What Is a Statute of Limitations and Why Do We Have Them?

A statute of limitations is a time limit imposed by law. It is a state or federal statute that sets the maximum amount of time prosecutors or parties involved in a dispute can initiate legal proceedings. Statutes of limitations exist for both civil and criminal matters. Time limits can vary depending on the offense or the type of injury and the state in which it occurred. The statute of limitations aims to protect potential defendants from unfair legal action after a significant time has passed, when witnesses’ memories may have dimmed, and evidence may be obscured, lost, or irretrievable.

What Is Personal Injury in a Legal Sense?

In a legal context, personal injury is an injury to a person, as opposed to property. As stated by the Legal Information Network of Colorado (LINC), it may involve bodily injury or death or injury to a person’s emotions or reputation. Also known as tort law, personal injury law is designed to protect injury victims harmed by someone else’s actions or failure to act. In a civil action, a party that causes harm to another through negligence or wrongdoing may be held liable for resulting damages.

From What Point Does a Statute of Limitations for Personal Injury Run?

In most cases, the statute of limitations begins running on the date the accident or injury occurred. However, there are limited exceptions:

  • Discovery rule exception: The filing deadline may be extended if the injured party was not aware of the injury at the time it occurred or was not aware that the at-fault party may have caused the injury. In this case, the statute begins running from the date the injured person discovered or should have reasonably discovered the injury.
  • Injury to a minor exception: To file a civil action in Colorado, you must be 18 or older. When a minor suffers personal injury, the statute of limitations may be tolled (stop running) until the injured party reaches adulthood. Parents may file personal injury claims on behalf of their minor children. In some situations, however, injured minors may wish to pursue claims on their own, in which case the statute of limitations begins running when the injured party turns 18.

What Is the Colorado Law on Statutes of Limitations for Personal Injury?

Colorado has several laws that set deadlines for filing personal injury claims under Title 13, Article 80 of the Colorado Revised Statutes:

  • § 13-80-102 (a) covers time limits for personal injury claims based on negligence or strict liability and for wrongful death, not including motor vehicle accidents. The statute of limitations for these matters is two years.
  • § 13-80-101 (n) applies to tort actions for bodily injury sustained in motor vehicle accidents. The statute of limitations for car accidents, motorcycle collisions, truck accidents, bicycle accidents, and pedestrian accidents is three years.

Do Insurance Company Deadlines Coincide with Statutes of Limitations?

In personal injury cases, the statute of limitations sets a filing deadline for bringing a legal action in civil court against the responsible party. However, most car accident cases and many other personal injury matters are settled out of court through negotiations with insurance companies. Auto insurance companies and other providers have their own reporting deadlines for claims.

Many insurance companies expect to be notified within 24 to 72 hours after a traffic crash. Failure to do so could result in loss of the right to recover compensation. Insurance companies are required to acknowledge claims within a reasonable amount of time, such as seven to ten business days. After an additional 30 to 45 days, the company will either deny or accept the claim.

What Happens When a Personal Injury Claim Cannot Be Settled Out of Court?

If an insurance company accepts a claim, the next phase is settlement negotiations. Your attorney will specify your damages and present supporting evidence to insurance company representatives. If your attorney and the insurance company cannot reach a fair settlement, it may be necessary to go to court, where your case will be presented to a jury. This is why you should contact a personal injury lawyer as soon as possible after an accident or injury caused by someone else’s negligence or wrongdoing. Not only could valuable evidence be lost if an investigation is not started right away, but it is important to allow plenty of time to ensure any civil action is filed within the statute of limitations. If you miss the filing deadline, your claim will be forever barred.

What Types of Damages Can You Claim for Personal Injury?

After an injury that was someone else’s fault, you may be entitled to seek compensatory damages. These may include economic damages, such as medical expenses, lost wages, and loss of future earning capacity. You may also be entitled to seek non-economic damages, such as pain and suffering, emotional trauma, mental anguish, and loss of enjoyment of life. Our experienced Colorado personal injury attorney can tell you if you have a case and what damages you may be entitled to claim.

Why Choose Us to Represent You in a Colorado Personal Injury Claim?

At Genco Injury Attorneys, we are experienced and available, and we approach our cases with a personal touch. Founding attorney Dominic X. Genco is an adamant litigator who has handled thousands of cases and recovered millions of dollars for injured clients. We offer a free case evaluation. Contact us at (720) 802-9120 if you have been a victim of personal injury in Colorado. Act quickly to ensure the statute of limitations does not expire.