc. In this case, the victim would also be able to recover non-economic damages for the trauma of their injuries and loss of quality of life. An example of pain and suffering damages without a physical injury would be losing a spouse or child.

Though each pain and suffering dispute is different, potential things you may need to pay in court could be:

  • You received treatment for physical pain from a medical professional. 
  • You received psychological treatment from a mental health professional
  • Your body was subject to permanent disfigurement
  • You have lost the ability to do things that impact your happiness and quality of life

Don’t let your physical and mental wellbeing be deprioritized. We are the lawyers who listen and we want you to receive appropriate compensation for your pain and suffering. 

Premises Liability

A form of negligence action that holds owners of land responsible for injuries occurring on their property. These can include things like slip and falls, dog bites, falling from a deck/porch, among many others. Essentially, any personal injury sustained due to the negligence of the property owner could fall under premises liability. The types of damages a person can receive depends on the legal status he or she was at the time of the accident. 

There are three legal statuses:

  • Trespasser – Eligible only for damages willfully or deliberately caused by the property owner. 
  • Licensee – Eligible only for damages caused by the property owner’s failure to use reasonable care concerning dangers he or she knew about OR the property owner’s unreasonable failure to warn of dangers they did not create and are not ordinarily present on the property.
  • Invitee – Eligible only for damages caused by the landowners failure to use reasonable care to protect against dangers they actually knew about or should have known about.

If you have suffered an injury due to the negligence of a property owner, contact Rocky Mountain Personal Injury attorneys to see how premises liability can help your case.

Ride Share Injury

An injury sustained in a car accident involving companies like Uber or Lyft where passengers pay to ride in a driver’s private vehicle. These cases refer to passengers in a rideshare service rather than a driver who is injured in their car by an Uber/Lyft driver or the Uber/Lyft driver themself. Rideshare accidents are a bit more complicated. 

The driver’s personal vehicle is involved, but Uber and Lyft both insure their drivers when providing rides under certain circumstances. In other cases, the driver’s personal car insurance will take the case. These complexities are why having a personal injury attorney on your side will help ensure that you get the settlement you deserve.

Ski Injury

Any injury sustained while skiing or snowboarding. This can include:

  • Skier collisions
  • Snowboarder collisions
  • Ski lift accidents
  • Slip and falls
  • Ski equipment failure
  • Ski area negligence, such as failure to mark proper trails

In Colorado, the ski patrol of the resort will typically investigate any accidents and complete any accident reports. These reports can be extremely valuable for your claim, so be sure to get a copy of it. In the case of collisions, the at-fault party will typically be a skier or snowboarder, while the ski resort may be at-fault in the case of an equipment failure. 

Wrongful Death

A loss of life caused by another party’s negligence. These cases are usually filed by the families or loved ones of the victim. In Colorado, a wrongful death action must be filed within two years of the victim’s death. Both economic and non-economic damages can be recovered in a wrongful death suit. 

Who can file a wrongful death claim in Colorado?

The spouse of the deceased or designated beneficiary can file this at any point within the two years, while the children/heirs of the deceased must wait until the second year if there is a spouse of the deceased, unless given permission by the spouse. Parents can file a claim for wrongful death if there is no spouse, children, or designated beneficiary.

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