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How Long Do I Have to File a Personal Injury Lawsuit in Colorado?

If you suffered a personal injury in Colorado due to someone else’s negligence, you need to know the time limit for filing a lawsuit. The statute of limitations sets the legal deadline for initiating legal action. Failing to file within this timeframe will most likely result in losing your right to seek compensation.

A knowledgeable Colorado personal injury attorney can file your lawsuit on time and meet all other related personal injury case deadlines.

The Statute of Limitations for Personal Injury in Colorado

Colorado’s statute of limitations generally gives you two years from the accident or injury to file a personal injury lawsuit. This deadline applies to many personal injury cases, including slips and falls, wrongful death, and more.

How Long Do I Have to File a Personal Injury Lawsuit in Colorado

However, if your injury arises from a motor vehicle accident, Colorado’s statute of limitations gives you three years.

The clock starts ticking from when the injury occurred, when you discovered the injury, or when you should have reasonably discovered it.

For example, if you were in a car accident and knew about your injuries the same day, the three-year clock would start ticking that day. However, if you didn’t start having symptoms and learn about your condition until four weeks later, the clock for the statute of limitations doesn’t start ticking until the day you discover you suffered compensable harm.

The discovery rule is important because some injuries have delayed symptoms. You should always see a doctor as soon as you believe you feel pain, stiffness, or anything out of the ordinary from your accident. You cannot ignore an injury for months then expect the discovery rule to apply.

Colorado’s Statute of Limitations: Exceptions and Special Circumstances

The standard statute of limitations in Colorado contains exceptions. For instance, if the injured party is a minor at the time of the incident, the statute of limitations may extend until two years after they turn 18. Additionally, it gives specific notice requirements and shortened deadlines to initiate claims in cases involving governmental entities or employees. Consult a seasoned Colorado personal injury lawyer to understand any exceptions that apply to your situation.

Why Is Timely Action Important?

You must file a personal injury lawsuit within the prescribed statute of limitations because:

  • Missing the deadline can result in the dismissal of your case, and the court may refuse to hear it.
  • Evidence and witness recollection tend to fade over time, making it more challenging to build a strong case.
  • Insurance companies are less likely to negotiate a fair settlement if the threat of litigation is no longer present.

In short, you never want to miss this deadline – or come close to missing it. Seek help from an injury attorney immediately.

Claims Against Colorado Government Entities

Remember that the statute of limitations for government-caused injuries is much shorter in most states, including Colorado. The statute of limitations for Colorado government-related claims is only 180 days. If you don’t file within this time, the government can escape liability for causing your injuries.

Colorado Governmental Immunity Act

In addition, you should be aware that under the Colorado Governmental Immunity Act, some government employees and entities have protections from personal injury lawsuits.

While some situations do invalidate this immunity, government entities often immune to personal injury claims in Colorado include:

  • A public entity’s officers, employees, or servants
  • Authorized volunteer workers at a public entity
  • Healthcare providers associated with a public entity
  • The state of Colorado
  • Colorado counties
  • Colorado municipalities
  • School districts in Colorado
  • Public higher education institutions

You can sue these organizations, but a well-versed personal injury lawyer may need to determine if the government entity you need to file a claim against enjoys legal immunity.

Factors to Consider Before Filing a Personal Injury Lawsuit

Before filing a personal injury lawsuit, you must consider several factors. Ensure you have received adequate medical treatment and clearly understand the extent of your injuries and their long-term implications.

Pursuing or settling your claim too soon can end in you receiving less than you deserve for your injuries simply because you don’t understand their full impact on your life.

Gather as much relevant evidence to support your claim as you can, including:

  • Medical records
  • Accident or police reports
  • Photographs
  • Witness statements

Finally, but most importantly, consult with an experienced Colorado personal injury attorney who can evaluate the strength of your case and guide you through the legal process.

What Is a Personal Injury?

When someone acts negligently, and their carelessness causes injury to someone else, that person sustains a personal injury. In general, personal injuries are those arising through another person’s negligence.

Personal injuries can happen in many different circumstances, including:

However, this isn’t an inclusive list. Any injury you sustain that arises from the negligent or intentional act by another person is a personal injury that warrants calling a Colorado personal injury attorney.

You may or may not have a valid legal claim or need representation from an attorney. However, if you don’t have them review your case, you can be walking away from money that is rightfully yours.

Proving a Personal Injury Claim

No matter what the situation caused them, all personal injury claims must have the elements of negligence to be valid.

Your Colorado personal injury accident lawyer can work towards proving each of these elements:

  • Duty: The party causing the injury owed the other party a duty of care. This duty can vary depending on the situation. For example, a driver owes a duty of care to stop for pedestrians, and a product manufacturer has a duty of care to design, produce, and distribute safe products.
  • Breach of duty: The at-fault party doesn’t uphold their duty, therefore breaching it. For example, a driver failed to stop at a stoplight, or a doctor prescribed the wrong medication.
  • Injuries: The breach of duty caused injuries to the injured party. For instance, running a red light causes a t-bone accident that breaks the leg and pelvis of the victim. Or the patient who received the wrong drug doesn’t receive the benefits of the right drug.
  • Damages: The injured party’s damages are the direct result of their injuries; for instance, medical bills, lost income, pain and suffering, scarring and disfigurement, and loss of enjoyment of life.

Damages in a Personal Injury Claim

The job of a Colorado personal injury lawyer is to help injured clients get the most compensation they can for their injuries. Sometimes this involves a letter and a phone call; other times, it requires a lot of back-and-forth negotiations.

In the end, most personal injury claimants receive more with an attorney on their side than those who don’t have one.

These claims usually involve general and special damages. General damages, also known as non-economic damages, don’t have an inherent value.

They can include:

  • Pain and suffering
  • Mental anguish
  • Humiliation
  • Scarring and disfigurement
  • Loss of consortium
  • Loss of enjoyment of life

Each personal injury victim will have a different experience, so not all of these may apply to each one.

Special damages are the financial losses you suffer due to the accident. They might include:

  • Lost income
  • Medical bills
  • Prescriptions
  • Out-of-pocket medical expenses
  • Travel expenses to and from medical appointments

These damages are easy to calculate since they already have a predetermined value. Your lawyer adds them up to determine what an injured party should receive.

Your personal injury attorney can help you determine the damages in your claim and seek fair compensation.

However, many factors can determine how much money your personal injury case is worth. For example, the thoroughness of your medical records, the consistency of your statements, and what witnesses say can all affect your settlement amount.

Will Your Personal Injury Case Settle?

Most personal injury cases settle and never make it inside a courtroom. You can meet with a Colorado personal injury lawyer to get their opinion on if your case will resolve with a monetary settlement.

Settling benefits the victim, the responsible party, and their insurance company. It resolves the dispute sooner, costs less, and can make the situation less stressful for the injured person.

If a business injured you, settling out of court can preserve their reputation.

Both sides are more in control of resolving the dispute when they work together to negotiate a settlement.

Your Colorado personal injury attorney will work to negotiate a settlement with the insurance company or responsible party. Sometimes this process can take several months or even a year or more. Be patient, as insurance companies often start with low offers as they want to get away with paying you as little as possible.

With a seasoned personal injury lawyer representing you, you can be confident that you will receive the recovery you are entitled to. If you do settle, you must sign a document agreeing not to sue for the same circumstances in the future.

If the insurance company refuses to offer you a full and fair settlement, you have the right to file a civil claim in court. A very small percentage of all personal injury cases ever make it to trial. Your Colorado personal injury attorney can tell you what they believe your claim is worth and why. It’s up to you whether you want to accept the settlement offer you receive or ask the court to decide your case.

How Much Does a Colorado Personal Injury Lawyer Cost?

Most personal injury lawyers provide free initial consultation, so it’s free to find out if you have a personal injury case worth pursuing. In addition to that, most also work on contingency fees.

Contingency fees are a payment arrangement commonly used in legal matters, particularly in personal injury cases or certain types of civil litigation. In a contingency fee agreement, the attorney’s fee is contingent, or dependent, on the case’s successful outcome.

Typically, the attorney and client agree that the attorney will receive a percentage of the monetary award or settlement amount obtained in the case as their fee. The attorney does not receive a fee if the client does not win or receive compensation. However, the client may still need to pay other expenses incurred during the case.

The attorney and client negotiate the specific percentage for the contingency fee. It can vary depending on the type and complexity of the case, as well as the jurisdiction and local regulations.

In other words, with a contingency fee arrangement, you pay nothing upfront and nothing during the time that your personal injury attorney represents you. If they secure a settlement or obtain a court award on your behalf, their contingency fees come out of your compensation.

Contingency fee arrangements make it so you don’t have to worry about paying for an attorney at a time when you might be especially financially strapped. When a lawyer works with you on such a basis, they only take on your case if they think they can obtain compensation for you.

Contact an Experienced Colorado Personal Injury Lawyer Today

Understanding the statute of limitations for personal injury lawsuits in Colorado is crucial for protecting your legal rights and seeking fair compensation. With the standard two-year (or three-year for a motor vehicle accident) timeframe in mind, take timely action, gather evidence, and hire an attorney to file your case within the prescribed deadline.

Remember, each case is unique, and exceptions or special circumstances may apply. By acting promptly and seeking professional guidance, you can maximize your chances of obtaining the justice and compensation you deserve for your injuries.

Lauren Varner, Personal Injury Attorney

Lauren is a Personal Injury Attorney. She is Colorado native who became involved with the field of personal injury long before she became an attorney. Lauren’s professional philosophy centers around good old fashioned hard work, producing quality work product, and treating others professionally, with dignity and respect at all times.

Awards and as featured on

National Trial Lawyers Top 40 Under 40 Included in TOP 40 Under 40 by The National TRIAL Lawyers in Centennial CO Varner Faddis Top Lawyers Denver Badge – 5280 Magazine American Institute of Personal Injury Attorneys 10 Best Attorney Top 40 Under 40 5280 Denver Top Lawyers