You deserve compensation when you’re injured in an auto accident that the other driver should have prevented. However, if you wait too long you may run into issues with the Colorado statutes of limitations. Consider what the statutes of limitation are and why they are part of Colorado law, how long you have to file your personal injury claim, and what to include to give you the best chance of getting the compensation you deserve.

What Is the Statute of Limitations?

Imagine being in a car accident when you’re in your 20s, then receiving a lawsuit for injuries allegedly arising from that accident when you’re in your 40s with a family. Car accidents can be traumatizing for everyone involved, but at some point, it’s reasonable to expect to move past your mistakes and continue on with life. In fact, some may argue this is part of what’s meant by the U.S. Constitution’s Sixth Amendment, which guarantees speedy trials.

Additionally, the further out you get from an auto accident, the more difficult it is to tie different injuries or conditions to that specific incident. This is why Colorado has statutes of limitations for bringing suits of various kinds. There are a few different statutes that pertain to personal injury, including one that specifically deals with auto accident injuries.

How Long Is the Statute For Auto Accidents in Colorado?

Colorado Revised Statutes § 13-80-101 defines the Colorado statute of limitations for auto accidents. This particular statute sets the limit for bringing an auto-related lawsuit at three years.

It’s important to understand what this statute of limitations actually means. This is not how long you have to bring a claim against the other driver’s auto insurance. Rather, it’s how long you have to file the lawsuit that would follow a claim against their insurance. That means that you must start the out-of-court process well before the three years so that you can get your suit filed before the deadline. The three years start the day of the accident, so be sure that you’re counting your time correctly.

Are There Any Exceptions For the Limitations?

There are a few exceptions to the statute of limitations, both extending or shortening the limits. You may have a shorter period to file your claim for any action brought against a government agency.

There is the rule of discovery that may also apply to some cases. This rule makes way for the fact that some injuries are not known immediately following an accident, and some may come evident quite some time after the accident. The discovery rule sets the limit following when you discovered your injury or reasonably should have discovered it.

Then there’s the tolling rule, which allows for some flexibility for an impediment preventing you from filing. This could be some condition you’re dealing with, such as mental incapacity or foreign objects in your body. It also allows for delays due to circumstances like a defendant’s bankruptcy.

Tolling is also the rule that allows people injured as a minor to seek compensation once they’ve turned 18. The statute of limitations in Colorado starts the day the injured party turns 18.

Do You Have To Report Your Accident Sooner?

Your duty to report a motor vehicle accident is much different than your ability to file a lawsuit. Colorado Revised Statutes § 42-4-1606 stipulates that you must file a police report immediately if it results in injury or property damage of any kind. Nearly every auto accident meets one of these two conditions, requiring immediate reporting to the local law enforcement agency.

Keep in mind that the police do not have to make an accident report for every accident. Rather, they may decline to write a report if there are no injuries and if there is not at least $1,000 worth of damage.

What’s Different About Uninsured or Underinsured Plaintiffs?

Another exception to the statute of limitations exists when you’ve completed the claim against the defendant’s insurance, but they had too little coverage for the damages you’ve suffered. In this case, you may take it back to your insurance company to get the rest of the compensation needed.

However, if your insurance company won’t pay you fairly for your claim, then you may have to file a legal suit to get them to abide by the terms of your policy. In this case, you have two years to file the suit against your own insurance company from the time you settle with the defendant’s insurance.

Making Sure You File In the Proper Court

One of the issues that can cause you to run short on getting your case filed on time is filing your claim in the wrong court. There are four different courts in Colorado where you can file an auto accident injury claim, including the small claims court, county court, and the state and federal district courts.

The amount of damages you’re seeking determines which of these is the appropriate venue for your claim. The small claims court litigates any damage claims of $7,500 or less and do not have a jury trial. County courts hear cases with damage claims of $7,501 to $15,000 and may have a jury trial and allow for discovery.

District courts do not have a cap on what they hear, at either the state or federal level. Generally, you would only file in federal court in special circumstances, such as making a claim against a federal agency, if your claim crosses state lines, or if your claim involves a foreign entity, such as a foreign auto manufacturer.

What To Include In Your Claim

The other thing that may cause a hiccup in your statute of limitations for an auto injury claim is not including the proper information in your filing. Generally, these filings include most of the details to support your claimed damages. This includes the details of what happened to cause the injury and how the parties you’re making the claim against are responsible. It also includes the specific damages you’re seeking and supporting evidence for why you’re seeking those damages.

Call the personal injury experts at Matlin Injury Law to get your claim filed before the statute of limitations runs out for your injury.