What’s the Statute of Limitations for Filing a Car Accident Claim in Colorado?

May 3, 2024 | Blog, Car Accidents

If someone else’s negligence or recklessness caused a car accident in Colorado that injured you or a close family member, you need to understand the state’s statute of limitations for car accident lawsuits and file your claim within the allotted time frame.

In most cases, the statute of limitations for filing a car accident claim in Colorado is three years from the date of the crash. If you don’t have a personal injury attorney file a lawsuit for you within this three-year window, the court will likely refuse to hear the case, and you’ll lose your opportunity to pursue compensation.

Contact a Colorado car accident lawyer near you to discuss your case and learn of any deadlines that apply.

Exceptions to Colorado Car Accident Statute of Limitations

While the three-year deadline applies to most car accident cases in Colorado, the statute of limitations may differ in a few cases:

  • Claims Against Government Entities: If the at-fault driver was a government employee acting within the scope of their employment at the time of the crash, special rules apply. In these cases, injury victims must file a special notice of claim within 182 days of the accident. If this deadline is missed, the right to file a claim will likely be lost. The statute of limitations for these claims against government entities is two years from the date of the accident instead of the standard three years.
  • Discovery Rule: In some cases, injuries from a car accident may not be immediately apparent. Under the “discovery rule,” the statute of limitations may be extended if the injury was not discovered until after the accident. In such cases, the three-year clock begins on the date the injury was discovered or should have been discovered with reasonable diligence.
  • Fatal Car Accidents: When a car accident kills someone, the statute of limitations for a wrongful death claim is two years from the date of the person’s death, which may be later than the date of the accident.
  • Victims Under Age 18: If the car accident victim was a minor (under age 18) at the time of the crash, the statute of limitations does not begin until the victim’s 18th birthday. So, a child injured in a crash at age 12 would have until their 21st birthday to file a claim.
  • Hit-and-Run Accidents: In some cases, the identity of the at-fault hit-and-run driver is not discovered until later. For these claims, the statute of limitations begins on the date the driver is identified rather than the date of the accident itself. However, all hit-and-run accidents must be reported to the police within 24 hours to qualify for this exception.
  • Defendant Leaves the State: If the at-fault party leaves Colorado after the accident and before your attorney files the lawsuit, the court may pause the statute of limitations until the party returns to the state.
  • Mental Incapacity: If the injured person is mentally incapacitated at the time of the accident, the statute of limitations may pause until their mental capacity returns.

While the three-year statute of limitations applies to most car accident claims in Colorado, always speak to an attorney about your specific case and circumstances to verify the filing deadline.

Regardless, never wait to pursue an injury claim since evidence can disappear (or be destroyed) and witnesses’ memories can fade over time.


Colorado Car Accident Statistics

Unfortunately, car accidents are very common in Colorado.

According to the latest crash data from the Colorado Department of Transportation:

  • 121,648 car crashes occurred in Colorado in a recent year.
  • These accidents resulted in 3,825 serious injuries and 672 deaths.
  • Around 25% of Colorado car accident deaths involved a drunk driver.
  • Speeding was a contributing factor in 36% of fatal crashes.
  • Colorado had the 6th highest percentage of uninsured motorists out of all U.S. states at 16.3%.

With crashes, injuries, and fatalities on the rise, it’s more important than ever for drivers to prioritize safety and responsibility on the road. In the unfortunate event of a crash, knowing your rights and the statute of limitations is critical. Speak with an attorney right away if you believe someone else is responsible for the car crash.

Do Insurance Companies Follow This Same Statute of Limitations for Car Accident Claims?

Insurance companies may have their own deadlines for filing car accident claims that differ from the legal statute of limitations. Most insurers require policyholders to report crashes very promptly, often within a few days of the accident.

If an injured party doesn’t file an insurance claim within the insurer’s required timeframe, the insurance company may deny coverage for the accident.

While you legally have three years to file a court case after most car accidents in Colorado, waiting that long will likely mean losing the ability to get compensation through an insurance claim.

Have your car accident lawyer notify your insurer immediately after a car crash and start the claims process as soon as possible to protect your rights.

How Do I Know If I Have a Car Accident Case?

Two white cars involved in a collision on a city street while reversing.

Not every car accident will result in a successful legal claim or lawsuit. To have a case, you must be able to establish that another party was negligent and at fault for the crash and that you suffered injuries and damages as a result.

That’s not always easy and even harder if you don’t have the in-depth legal knowledge and experience that a personal injury lawyer can provide.

Key considerations for determining if you have a car accident case include:

  • Negligence: Your attorney must show the other driver acted negligently by failing to exercise reasonable care or violating traffic laws and that this led to the crash. Examples of negligent driving behaviors include speeding, running red lights, drunk driving, and distracted driving.
  • Injuries: You must have suffered real injuries and damages from the accident. Colorado follows a “no-fault” car insurance system, meaning your own insurance should cover minor medical expenses regardless of fault. To step outside of this system and bring a claim against the at-fault driver, your injuries must meet the state’s threshold of being “serious” – things like significant scarring/disfigurement, permanent impairment, or over $2,000 in medical bills.
  • Causation: Your lawyer must be able to show that the other party’s negligence directly caused your injuries and that your injuries stem from the accident rather than other causes.
  • Damages: Your attorney will need to provide evidence of your compensable damages, such as medical bills, lost income, property damage, and pain and suffering.

The best way to determine if you have a car accident case is to consult an experienced personal injury lawyer. An attorney can review your accident and advise you on your legal rights and options for pursuing compensation.

What Damages Can I Collect After a Colorado Car Accident?

If you have a successful car accident claim, you may recover compensation for damages including:

  • Medical Expenses: This can include hospitalization, surgeries, doctor visits, medications, rehabilitative care, medical equipment, and any other treatments related to your accident injuries. You can recover compensation for both past and future anticipated medical expenses.
  • Lost Wages: If your injuries cause you to miss time at work, you can recover compensation for your lost income and reduced earning capacity. This can include salary, hourly pay, commissions, bonuses, self-employment income, and other forms of lost income.
  • Property Damage: You can get reimbursed for vehicle repair bills and the cost of replacing any other personal property that was damaged in the crash, such as phones, clothing, etc.
  • Pain and Suffering: These are non-economic damages meant to compensate you for the physical pain, emotional anguish, and overall negative impact the accident and injuries have on your life and well-being. Amounts vary widely based on the severity of your injuries.
  • Disfigurement/Impairment: If you suffer permanent scarring, disfigurement, disability, or impairment due to the accident, you can receive additional compensation.

Your attorney may help you collect other forms of compensation as well. If a car accident kills a close family member, an attorney can advise you whether you qualify to bring a wrongful death action against the responsible party and represent you throughout the claims process.

A lawyer could help you get compensation to cover funeral and burial costs, final medical expenses, and the loss of income and support your loved one provided.

What If I’m Partially At Fault for the Crash?

Two drivers arguing after a traffic accident.

Colorado follows a modified comparative negligence rule when more than one party shares blame for an accident.

Under this rule, you can still recover compensation if you were partially at fault as long as your percentage of fault is less than 50%. However, your damages award will decrease by your assigned percentage of fault.

If you are more than 50% to blame, you cannot collect any compensation from other at-fault parties.

Insurance companies and defense lawyers routinely try to shift undue blame onto injury victims to limit liability for their insured. This is why you need a skilled car accident attorney fighting for you and ensuring you don’t receive more blame for your accident than you deserve.

How Can a Colorado Car Accident Attorney Help You?

Navigating the legal process after a serious car accident can overwhelm you, especially when you are trying to recover from painful injuries. An experienced Colorado car accident lawyer can handle all aspects of your claim and fight for the full compensation you deserve.

A good attorney will:

  • Thoroughly investigate your accident to gather evidence of fault and liability
  • Handle all communications and negotiations with the insurance companies
  • Calculate the full value of your damages, including future expenses
  • Hire experts to build your case, such as accident reconstruction specialists and medical professionals
  • Advocate for your best interests in settlement negotiations
  • Take your case to trial if the insurance company or other party refuses to negotiate a fair settlement

Studies show that car accident victims who hire a lawyer recover significantly more compensation on average than those who try to handle their claim on their own. Don’t go up against the insurance company alone. Contact an experienced attorney who can level the playing field and fight for your rights.

Contact a Colorado Car Accident Injury Lawyer Today

Legal counsel presenting a signed contract to the client in an office. Justice and lawyer concept.

At Franklin D. Azar & Associates, P.C., we have over 30 years of experience standing up for the rights of car accident injury victims across Colorado.

Our team of award-winning attorneys and legal professionals are here to help you navigate the complex legal process and fight for every dollar you deserve. We have a proven track record of success, recovering over $2.3 billion in compensation for our clients.

We offer free, no-obligation consultations to all potential clients. We also work on a contingency fee basis, meaning you pay nothing unless and until we win your case or negotiate a fair settlement on your behalf. There are no upfront costs to get started.

If you suffered injuries in a car accident in Colorado, don’t wait to get the legal representation you need. Contact the dedicated Colorado personal injury lawyers at Franklin D. Azar & Associates, P.C., today for a free case review. We are ready to put our skills, experience, and resources to work for you.