Chalat Hatten & Banker PC
1600 Broadway Ste 1920
Denver, CO 80202
(303) 861-1042 www.chalatlaw.com
Since 1977, Jim Chalat has been a practicing trial lawyer specializing in plaintiffs' personal injury, motor vehicle accidents, and wrongful death cases. Jim’s dedication to improving the lives of his clients and his focus on achieving the best outcome for the clients he represents is reflected in his recognition as one of the best personal injury lawyers in Colorado and the United States.
Jim Chalat holds a national ranking by Best Lawyers in America which lists him in the fields of malpractice and plaintiffs’ personal injury. Twice, Best Lawyers has named Jim as “Lawyer of the Year.” Statewide, Colorado Law Week has named Jim as the “Barristers’ Best Plaintiffs’ Personal Injury.” Since 2013, and in each subsequent annual poll, 5280 The Denver Magazine names Jim as a top lawyer in Denver in the field of Plaintiffs’ Personal injury.
But those aren’t the rankings of which Jim is most proud. More importantly to him, his firm is consistently named by the Legal Aid Foundation of Colorado as a “Leadership Law Firm.” Moreover, under Jim’s transformative leadership, the firm has earned a ranking with U.S. News & World Report - Best Lawyers in America as a “Tier 1” ranked law firm in Plaintiffs’ Personal Injury Litigation. And, most importantly to Jim, he has been named by Colorado Law Week as the “People’s Choice” in Plaintiffs’ Personal Injury. The “People’s Choice” recognition resonates because Jim represents people, not corporations, and not insurance companies; he represents individuals and their family members.
Jim has dedicated his career to representing clients who have sustained life-changing catastrophic injuries or have wrongfully lost family members. When Jim takes on a case, his clients immediately realize the benefit of his experience, intellect, and intense personal investment. He devotes his 40+ years of experience, extensive resources and acute understanding of mechanics and medicine to ensure every detail is addressed to build a strong case. Jim is an expert in investigating his clients’ cases and innovative in his development of strategies that are carefully designed to protect their personal and legal interests. His passion for justice and unwavering resolve for defending the rights of injured or wronged individuals has resulted in millions of dollars in jury verdicts, negotiated settlements, arbitration awards, and mediation results, including numerous high-profile cases and several record-setting verdicts and awards on behalf of his clients.
Jim believes that a lawyer’s role in society extends beyond his or her own professional and financial success. For its pro bono commitment, the firm has been recognized consistently by the Colorado Supreme Court’s Pro Bono Achievement Award. The Award requires each attorney in the firm to volunteer 50+ hours annually to matters benefiting financially disadvantaged clients. Jim represented the Blind Vendors in the State of Colorado in a lengthy precedent setting case which led to the blind vendors having greater rights and freedoms in the operation of their facilities. He has also volunteered for the Colorado State Bar Association’s high school mock trial program.
Jim takes pride in his trial skills, and case preparation. From this dedication he earned very early in his career, board certification as a civil trial lawyer from the National Board of Trial Advocacy (NBTA). NBTA requires its applicants sit for a “bar-exam” type written examination as well as to submit recommendations from co-counsel with whom he has tried cases, from adverse counsel against whom he has tried cases, and judges before whom he had appeared.
Similarly, Jim is a member of the prestigious American Board of Trial Advocacy, the American Association for Justice, and the Colorado Trial Lawyers Association. His leadership, innovation, and energy have been recognized by numerous leadership positions, including president of the American Inns of Court, Marsh Inn of Court, officer and board member on the Faculty of Federal Advocates, and as a driving force in committee work with the American Board of Trial Advocacy, Colorado chapter.
To practice law at the highest level, requires scholarship, academic ability, and superlative speech and writing ability. Jim’s strength in these critical skill sets is evidenced by his academic record. Early in his career, Jim found time to teach at the University of Denver School of Law in the Research and Writing classes offered to first year students.
Jim is also noted for his mentoring skills. As a result, he was asked to develop a lecture for the Harvard Law School, which although it centered on the facts of a skier accident case, had at is core difficult ethics questions, tough legal decisions, and ethics guidance for first year law school. Jim has been asked to update and present the same lecture at Denver Law, usually to first year law students at the beginning of the academic year. In his own words: “I never turn down an opportunity to lecture, teach, challenge, and to be challenged by law students.” Additionally, Jim has presented numerous certified continuing legal education lectures, each of which required a peer reviewed outline and supportive written material and classroom visuals.
A father of four, grandfather and husband to fellow law partner, Linda Chalat, Jim enjoys spending time with his family when he is not working. Jim is also an avid skier, cyclist, art collector, history buff and loves to read.
Jim Chalat loves the practice of law and would welcome the opportunity to help you.
PRACTICE AREAS Motor Vehicle Accidents; Car, Truck, Bus, Pedestrian, Bicycle, Motorcycle Accidents, and Bus/RTD accidents; Wrongful Death; Catastrophic Injury, Traumatic Brain Injury, Spinal Cord Injury, Severe Orthopedic Injury; Professional Negligence, Medical Malpractice, Legal Malpractice; Premises Liability; Skiing and Ski Lift Accidents; Recreational Accident Cases.
EDUCATION The University of Denver College of Law, J.D., 1977 The University of Michigan, B.G.S. with distinction 1974
PROFESSIONAL RECOGNITION & AWARDS – Best Lawyers and U.S. News and World Report, “Best Lawyers in America: Personal Injury Litigation, Professional Malpractice Law, Legal Malpractice Law, Medical Malpractice Law,” 2013-2020. James H. "Jim" Chalat - Denver, CO - Lawyer | Best Lawyers – Best Lawyers and U.S. News and World Report, “Best Law Firms in America: Tier 1 Law Firm, Denver, CO – Personal Injury Litigation – Plaintiffs,” 2017-2020. – Best Lawyers in America, “Lawyer of the Year: Denver – Professional Malpractice Law – Plaintiffs,” 2017. – Colorado Law Week, “People’s Choice - Best Personal Injury Lawyer,” 2020, 2018. – Colorado Law Week, “Barrister’s Best - Best Personal Injury Lawyer,” 2017. – Martindale-Hubble, Bar Register of Preeminent Lawyers, “AV Preeminent Rating: highest level of professional excellence for legal knowledge, communication skills and ethical standards.” – Martindale-Hubble, Bar Register of Preeminent Lawyers, “Client’s Choice.” – 5280 Magazine, “Top Lawyers in Denver - Plaintiffs’ Personal Injury,” 2015 – Present. – Colorado Super Lawyers, “Colorado Top 100 Super Lawyers,” 2006 – Present. – Harvard Law School, “Torty Award,” 2019. – The Supreme Court of the State of Colorado, “Pro Bono Achievement Award,” 2014 - 2016. – Guest lecturer for Professor Jon Hanson, HLS (October 2010).
NOTABLE VERDICTS & CASES – Luz Maria Madrigal v. City of Greeley, 2016CV30315, Weld County District Court (Jan. 5, 2017) App. Dism’d, 2017CA122 (Colorado Court of Appeals Jan. 26, 2017). Blind Pedestrian’s claim for inoperative audible pedestrian signal. – Ryan v. City of Steamboat Springs, 13CA0238, 2014 WL 1093189, not published pursuant to C.A.R. 35(F) (March 20, 2014). Wrongful death on an improperly closed ski slope – Colorado Governmental Immunity claim. – Baumann, et al. v. Zhukov, et al., 802 F.3d 950 (8th Cir., 2015). Multiple wrongful deaths – interstate trucking accident. N.M. by and through Lopez v. Trujillo, 397 P.3D 370 (Colo. 2017). Animal liability. – $18,502,819 judgment, Mendakota Insurance v. Ruzkowski, et al., v. Savage, Order and Judgment on Cross-claims, Clear Creek County, Colorado, Case Number: 2008CV104 (February 17, 2010). Motor vehicle/pedestrian accident. – $10,100,000 jury verdict, Bargai v. Carlson, Denver District Court, Colorado, Case Number: 2006CV1550 (June 18, 2007). Medical malpractice. – $8,300,000 jury verdict Grigg v. Wintergreen Partners, Inc, Co-counsel with Bryan Slaughter & Bruce Rasmussen, CL-03-9452, Circuit Court for Albermarle County, Virginia, (July 16, 2004) appeal dismissed, Wintergreen Partners, Inc. v. Grigg, Supreme Court of Virginia, Record No. 042956 (July 7, 2005) (unpublished). – $1,400,000 jury verdict in a medical malpractice case, Nguyen v. Stecher, 01 CV 2541 Arapahoe County District Court, C0 (June 27, 2002). – $6,170,563 jury verdict, Hoar v. Great Eastern Resort Management Inc., T/A Massanutten Ski Resort, Co-counsel with Bruce Rasmussen and Pat Regan, Circuit Court for Albermarle County, Virginia, (June 21, 1997) 506 S.E. 2d. 777 (Va. 1998). – $2,400,000 jury verdict, reversed and remanded, Ulissey v. Shvartsman, 61 F.3rd 805 (10th Circ. 1995) settled before retrial. – Representation of blind vendors, Hudson v. Boxer, 632 F. Supp. 1569 (D. Colo. 1986).
PUBLISHED ARTICLES – “Colorado’s New Red Flag Law for Extreme Risk Protection Orders,” LAW WEEK COLORADO, Vol. 17, No. 37 p. 16 (September 16, 2019) – “Make Your Appearance, Counsel – Remembering Judge Richard P. Matsch (1930-2019)” COLORADO LAWYER (Dec. 2019) p. 16. – “Legal Precedent, not Jury Verdict, at Heart of Conlin v. Vail,” LAW WEEK COLORADO, Vol. 15, No. 28 (July 9, 2018). – With Linda J. Chalat & Dan Snare, “Ski Law Trends: 2016,” LAW WEEK COLORADO, Vol. 14, No. 10 (March 7, 2016). – With Eric Samler and Christopher P. Koupal, “Ski Law in Colorado: The Timorous No Longer Stay at Home,” 31 THE COLORADO LAWYER 211 (February, 2002). – With Linda J. Chalat & Dan Snare, “Ski Law Trends: 2016,” LAW WEEK COLORADO, Vol. 14, No. 10 (March 7, 2016). – With Eric Samler and Christopher P. Koupal, “Ski Law in Colorado: The Timorous No Longer Stay at Home,” 31 THE COLORADO LAWYER 211 (February, 2002). – With Linda J. Chalat, “Restitution in Criminal Actions: Considerations for Civil Trial Lawyers,” TRIAL TALK, Oct./Nov. 2001 at 40-41 (Colorado Trial Lawyers Assn.). – With Linda J. Chalat, “Ski Law for Beginners, Intermediates, and Experts.” TRIAL MAGAZINE, Aug. 2001 at 26 (Journal of the Association of Trial Lawyers of America). – “Liability of Skier for Injury to Another Skier” 46 PROOF OF FACT 1 (West’s 1998). – “Liability of Ski Area Operator for Skiing Accident,” 45 PROOF OF FACT 115 (West’s 1998). – “Colorado Ski Law,” 27 COLORADO LAWYER, No. 2, at 5-18 (February 1998). – Chapter, “Closing Argument,” JACOB A. STEIN, CLOSING ARGUMENT, THE ART AND THE LAW, §331 (Clark Boardman Calahan 1995). – “The Constitutional foundations of Modern American Tort Law,” 16 THE COLORADO LAWYER 970 (September 1987). – “The Development of the Standard of Care in Colorado Ski Cases,” 15 THE COLORADO LAWYER 373 (March 1986). – “Ski Collision and Ski Equipment Cases,” 34 TRIAL TALK 303 (October 1985). – “Instructions for the Ski Instruction Case,” TRIAL TALK (CTLA, April 1986) – With Feurhelm, et al., “From Wright to Sunday and Beyond,” 4 THE UTAH LAW REVIEW 885 (1985). – “Michigan's Ski Law,” 63 THE MICHIGAN BAR JOURNAL 355 (May 1984). – “Continuing Changes in Colorado's Ski Law,” 13 THE COLORADO LAWYER 407 (March 1984). – “Colorado Ski Act Update,” 10 THE COLORADO LAWYER 1611 (July 1981). – “Ski Tips for Attorneys,” 9 THE COLORADO LAWYER 452 (March 1980). – "Colorado’s Red Flag Law," September 2019, 5280 - The Denver Magazine. – "Caring for Elderly Parents," June 2019, 5280 - The Denver Magazine (*In loving memory of Dr. Ned Chalat who passed away on February 2, 2021). – “To Get the Best Result, Complex Cases Require Experienced Lawyers,” October 2019, 5280 – The Denver Magazine. – “Damages – An Experienced Lawyer Is Needed To Present The Damages In A Big Case.” November 2019, 5280 – The Denver Magazine.
PRESENTATIONS – Colorado Annual Tort Law – Recreational Torts 2019 Update, Colorado Bar Association Continuing Legal Education, Denver, CO (September 18, 2019). – “Would you sue an 8-year old?” University of Denver Sturm College of Law (2012, 2014, 2016,2019). At the invitation of Professor Thomas D. Russell, Ph.D. At Professor Russell’s request, the presentation was modified from the original Harvard Law School Model (October 2010) to stimulate thinking and conversation among first year law students at their first day of class as 1L students. The presentation utilizes a skier accident case which was featured by the Chamber of Commerce as a leading example of lawsuit abuse. The aim is to engage students in a socratic exercise to stimulate critical thinking and fact-based analysis. The presentation and questioning also invites discussion of the role of law and lawyers in modern society. Invited guests have included The Hon. Alfred P. Harrell, Denver County Court (ret.) – Electronically Stored Information & Evidence, Colorado Bar Association Continuing Legal Education, speaker and panel moderator, Denver, CO (July 14, 2016). – Trial Advocacy Skills Workshop, Faculty of Federal Advocates, 2016 Trial Advocacy Program, United States District Court for the District of Colorado, Denver, CO (March 4, 2016). – Ethics and Communications with the Media: Knowing When to Talk and What to Say To the Press. Presentation and Panel Moderator, Faculty of Federal Advocates, United States District Court for the District of Colorado, Denver, CO (December 15, 2011) – Recent Developments regarding the Colorado Governmental Immunity Act. Colorado Trial Lawyers, CTLA Annual Convention, Snowmass, CO (August 3, 2013). – “Seeing beyond the Frivolous – Who would sue an 8-year old?,” Harvard Law School, (October 22, 2010). At the invitation of Professor Jon Hanson, Alfred Smart Professor of Law at the Harvard Law School. Jim was mentored for the presentation by: Martin Katz, Professor and Former Dean, Sturm College of Law; Diane S. Juliar, HLS graduate and presently Professor of Law Emerita, Suffolk University Law School; Thomas Russell, Ph.D., Professor of Law, University of Denver Sturm College of Law. The prompt stems from a case which was targeted as an example of lawsuit abuse and which sparked an intense national media debate. – Counter-Point: Safety Sells & Responsibility Breeds Customer Respect. Recreation and Adventure Law, (February 11, 2009). Purpose, Planning, Preparation, Exhibits and Applicable FRE, in Direct Examination, Faculty of Federal Advocates, Roundtable Discussion, Denver CO (October 24, 2009). – Orientation for the United States District Court of Colorado, Faculty of Federal Advocates, United States District Court for the District of Colorado, Denver, CO (June 12, 2009; August 6, 2010). – Ethics of Lawyer Internet Advertising (with Linda J. Chalat) Colorado Bar Association Continuing Legal Education, Denver, CO (December 14, 2009). – Law School to Law Practice: Where’s the Relevancy? (with Linda J. Chalat) University of Denver, Sturm College of Law, Denver, CO (February 16, 2009). – Civil Law Practice, Jury Trials and Damage Awards in the United States, and Ski Accidents in the United States, SKILEX February 2008, Tarvisio/Udine, Italy, (February 24, 2008). – How to Try a Medical Malpractice Case in Colorado, Colorado Bar Association Continuing Legal Education, Denver, CO (April 1, 2004). - Civil Litigation Update, Colorado Bar Association Continuing Legal Education, Denver, CO (September 19, 2003). – Ski Law in the United States, LEI/CBA CLE Snowmass, CO (January 7, 2005). – Preventing Legal Malpractice, Colorado Bar Association Continuing Legal Education & Seabury and Smith, Denver, CO (January 5, 2001). – Avalanche Liability Law & Ski Law in the United States, A Practical Guideline to Ski Accident litigation for non-U.S. Attorneys, SKILEX 2004, Obergurgl/Sölden Austria (March 21, 2004). – Nine Commandments of Malpractice Prevention, Annual Ethics Conference, Colorado Bar Association Continuing Legal Education, Denver, CO (December 7, 2001). – Persuasive Evidence in a Recreational Accident Case, American Trial Lawyers of America, Accredited: Newport Beach, CA (February 21, 1986). – Ski Law, Accredited by the Colorado Supreme Court Board of Continuing Legal Education and presented to the bar associations for: Arapahoe County, Boulder County, Denver County, Pitkin County, Routt County, Weld County, Southwest Colorado, Ninth Judicial District, Fourteenth Judicial District, Texas Trial Lawyers and Dartmouth College Bar Associations (1989 – 1995). – For the Thompson G. Marsh American Inn of Court, numerous one-hour accredited CLE’s including: The 2015 Modifications to the Colo. R. Civ. Pro; Civil Rights, Loving v. Virginia, 388 U.S. 1 (1967); “Contempt of Court,” United States v. Shipp, 203 U.S. 563 (1906); Jones v. Clinton, 520 U.S. 681 (1997). Pupillage group leaders: The Hon. Nathan B. Coats, CJ Colorado Supreme Court; the Hon. Sandra I. Rothenberg, Colorado Court of Appeals; Hon. Donna Schmalberger, Chief Judge, Denver Juvenile Judge; The Hon. Alfred P. Harrell, Denver County Court. - Adjunct Professor - University of Denver College of Law 1978-80, 1985-87.
PROFESSIONAL ASSOCIATIONS – Faculty of Federal Advocates, Member (2000 – Present) Board of Directors (2009-2013) Treasurer (2012-2013) Committee to Establish the Pilot Program to Implement a Civil Pro Bono Panel. – Master of the Bench, American Inns of Court, Thompson G. Marsh American Inn of Court, 1994-2016. Board of Directors, 1999 – 2005; President, 2004 – 2005. Alfred C. Harrell Award, in recognition of professionalism, service and excellence 1999 - 2000. Resigned due to elder parent care responsibilities. – American Board of Trial Advocacy, Member, 2013 – Present. – American Board of Trial Advocacy, Member Committee, 2021. – The National Board of Trial Advocacy, Board Certified Civil Trial Lawyer, 1988 – Present (continuously re-certified 1988 – present). – Member, Colorado Trial Lawyers Association, 1980 – Present, Board of Directors 2000 – 2004. – Member, American Association of Justice, 1980 – Present. – Member, American, Colorado, Denver, Michigan Bar, and Michigan Trial Lawyers Associations. Denver Bar Association, Thursday Night Bar Volunteer, Pro Bono Award 1985. – Fellow, Colorado Bar Foundation. – National Institute of Trial Advocacy, Instructor & Diplomate. – Denver Bar Association, Legal Nights at El Centro, 2012 – Present. – Special Assistant Disciplinary Counsel, State of Colorado, Supreme Court Disciplinary Counsel (1992).
COMMUNITY SERVICE – American Board of Trial Advocacy: Membership Committee. (2020 – Present) Responsible for soliciting “younger” members with experience as lead counsel in at least ten civil jury trials. – First Judicial Nominating commission, 2002 – 2007, appointed by Mary Mullarkey, C.J., Colorado Supreme Court. – Colorado Bar Association, High School Mock Trial Attorney Coach. Lakewood HS, 2005 & 2006; Evergreen HS 2007 & 2008. Regional winners, 2005, 2007, 2008. State Champion, 2007, 10th at Nationals. Colorado Ballet, Board of Trustees (1995 – 1996). Fundraising. – Soda Creek Property Owners Assn., Director (1991 – 1995). Participation in community traffic safety planning for major re-design of nearby highway intersection, enforcing covenants, and participating in community wide open space acquisition. Water rights. Environmental standards, fire mitigation. – Trustee, Congregation Beth Evergreen, Evergreen, CO, 1993 – 2001. Worked cooperatively to fund and purchase land, plan, permit, construct and staff first Synagogue in Jefferson County, Colorado. – Jefferson County Juvenile Review Board, Member (1992 –1994). – Judge - Regional Finals, National Student Trial Advocacy Competition, ATLA 1986, 1987, 1990, Presiding Judge 1992, 1993, 1994. – Jefferson County & Mountain Area Midget Football Assoc., Advisory board, team manager, Board of Directors (2001 – 2007). – Evergreen High School Touchdown Club (VP 2007–2011) – booster club for HS FB team. Responsibility for helmet testing, means-testing for camp and equipment scholarships, social support, staffing medical services, staffing volunteer positions, equipment donation, corporate formation and maintenance, requisition of insurance, bus rentals, camp arrangements, safety standards for volunteers and parents. Leadership in bringing HS FB games back to home fields in JeffCo Mountain Communities. Provided legal guidance and standards for coaches, A.D., and other parent support groups for sports and extra-curriculars regarding organization formation, fund-raising, ethical management and CHSAA compliance.
IN THE MEDIA – National Television: Evening News with Dan Rather, CBS; The Today Show, NBC; World News Tonight, BBC; panelist w/ moderator Chris Matthews, MSNBC. – Local Television: with Professor Jan Laitos, segments for @Issue, 9 News; interviews for Tony Kovaleski for Denver’s 7 and News4. – Radio: Guest commentator: Colorado Public Radio, National Public Radio, KOA, KHOW, BBC News. – Print: Newsweek; The Denver Post; The Rocky Mountain News; The Guardian - London, England; The Los Angeles Times; The New York Times; The Boston Globe.