Statute of Limitations for Personal Injury in Colorado
It’s crucial to act quickly if you’re thinking of filing a personal injury claim in Colorado. The longer you wait to file your claim, the longer it will be before you get the money you need to cover your medical bills, missed wages, and other losses. Wait too long, and you might end up losing your right to compensation altogether.
The deadline for personal injury claims in Colorado is determined by the statute of limitations, which limits the time you have available to file a lawsuit in court. To avoid running into any issues with the statute of limitations in your case, get in touch with the personal injury lawyers at Earl & Earl, PLLC today.
Our law firm has handled thousands of personal injury cases in Colorado. Over the years, we’ve secured substantial compensation in verdicts and settlements for clients injured in motor vehicle accidents, slip and falls, pedestrian accidents, bicycle accidents, dog attacks, medical malpractice, and other personal injury matters. When you come to us, you get compassionate attorneys committed to treating clients like family. And family doesn’t let family down. You’ll work directly with one of our lawyers for the duration of your case. Call or contact us for a free consultation.
What Is the Statute of Limitations for Personal Injury Claims in Colorado?
It’s essential to keep the statute of limitations in mind when filing a personal injury claim. Though most of these cases are resolved in out-of-court settlements, you want the threat of a lawsuit as leverage during negotiations. If you wait too long to file your claim, you lose that power. The defendant can simply refuse to pay since you no longer have any legal mechanism to compel them.
Like most states, the statute of limitations for personal injury lawsuits in Colorado is based on the injury you suffered. Here’s the breakdown:
- Motor vehicle accidents: If you’re hurt in an accident involving a motor vehicle, you have three years from the date of your injury to file a personal injury lawsuit. This includes car crashes, motorcycle accidents, truck accidents, as well as bicycle accidents and pedestrian accidents involving a motor vehicle.
- Other accidental injuries: If you’re hurt in another type of accident that doesn’t involve a motor vehicle, you have two years from the date of your injuries to file a personal injury suit. This is a fairly broad category of claims and includes things such as:
- Medical malpractice: You have two years from the act of malpractice, or from the date that the injury is discovered or should have been discovered, to file a lawsuit against the doctor or other medical professionals who treated you.
- Wrongful death: If you wish to file a wrongful death suit after the passing of someone in your family, you have two years from the date of their death to file a lawsuit. In the instance of a hit-and-run accident, you have four years to file the wrongful death suit.
- Claims against local or state government agencies: Colorado law requires you to notify local or state government entities that you intend to make a claim against them before you can file a lawsuit. Usually, this notice must be given within 180 days of your injuries. Otherwise, your suit will be dismissed.
The Discovery Rule
There are other points to remember about the personal injury statute of limitations in Colorado. The first is the “discovery rule.” In most personal injury claims, the clock starts from the date that you discover (or reasonably should have discovered) your injuries. This generally refers to the date of the accident in which you were injured, but that’s not always the case. For example, some medical malpractice injuries aren’t immediately discovered, so the two-year clock would only begin once you learned of your injury.
Exceptions to the Statute of Limitations
An important exception to the statute of limitations concerns victims who are minors when they are injured. If someone under the age of 18 is injured in an accident, the two or three-year clock doesn’t start on the date of the accident. Instead, their clock starts running from the date of their 18th birthday.
Should I File a Claim Early?
The best time to file a personal injury claim can vary depending on the facts of the case. It’s something you’ll want to discuss with an attorney if you’re considering making a claim.
Filing a claim too early comes with certain risks. If you haven’t taken the time to investigate the circumstances behind your injuries thoroughly, you may not have all the necessary evidence to obtain full compensation for your injuries. You want to give your legal team ample time to build your case and identify all possible avenues of compensation for you. If you sustained catastrophic injuries, you don’t want to file until you have reached maximum medical improvement — the point where your doctors say you have recovered as much as possible, and no further progress is expected. You won’t be able to place an accurate value on your claim until there’s a clear understanding of what your long-term losses will be.
On the other hand, waiting too long to file a claim presents other potential problems. If you wait too long to start the process, crucial evidence may have deteriorated or disappeared, which can make it more difficult for you to get fair compensation for your losses. In addition, the longer you wait to file, the less room you have for mistakes, as even a small delay could end up pushing you past the statute of limitations.
Ultimately, when to file your claim is something you’ll need to discuss with your legal team. They will be in the best position to explain what’s happening with your case and when to file.
What Happens If I Miss the Statute of Limitations?
You should avoid missing the statute of limitations in your personal injury case if at all possible. However, sometimes there’s no avoiding it. So, what happens if you miss the deadline?
Unfortunately, there aren’t many options if you miss the deadline. Generally speaking, the courts will simply refuse to allow your case to move forward, and you’ll lose your ability to recover any compensation for your injuries.
Because there are some exceptions to the statute of limitations in Colorado, it’s best to speak with a personal injury attorney who can determine whether you have alternatives if the clock has run out.
When Should I Hire a Personal Injury Lawyer?
Regardless of when you end up filing your personal injury claim, it’s a good idea to hire a lawyer as soon as possible. The sooner you speak to an attorney after an accident, the earlier they can start building your case. Taking action early gives your legal team more time to plan, gather evidence, and do the necessary legal research to develop a strong argument for compensation.
How Earl & Earl Can Help
The lawyers at Earl & Earl, PLLC have the knowledge, experience, and drive to give you the best chance of obtaining maximum compensation for your injuries. We will:
- Launch an immediate and thorough investigation into the accident that injured you to determine who is liable and what compensation you may be eligible to receive
- Document your injuries and other losses, such as missed wages, damaged property, medical bills, etc.
- Handle all the paperwork involved in your claim
- Handle all communication and settlement negotiations with the plaintiffs and their insurance providers
- Take your case to trial if that’s what it takes to get a fair result for you
Don’t wait to speak to one of our personal injury attorneys about your case. Get a free initial consultation by calling one of our offices or visiting our contact page.