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Statute of Limitations in Car Accident Cases

A statute of limitations in Denver personal injury cases sets a time limit on when you can file a lawsuit. This is incredibly important to understand, as a perfectly valid case can be thrown out by a Colorado court if it is filed too late. This means that even if you could win (and win big), your lawsuit will almost certainly be tossed if you do not file by the statute of limitations deadline in your case. There may be exceptions that apply to your case that can extend the statute of limitations, but you should immediately consult with a qualified attorney to make sure you do not miss the deadline.

If you or someone you care about has been involved in a motor vehicle accident in the greater Denver metropolitan area, an experienced personal injury attorney at can fight for your rights. Financial compensation can be won to help to heal your injuries and suffering.

Car Accident Lawyers in Denver, Colorado

If you have been involved in a car accident in the greater Denver area, you need an attorney who knows and understands the complexities of Colorado personal injury law. The injuries you suffer can be incredibly expensive and affect your life in a greatly negative way. With the right help, you can recover more quickly and help ensure your continued financial health. 

No matter how small or how big your case may be, the team will keep you informed every step of the way throughout the process and they will handle every detail seamlessly to put you on the road to recovery. Our team at pride themselves on clear, honest, and open communication with each and every one of their clients.

Our attorneys at take cases on a contingency basis, which means that you pay nothing until your case has reached a favorable resolution. Let us put our years of experience to work for you and your loved ones.

Why Statutes of Limitations Exist

Many people ask, why set a limit on the time a person can file a lawsuit? Why does the law do this? While each state can set its own laws as to the statute of limitations, the general rationale behind them is that cases should be brought within a reasonable time after the injury has occurred so that the lawsuit can be based upon reliable information.

After the passing of time, witnesses may have less memory of the accident, physical evidence may have been lost or degraded, and the medical evidence may have lost much of its impact. Documents related to the accident are also much more likely to be found when it is relatively soon after the accident. Statutes of limitations also grant the general public a certain amount of certainty that a person will not sue them for alleged injuries that occurred a very long time ago.

Statute of Limitations in Car Accident Cases

In Colorado, motor vehicle accidents are given a special three-year statute of limitations period. This three-year period starts from the date of the motor vehicle accident. In cases that involved motor vehicle accidents, this three-year period operates to limit cases filed after that time. This three-year period is also longer than in other types of personal injury cases (i.e., slip and fall cases) that only have a two-year statute of limitations period.

Dram Shop Case Exception

An exception to this rule is for "dram shop" cases. Dram shop cases are those that sue the person who provided an intoxicated driver with alcohol on the theory that the provider "overserved" the driver and should be held liable.  (i.e., suing the bartender for getting a driver drunk).  These cases are limited to a one-year statute of limitations, even when the injuries were caused by a motor vehicle accident.

Statute of Limitations in Wrongful Death Cases

Wrongful death cases are subject to a two-year statute of limitations. This is one year shorter than that of car accident cases, so it is crucial that if a death occurred as the result of an accident you consult with an attorney as early as possible.

Exceptions to the Statute of Limitations Periods

There are few exceptions to the statute of limitations imposed upon cases. These tend to be rare, but do come up from time to time. When they do, they can save an otherwise overdue case. In certain types of cases, the statute of limitations period can be subject to "tolling"—the time period gets delayed before it begins to run.

Minor Children

Minor children (those under the age of 18) who were hurt in a motor vehicle accident do not become subject to the statute of limitations until they reach adulthood at age 18. At that time, the statute of limitations period will begin to run. This means the statute of limitations period could be "tolled" for a long time before it finally starts.

Incompetent Persons

An "incompetent" person is one who is mentally disabled or unable to form the mental capacity to be cognizant of her or his own rights. In these cases, the time period for the statute of limitations is tolled until the person's competency can be restored.

Bankruptcy of Defendant

If the defendant is bankrupt at the time of the accident, such that they have no money to pay for the injuries he or she caused, the statute of limitations period is also tolled. This is to prevent financial harm to people simply because a person cannot pay right now. The time period would begin to run again when the person is no longer bankrupt.

Discovery Rule

Another exception is commonly called the "discovery rule." Very basically, if the injury was not known for a period of time, or the person could not reasonably have known the injury existed until a later time, then the statute of limitations is tolled until that person did or should have reasonably discovered the injury.

Consult an Experienced Denver Car Accident Attorney

A piece of advice: do not wait. If you have been injured by the negligence of another driver, consult an attorney as early as possible. The more time you have to file, the less rushed your case must be, and the more effective it will likely be.

If you or someone you care about has been injured as the result of a motor vehicle accident in the greater Denver metropolitan area, please do not hesitate to contact today at 303-642-8888 for a free consultation. We are here waiting for you.