A statute of limitations is a law that restricts the amount of time during which an individual can file a lawsuit. Every state sets its own statute of limitations, which can vary based on the type of claim, the defendant, and the circumstances of the case. If you attempt to file a personal injury lawsuit outside the time frame, it will likely be dismissed immediately. There are a few exceptions that can increase the amount of time allotted through the statute of limitations, but they are rare, and you should not count on them when considering when to begin pursuing damages in a personal injury case. Contacting a Colorado personal injury lawyer as soon as possible after your accident is the best way to ensure you have no difficulties meeting the deadlines.

How Long Do You Have to File an Injury-related Lawsuit?

In Colorado, when it comes to the statute of limitations, the law differentiates between most types of personal injury claims and car accident claims (more on claims involving motor vehicles below). For the majority of personal injury claims, the statute of limitations is two years from the time you were injured. However, there are some exceptions. If your injury was something you could not have reasonably discovered, you have two years from when you became aware of the injury. For example, if your surgeon left a sponge in your body after performing surgery, you may not have realized it until it started causing health issues. In that case, the two-year countdown would begin after the injury was found.

The other exception to the two-year limitation is if the defendant is a governmental unit of the state of Colorado, for instance, a city, county, or the state itself. In these cases, the plaintiff must file a formal claim within 180 days of the injury. After this, the plaintiff still has two years from the accident date to file a personal injury lawsuit, but if the formal claim is not filed within the allotted time, a lawsuit cannot be brought for the injuries.

How is the Statute of Limitations for Car Accidents Different?

As noted above, car accidents are placed into their own category when it comes to the statute of limitations in Colorado. However, this is an advantage because the time period for filing a lawsuit increases to three years for car-related claims. While this may seem like a very long time, it is still crucial to contact a personal injury law firm as soon as possible. Collecting evidence becomes more complicated as time passes, making it more challenging to prove your claim. Even if you are still receiving treatment for your injuries and are uncertain of what the future will hold, consulting with an experienced attorney can kickstart the process and will allow them to begin collecting the documents and information necessary to build a strong claim.

What is Tolling and How Can It Impact Your Personal Injury Lawsuit?

Tolling refers to pausing the countdown of the statute of limitations, effectively giving the plaintiff more time to file their claim. There are a few unusual circumstances that can lead to tolling in Colorado:

  • The victim is a minor with no legal representative
  • The victim is mentally incompetent and has no one to represent them
  • The defendant is bankrupt
  • The defendant has left the state or has gone into hiding to avoid the lawsuit

Once the situation causing the tolling has been resolved, the statute of limitations will continue its countdown. Even if you believe your case may meet the requirements for tolling, you should begin the litigation process promptly to ensure that you are prepared for any eventuality. You do not want to lose your opportunity to seek justice in your case. Contact a local Colorado personal injury attorney today to learn more: 303-500-1376.