What is a ‘Statute of Limitations?’
A statute of limitations is the window in which legal action may be taken following a triggering incident. For example, a person who is the victim of a crime has a specific period in which they may decide to press charges against the individual who committed the crime. The point of having a statute of limitations is to prevent parties from starting legal proceedings long after the fact. A long delay in pressing charges could also be bad for the plaintiff, as evidence may be lost, and eyewitness accounts could have grown fuzzier with time.
If a plaintiff does not file a claim within the legal statute of limitations, the claim will be summarily dismissed.
The statute of limitations differs from one law element to the next. For example, the time window for a criminal case may differ from the period allowed for filing a claim in a personal injury case. Additionally, not every state has the same statute of limitations for each type of case.
What is the Typical Statute of Limitations for Accident Victims to File a Claim?
The statute of limitations for a personal injury claim in Colorado is typically two years.
Examples where this is so include:
- Cases of negligence also have a two-year statute of limitations.
- Product liability claims have a two-year statute of limitations.
- So, too, do wrongful death claims – the two-year clock begins at the moment of the individual’s passing.
That means the accident victim may file their claim anytime within two years of the accident where they suffered their injury.
However, there are a few notable exceptions.
What Are the Exceptions to the Standard Statute of Limitations?
While the two-year statute of limitations is pretty universal, certain exceptions to the rule exist, including:
- Assault charges vary wildly in terms of the statute of limitations. Some cases have a ten-year statute of limitations, others 20 years. Assault cases involving child-aged victims are typically exempt from all statutes of limitations.
- DUI charges must be filed within 18 months of the offense.
- Felony charges typically have a statute of limitations of three years. And a district attorney usually has three days to file charges against a suspect after the suspect’s arrest.
- Fraud cases have a statute of limitations of three years.
- Intentional torts – wrongful acts done with intention – have a one-year statute of limitations. This may seem unfair to victims, but these lawsuits must be filed while evidence remains accessible. Harm does not need to be intentional, but the act must have been deliberate. For example, in a prank that goes wrong, surely nobody was meant to get hurt, but the pranksters definitely intended to have their fun. Therefore, this was no act of negligence but rather an intentional act.
- Motor vehicle accident victims have a slightly longer time to file a claim, three years.
- Rent and debt collection litigation have a six-year statute of limitations.
- Whereas most negligence and personal injury claims begin at the time of the incident wherein a person was injured, a medical malpractice case does not. Medical malpractice victims have a two-year window to file a claim, and that clock begins when they become aware of the injury. The same two-year window is applied to veterinarians.
Schedule a Free Consultation with an Experienced Colorado Personal Injury Lawyer
The information provided here should be considered a guideline for the various statutes of limitation. To ensure that you have the correct information relating to your case, it’s highly advisable that you consult with legal professionals.
Regardless, however, it is crucial that you do not wait too long following an accident before you consider legal action. Not only do you risk the statute of limitations running out if you delay too long, but the sooner you take action, the sooner you may recover financial compensation for yourself and your loved ones.
Flanagan Law offers compassionate, client-focused legal representation to clients who have suffered an injury in an accident. In addition to providing new clients a free case evaluation, we promise you won’t owe us anything in legal fees if we don’t win your case.