Time Limits/Statutes of Limitation in Colorado for Personal Injury Lawsuits

Time is important when it comes to filing a personal injury lawsuit

Filing too late removes any chance of receiving compensation

When an individual is hurt in a personal injury case, he or she may be focused only on trying to pay medical bills, recover, and move on with his or her life.

Personal injury victims may not be aware that their rights may be affected during the time when they are trying to recover due to specific time limits based on Colorado law referred to as the "statute of limitations."

The statute of limitations provides a deadline by which a personal injury victim must file a lawsuit. If this deadline passes, the victim is barred from ever bringing forth the claim and from being able to receive compensation for the injuries that he or she sustained.

Colorado Statutes of Limitation

Auto/car accident

3 years

Slip and fall

2 years

Premises liability

2 years

Toxic tort

2 years

Dog bite

2 years

Product liability

2 years

Assault or battery

2 years

Claims against government

180 days

Minors

statute of limitations begins at 18th birthday

Wrongful death

2 years

Workers compensation claims

2 years

Medical malpractice

2 years with discovery rule

Libel/slander

1 year

Dram shop (DWI cases)

1 year


Official Colorado Statutes of Limitation

The applicable statute of limitations is based on the cause of action, the identity of the defendant, and the circumstances surrounding the case.

Reason for statutes of limitation

Each state establishes statutes of limitations for different causes of action. The justification for these laws is so that cases are brought forward in a time when there is reliable information. The witnesses’ memories will be fresher, documents used as evidence will be more readily available, and the events that led to the case will be relatively recent.

Additionally, the courts will hear cases that are based on recent events rather than be flooded with cases alleging events that occurred many years ago. Statutes of limitations also provide greater certainty for defendants who do not have to worry about potential liability for acts committed many years ago.

Enjuris tip: Personal injury cases can take longer than you may think. Read further to learn more about how long the process may take and why timing is very important.

Personal injury

For slip and fall, premises liability, toxic tort and other personal injury cases involving negligence, the statute of limitations is two years in Colorado.

Automotive/car accident

The statute of limitations is extended to three years if the accident in question was an automotive accident. This includes motorcycle accidents. C.R.S. 13-80-101. However, the statute of limitations on a dram shop case is only 1 year.

Wrongful death claims

When the defendant’s actions result in the death of another, the victim’s estate can pursue a wrongful death claim on his or her behalf. The statute of limitations for these sorts of claims is two years.

However, if it is not discovered that negligence caused the fatal injury until later, the statute of limitations begins once the discovery is made.

Colorado's statute of limitations for negligent accidents is 2 years, except for auto accidents and claims against gov. workers.  Tweet this

Strict liability

In some cases, negligence is not the legal theory alleged. Defendants can be held to a higher standard that does not require the plaintiff to show any negligence on its part (i.e. dog bite cases).

If the circumstances follow the statute’s description, the defendant can be held liable even if the plaintiff does not show that he or she was negligent in any way.

Dog bite cases in Colorado

Colorado uses a combination of negligence and strict liability when looking at injuries from dog bites. The time limit within which action must be brought is two years.

For a comprehensive look at Colorado dog bit injury laws and what you need to know about liablity and negligence, see All Law’s Colorado Dog Bite article.

Products liability

If a person is injured due to the use of a product, he or she has two years in which to file a claim. Product liability claims may be made against any party that is responsible for the product from the manufacturer to the distributor and even the retailer.

Assault or battery

If an injury is based on the intentional tort of assault or battery, the lawsuit must be filed within one year from the date of injury.

Workers’ compensation

For workers’ compensation claims, the plaintiff has two years from the date of injury to file a claim.

Enjuris tip: Reporting your work injury claim is more than just telling your employer. Learn more about the proper way to file a workers’ compensation claim.

Claims against the government

Accidents involving governmental entities in Colorado are associated with a much shorter statute of limitations. The plaintiff only has 180 days from the date of injury to file an administrative claim and submit it to the agency that is responsible.

The claim must be in writing and must provide basic information about the accident including the plaintiff’s name and address, the alleged date of injury, statements regarding the factual basis of the claim, and a request for compensation.

When the plaintiff is a minor

If the plaintiff is a minor, he or she cannot sue the defendant until he or she reaches the age of majority, which is 18 years old in Colorado. Therefore, if the victim is a minor, he or she has until the time he or she reaches the age of 18, plus the number of years provided under the statute of limitations.

For a car accident, this would give the plaintiff until his or her 21st birthday to file the lawsuit.

Discovery rule

In most cases, the statute of limitations begins from the date of the injury. In many such cases, the victim is immediately cognizant that he or she has been injured. However, in some cases, the victim may not be aware of sustaining an injury and it may not be reasonable for him or her to know this.

The discovery rule allows the injured party to have longer to bring forth a personal injury claim. Rather than the statute of limitations running from the date of injury, it begins to run when the victim discovers the injury or a date when the injury should have reasonably been discovered.

Tolling

In other situations, there may be times that the victim cannot control circumstances that would prevent the case from moving forward. The time limit of the statute of limitations may temporarily stop until the circumstance no longer exists. This concept is referred to as the “tolling” of the statutes of limitations.

Tolling may occur if the victim is not mentally competent after the injury. If he or she lacks the mental capacity to be cognizant of his or her rights, the statute of limitations may be temporarily stopped until the victim’s competency is restored. Another reason for tolling is if the defendant is bankrupt. In this situation, filling a lawsuit would do no good because there would be nothing to collect from the defendant.

More resources on Colorado time limits and statutes of limitation

The CO Secretary of State web page recommends LexisNexis for the official, up to date version of Colorado Statutes. See also this guide to accessing the statutes.

From Injurylawcolorado.com: How long after an accident do I have to file a claim for injuries and damages resulting from a car accident?

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