Critical Time Limits
There are specific time limits within which a case must be brought called statutes of limitations. ("Within" means before the time period expires. If, for example, an auto accident occurred on June 5 and you wait until June 5 three years later to file the action, you may have waited one day too long and lost your right to sue.) These time limitations are of critical importance because failure either to resolve the claim or to file an action within the time period provided by the applicable statute of limitations will usually result in loss the right to bring the claim. A few of the most commonly referenced time limitations under Colorado law are listed below. Be aware, however, that there are literally dozens of additional statutes of limitations that may affect your right to bring a case:
- For most (but not all) automobile collision claims, the law requires that the case be brought within 3 years of the date of the incident. C.R.S. § 13-80-101.
- Most medical malpractice cases must be brought within 2 years of the date on which the malpractice was known or reasonably should have been known. C.R.S. § 13-80-102.5.
- Wrongful death actions generally must be brought within 2 years of the date of death, but may have to be brought within 1 year depending upon who is asserting the claim. C.R.S. § 13-80-102.
- Assault actions must be brought within 1 year. C.R.S. § 13-80-103.
- Most negligence cases not involving an automobile collision must be brought within 2 years. C.R.S. § 13-80-102.
- Strict or absolute liability actions for failure to instruct or warn, usually in connection with defective products, must be brought within 2 years. C.R.S. § 13-80-102.
- All actions arising outside of Colorado if the limitation of actions of the place where the cause of the action accrues is greater than that of Colorado must be brought within 3 years. C.R.S. § 13-80-101.
- Actions against ski area operators or employees must be brought within 2 years. C.R.S. § 33-44-111.
- Other critical time periods include a 180-day notice period within which to notify a governmental entity of specific information about potential claims against it and as little as 1 year within which to bring certain claims. C.R.S. § § 24-10-109 and 13-80-102.
There are also many exceptions to these periods of limitation, and accurately determining which statute of limitations is applicable in a particular case can be highly technical. Also, different statutes may apply to different claims arising out of the same incident. The time periods may also vary depending upon who the case is brought against. For example, actions against doctors, architects, and a variety of other specific groups have their own limitation periods. It is, therefore, of critical importance to consult an attorney as soon as possible when a potential claim arises so that the attorney can advise you on the applicable statute(s) of limitations and any claims you may have.