Colorado Car Accident Cases and Statute of Limitations

Exactly how long after an accident do I have to file a claim for injuries and damages resulting from a car accident?

If you've been injured in a car accident that resulted from another driver's negligence, one important thing you will need to keep in mind is the statute of limitations for these types of cases.

A statute of limitation can be defined as a law that limits the amount of time a plaintiff can pursue a legal remedy for wrongful or negligent conduct. Once this time period expires, the injured person(s) lose the right to file a lawsuit to obtain compensation for injuries and damages. This amount of time varies from state to state as well as the type of case in question.

For car accidents in Colorado, the standard statute of limitations is 3 years. For other personal injury cases like slips and falls, the time limit is only 2 years. For claims involving a government agency, the time-frame is typically shorter.

Differences in these time-frames are the reason why it's so important to enlist the help of a qualified car accident lawyer in Colorado. Although the statute of limitations is pretty firm, there are exceptions where you can bring a claim after the standard 3 years.

One exception to the statute of limitation is the "discovery rule."

In some cases, it's not reasonable or possible for a person to know the cause of an injury or that an injury even happened, which often happens long after the act which caused the injury occurred.

Therefore, the discovery rule allows a plaintiff to file a suit within a certain period of time from when the injury was discovered, or reasonably should have been discovered. It's vitally important to understand – the "discovery rule" doesn't apply to all civil injuries. Also, the period of time you can bring a claim "post-discovery" can be quite short in many cases.

Another exception to the statute of limitation is known as "tolling"

Often times, circumstances outside the plaintiff's control prevent a case from moving forward. In this situation, the case may be "tolled" until the impediment is dealt with.

Common reasons for "tolling" car accident or personal injury cases include:

  • Victim not mentally competent following the injury
  • Defendants' bankruptcy
  • Foreign objects are still in the victim's body
  • Victim was minor when injury occurred

In Colorado, the statute of limitations begins running on the victim's 18th birthday if they were a minor when the injury occurred.

If it is possible for you to file multiple causes of action from a single incident, you may still be able to file a claim even after the statute runs out for one of your relevant claims

Another exception to the statute of limitations is whether your particular claim falls under two different legal areas, or causes of action. For example, if you were in a car accident caused by a defective product, you may have grounds for two claims – one for a defective product, the other for the accident itself. The statute of limitations in Colorado on product liability is only 2 years while the statute for car accidents is 3 so even if the 2-year mark has passed, you will be able to file a claim for the car accident itself.

These of course are just broad examples to the different exceptions regarding the statute of limitations…each individual case is different. For example, there can be any number of reasons for "tolling" to affect the statute of limitations. That's why it's absolutely necessary you discuss your individual case with an experienced car accident lawyer in the Denver area. Not only does a consultation inform you of your rights and limitations for filing a suit, it helps get the ball rolling as soon as possible. Allowing a claim to languish can hurt your case in a variety of ways ranging from lost documentation to defense motions to suppress evidence or even throw your case out altogether.

(Read Help your Lawyer Help You for more ways you can help ensure your case goes smoothly)

Colorado car accident attorneys at the Babcock Law Firm will carefully listen to your case and provide a straight-forward assessment of any potential claims. Contact us today for a free consultation to learn more.

Continue reading these related articles for more information…

**NOTE – this article and all content at is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice

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