In our latest knowledge center article, we explore the concept of statute of limitations and how it relates to car accidents in Colorado.
First a definition – the statute of limitations is a law that limits the amount of time a plaintiff (…or injured person) can pursue a legal remedy for wrongful conduct. After this time period expires, the plaintiff loses the right to file a lawsuit to obtain compensation for injuries and damages.
In Colorado, the statute of limitations for a car accident case is 3 years.
It’s important to keep in mind how these time limits vary for different types of cases. For example, the statute of limitations for a personal injury/slip & fall case is only 2 years. If your case involves a government agency, the time frame is even shorter than that.
While these time limits are pretty firm, there are a few exceptions, including:
- Discovery rule – In some circumstances, it’s not reasonable or possible for the person to know the cause of their injury or that an injury even occurred. The “discovery rule” allows a plaintiff to file suit within a certain period of time after they discovered their injury, or reasonably should have discovered their injury. It’s important to understand that the time frame to bring a suit “post-discovery” can be pretty short in most cases.
- Tolling – In some cases, circumstances outside of the plaintiff’s control prevent a case from moving forward. If this applies to a particular case, the case may be “tolled” until the impediment is dealt with. Common reasons for tolling include defendant bankruptcy, plaintiff not mentally competent following an injury, foreign objects still in the plaintiff’s body or the plaintiff was a minor when the injury occurred.
In addition to these exceptions, it is possible for the plaintiff to file multiple causes of action from a single incident. Therefore, it’s possible to still file a claim after the statute expires for one of the relevant claims.
One example of this is a car accident caused by a defective product. In this case, you have grounds two claims – one for a defective product, the other for the car accident itself.
In the end, each case in unique. There are numerous reasons for “tolling” to affect the statute of limitation for example.
This is why it’s absolutely vital you discuss your individual case with a car accident attorney in Denver. Not only will a consultation provide you with a clear understanding of your rights and time limitations for filing a suit, it can help you get the ball rolling as soon as possible.
Delaying your case until the statute runs out carries several risks. Documentation can be lost and the defense can petition the court to suppress evidence or throw your case out altogether. They will certainly question your delay and claim your injuries are not serious enough to warrant a judgment.
To learn more about the statute of limitations, read our latest article – Colorado Car Accident Cases and Statute of Limitations – today.
And if you’ve been involved in an accident, it’s absolutely critical you consult with an attorney specializing in car accidents as soon as possible to pinpoint the exact legal remedies available to you.