Statute of Limitations in Colorado for Injury Claims

Injury Claims

Legal claims generally must be filed within certain time frames. Different types of claims have different deadlines. For example, a breach of contract claim may have a different deadline than a debt collection claim.

There are several purposes for these deadlines. Claimants should be motivated to file their cases, for example. In addition, if extended periods of time were provided to file a claim, it may be difficult for the parties to locate evidence and witnesses to build their cases.

Deadlines for Injury Claims

In Colorado, the deadline for car accident personal injury claims is three years. 

If the injury was not caused by a motor vehicle accident, Colorado allows a victim two years to file a claim. This shorter statute of limitations applies to slip and fall claims, premises liability claims, ski collisions, and other types of injury claims.

If a government entity is involved in the case, the deadline to file a notice of claim is 182 days. When a government entity is involved in an injury claim, the notice to the governmental entity must be filed by this deadline, or you will be forever barred from pursuing your claim.  Once the notice has been filed, the normal statute of limitations applies – three years for an auto collision and two years for most other types of claims. 

In injury claims, the statute of limitations generally begins on the date of the accident. However, in some rare cases, it may begin when the injury or error was discovered.

There are also factors that may “toll,” or “pause” the statute of limitations. However, these factors do not impact the governmental notice deadline.

For example, if a victim is under 18 years of age or is mentally incompetent, the statute of limitations may be tolled. However, once the victim turns 18 or has regained mental competence, the deadline applies.

These exceptions may only apply, however, if there is no legal representative available to file a claim on behalf of the victim. For example, parents or guardians often file claims on behalf of children and other individuals.  If you are a parent or guardian for an injured minor or incompetent individual, it is important to seek legal advice as early as possible. 

What Happens If You Miss the Statute of Limitations?

If an accident victim misses the statute of limitations and files a claim after the deadline has expired, it is very likely that the claim will be dismissed. Even if the victim was not at fault for the accident, the defendant will likely not be held liable for any of the victim’s damages.

This means that the victim will be responsible for all losses related to the accident—such as medical expenses, lost wages, and other costs. Depending on the facts of the case, the victim could be responsible for hundreds of thousands of dollars in damages.

Since there are deadlines in place to file legal claims, it is important to meet with an experienced Colorado personal injury attorney as soon as possible to ensure your claim is filed in a timely manner. Personal injury attorneys know which deadlines apply to your case and will ensure that all necessary documents and evidence are submitted expeditiously.

Although two or three years seems like a generous length of time to prepare and file a claim, there is a great deal of work that often goes into preparing a case for filing. 

Your attorney will need to study medical records, accident reports, and eyewitness statements, for example. Medical providers may need several weeks or longer to produce records, and it may also take time to track down witnesses and discuss the case with them. 

Your attorney will make sure that your legal rights are protected and that all deadlines are met. Instead of worrying about filing and pursuing your claim, you can focus on recovering from your injuries.  

Jennifer Donaldson is Prepared to Help You With Your Claim 

If you need an experienced Denver personal injury attorney to help you with your case, call Jennifer Donaldson. Ms. Donaldson has three decades of experience in personal injury matters and offers a free consultation so that you can learn about your legal options. To schedule your free consultation, contact us at 303-458-5000.

Current Insurance Claim Trends in Colorado

On top of this, you may be inundated by calls from adjusters requesting statements and information about your condition which you may not be ready to answer. You did not ask to be hit by a careless driver, but you are suffering the consequences nonetheless, and it can difficult to know what to do.  

Taking Advantage of Early Cooperation

In an effort to be as cooperative as possible, many claimants do whatever they can to please the adjuster for the at-fault insurance company. They are happy to provide recorded statements and sign blanket releases as they believe this is the best way to settle the claim quickly and fairly.

However, the adjusters for at-fault parties are not on your side, and they can use those medical releases to obtain unrelated, privileged medical records or use the recorded statements against you in the future. It is your right to limit the information available to the at-fault party’s insurance adjuster to protect your own privacy. Requirements for cooperation are different when you are dealing with your own insurance company, so be sure to contact a Denver personal injury attorney if you have questions about whether you need to cooperate with an adjuster.

Early Settlement Offers

Many claimants express the wish to “just be done with it,” and we have seen a trend lately wherein insurance companies take advantage of that instinct, offering early settlements which undervalue the claim. While it may seem like a good idea to put the accident behind you and move forward with your life, there can be devastating consequences for your case if you accept an offer before you know the full extent of your damages:

Unforeseen Medical Complications

You may assume that your neck or back pain will resolve rather quickly with a few physical therapy appointments. However, as you return to activities you were able to do prior to the crash, you may find the pain or mobility issues recur.

Sometimes a doctor may decide that after conservative measures have failed, injections or surgery may be required. However, if you have settled your claim before knowing the extent of the treatment you needed, you cannot go back and reopen your claim for any reason, so you will be stuck paying for any additional treatment with your own dollar.

Duty to Pay Back Your Insurance

You may be required to pay back your health insurance company from any settlement you receive, a process called “subrogation.” Many different factors and laws affect an insurance company’s ability to subrogate a claim, but if you have settled a claim prematurely, you may not have taken into account what your insurance company has paid and what might need to be paid back. You may owe the entirety of your settlement proceeds to your health insurance company, or, if you did not have health insurance, the hospital may have filed a lien for your treatment, perhaps exceeding the settlement amount, which you are required to pay.

Discounting the Cost of Your Medical Bills

You may have avoided the trap of accepting a premature settlement offer, but this does not mean you will necessarily receive a fair settlement offer from the at-fault insurance company. Recently, we have seen multiple adjusters reduce the amount of the medical bills incurred by a claimant with the argument that the charged amounts are not reasonable.

Despite the fact there is no evidence to support their claims that a medical bill is unreasonable, nor can they point to any local medical providers who would accept their discounted amount for treatment, insurance companies continue to instruct their adjusters to slash the amount of accepted medical bills, thereby slashing the value of the claim. If the amount of the medical bills is not being fairly evaluated, it is likely the entirety of the claim will be undervalued by the adjuster.

Contact an Attorney to Discuss Your Case

Insurance trends change often with corporate policies or as the result of legal precedents. If you are concerned that you are not being treated fairly, contact an attorney to discuss your case. Donaldson Law, LLC has been handling personal injury cases for over 30 years and can help you assess your claim.

Legal Claims vs. Lawsuits: What’s the Difference?

Denver Personal Injury Lawyers

For those who have been injured in Colorado motor vehicle accidents, slip, and fall accidents, ski crashes, or other such incidents, there are two different routes of recovery available.

Each of these avenues may provide the injured victim with the compensation needed to pay for medical bills and other expenses related to the accident. However, there are advantages and disadvantages to both methods which should be carefully considered.

Filing a Legal Claim with the Insurance Company

The first option is to file a legal claim with the at-fault party’s insurance company.

Once a claim with the insurance company has been filed, the accident victim may negotiate a settlement that provides adequate compensation for medical bills, lost wages, and other expenses that stem from the incident.

Sometimes, you file a claim with the insurance company but are unable to settle the claim for what you believe is a fair amount. The adjuster may continually argue that the claim is not worth what the victims believe it is worth. At this point, you will need to discuss with your attorney whether you are willing to settle the claim or whether you want to file a lawsuit instead.

Filing a Lawsuit

Filing a lawsuit often becomes necessary if the insurance company refuses to settle a claim for a reasonable amount.

First, a personal injury attorney files the lawsuit on behalf of the injured victim. The lawsuit is then served on the opposing party, and the parties subsequently enter the discovery phase.

Most personal injury cases need to get through the discovery phase before it is possible to settle a claim. During discovery, the parties exchange evidence, such as medical bills, eyewitness accounts, accident reports, and other documents or items that are needed to fully evaluate the claim. 

Most cases that enter litigation settle without the need for a jury trial.

A major disadvantage of litigation is that it is a very expensive process. Consulting with expert witnesses, taking depositions, copying evidence, and numerous other steps may cost thousands of dollars.

Another disadvantage of litigation is that it may take much longer to finalize a claim, especially if a trial is necessary. Many court dockets have heavy loads. It may be months before a trial can be scheduled.

Additionally, there is always the risk of going to trial and obtaining a defense verdict or a verdict that is smaller than the insurance company’s offer.

Litigation has advantages, however. Once a lawsuit is filed, the parties have subpoena power, making some necessary evidence obtainable.

Further, if an adjuster was not fairly evaluating the claim, other individuals may join the process of evaluating the damages in the case once a lawsuit has been filed. This may result in a fair settlement for the victim’s injuries.

There is also the possibility that a jury will award an accident victim more than the insurance company offered to pay.

An experienced Denver personal injury attorney at Donaldson Law, LLC can help accident victims with both routes and advise them accordingly. Whether the claim is settled with the insurance company or must go to trial, these attorneys are able to ensure that their clients’ legal rights remain protected throughout the case and that they receive the best results possible.

If You Have Been Injured, Contact Donaldson Law, LLC

Attorney Jennifer Donaldson represents injured clients throughout the Denver area and is experienced in both negotiating with insurance companies and advocating for victims in the courtroom. To schedule a free consultation with our firm, contact us at 303-458-5000.

Hours of Service Regulations and Trucking Accidents

Denver truck accident lawyer

Large truck crashes and deaths are on the rise. In 2017, there were 4,237 fatal crashes involving large trucks in the U.S., according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). They led to 4,761 deaths that year—the highest number of large truck crash fatalities since 2007.

In Colorado, 2017 saw a slight downturn in the number of fatal large truck crashes with 80 accidents leading to 87 deaths. But overall, fatalities have increased significantly since 2009, the Denver Post reported.

While there are many causes of fatal trucking accidents, regulations play a major part in keeping motorists safe while sharing the road with large commercial vehicles. This is why proposed changes to hours of service regulations for truckers are stirring up controversy.

Trucks Accidents Must be Treated Differently Than Car Crashes

Commercial trucks and truck wrecks differ considerably from personal vehicles and crashes. Commercial vehicles are a significantly greater size and weight than the average sedan, SUV, or van. Semi-trucks can weigh up to 80,000 pounds and have the capability to cause greater damage to other vehicles even at lower speeds.

Commercial truckers and motor carriers are highly regulated by the FMCSA. Following a trucking accident, a thorough investigation is necessary to determine if the trucker or their employer violated one or more federal regulations and whether this violation contributed to the crash.

Truck accidents are more fiercely contested than car crashes. In most personal vehicle collisions, the fault is clear, and damages are addressed by the insurance company. Most drivers are not afraid of anything other than the financial repercussions of an accident.

But a trucking company and truck driver need to keep their record as clean as possible. Responsibility for a crash or a regulatory violation could impact their livelihood. They will aggressively deny liability whenever possible.

All of these differences mean a truck wreck victim should work with an attorney who has specific experience handling trucking accidents to protect their rights.

Hours of Service Regulations Are Meant to Reduce Drowsy Driving Accidents

Some of the many regulations that are intended to keep truckers and other motorists safe are hours of service regulations. These rules dictate how long truckers can operate a vehicle within a certain period of time and how much rest they should take.

The rules first came about in the 1930s and were not change significantly until the 1960s. It would take another 30 years for there to be other major changes, and since, various adjustments have been made.

The regulations are meant to keep fatigued drivers off the road by ensuring truckers get a certain amount of sleep throughout the week and on long hauls across the country. There is a clear link between fatigue and truck crashes.

Several studies have been performed over the decades showing tired truckers are involved in more accidents. Published in 2007, a federal study reviewed crashes that occurred between April 2001 and December 2003. Driver fatigue was one of the Top 10 factors associated with the accidents, occurring in 13% of incidents. 

Currently, property-carrying drivers may:

  • Drive a maximum of 11 hours after 10 consecutive hours off duty;
  • Not drive beyond the 14th consecutive hour after coming on duty, following 10 consecutive hours off duty. Off-duty does not extend the 14-hour period.
  • Drive only if 8 hours or less have passed since the end of the driver’s last off-duty or sleeper-berth period of at least 30 minutes. (Does not apply to driver’s use of either of the short-haul exceptions).
  • May not drive after 60/70 hours on duty in 7/8 consecutive days. A driver may restart a 7/8 consecutive day period after taking 34 or more consecutive hours off duty.
  • Drivers using the sleeper berth provision must take at least 8 consecutive hours in the sleeper berth, plus a separate 2 consecutive hours either in the sleeper berth, off duty, or any combination of the two.

Hours of Service Regulations May be Relaxed

Hours of service regulations are highly disputed in the trucking industry, as many motor carriers and truckers want flexibility in how long they drive and when they rest. They may get their wish and the regulations may be relaxed. Others believe having strict hours of service rules is necessary to keep drowsy truck drivers off the road and reduce the rate of crashes and fatalities.

Contact a Truck Accident Lawyer for Help

Whether or not hours of service regulations reduce fatigue-related truck accidents is hotly debated. However, that debate is not your concern after you have been injured or lost a loved one in a truck crash. All that matters to you is holding a negligent trucker or trucking company responsible.

To do this, you need a lawyer who will thoroughly investigate the trucking accident, determine if any regulatory violations took place, and pursue compensation for your injuries. Contact the Donaldson Law, LLC at (303) 458-5000 to speak with a Denver truck accident lawyer.

Contributory v. Comparative Negligence

Personal Injury Lawyers Denver

An accident is not always caused by just one person’s carelessness or recklessness. Whether it is a car crash, slip, and fall, dangerous property accident, or other incident, it may arise because two or more people were careless. Each person contributed to the incident in some way.

When someone pursues compensation from another at-fault party, but more than one person may have been responsible, the insurer or court has to look at how liable each party is for the accident. The insurer or court will assign each party a percentage of fault out of 100%. Whether the state follows contributory negligence or pure or modified comparative negligence rule then determines who will receive compensation for their injuries and how much. 

Contributory Negligence

When an accident victim attempts to recover compensation through an insurance claim or personal injury lawsuit, but an insurer or court finds they are in any way at fault, they will be denied compensation entirely. When an accident victim is at least 1% at fault, then they are barred from recovering an insurance settlement or court award. The insurer will deny the claim and the judge or jury will not award any compensation. 

Contributory negligence is often considered a harsh rule. Only Alabama, the District of Columbia, Maryland, North Carolina, and Virginia follow this rule.

Pure Comparative Negligence

Under a pure comparative negligence rule, an accident victim can recover compensation no matter their percentage of fault. An insurer or court could assign the claimant a percentage greater than the other party. The claimant can then receive compensation, but it will be reduced by their percentage of fault. For example, if the insurer or court finds the victim’s claim was worth $100,000, but they were 75% at fault, then the claimant can only receive $25,000.

Alaska, Arizona, California, Florida, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, New Mexico, New York, Rhode Island, and Washington follow this rule.

Modified Comparative Negligence

The modified comparative negligence is the most common rule, although states handle it slightly differently.

An accident victim can recover compensation if they are less than half at fault. In other words, the accident victim must be less responsible for the incident than the other party or parties involved. If the claimant is 50% or 51% or more at fault, depending on the state, then they cannot recover any compensation.

Colorado, Georgia, Idaho, Kansas, Maine, Nebraska, North Dakota, Tennessee, and Utah follow the 50% rule. Accident victims must be assigned 49% or less responsibility to recover compensation.

Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Texas, Vermont, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming use the 51% bar. Claimants can be 50% or less at fault and recover a settlement or court award.

An injury victim who is somewhat at fault may receive compensation, but the settlement or court ruling will be reduced by their percentage of fault. Because of this, it is important for accident victims to work with experienced personal injury attorneys. A lawyer can not only prove the maximum value of the victim’s damages, but also minimize their percentage of responsibility.

Are You Being Partly Blamed for an Accident?

If you were involved in an accident in Denver or the surrounding area, and the other party claims you were also to blame, it is important to work with an experienced Denver personal injury attorney. Even if this defense has not come up yet, if you fear you are partly to blame, you should call a lawyer right away.

Your lawyer will thoroughly investigate the incident, analyze all of the evidence, and build a strong defense against a comparative negligence claim. Jennifer Donaldson has years of experience handling personal injury claims involving comparative negligence defenses. She crafts case-specific strategies to combat these allegations and minimize a claimant’s percentage of responsibility in order to pursue full and fair just compensation for her client’s injuries.

To schedule a consultation with Donaldson Law, LLC , submit your information through the online form or call 303-458-5000.