Personal Injury Statute of Limitations

Whether you have been injured in a car accident, slip-and-fall accident, or another type of accident due to another’s negligence, it is vital to understand the personal injury statute of limitations. The statute of limitations is the legal time frame to file your claim to seek compensation from the responsible party. If you miss this deadline, you will not be able to file a claim. This is why you need a personal injury lawyer in Colorado.

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What is Colorado’s personal injury statute of limitations?

The personal injury statute of limitations in Colorado depends on the type of personal injury. According to Colorado’s Revised Statutes 13-80-102, you have two years to file a lawsuit against the negligent party for all personal injury claims except for automobile accidents.

For automobile accidents, the statute of limitations is extended to three years as defined in Colorado’s Revised Statutes 13-80-101. There may also be other exceptions, depending on the circumstances of your case, whether minors are involved, and other such factors.

Additionally, your time limit is significantly less when the claim involves government personnel or agencies. You only have 182 days to submit your injury claim in these cases, according to Colorado’s Revised Statutes 24-10-109.

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Why do statutes of limitations exist?

The reason statutes of limitations exist is to act as a deterrent against someone bringing legal action against another party years after the incident occurred. Without them, plaintiffs would have an unfair legal advantage because evidence and details about the case may no longer be accessible. 

Furthermore, over time, the memories of those involved, including witnesses, can be obscured. As a result, defendants would have an unfair legal disadvantage and a difficult time building a defense to the charges.   

What if I don’t realize I am injured until after the statute of limitations has passed?

In certain cases, you may still be able to file a claim against the responsible party even after the statute of limitations has passed. For example, you were in an automobile accident and did not realize you sustained nerve damage. The injury progressed over time and became evident after the statute of limitations expired.

In this situation, the discovery rule would apply. The discovery rule refers to the date you discovered your injuries, regardless of when the accident occurred. The purpose of the discovery rule is to allow fairness for accident victims and allow them to still seek compensation for their injuries. 

For personal injury cases using the discovery rule, the statute of limitations begins on the date the injuries were discovered. To determine whether the discovery rule applies to your situation, it is best to consult with a personal injury lawyer

When someone is unable to file a lawsuit before the statute of limitation is up, what happens?

It depends on the circumstances of the particular case. In certain situations, tolling is allowed, which essentially pauses the statute of limitations for a set period. Tolling can apply in a variety of situations, such as:

  • The plaintiff was a minor at the time of the injury: When someone is under the age of 18, the statute of limitations for their injury claim does not begin until they become an adult. So essentially, they would have until their 20th or 21st birthday to file an injury claim.
  • The individual is disabled or medically incapacitated: When someone is disabled or medically incapacitated to the point where they are unaware they sustained an injury, they may not be legally competent to bring forth a case within the statute of limitations. Tolling may be used to protect their right to file an injury claim. 
  • The person is in the military: When someone is on active duty and injured by a non-military service accident, they can ask to have the case tolled. This practice is common when the military service person is deployed and was on leave in the United States, but has to return overseas to their deployment once they are medically cleared. 

Can I file a lawsuit after the statute of limitations passes?

You can file a lawsuit after the statute of limitations passes. However, unless you meet one of the exceptions through discovery or tolling, then filing a lawsuit is pointless. The court would dismiss your case, since you are no longer allowed to seek damages from the negligent party because the statute of limitations expired. 

How can Bachus & Schanker help me after an injury?

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At Bachus & Schanker, we have extensive knowledge of personal injury claims, the statute of limitations, and exceptions that may apply to your situation. Our Colorado personal injury attorneys are caring and compassionate, and work tirelessly to ensure you receive the compensation you deserve while representing your interests and allowing you to focus on your recovery.   

Sources:

CRS 13-80-101.

CRS 13-80-102.

CRS 24-10-109.

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Written and Legally Reviewed By: Kyle Bachus

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Kyle is a member of the Colorado and Florida Bar associations and has served on the Board of Directors of the Colorado Trial Lawyers Association for more than twenty years in total. Over the years, Kyle has achieved justice for many clients. He has served on numerous committees and repeatedly won recognition from his peers at both the state and national level. He is proud of the role he has played in the passage of state and national legislation to protect consumers and is a frequent speaker and guest lecturer.