What is a Statute of Limitations?
A statute of limitations is a law that sets the maximum time from the date of an event that parties have to initiate legal proceedings. In civil law systems, they are known as a prescriptive period and they can vary state by state. As it concerns personal injury claims in Colorado, the circumstances of your injury can affect the time you have to file a case. For example, an injury suffered by you or your family from medical malpractice has a different statute of limitations than one stemming from an auto accident.
When the clock starts ticking on your case’s statute of limitations, it can also differ from case to case. In some instances, there is a difference between the date of the incident that caused the injury and the date that the injury itself is noticed. Think about a time you’ve had strenuous exercise and felt fine afterward, but were in agony the next day. This is what’s known as the discovery rule. In these cases, the statute of limitations starts at the time the injury is discovered.
Colorado Statute of Limitations
For general personal injury and wrongful death claims, Colorado’s statute of limitations is two years from the date of injury. This includes:
If you are bringing your claim against the state of Colorado or the city/county government, you have 180 days to file a claim.
For motor vehicle accidents, the statute of limitations in Colorado is extended to three years from the date of the accident or discovery of the injury. This also includes any related claims, such as if the driver whose negligence caused your injury was uninsured.
It’s important to remember that there are always exceptions to the rule; however, if you or a family member have been injured, it is best to speak with a personal injury lawyer right away to take care of the matter as quickly as possible.
Information that can be helpful to your case includes:
- Medical records
- Police reports
- Photos or video of the scene of the accident
- Photos or videos of the injury
- Information from witnesses
- Information about the circumstances surrounding the incident
What If the Statute of Limitations for Your Claim Has Expired?
If the statute of limitations for your claim has expired, the party involved may be able to use this as a defense to liability. However, there are various exceptions that exist under Colorado’s personal injury and wrongful death statutes of limitations (and the potential for you to have multiple claims), so you should not make any assumptions about your legal rights until you speak with an experienced attorney.
Exceptions to the Colorado Personal Injury Statute of Limitations
As mentioned, there are exceptions to Colorado’s statute of limitations for personal injury claims. Courts have the ability to grant extensions to the statute of limitations, especially when defendants have hidden information or given misleading testimony.
If the injured person is mentally incompetent or under the age of 18 at the time of the event and has no legal representative, the statute of limitations clock may stop running until the period of legal disability is over (the injured person turns 18 or has their mental competence restored). Keep in mind that if there is a legal representative who can file the lawsuit on behalf of the injured person, there will likely be no change to the filing deadline.
If at some point after the event but before the lawsuit can be filed, the potential defendant “departs from” or “conceals himself” within the state of Colorado and can’t be served with the lawsuit, the clock won’t run. This means that the time of absence or concealment won’t be counted as part of the two- or three-year filing period.
Contact Our Personal Injury Law Firm in Colorado
Talking about your case with an experienced personal injury lawyer as quickly as possible after the accident is key to getting the legal help you deserve. The attorneys at Ramos Law are here to help, and the earlier you consult us, the better we can assist with finding evidence and shaping your case.