Is There a Deadline for Filing a Personal Injury Lawsuit in Colorado?
Personal injury law – also called tort law – is an area of practice primarily concerned with pursuing compensation for individuals who have been wrongfully injured. Every plaintiff in a personal injury lawsuit essentially must prove that the defendant caused their injury, and further, that the plaintiff sustained damages that can be financially compensated for. Personal injury is an exceptionally broad field that encompasses myriad scenarios for which the law provides a remedy for injuries that have been sustained.
Some of the more common personal injury claims involve the following:
Being injured in an auto accident that was not your fault enables you to seek compensation from the responsible party for things such as medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and more.
When a doctor or other medical care provider injures a patient through incorrect or inappropriate treatment, the patient may have a viable personal injury claim falling into the category of medical malpractice.
If someone dies because of negligent or intentionally harmful conduct inflicted on them by another, state wrongful death law allows certain close family members to file a personal injury lawsuit on the deceased’s behalf.
A defective or unreasonably dangerous product that can cause serious harm or death. Product liability refers to the laws that are designed to hold liable the manufacturers or sellers of such products.
When a person is injured because of a dangerous condition on another person’s property, the injured party may be able to recover compensation from the property owner. The extent to which a person may hold a property owner liable under Colorado’s premises liability laws depends on whether the person injured is deemed an invitee, a licensee, or a trespasser.
Statute of Limitations
Someone who has been injured and wishes to file a personal injury lawsuit in Colorado must be aware of something called a statute of limitations, or “SOL”. It is a law that establishes the timeframe during which they must file, or else lose the right to do so. The main purpose of a statute of limitations is to make sure that liability is predicated on evidence that hasn’t disappeared or degraded over time. Statutes of limitations largely exist to foster efficiency in our court system and also protect defendants from unfair legal actions.
The consequences of failing to file a lawsuit before the statute of limitation runs are severe. A person will be barred from filing suit if the statute of limitations has run on the person’s personal injury claim.
In Colorado, the statute of limitations that is applicable to a personal injury case hinges on the nature of the claim. For example:
- Auto accident claim – three years from the accident
- Non-auto personal injury claim – two years from the accident
- Medical malpractice claim – two years from the date of injury
- Wrongful death claims – two years from the date of the victim’s death
- Premises liability claims – two years from the date of the accident
NOTE: THE ABOVE TIMELINES ARE GENERAL AND ILLUSTRATIVE ONLY. THERE ARE IMPORTANT FACTORS THAT CAN AFFECT THE STATUTE OF LIMITATION AND YOU SHOULD IMMEDIATELY CONTACT A LAWYER IF YOU OR A LOVED ONE HAVE BEEN INJURED TO OBTAIN SPECIFIC ADVICE CONCERNING YOUR SPECIFIC SITUATION.
Either for public policy reasons or out of simple fairness, there are certain situations in which the applicable statute of limitations can be modified. The most common exception is called the discovery rule, which grants a plaintiff more time to file a claim if their injury or the defendant’s negligence could not be discovered right away.
Another exception that is often granted is when the injured party is a minor. In these cases, courts generally give injured minors a certain time to file a personal injury claim after they reach the age of majority.
A third important exception relates to tort claims against the government. For example, if you want to file a personal injury claim against the State of Colorado, you must file, within just 180 days, a Governmental Notice. The Notice is required by statute and notifies the government of the claim.
Understanding the application of these exceptions to any specific situation requires consultation with an experienced personal injury attorney.
Contact Whalen Hersh LLP
One of the key things to understand about seeking compensation for a personal injury in Colorado is that must you must file a lawsuit within the applicable timeframe. Wait too long and you could be barred from filing a claim.
For more information on this and other topics related to personal injury, or to speak with a lawyer about your legal options following an accident, contact Whalen Hersh LLP today. The personal injury lawyers on our team are highly accomplished legal advocates who have obtained many millions of dollars in personal injury settlements and verdicts for their clients.