What is the Statute of Limitations for a Motorcycle Accident Claim?
Every state has its own set of laws which establish how much time a person has to file a lawsuit. They are called statutes of limitations. These laws apply to many different types of cases, including personal injury, wrongful death and defective products.
Generally, the purpose of a statute of limitations is to encourage people who have claims to pursue them with reasonable diligence and to protect the rights of those who are sued. Ultimately, the longer a person waits to bring a claim, the more likely that evidence will become hard to track down, and the memories of witnesses will fade. If you fail to file a lawsuit within the statute of limitations period, a court can dismiss your claim.
When it comes to personal injury lawsuits, Colorado is unique. Our state has one statute of limitations which applies to personal injury claims in general, and another one which applies specifically to motor vehicle accident cases. Because a motorcycle is a type of motor vehicle, the latter statute of limitations applies to motorcycle accident claims.
What is the Colorado Statute of Limitations for Personal Injury Lawsuits?
Under C.R.S. 13-80-102, a person must file any “tort action” that does not arise from the use or operation of a motor vehicle within two years after the “cause of action accrues.” A tort action is a personal injury claim. Typically, the cause of action accrues on the date a person suffers his or her injury.
Colorado does follow the “discovery rule.” Under this rule, the date when the statute of limitations starts to run is the date when a person discovered or reasonably should have discovered that he or she suffered an injury. However, in practical terms, the date when the clock starts to run on most personal injury claims will be the date of the accident.
What is the Colorado Statute of Limitations for Motor Vehicle Personal Injury Claims?
Another Colorado statute, C.R.S. 13-80-101, establishes the statute of limitations for personal injury claims which arise from the use or operation of a motor vehicle such as a car, truck or a motorcycle. Under the law, you generally have three years from the date of the accident in which to file a lawsuit. So, if you suffer injuries in a motorcycle crash in Colorado, you will need to pay attention to this statute of limitations.
What is the Colorado Statute of Limitations for Wrongful Death?
Another Colorado law, known as the Wrongful Death Act, governs how and when a person can pursue compensation for the loss of a loved one. Under C.R.S. 13-21-203, surviving family members who are eligible to bring a wrongful death claim must do so within two years after the date of the death. This law applies to deaths caused by motorcycle accidents. However, if the death is caused by a driver who fled the scene of the accident – or a “hit-and-run” – then you would have four years to bring the claim.
What is the Colorado Statute of Limitations for Defective Products?
If a defective automotive part may have caused an injury, Colorado law gives the person two years from the date when the “claim for relief arises” in which to file a product liability lawsuit against the manufacturer or seller. Typically, the clock starts to run on the date when the injury occurred (or reasonably should have been discovered). The statute of limitations is found at C.R.S. 13-80-106.
Another law also applies to product liability claims in Colorado. Under C.R.S. 13-21-403, if 10 years has passed since a product was first sold, the law presumes that the product was not defective at the time of sale, all warnings and instructions were proper and adequate and the manufacturer or seller was not negligent.
What Should I Do After a Motorcycle Accident?
After a motorcycle accident in Colorado, you should seek medical attention as soon as you can. Even if you think that you escaped with fairly minor injuries such as scrapes, cuts and bruises, you should still get examined by a doctor who will know how to fully examine you for injuries and order the appropriate tests. Some injuries can be serious but not obvious to victims – especially when they are in a state of shock. Traumatic brain injury, spinal cord injury, soft tissue damage and internal bleeding are examples.
Additionally, when you see a doctor, you will document the type of injury that you have suffered and the date of the injury. If you move forward with filing a personal injury claim against another driver or any other party that caused your motorcycle crash and injuries, this documentation will play an important role in your case. Evidence that you received timely treatment of your injuries, for instance, will help to establish that your accident caused those injuries. It can prevent an insurance company from claiming that your injuries occurred for some other reason.
In addition to getting medical treatment, you should also consult with an experienced Colorado motorcycle accident lawyer as soon as possible. The lawyer can review all of the facts of your case and help you to understand your legal rights and your options for seeking compensation.
Also, the lawyer can determine which statute of limitations applies to your case and determine how much time you have in which to file a lawsuit. If filing a lawsuit is necessary, the lawyer can ensure that it is filed in a timely manner.
Keep in mind: The investigation and preparation of a motorcycle accident claim takes time. So, if you wait too long to get legal help, it could hurt your ability to file a lawsuit and seek compensation that you are due. For this reason, you should not delay contacting a lawyer.
Get Help From Our Colorado Motorcycle Accident Attorneys Today
The Sawaya Law Firm has decades of experience with helping motorcycle accident victims throughout Colorado. The sooner you contact our law firm, the sooner we can review your case and start work on it. Our consultations are always free, and we charge no legal fees unless we secure compensation for our clients. To learn more about how we can help you, contact us today and schedule a consultation through our offices in Denver, Greeley or Colorado Springs.