Known for their active lifestyles and love for the outdoors, Coloradans rely on a wide array of products to keep up with both their work and recreational ambitions. However, if it turns out that one of those products is defective and causes injury or property damage, the state's product liability laws provide the legal mechanism for holding the manufacturer accountable. So, whether you were injured by your new snowboarding gear or you hit a tree because of defective tires, you may be entitled to monetary compensation.
The table below lists important parts of Colorado's product liability laws, followed by more thorough descriptions of the state's filing deadlines, limits on damages, common defenses, and more.
|Statute of Limitations||2 years (Sec. 13-80-106)|
|Discovery Rule Used||Yes (Sec. 13-80-108)|
|Statute of Repose||7 years for manufacturing products (Sec. 13-80-107); 10 year rebuttable presumption for other products (Sec. 13-21-403)|
|Limits on Damages||Economic loss rule (Loughridge v. Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co., 192 F.Supp.2d 1175 (D. Colo. 2002))|
|Comparative Fault||Pure Comparative Fault (Sec. 13-21-406)|
In Colorado, you typically have just two years from the date of injury, death, or property damage in which to file a product liability lawsuit. Although this "statute of limitations" is fairly strict, the state's discovery rule may give you more time since the clock starts when you know, or should have discovered, the damage. Additionally, if ten years has passed since a product was first sold, Colorado law presumes that it was not defective at the time it was sold.
Limits on Damages
The amount of damages you recover in a product liability lawsuit may be reduced under Colorado's pure comparative negligence rule. This rule states that if your own negligence contributed to the accident, you may still seek monetary compensation, but your damages will be diminished in proportion to your degree of fault. So, for example, a $500,000 award will be reduced to $300,000 if you were 40 percent at fault.
Colorado also limits recovery in that it has adopted the economic loss rule. Under this rule, you may not seek compensation if there is some sort of contract between the parties and the only damage that occurred was to the product itself. However, there are many exceptions to this rule.
Theories of Liability
In terms of proving your case in court, Colorado product liability actions are based on negligence or strict liability and may include claims of design defect, manufacturing defect, or a failure to provide adequate warnings. In each of these claims, you must show that the product was unreasonably dangerous.
For manufacturing defects, the claim is that a problem occurred somewhere in the production process, so that the end result was a dangerous product which strayed from its intended design. In design defect claims, the danger is inherent in the design itself. With these claims, courts usually look at whether the design's benefits outweigh its risks by looking at a variety of factors. However, even if the product was designed and manufactured perfectly, you can still argue that the defendant failed in its duty to warn users of dangerous aspects of its product.
Defendants in a product liability suit may argue that they are not responsible for damages because someone else modified the product after it left the defendant's control. Misuse by the consumer is another defense if the misuse was not reasonably foreseeable by the defendant. And among other defenses, the defendant may argue that the plaintiff knowingly assumed the risk of using the product in a defective condition.
Have Specific Questions About Colorado Product Liability Laws? Ask an Attorney
Manufacturers and certain sellers should be held accountable when their dangerously defective products cause harm. If you were injured by the latest gadget or a product you've had for years, you may be entitled to compensation for those damages, but there are deadlines and potential obstacles that you should know about. Get started by speaking with a local personal injury attorney who has experience with Colorado's product liability laws.
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