Many factors affect the outcome of an injury case. However, one of the first factors that must be considered, because of it’s importance to any case, is whether the victim has time to take legal action to recover from their injuries. So many times victims reach out to our office after it’s too late for our attorneys to file a lawsuit or claim, and once that deadline, known as the statute of limitations, passes there is nothing an attorney can do for the victim.
Today, we’re going to talk about the statute of limitations that apply to various types of injury claims in Colorado. However, if you think you have a case you should contact an attorney as soon as possible to find out, because sometimes, even if the deadline has not passed, an attorney will need sufficient time to investigate and prepare a claim or lawsuit.
What is a Statute of Limitations?
Simply put, the statute of limitations is the law that dictates how long a plaintiff has to file a lawsuit against the defendants the plaintiff seeks to recover from.
The statute of limitations that applies to a particular case varies depending on the type of accident or claim involved. Here is what you should know about the statute of limitations in Colorado injury cases.
Motor Vehicle Accidents
Colorado law requires that any lawsuit for injuries arising from the use or operation of a motor vehicle be filed within three (3) years from the date of the accident. However, as previously mentioned, to give yourself the best chance for success, don’t wait until right before the statute to contact an attorney, because an experienced injury law attorney can help you get the most out of your case well before the deadline to file a lawsuit.
Underinsured Motorist Claims
Sometimes a negligent driver does not have enough insurance coverage to pay for all of the damages he or she causes. In that instance, victims who have underinsured motorist (UIM) coverage can make claims against their insurance company. If there is a dispute between a victim and that victim’s insurance company about the UIM benefits that should be paid, the victim must file a lawsuit against the insurance company within two (2) years of the date of the recovery from the underinsured negligent party. However, regardless of the date of the recovery from the underinsured negligent party, the injury victim never has less than three (3) years from the date of the injury to file a lawsuit for UIM benefits against the insurance company.
If the injury results from the negligence of another and vehicles are not involved a plaintiff has two (2) years from the date of the injury to file a lawsuit against the defendant(s). Types of bodily injury cases that this 2-year statute of limitations applies to include, but are not limited to, premises liability cases, such as injuries caused by a slip and fall, and injuries caused by dog bites.
Lawsuits for wrongful death must be filed within two (2) years from the date of death. This deadline applies regardless of the underlying cause of death. Therefore, if a person dies in an auto accident due to someone else’s negligence, the survivors who can bring a wrongful death only have two (2) years to claim wrongful death instead of the three (3) year deadline for a lawsuit that usually applies in auto accident cases.
When someone has been hurt by a medical provider, Colorado law requires that a lawsuit be filed within two (2) years after the malpractice occurred. However, Colorado law adds another limitation period in the instance of medical negligence – plaintiffs cannot file a lawsuit for medical negligence more than three (3) after the date of the alleged medical negligence, even in instances where the injury or medical negligence is not discovered within three (3) years of the alleged medical negligence. There are several exceptions to the three (3) year rule, so be sure to speak with an attorney about the specific facts of your case.
Colorado’s injured workers generally have two (2) years from the date of injury to file a Worker’s Claim for Compensation to preserve their claim. The deadline for that limitations period may be tolled or extended if the injury is the result of an ongoing exposure or occupational disease, in which instance the 2-year deadline starts as of the date of the “last injurious exposure.”
Cases Against Governmental Agencies and Governmental Employees
Colorado law adds a deadline for plaintiffs seeking to recover for injuries caused by government employees and agencies. In addition to the deadlines for filing lawsuits discussed above, a plaintiff claiming a governmental agency or employee has to provide the governmental agency notice of that claim within 182-days of the date of the incident that hurt the plaintiff. That notice has very specific requirements for how it must be sent, where it must be sent, and what it must contain.
The Attorneys at Mintz Law Firm Help Those Who Have Been Injured
While this article discusses statutes of limitations generally, there can be exceptions or extensions to those deadlines. For example, the deadline for filing a lawsuit may not begin to run until the plaintiff discovers an injury or the cause of the injury, or in cases where the plaintiff is a minor. Every case is different. If you or a loved one has been injured, contact an experienced injury attorney as soon as possible to discuss the facts of your specific case.
Failure to take legal action in time will prohibit the victim from ever being able to recover damages or benefits for their injuries. That is why it is so important to seek the counsel of a knowledgeable and experienced Colorado injury attorney as soon as possible. At Mintz Law Firm, we know what is at stake. We work with our clients, striving to achieve the best possible outcome for each situation. To learn more or to schedule a free consultation, fill out a contact form or call us at 303-462-2999 today!