A personal injury accident is an unexpected tragedy that has the power to alter the course of your life. In Colorado, you possess the opportunity to hold the accountable party liable and seek compensation for your injuries and losses, enabling you to rebuild your life. However, it is crucial to file a claim against the at-fault party within Colorado’s statute of limitations in order to achieve this.
What Is the Personal Injury Statute of Limitations in Colorado?
A statute of limitations is a legal time limit imposed on individuals seeking to file a personal injury claim. These limits exist to ensure fairness and balance in the civil justice system. Without such limitations, a victim could delay filing a claim indefinitely, causing unnecessary uncertainty for the defendant. Additionally, crucial evidence could be lost over time, compromising the defendant’s ability to mount a proper defense. In Colorado, the statute of limitations varies depending on the type of personal injury claim.
Non-auto personal injury claim:
For non-auto personal injury claims, the statute of limitations in Colorado is generally two years from the date of the accident. This means that if you were injured due to someone else’s negligence, you may have up to two years from the date of the incident to file a claim seeking compensation. These include injury claims such as a slip and fall accident or a dog bite injury case.
Personal injury claim for an auto accident:
In the case of most personal injury claims arising from auto accidents, Colorado allows a three-year statute of limitations. This gives you three years from the date of the crash to initiate legal proceedings against the responsible party.
Wrongful death claim:
For wrongful death claims, the statute of limitations is two years from the date of the victim’s death. If you have lost a loved one due to someone else’s actions or negligence, it is crucial to act within this two-year window to seek justice and hold the responsible party accountable.
Medical malpractice claim:
In medical malpractice cases, Colorado sets the statute of limitations at two years from the date of the act of malpractice. If you believe you have been a victim of medical negligence, it is essential to consult with an attorney promptly and initiate legal action within the specified time frame.
Libel or slander claim:
For claims related to libel or slander, the statute of limitations in Colorado is one year from the date of the incident. If you have suffered harm to your reputation due to false statements made about you, it is important to take legal action within this one-year period.
Dram shop claim:
A dram shop claim is a personal injury claim against a bar, restaurant, or other party that served alcohol to a person who caused you injuries due to their intoxication. The statute of limitations in Colorado for a dram shop claim, even involving an auto accident, is a one year period from the date of your injury.
Exceptions to the Rule
While the general statutes of limitations mentioned above apply in most cases, there are exceptions that can modify or extend the time frame within which you can file a personal injury lawsuit in Colorado. It is crucial to be aware of these exceptions and consult with a knowledgeable Denver personal injury lawyer to understand how they may apply to your specific case.
One common exception to the statute of limitations is the discovery rule. Under this rule, the time limit for filing a claim begins from the date the injury is discovered, rather than the date of the accident. This rule is particularly relevant in cases where injuries or their related symptoms are not immediately apparent. For example, if you have sustained a brain injury that manifests delayed symptoms, you would have two or three years from the date of discovery to file a claim.
Government tort claims:
When filing a claim against a government entity in Colorado, the time frame for taking legal action is significantly shorter. In such cases, you are required to submit an initial notice of intent to sue within 180 days from the date of the accident. Failing to meet this deadline can result in the loss of your right to pursue a claim against the government. After filing notice with the correct government entity, you still must file your lawsuit before the statute of limitations for your claims.
Victims who are minors:
If the injured person is a minor under the age of 18, they may have additional time beyond the general statute of limitations to file a claim. Typically, an injured minor has two or three years from the date they turn 18 to initiate legal proceedings, rather than from the date of the injury itself. It is important to consult with an attorney to understand the specific timeline for your minor child’s personal injury claim.
Acting Promptly to Protect Your Rights
Given the importance of adhering to the statutes of limitations, it is vital to act swiftly if you intend to file a personal injury lawsuit in Colorado. The courts strictly enforce these time limits, and failing to meet them can have serious consequences. Missing the deadline means losing the opportunity to hold the responsible party accountable and seek compensation for your injuries and damages. Even if the courts accept your case despite the time limitation, the defendant can exploit the missed deadline as a basis for arguing for case dismissal. Therefore, it is in your best interest to contact a personal injury lawyer in Colorado immediately following an accident. An experienced attorney will guide you through the legal process, ensuring you meet all necessary deadlines and maximize your chances of a successful outcome.
Remember, time is of the essence when it comes to personal injury claims. By acting promptly, you not only protect your rights but also increase the likelihood of obtaining the compensation you deserve. Contact our Colorado law firm today to discuss your personal injury case with an attorney at no cost.