Statute of limitations defined
A statute of limitations refers to the state limit for how long after the accident a plaintiff can sue for negligent conduct. After this time interval passes, the plaintiff may no longer file a personal injury lawsuit for compensation.
Not only does the statute of limitations vary by state: It can vary within the state depending upon the type of personal injury case.
For Colorado automotive accidents involving cars or tractor trailers, the statute of limitations is three years from the date of the accident. However, other personal injury cases have a time limit of just two years.
See our Guide to the Colorado Statute of Limitations.
Exceptions to Colorado statutes of limitation
The Colorado statute of limitations is firm, but there are rare exceptions to the three-year rule for car and truck accidents:
- The discovery rule: It is not always possible for a person to know immediately that an injury occurred in the accident. So, the discovery rule allows the plaintiff to file a suit within a period time from when the injury was discovered, not when it occurred. (See the definition of discovery rule on FindLaw)
- Tolling: Circumstances that the plaintiff does not control may prevent the case from proceeding. The case could be ‘tolled’ or delayed until the problem is resolved. Some examples where tolling can occur: When the victim is not mentally sound enough to file suit after the injury; bankruptcy of the defendant; foreign objects still are in the victim’s body; and the victim was under 18 when the accident occurred.
- If the plaintiff can file several causes of action from one accident, he may be able to file a lawsuit after the statute of limitations expires for one of the claims.
Note: It is very important for the Colorado auto accident or truck accident victim to be aware of the statute of limitations for most car or truck accidents – three years. If the plaintiff delays until the three years almost expire, many good personal injury attorneys will decline the case.