Tips for Navigating Colorado’s Personal Injury Statute of Limitations

Tips for Navigating Colorado's Personal Injury Statute of Limitations

Time is not on your side when suffering an injury due to another’s actions in Colorado. The amount of time you have from the time of the accident to submit a personal injury claim is running out. You risk losing the ability to seek compensation and justice if you miss the deadline. The personal injury statute of limitations in Colorado can ambush the unprepared.

You must act fast to protect your rights in the event of a car accident, slip and fall, medical malpractice, or other injury. But don’t panic – with the right knowledge about how the statute of limitations works in Colorado, you can navigate it strategically to maximize your chances of recovering damages.

In this guide, we’ll cut through the legal jargon and complexities to give you the essential tips you need. 

Understanding Statutes of Limitations

When a crime occurs, states have a defined period of time to criminally charge the perpetrator. The laws governing these time frames are called criminal statutes of limitations. 

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Statutes of limitations govern the time allowed to take civil legal action over various matters. These matters include personal injuries, property damage, medical malpractice, and wrongful death resulting from car accidents or other incidents. The time allowed starts from different trigger dates depending on the type of case.

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For example, in personal injury cases, the clock usually starts on the date of injury or when it was discovered. Property damage typically starts when the damage occurs. In wrongful death cases, the time limit commonly starts on the date of death rather than an earlier accident date, in case the person died later from their injuries. Medical malpractice cases may calculate time differently as well.

The allowed periods of time to take legal action, known as the statute of limitations, can vary significantly between different types of civil cases and jurisdictions. They are intended to encourage prompt resolutions of legal matters but also try to balance fairness for victims.

In rare cases, the statute of limitations may be paused or “tolled,” such as when the injured individual is a youngster, mentally handicapped, or the at-fault party has left the state for an extended length of time.  

Government claims usually require filing within a shorter timeframe than typical statutes of limitations for civil cases due to sovereign immunity rules. Missed deadlines can bar any possibility of receiving compensation regardless of a case’s merits. Understanding how statutes of limitations apply to different scenarios is important for both victims and those facing potential legal action.

How Do Statutes of Limitation Differ In Colorado?

The statutes of limitations that govern when personal injury lawsuits must be filed in Colorado courts depend on the type of injury claim. 

For most non-vehicle-related injury claims, such as those resulting from incidents of negligence like slip and falls or intentional torts like assault. Colorado has a statute of limitations of two years. This two-year deadline requires any lawsuit to be filed in court within two years from the date of injury.

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Colorado’s statute of limitations is three years for personal injury claims arising from car accidents, specifically those seeking damages for bodily injury or property damage caused by a motor vehicle accident. 

Lawsuits for injuries sustained in motor vehicle accidents must be filed with the court within three years of the incident. A case brought after the two or three-year statute of limitations has passed risks being rejected by the court. 

This strict deadline is important both for actually initiating a formal complaint and for maintaining negotiation leverage with any potentially liable insurance companies. However, there are some potential exceptions that may extend the filing deadline. 

One exception is if the injured person was a minor or legally incompetent adult without representation at the time of injury. In such cases, the clock can be paused until they turn 18 or regain competence. 

Another exception is if the potentially liable party departs or conceals their location in Colorado before a lawsuit can be filed, as that time period may not count toward the deadline. Understanding the applicability and exceptions of Colorado’s statutes of limitations is crucial for pursuing a personal injury claim within the required timeframes.

How Can a Personal Injury Attorney in Colorado Support You?

Suppose you’ve been injured in a car accident or other personal injury situation in Colorado. In that case, timing is crucial when seeking legal recourse and compensation through the court system. As we already discussed, Colorado has statutes of limitations that impose strict deadlines for filing a personal injury lawsuit after an incident. 

Failure to submit your claim before this statutory limit expires could cause you to lose the right to recover financial losses. These losses may include medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other damages. Given the inherent risks of car accidents while driving, it’s unfortunate that many Coloradans endure injuries from crashes every year. 

According to Springs Law Group, in 2017 alone, over 10,000 auto accident injury claims were filed in Colorado after 648 fatalities, and thousands more injuries occurred on the roadways. 

Considering these sobering statistics, it makes sense for injured individuals to consult a trusted Colorado Springs auto accident attorney as soon as possible after an accident. 

An experienced lawyer can help gather evidence to strengthen the case, navigate insurance claims, ensure all deadlines are met, and obtain a fair settlement within the constraints of the statute of limitations. Their expertise is invaluable for mitigating risks and maximizing compensation for injuries when accidents do inevitably occur.

Understanding Fee Structures When Hiring Colorado Personal Injury Lawyer

When retaining a personal injury lawyer in Colorado, it’s essential to understand how their fees will be determined. Most attorneys offer flexible fee structures so clients can choose the best option for their case and budget. The three most common types are contingency fees, hourly rates, and flat fees.

Since they only have to pay a portion of the settlement money or awarded damages if they win the case, many personal injury attorneys prefer contingency fees. This percentage typically ranges from 33-40% in Colorado. 

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Contingency arrangements provide access to legal representation for injured clients who cannot afford hourly fees upfront. It also properly aligns the lawyer’s financial incentives with obtaining the best possible outcome.

Some attorneys charge hourly rates for working on personal injury matters. This requires clients to pay for every hour billed to their case, regardless of the result. Flat fees involve agreeing to a set cost for defined legal services in advance. Variations exist within these categories, so clients should discuss specifics during initial consultations.

While contingency fees transfer much of the financial litigation risk from the client to the lawyer, they remain favored. This is because they encourage attorneys to be efficient, negotiate settlements effectively, and concentrate on achieving compensation. 

An additional “success fee” may apply if awarded above the standard contingency percentage in some jurisdictions. However, not all personal injury lawyers utilize or disclose this supplementary cost structure. Comprehensive consultation can elucidate all potential fee arrangements and amounts in personal injury cases.

Understanding Colorado’s statute of limitations for personal injury claims is crucial for seeking justice and compensation after an accident. 

Don’t let the clock run out. Consult an experienced injury lawyer right away to help navigate the process and assert your rights before deadlines pass. With the right legal guidance, you can focus on recovering without risking the ability to have your day in court.

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