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Statute of Limitations on Car Accidents in Colorado

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April 25, 2023 Car Accidents

Colorado law regarding the statute of limitations for car accidents (Colorado Revised Statutes section 13-80-101(1)(n)), states that a car accident claim must be filed within three years from the date an injury occurs. It is crucial that you file your car accident lawsuit within the statute of limitations. Failure to do so will likely result in your case being dismissed by the court and you missing out on financial compensation for your injuries or other losses.

Due to Colorado’s personal injury statute of limitations, our Colorado car accident attorneys at Fuicelli & Lee strongly recommend that all car accident victims get started on their claims as soon as possible. If you have any particular questions about whether or not you can still file a claim, please speak to our Denver car accident lawyer as soon as possible.

Car Accident Statistics

Motor vehicle accidents are not uncommon in Colorado. An unfortunate reality is that thousands of individuals sustain injuries and property damage each year throughout the state as a result of a vehicle collision.

According to the Colorado Department of Transportation, the state recorded the highest number of car-related deaths in 2022—the highest in 42 years with an estimated 745 fatalities. For every car crash fatality on Colorado roads, five serious injuries occurred.

Car accident injuries can require extensive medical treatment, leading to mounting medical bills. These expenses can cause serious financial strain, especially if you or your family member cannot work due to accident-related injuries.

If you or a loved one suffered injuries in a car accident and are seeking financial compensation for your damages, you must file your lawsuit within the state’s statute of limitations.

Exceptions to Colorado Car Accident Statute of Limitations 

Generally, the statute of limitations for car accident cases in Colorado is three years from the date of the accident or the discovery of the injury.

While this may seem like a straightforward rule, there are exceptions to the statute of limitations that can extend or shorten the amount of time a person has to file a claim.

Understanding the exceptions to the statute of limitations is crucial for anyone injured in a car accident in Colorado. Some exceptions to the three-year rule for car accidents include the following:

Minor children

If a minor child suffers injuries in a car accident, the statute of limitations does not begin until the child turns 18. We suggest speaking with your personal injury attorney to discuss this potentially complicated exception to the statute of limitations.

Military Duty

If either the defendant or the plaintiff is on active military duty, a Colorado court may toll the statute of limitations until they return from service.

Government Entities

In car accident cases involving government entities, the injured victims have 180 days from the date of the accident to file an administrative claim against the agency. Under some circumstances, the timeframe to file your claim may be even shorter, so it is imperative that you talk with an attorney immediately following an accident with a government entity.

Product Liability Claims

Colorado’s car accident statute of limitations differs from the state’s personal injury statute of limitations, which includes product liability claims. If a defective automotive part caused your car accident, you only have two years to file a legal claim.

It is important to note that each case is unique, and there may be other exceptions to the three-year time limit for car accidents. An experienced Colorado car accident lawyer can determine the applicable time limits for your specific case.

Do Insurance Companies Follow This Same Statute of Limitations for Car Accident Claims?

Many people confuse the statute of limitations with the deadlines put in place by insurance companies for car accident claims. The vast majority of Colorado car accident cases will be resolved through settlements with insurance carriers. However, it is crucial to understand that insurance companies have their own strict reporting deadlines for these claims.

Most automobile insurance carriers in Colorado require policyholders to report an accident within a day or two of the collision. If you are involved in an auto accident, our car accident lawyers recommend that you report the incident to your insurance company as soon as possible.

Your initial report to an insurance company does not have to be in-depth. However, they do need to know about the accident so they can begin the claims process. Failing to promptly notify your insurance company about a car accident could result in the carrier delaying or denying your claim altogether.

Do I have a Denver Car Accident Case?

If you are involved in a car accident in Colorado, one of the first things you will need to determine is who is liable for the accident. Liability refers to the legal responsibility for an accident and the resulting damages.

It is important to note that Colorado is an at-fault state when it comes to car accidents. That means, in Colorado, liability is determined based on fault, and the person or party who caused the accident is responsible for paying for any damages that result from the accident.

Determining liability can be a complex process, and may involve gathering evidence, interviewing witnesses, and consulting with experts. In some cases, liability may be clear-cut, such as when one driver runs a red light and causes an accident. In other cases, liability may be more difficult to determine, such as when both drivers were partially at fault for the accident.

If you are involved in a car accident in Colorado, it is important to seek legal advice to determine your rights and options for seeking compensation.

Establishing Negligence in a Colorado Car Accident Case

In an auto accident claim, the four elements of negligence are used to determine who is at fault and to what extent. Negligence is defined as the failure to act with reasonable care or caution, resulting in harm or injury to another person. To establish negligence in a car accident claim, the plaintiff must prove that the defendant had a duty of care, breached that duty, caused the accident and that the accident resulted in damages.

Duty of Care: Duty of care means that the defendant had a legal obligation to act with reasonable care to avoid injuring others. For example, a driver has a duty to follow traffic laws and drive safely on the road.

Breach of Duty: The second element of negligence is when the defendant fails to meet their duty of care. For example, if a driver is distracted because they are texting while driving, they are breaching their duty of care to drive safely.

Causation: The plaintiff must prove that the defendant’s breach of duty caused their injuries. For example, the defendant was distracted because he was texting while driving and crashed into the plaintiff’s car, which caused the plaintiff to suffer injuries.

Damages: Accident victims have to show that their injuries resulted in damages. Damages can include physical injuries, property damage, medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering.

Proving all four elements of negligence is essential in a car accident case. If the plaintiff fails to prove any of these elements, they may not be able to recover compensation for their injuries.

What damages can I collect for a car accident in Colorado?

Colorado law allows you to collect both economic and non-economic damages after a Colorado auto accident.

Economic Damages

Economic damages are damages that are quantifiable and can be calculated precisely. These damages are meant to compensate you for any financial losses you have incurred as a result of the car accident. Examples of economic damages include:

  • Medical expenses, including hospital bills, medication costs, and rehabilitation expenses
  • Lost wages, including any income you may have lost as a result of the accident
  • Loss of earning capacity, in case the accident has resulted in a long-term disability that affects your ability to work and earn a living
  • Property damage, including the cost of repairing or replacing your vehicle
  • Other out-of-pocket expenses, such as rental cars or public transportation costs

Non-Economic Damages

Non-economic damages are damages that are not easily quantifiable and are more subjective in nature. These damages compensate you for the pain, suffering, and emotional distress you have experienced as a result of the car accident. Examples of non-economic damages include:

  • Pain and suffering, including physical pain and emotional distress
  • Mental anguish, including anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Loss of enjoyment of life, in case the accident has resulted in a long-term disability that affects your ability to enjoy life as you did before the accident
  • Loss of consortium or companionship, in case the accident has affected your relationship with your spouse or partner

It is important to note that Colorado has no caps on economic compensatory damages, but there are limits on non-economic awards. Dedicated auto accident attorneys understand these details and can determine the extent and value of damages in an injury claim.

What is Modified Comparative Negligence?

Modified comparative negligence is a legal standard that assigns fault for an accident to each party involved. Under this standard, you can still recover damages if you are found to be partially at fault for the accident, but the amount of damages you can recover will be reduced according to your degree of fault.

Colorado is a modified comparative negligence state. The standard used here is the 50 percent bar rule. This means that you cannot recover damages if you are found to be 50 percent or more at fault for the accident. If you are found to be less than 50 percent at fault, you can still recover damages, but your damages will be reduced proportionally to your degree of fault.

For example, if you are found to be 30 percent at fault for the accident, and your damages are $10,000, you will only be able to recover $7,000 in damages. This is because your damages will be reduced by 30 percent, which is the percentage of fault assigned to you.

It’s important to note that Colorado also follows the rule of contributory negligence. This means that if you are found to be even 1 percent at fault for the accident, your ability to recover damages may possibly be reduced.

How a Denver Car Accident Lawyer Can Help

Car accidents can be a traumatic experience for anyone involved. In addition to the physical injuries, emotional and financial damages can result from a car accident. This is where a Colorado car accident attorney can help.

Car accident attorneys can provide a wide range of services to their clients, including:

Investigation and Gathering Evidence

A Colorado car accident attorney can help you investigate and gather evidence related to your case. They can work with experts to reconstruct the accident scene, gather medical records and police reports, and interview witnesses. This information is crucial in building a strong case and proving fault.

Negotiation with Insurance Companies

After a motor vehicle accident, insurance companies will often try to settle for the lowest possible amount. A Colorado car accident attorney can help negotiate with the insurance companies to ensure you receive fair compensation for your injuries, property damage, and other losses. They will handle all communications with the insurance company and fight for your rights.

Representation in Court

A Colorado car accident attorney can represent you in court if negotiations with the insurance company fail. They will file a lawsuit on your behalf—within the statute of limitations—and present your case to a judge and jury. They will handle all aspects of the trial, including presenting evidence, cross-examining witnesses, and arguing on your behalf. Having an experienced attorney by your side can greatly improve your chances of receiving fair compensation.

Car accident attorneys in Colorado work on a contingency fee basis, which means that they only get paid if their client receives compensation for their injuries and damages. This makes it possible for clients who may not have the financial resources to pay for an attorney upfront to get the legal representation they need. Our Colorado car accident lawyers offer a free consultation to determine the validity of your auto accident claim.

Contact a Fuicelli & Lee Denver Car Accident Lawyer Today

If you or somebody you love suffered injuries in an auto accident in Colorado, consult with an experienced Denver personal injury attorney about your claim as soon as possible to ensure that you recover the compensation you are entitled to. Compensation can include coverage of your medical bills, general household out-of-pocket expenses, property damage expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering damages, and more. These cases can become complicated, but an attorney will be able to help ensure that you are treated fairly throughout the entire process.

The Denver car accident lawyers at Fuicelli & Lee Injury Lawyers specialize solely in personal injury cases. Our attorneys understand the challenges a client with a life-altering injury faces when dealing with insurance companies who often put their profits before an injured client’s well-being. Our attorneys know how to counter these tactics and fight for the compensation our clients deserve. Contact us today for a free consultation and case evaluation.