In Colorado individuals generally have two years to file a personal injury claim against the at-fault party.
For automobile accidents, Colorado law extends the statute of limitations to three years.
What Is a Statute of Limitations?
A statute of limitations is a law that says how much time an injured party has to sue the person at fault.
This means that if you wait too long to take your personal injury claim to court, the person responsible can raise the statute of limitations as a defense.
Unless the circumstances of your case fall within a few narrow exceptions, the judge will then dismiss your lawsuit and you will not be able to recover for your losses.
It doesn’t matter how severely you were injured. If you wait too long, you can’t sue.
Why Does Colorado Have Statutes of Limitations for Personal Injury Claims?
Colorado’s statute of limitations for personal injury claims exists for several reasons. One is fairness to defendants. Imagine receiving a court summons notifying you that a person you hit a decade ago was suing you for damage to his car.
Not very fair. For this reason, statutes of limitation promote society’s interest in finality. Other reasons for imposing statutes of limitations on personal injury plaintiffs include preservation of evidence and judicial economy.
As time goes on, memories fade and witnesses move away. In addition, courts are busy places and lack the resources to deal with stale cases.
How Long Do I Have to Bring a Colorado Personal Injury Claim?
It depends on when your claim accrued. Statutes of limitations specify a time period for filing a lawsuit. The clock starts when the claim is triggered, or “accrues.”
In Colorado, a claim accrues at the time of the accident, or when an injured person discovers or should have discovered, the injury.
In Colorado, injured persons generally have two years from the date of accrual to bring a personal injury claim against the party at fault.
When automobiles are involved, Colorado law extends the statute of limitations to three years from the date of accrual.
What Happens if I Don’t Know I’m Injured Until After the Statute of Limitations Has Expired?
Imagine surviving a car wreck believing yourself to be okay, only to experience health problems years later and after the three-year statute of limitations has expired.
In Colorado, it still might be possible to bring a lawsuit against the negligent driver by raising the “discovery rule.”
Under this rule, if a Colorado plaintiff can show their injury was not reasonably discoverable until after the statute of limitations had expired, then chances are likely that the court will find the Colorado personal injury statute of limitations never accrued and permit the lawsuit to go forward.
What If I Am Unable to File a Lawsuit Before the Colorado Statute of Limitations Expires?
While the discovery rule serves to preserve a personal injury claim in cases where the injury doesn’t immediately manifest itself, tolling freezes the statute of limitations for personal injury claims.
In other words, it stops the clock for some reason after the claim has already accrued. Tolling is about ensuring fairness to a plaintiff.
In Colorado, tolling is appropriate when the plaintiff is unable to bring a suit for an excusable reason. Examples include minors and medically incapacitated persons (e.g., people in a coma or otherwise incapacitated).
In some cases, military service tolls the statute of limitations. Colorado courts also find it necessary to freeze the statute of limitations when the defendant has engaged in fraudulent concealment. This happens when a defendant hides evidence.
Contact Colorado Personal Injury Lawyers Before Your Claim Expires
Timing is everything. If you fail to bring a lawsuit within the statute of limitations, you could lose your right to recover your losses.
Please don’t risk your case by trying to handle it independently. Let the skilled legal team at the Tenge Law Firm, LLC help.
We have three decades of experience handling statute of limitations issues in personal injury cases in Colorado. We have worked hard to earn our reputation as one of the finest personal injury law firms in Colorado. We will be there for you every step of the way.
To learn more about how we can assist you with a Colorado personal injury claim, contact Tenge Law Firm, LLC., today.