What is a Statute of Limitations?
A statute of limitations is best understood as a filing deadline for your Colorado personal injury lawsuit. If you do not file your personal injury lawsuit before the statute of limitations expires, your lawsuit will almost certainly be dismissed.
This is true regardless of how legally sound or compelling your lawsuit is.
In most personal injury lawsuits, the statute of limitations begins to run (or “toll”) on the day you were injured – in other words, the date of your accident.
As explained below by our Colorado personal injury lawyers, there are only a few limited exceptions to this general rule.
Colorado Personal Injury Statute of Limitations
Like all other states, Colorado has instituted a series of statutes of limitations that can be raised to bar claims filed in court after a certain period of time has passed.
Here are the important deadlines you should know about:
- Injury to Person: 2 yrs. §13-80-102 (a); 3 yrs. §13-80-101(n) if from use or operation of a motor vehicle
- Injury to Personal Property: 3 yrs. §13-80-101(n) if from use or operation of a motor vehicle
- Professional Malpractice: Vet: 2 yrs. §13-80-102(1)(c); Medical: 2 yrs. upon discovery §13-80-102
Although this may seem unfair, especially when a person is severely injured in a crash and is perhaps unable to immediately seek legal aid, these laws were put in place to ensure the timely filing of claims.
Keeping track of legal deadlines and time limits can be difficult, so if you were injured in a crash caused by another person’s negligence, it is crucial to contact an experienced injury attorney who is well-versed in state law, Colorado personal injury filing deadlines, and court procedures.
General Negligence Statute of Limitations
A statute of limitations is essentially the deadline by which an injured party must file a lawsuit in court.
There are, however, a number of different statutes of limitations that vary depending on the type of claim. For instance, actions related to negligence, medical malpractice, and trespass must all be brought within two years of the date of the event.
This means that if a store owner failed to clean up a mess on the floor and an elderly woman slipped, fell, and broke her hip, she would be required to file the suit in court within two years of the date that she fell.
If she failed to bring the Colorado personal injury claim in time, her case could be permanently barred and she could lose out on the opportunity to collect compensation for her medical bills and other losses. In some situations, an exception may be recognized for mental incompetency, age (under 18), and when the injured party learned of the negligence.
Colorado Car Accident Statute of Limitations
In Colorado, car crash claims are covered by a different personal injury statute of limitations, which requires plaintiffs who suffered injuries or property loss as the result of a car crash to file suits against the responsible parties within three years of the date of the crash.
However, if the crash caused someone’s death the statute of limitations will be reduced to two years.
Again, failing to file a claim within this time period could result in the plaintiff’s case being permanently barred.
Exceptions to the Colorado Personal Injury Statute of Limitations
Depending on the facts of your case, there may be other methods by which you can extend the standard statute of limitations.
Injury Claims Involving a Minor
If you were a minor – that is, under the age of 18 – at the time of your accident, the statute of limitations may be extended in your favor. The same may be true if you were disabled or mentally ill at the time of your accident.
Injury Claims Involving Public Entities in Colorado
The Colorado statute of limitations for personal injury claims may also be extended if you were injured as a result of the actions of a public entity. Public entities may include the State of Colorado, a city, or their employees.
There are specific written notices that must be provided to specific departments within those public entities within 182 days of being injured. If you were injured by the federal government or one of its employees, then different rules and notices apply.
The exceptions to the general rules to the statutes of limitations can result in you losing your personal injury claim if you don’t file on time. Because of this, it is always highly recommended that you consult with an attorney regarding the applicable statute of limitations and possible exceptions immediately.
Exceptions to the standard statute of limitations for personal injury claims in Colorado are narrow and you should never count on them applying in your case.
The Discovery Rule Exception
The Discovery Rule is often referred to as the “discovery of harm”. Colorado recognizes the “discovery of harm” exception to the standard statute of limitations in personal injury cases.
The “discovery of harm” rule extends the deadline to file a personal injury lawsuit in situations where an injured person had no knowledge of either:
- The injury itself; or
- The fact that the defendant’s actions may have caused the injury.
In these situations, the statute of limitations does not begin to run until the injured person initially discovers, or should have reasonably discovered, their injury or the nature of their injury.
Contact a Colorado Personal Injury Attorney
If a doctor has told you that you were injured in an accident, the statute of limitations has probably started to run.
If you believe that you have a personal injury claim but are concerned about the statute of limitations filing deadlines, you should contact or call our Colorado personal injury lawyers at (719) 389-0400 right away to make sure that you will not be prevented from filing a lawsuit.