Statute of Limitations on Colorado Personal Injury Claims
Personal injury claims can arise from such incidents as car accidents, slip-and-falls, dog bites, bike and pedestrian accidents, medical malpractice, and injuries caused by defective products. During the 2022 calendar year, there were nearly 58,000 car accidents reported in Denver alone. There were hundreds more incidents where negligence led to an injury.
So, why were there fewer than 2,500 personal injury lawsuits filed in Colorado’s District Courts during Fiscal Year 2022? There a several potential reasons. Some accidents don’t injure anyone, or if they do, it's not the other person's fault. Other personal injury claims were settled before the victims filed a civil lawsuit with the court to recover compensation. In other cases, those injured victims accidentally or intentionally allowed the statute of limitations for a personal injury claim to expire.
At Gama Law Firm LLC, we believe that those injured by others are entitled to fair compensation for the injuries and other damages they have suffered. We also believe it is important that injury victims understand they only have a certain length of time to pursue it.
If you have been injured in Aurora, Denver, Parker, Castle Pines, Centennial, or anywhere else in Colorado, here is what you need to know about the state’s statute of limitations for filing a personal injury claim.
What Should I Know About Colorado’s Statute of Limitations for Personal Injury Claims?
The personal injury claim process in Colorado involves a statute of limitations, which is the legal term that simply means "deadline." It refers to the time a plaintiff has to file a court case against a defendant.
For most personal injury claims, you have two years from the date you were injured to either settle your claim with the liability insurer or sue the negligent party in civil court. However, if the accident is related to a car accident, you have three years from the date of the crash.
The vast majority of personal injury claims are settled prior to going to trial, but many lawsuits are filed before a settlement is reached. Filing a lawsuit stops the clock on the statute of limitations. Once filed, you have all the time you need to continue negotiating with the insurer while preparing your case for a jury. If you cannot settle your claim, your personal injury attorney will present your case in court and a jury will render a verdict (decision).
What If I Missed the Deadline to File a Personal Injury Claim?
If you file a personal injury lawsuit after the statute of limitations expires, the court will dismiss your case. That means you will not get the opportunity to present your case to a jury and receive an award by verdict.
Without the threat of a trial, you lose any leverage you had in negotiations with the insurance company for a settlement out of court. Insurance companies do not like to spend money on settlements, but they also don’t like to spend money on the cost of going to trial. Filing a lawsuit while attempting to negotiate a settlement is an effective strategy.
Your best chance of not missing any deadlines during the course of your personal injury claim is to hire an experienced personal injury attorney right away. Attorneys like us know how to work within the statutory limits to help you either reach a settlement or receive a jury award.
Are There Any Exceptions to the Statute of Limitations?
There are four key exceptions to the rule that would allow the pursuit of a claim beyond the normal statute:
If the victim is a minor, the clock does not begin ticking until their 18th birthday. So, if they are injured in a car accident when they are 15, they would have until their 21st birthday to file a claim.
If the victim is mentally disabled or has a cognitive impairment, they may be able to file after the impairment ends, unless they are represented by a court-appointed conservator who can pursue a claim on their behalf. For example, if someone is injured in a car accident and is in a coma for three years and emerges from the coma with their mental capacity intact, they have three years from the date the doctor pronounces them competent to file a claim.
The discovery rule provides additional time in cases where the injury is not immediately apparent. This could occur in a medical malpractice case. For example, a patient has surgery and the surgeon damages something in the process. The patient begins having symptoms caused by the damage months later. The patient would have two years from the date of discovery of the injury to file a claim, rather than from the date of the surgery.
If the negligent party concealed their involvement or committed fraud, the clock would not begin ticking until the victim learns or should have learned of that involvement to pursue a claim.
Don’t Wait to Get Help. Contact an Attorney Today.
Statutes of limitations do serve a purpose, but they are short in Colorado personal injury claims. Their brevity creates a compelling need to consult with and hire a personal injury attorney to represent you soon after you are injured.
Don’t lose traction for your claim. If you are in Denver, Aurora, or elsewhere in Colorado, contact Gama Law Firm LLC now. Let’s get started on your time-sensitive claim.