If you are hurt or a loved one is killed due to the negligence of another in Colorado, you have a limited period of time—known as a statute of limitations—within which to pursue compensation for resulting medical expenses and other damages.
The Denver personal injury lawyers at the Frickey Law Firm understand the challenges faced by injury victims and their families, and we’re here to help you understand your legal rights and fight for the money you need to move ahead with your life. Please call 303-237-7373 for a free consultation with one of our skilled attorneys.
What is a Statute of Limitations?
A statute of limitations is the timeframe you have to bring legal action against another person or entity.
In Colorado personal injury cases, different statutes of limitations apply depending on the circumstances surrounding the injury. For example, the deadline to file a claim related to injuries from a motor vehicle accident differs from the time period related to medical malpractice injuries.
Regardless of the cause of injuries, it is in your best interests to discuss your situation with an attorney as soon as possible. An early consultation with a lawyer can preserve evidence to support your case and help pave the way for timely legal action and fair compensation.
Personal Injury Statute of Limitations
Colorado’s general statute of limitations period for personal injury claims is two years from the date the injury was sustained.
This timeframe applies to circumstances that include:
Different timeframes, as we will discuss below, apply to motor vehicle accidents and events that result in wrongful death. There are also some exceptions, including extensions related to when the injury was actually discovered.
Motor Vehicle Accident Statute of Limitations
The statute of limitations to take legal action for bodily injury that results from a motor vehicle accident is three years, as established in Colorado Revised Statute 13-80-101(1).
The clock begins ticking on the date of the car accident and the discovery of the injury. If the existence of the injury is not immediately known, the time period is three years from the date that the presence of the injury should reasonably have been known.
Any claims against uninsured motorists must also be filed within three years of the date the accident occurred.
Wrongful Death Statute of Limitations
In Colorado, wrongful death lawsuits must be filed within two years of an individual’s death.
For the first year following a person’s death, his or her spouse has exclusive rights to file a claim. If the decedent was not married, only immediate heirs or a designated beneficiary may bring a claim.
After one year, the spouse and any children of the decedent may file claims. If the deceased died with no spouse, children or designated beneficiary, his or her parents may take wrongful death action at any time during the two-year limitations period.
Exceptions to Statutes of Limitations
There are exceptions that may apply to the statutes of limitations governing personal injury claims.
In wrongful death cases, for example, the court may grant an extension in the event that a defendant conceals facts pertaining to the claim, or if the plaintiff suffers from a disability that affects his or her ability to take timely legal action. Auto accidents, to cite another case in point, sometimes result in injuries that may not be discovered until well after the date of the collision.
The Discovery Rule
The discovery rule, also referred to as “discovery of harm,” relates to when an injury was discovered, or when an injury should reasonably have been discovered.
The discovery rule may apply to cases in which a person sustained an injury but did not develop symptoms of the injury, or otherwise had no way of knowing about the injury, until an extended period of time after the event that caused it and the actual harm became evident. The discovery rule may also apply to certain defective product cases, in which the statute of limitations would not accrue until a plaintiff is aware, or should be aware, of the facts that link the product to the injury.
Information Needed for Personal Injury Claims
If you were injured or a family member died due to the negligence of another, it’s important to gather as much information as you can. This includes but is not limited to:
- Medical records
- Police reports
- Photos or video of the scene of the accident or injury event
- Photos or videos of resulting injuries
- Contact information for any witnesses of the accident or injury event
- Information about the conditions in which the accident occurred or circumstances surrounding the injury event
Discussing your case with an experienced attorney as soon as possible after your personal injury can help preserve relevant information and provide you with peace of mind. Working with a skilled personal injury lawyer also improves your chances of receiving a fair resolution.
The personal injury and wrongful death lawyers at the Frickey Law Firm are dedicated to helping injury victims from Lakewood and the greater Denver area. If you were hurt or a loved one died due to another’s negligence, please contact the Frickey Law Firm online or call us at 303-237-7373 for your complimentary consultation.