How Long After Car Accident Can You Claim an Injury?

Written by Jeremy D. Earle, JD

March 5, 2022

What is the Statute of Limitations in Colorado for a Car Accident Claim?

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Experiencing an injury, regardless of how it happened, is always distressing. A fractured bone to spinal cord damage or traumatic brain injury is all examples of injuries. These injuries have the potential to transform a person’s life permanently, affecting not just their physical health but also their financial and emotional well-being.

Many individuals are unaware that failing to claim timely might result in their injuries not being compensated. How long do you have to file a claim for an injury after an accident? The solution is straightforward: the sooner you act, the better.

THE STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS FOR FILING PERSONAL INJURY CLAIMS Will EXPIRE

Injury claims, like many other legal endeavors, have deadlines. A personal injury claim must be filed within two years of the date of the occurrence that resulted in the injury. However, you must know when this “clock” begins to tick to understand what is at risk.

Here are some of the topics to consider while deciding whether or not to pursue a personal injury lawsuit:

INJURED BY A GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEE OR ON GOVERNMENT PROPERTY

Plaintiffs must bring a case against the government within six months of the date of the injury-causing occurrence. If you file after this date, the court may dismiss your case completely!

AGE-RESTRICTED EXCLUSIONS

If the accident victim is a juvenile under Colorado law, such as a minor under 18, the two- year clock may be paused until the minor reaches the age of 18. Keep in mind that this does not preclude a parent or legal guardian from bringing a personal injury claim on the child’s behalf.

VICTIM’S MENTAL COMPETENCY

If a victim is not of sound mind at the time of the injury, the “clock” may be stopped until the victim regains mental competency. A professional examination of a patient’s communication, comprehension, appreciation, and reasoning abilities may be used to evaluate competency.

THE RESPONSIBLE PARTY DEPARTS THE STATE

If the person responsible for an injury quits the state following an occurrence, the time they spend there may not count toward the two years. 

Because legal cases take time to build, it’s preferable to consult with an attorney as soon as possible following an accident. Make your case for success from the beginning!

THE PURPOSES OF A LIMITATION PERIOD

Victims often ask why they are subjected to legal deadlines. Remember that Colorado isn’t the only state with a statute of limitations on bringing claims. Both criminal and civil law are subject to these restrictions. Only the most serious criminal offenses, such as the murder of another person, are exempt.

Sticking to civil law, which governs proceedings in personal injury cases, the statutes are in place to protect persons from being sued years after an injury-causing event.

Keep in mind that the following things often happen as time passes:

Recollections fade – When there are witnesses to an occurrence, the witnesses’ memories will fade with time. It’s only natural that this happens. If evidence is not recorded, the person accused of causing the damage may be at a disadvantage if one of the witnesses anything that might reduce their responsibility.

Evidence is more likely to be destroyed — Evidence such as surveillance recordings and even police reports are only maintained for a certain amount of time. As a result, if such evidence vanishes, both the victim and the guilty party may suffer a setback.

These are just a few of the reasons why time limitations are important.

ADJUSTERS FOR INSURANCE COMPANIES AND STATUTES OF LIMITATIONS

There’s a reason why insurance adjusters are difficult to reach. The statutes of limitations that apply to personal injury cases are widely known to insurance carriers. They understand that the longer they can drag out talks between victims and insurance companies, the simpler it will be for them to settle for a smaller sum.

Remember that the insurance company will use all legal methods at its disposal to ensure that they pay as little as possible to settle a case, even if they know their client is at fault! What is the best way to communicate with them? An insurer’s estimates are altered when a lawsuit is filed.

The victim of an injury may not even understand what has occurred to them in certain cases. An accident’s early aftermath is hectic, and sufferers are often flushed with adrenaline, which dulls or hides their agony. This is why many statutes of limitations contain wording like “…from the date it was found, or the date it would have been discovered if reasonable efforts had been made.”

It is not too late to claim if you were wounded many months ago and are just now learning about the negative consequences. Even so, you should consult with an experienced personal injury attorney before contacting the insurance company. Know your rights and what choices you have!

STATUTES OF LIMITATIONS AND WRONGFUL DEATH LAWSUITS

Surviving family members of personal injury victims file wrongful death lawsuits. A wrongful death claim is based on the assumption that if the victim had survived their injuries, they would have been able to launch a lawsuit against the guilty party.

The same Colorado statutes of limitations apply whenever a family wishes to pursue a wrongful death claim. The most important distinction is that if a surviving family member does not bring a lawsuit within three months after the deceased’s death, the estate of the decedent may sue on the estate’s behalf.

THE SEVERITY OF AN INJURY HAS NO BEARING ON THE STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS.

Victims should be informed that their physical state after an accident has no bearing on the statute of limitations. You may have observed, for example, that the phrase expressly refers to a victim’s mental state before the occurrence that resulted in an injury.

If a victim is in a coma or vegetative state due to severe brain damage or spinal cord injury, a family member should contact an attorney as soon as possible. This is crucial because you do not want to lose your right to sue.

Victims need an advocate in the form of an attorney. The more serious the injury, the more difficult the case becomes. Until some victims, the full extent of their injury-related expenditures may not be known for many months after the accident.

They may even need to be looked after for the rest of their lives. An experienced personal injury lawyer has access to specialists who can assist them assess what to anticipate in the best and worst-case scenarios of their rehabilitation.

CLAIM TYPES AND STATUTES OF LIMITATIONS

When someone is to blame for an injury you’ve had, they may be held financially accountable for your rehabilitation expenses. The following are some examples of situations when this applies:

Accidents involving slipping and falling

Accidents of this kind might result in significant injury. To show that someone is responsible for a slip and fall, one must often show the following two facts:

  • A condition caused your injury.
  • The guilty person was aware of the condition or should have been aware of it.
  • The responsible party failed to take the necessary steps to correct the situation or provide warnings.
  • These kinds of accidents are known as premises liability lawsuits.

What exactly do we mean when we say “condition”? There are several instances, but here are two that are often encountered:

STAIRCASE HANDRAIL IS DAMAGED

It’s more difficult to hold the property owner accountable if the handrail has recently broken. If the handrail was broken for more than a week or two, though, you might have a stronger case.

SLIPPED ON A WET SURFACE

If a bottle of juice is dropped in a supermarket and someone behind them slips and falls, the retailer is usually not accountable. They may be held accountable if the juice sits on the floor for a lengthy period without a warning notice.

ACCIDENTS AT WORK

Victims of workplace injuries are often unsure of their legal rights. If you are injured on the job, you are required by law to file a report with your employer. Workplace injury victims should also submit a worker’s compensation claim in Colorado. If your accident was caused by someone other than your employer, you can still bring a personal injury case.

ACCIDENTS ON THE HIGHWAY

On Colorado’s highways, unfortunately, numerous accidents may occur. Cities are more prone than rural places to have accidents. According to a recent survey, the Colorado Springs metro region has 60 percent of Colorado’s top 20 most crowded roadways. 

Different parties may have been blamed for a traffic collision. Each liable individual has a distinct insurance company with whom to bargain. This greatly complicates a personal injury case, which may be difficult to handle without the assistance of a car accident lawyer.

SOME OF THE PARTIES WHO MAY BE HELD ACCOUNTABLE INCLUDE:

THE DRIVER OF THE CAR

The car driver that caused the accident and caused your injuries is liable for your losses. Two adjusters may contact you in these situations: one for your injuries (medical adjuster) and one for the damage to your car (car adjuster) (property adjuster).

THE PERSON WHO PROVIDED THE ALCOHOL If the motorist who hit you was drunk, the person who gave them “excess” alcohol might be held partly responsible for your injuries. A bar owner who overserved a customer or an adult who hosted a social function may be held liable. Before pursuing a personal injury claim, remember that the driver’s criminal charges do not have to be proved.

TRUCKING BUSINESS OWNER

If you were hurt in a truck accident, you might be able to sue the trucking company for damages. Owners may be named in demand for settlement or insurance claims due to inexperienced drivers, badly maintained cars, and other factors.

Keep in mind that unless a government organization is partly accountable, each of these kinds of accidents has a two-year statute of limitations. Consult an attorney to ensure that you are fully aware of your rights and alternatives going forward.

STATE-BY-STATE LIMITATION STATUTES

States have different statutes of limitations; they are not all two years. Some states’ statutes of limitations are shorter, while others are longer. That’s why, particularly if your accident occurs outside of your state, you’ll need an attorney with national expertise.

As an example:

Kentucky and Tennessee have one-year statutes.

Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Colorado, Virginia, and West Virginia have two-year legislation.

Three-year statutes – Arkansas, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Mississippi, Montana, New Hampshire, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Vermont, Washington, and Wisconsin

Colorado, Nebraska, Utah, and Wyoming have four-year statutes. Missouri has five-year legislation.

Six-year statutes of limitations – Maine and North Dakota (note: North Dakota only permits two years for wrongful death actions).

Please keep in mind that these laws are subject to change. Work with an attorney to ensure you don’t miss your lawsuit’s deadline!

USING THE SERVICES OF A PERSONAL INJURY ATTORNEY

Following an accident, it is critical to choose the correct attorney. You need an ally and an advocate who will fight for you at this difficult time. Your car accident attorney will fight tirelessly to ensure that you get the money you are entitled to for your injuries.

A KNOWLEDGEABLE ATTORNEY MAY ASSIST YOU IN THE FOLLOWING WAYS:

ASSISTING YOU WITH INSURANCE CLAIMS

It might be tough to file a claim. The paperwork might be complex, and if you make a mistake, you’ll have to start the procedure again. Hand it over to your lawyer and let them handle it; they’ve filed a lot of claims before.

DEALING WITH INSURANCE ADJUSTERS

Dealing with insurance adjusters is the last thing you want to do when you’re healing from your injuries. Your lawyer will not only negotiate on your behalf, but they will also manage any other contact and keep you informed.

ENSURING THAT YOUR SETTLEMENT IS ENOUGH

In addition to estimating how much compensation you should seek, your lawyer may ensure that the insurance company realizes that you will not accept anything less than you deserve for your injuries.

IF NECESSARY, TAKING THE MATTER TO COURT

Your attorney will prepare to battle on your behalf in court while working hard to seek a settlement from insurance. If your attorney cannot reach an agreement with an insurer, have faith that they will file a lawsuit and fight for a settlement in court.

Whether you have any more questions, a personal injury lawyer in your area can answer them and review your claim to determine if you have a strong case.

IS IT TOO LATE TO MAKE A CAR ACCIDENT INJURY CLAIM?

Understanding the statutes of limitations is important when filing an accident claim in Colorado. These are the rules that determine how long you have to submit a personal injury claim under a state’s laws. These statutes are intended to guarantee that victims file cases as soon as possible.

The time limit in Colorado is usually two years for personal injury claims, while it is usually three years for car accidents. However, there are exceptions. Therefore you should always contact an experienced car accident attorney about how long you have after an accident to submit a claim. The injury lawyers at the Warrior are ready to answer any questions you may have concerning your case.

POLICE REPORTS AND ACCIDENT CLAIMS

When a police report must be submitted following an accident, each state has its own set of requirements. If a police officer was not alerted at the time of the collision, a crash report, known as Form CR-2, must be completed within ten days after the accident on a Colorado highway. Accidents involving physical injury, $1,000 or more in damages, or the death of anybody involved, must be recorded.

Colorado has stricter standards that require authorities to be notified immediately in the case of any injury, death, or property damage estimated to be worth $500 or more. Within 24 hours, the report must be submitted to the Department of Public Safety and Corrections.

You will be protected, a permanent record of the occurrence will be created, and you will be able to notify your insurance carrier by filing an accident report. Whether you’re speaking with a law enforcement official or not, be careful not to make it appear like you were at fault for the accident, even if it happened by chance!

COLORADO AND ACCIDENT STATISTICS IN COLORADO

In Colorado, almost 14,000 significant injuries were caused by car accidents during one recent year. Impaired driving, inattentive driving, and speeding were the most common causes of accidents. These figures are unacceptable, and victims regularly have major injuries that result in large financial losses owing to healthcare charges, missed time at work, and other expenditures related to injury rehabilitation.

According to Colorado accident data, there were 2,528 injuries in car accidents for every 100,000 licensed drivers in a single year! This is an incredibly high number of occurrences, and anybody driving on Colorado roadways should be alarmed.

FOLLOWING AN ACCIDENT AND SEEKING MEDICAL TREATMENT FOR INJURIES

When driving a car, we are usually focused on getting where we are going. This generally entails paying attention to traffic flow, focusing on our driving, and being mindful of cars on our left and right. We seldom consider what would happen if we were hit from behind by another car, and it is normal to be ignorant of a car drifting out of its lane.

This Is A Mistake: Our highways are littered with irresponsible drivers, and an accident may occur at any time. This implies that when we are focused on the road, the quick shock from being struck sends our body’s terror mechanism into overdrive. This terror fills our bodies with adrenaline, making us oblivious to our injuries, even if they are severe!

This is one of the reasons why it is critical for every car accident victim to be examined for injuries immediately after the collision. Especially if you feel OK, the adrenaline surge might hide indications of an injury, even if it is debilitating.

Soft tissue injuries and concussions are two ailments that an adrenaline surge might conceal. Soft tissue injuries, in particular, might take days or even weeks to manifest following an injury. There are a variety of causes for this, but since these injuries aren’t always visible on an X-ray, it’s vital to be aware of the signs and symptoms of these injuries.

Suppose you’ve been in a car accident. In that case, any unusual swelling, discomfort, hazy vision, disorientation, inability to focus or concentrate, or memory problems should be reported to your doctor as soon as possible, and you should be evaluated. This is significant since it may (and almost certainly is!) be connected to the car accident. Any of these signs and symptoms might result from a concussion or soft tissue damage.

CHANGES TO THE MEDICAL EVALUATION SHOULD BE REPORTED.

If a car accident victim develops medical problems days or weeks after the event, they should contact their insurance provider. Your accident case adjuster is likely to seek a copy of your medical report. If you haven’t previously enlisted the help of a car accident lawyer, you should do so as soon as you become aware of a medical issue related to the accident! This is significant because your insurance company and the insurance company of the at-fault driver will try to separate the medical condition from the car accident.

Remember that insurers have just one fundamental goal: to make a profit.

It’s possible to link an issue to an accident that happened weeks ago in certain circumstances. For example, it’s simple to blame an accident if you had significant gashes to your trunk or extremities and then got an infection that caused further complications. Soft tissue injuries and concussions are more difficult to diagnose since they don’t usually show up on first medical testing. The insurance company may argue that they were caused by anything you did after the accident or even before the event!

SETTLEMENT PROCEDURES FOR CAR ACCIDENTS

Insurance companies have a financial stake in determining who is to blame in an car accident. Keep in mind that both Colorado and Colorado are “at fault” states, which means that drivers must have specific insurance to travel on the roads lawfully. This also implies that all drivers should be paying their insurance company rates to protect themselves from financial loss in the case of an accident.

UNFORTUNATELY, THERE ARE ALSO A LOT OF UNINSURED DRIVERS ON THE ROAD.

It’s also essential to realize that even if you believe you may have contributed to your accident, you may still be entitled to compensation. You are unaware of the facts! Even if you committed a mistake, a drunk driver, an uninsured driver, or a careless driver has almost certainly made one that is much worse. An expert car accident lawyer can assist you in determining who is actually at fault and understanding your legal rights to compensation.

USING THE SERVICES OF A CAR ACCIDENT LAWYER

Anyone engaged in an car accident on Colorado roads or highways should seek the advice of an expert car accident attorney. Even if you do not feel you have sustained major damage, this is necessary to defend your rights. Furthermore, if the insurance company makes a settlement offer, an attorney can tell you if the offer appropriately represents your overall accident expenditures.

Remember that an insurance adjuster will try to convince you to settle your claim as quickly as possible and for as little money as feasible. There are various reasons for this, including the fact that a quick settlement typically equals a lesser compensation, which is advantageous to the insurance carrier. This isn’t to say it’s the greatest choice for you. It’s rarely the case! In most cases, these lowball first settlements also contain a stipulation that requires you to waive your right to future reimbursement!

CONSIDERING SETTLEMENT POSSIBILITIES

After a car accident, most individuals are concerned about medical costs and missed time at work. Physical therapy, prescription medications, or antibiotics required to treat your injuries from the accident, car damage, and any continuing nursing care costs will all have an impact on your ultimate settlement. These costs may build up quickly and bury you in hidden costs; if you are not aware of your injuries right away, they can creep up on you and cause financial havoc for your family months or years later!

This is one of the reasons why it’s a good idea to be wary of an insurer that offers a speedy settlement. Too frequently, people assume that simply because your injuries didn’t show up

on an instant assessment after an accident, they were minor or non-existent. For all of the reasons stated earlier, this is a BAD assumption.

When making a settlement offer, insurance firms don’t always take non-economic considerations into account—pain and suffering, as well as mental agony, maybe among these variables. Car accident victims may have post-traumatic stress disorder, which may need extra therapy since wounded persons may develop a phobia of driving or getting into a car. No matter what the insurer says, these are real injuries. Before accepting any settlement offer, speak with an experienced attorney about it in detail: only they know the actual worth of your claim.

GOING TO COURT OR ACCEPTING A SETTLEMENT OFFER

Car accident victims who engage an attorney who has dealt with insurance companies before do better than those who attempt to bargain with the firm independently. The main reason for this is because someone with expertise is familiar with the strategies used by insurance firms to reduce their risk.

Remember that the insurance company knows you have no prior experience negotiating a settlement, and it will use that information to its advantage when dealing with you. A first offer is often a lowball offer that the insurance company thinks you’ll accept. This is because if you settle in this manner, you will waive your right to file a claim in the future, which means the insurance company will be responsible for any future claims, including any follow-up care, future lost time from work, and any additional medical problems related to the accident; even if the final amount is staggering and the accepted settlement is a tiny fraction!

Most insurance companies will offer to settle your claim without taking your case to court. If your car accident lawyer believes the settlement offer is reasonable, he or she will likely advise you to take it. If your attorney believes the insurer isn’t behaving in good faith, he or she should be ready to take your case to trial and defend you in court. Keep in mind that jurors are more sympathetic to an accident victim than an insurance company. This usually signifies that the insurance will return with a more significant settlement offer rather than going to court. Litigation terrifies the insurers. Take advantage of this!

FOLLOWING A CAR ACCIDENT, WRONGFUL DEATH

Unfortunately, not all car collisions end in just minor injuries. A family may lose a loved one due to careless driving in various instances. There is no amount of compensation that can compensate for the loss of a loved one, but your family should not be forced to bear the financial burden of a loved one’s death in a car accident. A wrongful death attorney can assist you in collecting the costs of pre-death hospitalization, funeral and burial expenses, as well as earnings that your family would miss due to your loved one’s death.

THERE ARE ALSO NON-MONETARY DAMAGES AVAILABLE

There isn’t a set price for all forms of damages. For example, you may be able to claim pain and suffering and mental anguish as damages, but you will almost certainly need to bargain with an attorney. You may also seek punitive damages for egregious forms of negligence, such as drunk driving, reckless driving, or driving while texting or on the phone. These penalties are usually imposed to punish a bad actor who has particularly reckless behavior.

It is critical to understand and protect your rights after an car accident. As a result, it’s critical to speak with a personal injury lawyer about the specifics of your case. The majority of laypeople are unaware of the specifics of the laws in place to protect victims. Car accident victims in colorado and colorado should consult with an experienced lawyer who can answer their questions, ensure that the insurance company treats them fairly, and, most importantly, be prepared to mount an aggressive case in court if a reasonable settlement agreement cannot be reached.

You should call a car accident lawyer for a free consultation if you were wounded in a car accident or lost a loved one in a car accident. You can protect your rights, make sure you’re not taking a settlement that’s too low, and concentrate on recovering from your injuries rather than worrying about dealing with insurance companies who aren’t looking out for your best interests.

Warrior Car Accident Lawyers

1902 W. Colorado Ave., Suite 100

Colorado Springs, CO 80904

719-300-1100

Free Consultation

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