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Hello, I’m attorney Kyle Bachus. The legal world is full of overly complicated jargon and terminology that can be intimidating if you don’t know what it means. In my law 101 video series, I’m breaking down some commonly used legal terms so you can be informed and confident should you ever need to take legal action.

In this episode of law 101, we’re going to break down the phrase statute of limitations.

A statute of limitations in the legal world is the time limit that you have to bring a claim, or it’s lost forever. The statute of limitations exists for a public policy reason. If you caused a car accident in 1990, and you have to worry about somebody suing you until 2030, that’s a problem, right? So every state has decided there should be some limited amount of time within which if you cause injury to somebody else, where you can have a claim brought against you.

After which time, you have peace of mind and know that you’re not going to face the consequences of that action. There are, however, some important distinctions about when a statute of limitations begins to start. For things like a car crash, a statute limitation begins to run when the car crash occurs. Some states have one-year statute limitations, two-year statute of limitations, three.

In Colorado, we have a threee-year statute of limitations that applies to automobile accident claims. That’s a different time period then for general negligence like a slip and fall or a dog bite claim; we have a two-year statute of limitations. Those start to run again when the event occurred. But what happens if you’re a child and you are hurt in a car crash at age 12. When does your statute of limitations start to run? Because under the law, you as a child can’t even bring a claim. You have no capacity under the law to bring a claim.

For people under the age of 18, the statute of limitations starts to run on their 18th birthday, and their statute will run for the number of years permitted from their 18th birthday. Here’s a further complicating factor. Let’s say that you’re a child; you’re injured in a car crash, you incur medical expenses.

Well, guess what, the medical expenses are not your responsibility, because you don’t have the capacity to enter into a contract to get medical care. Under our law, your parents have the legal responsibility to pay for your medical expenses under the age of 18. The parents claim to recover the medical expenses; their statute of limitations starts to run at the time of the event.

While the child’s claim, those statute of limitations don’t begin to run until the child’s 18th birthday for paying for suffering of loss of enjoyment of life, so you’ll see that when statute limitations are involved, lawyers are very concerned about having enough time to identify the proper parties to meet those deadlines.

If you have questions about your case or type of case, which statute of limitations might apply, we’re happy to answer those questions for you at Bachus & Schanker. To learn more about other law topics that can help you feel informed and confident about the law, make sure to check out more videos in this series.