Mar 19, 2011

As background, when we talk about statute of limitations, we are speaking of the deadline wherein a claim must be filed as a lawsuit. Failure to file a lawsuit by that particular deadline results in the claim dying and a claimant getting potentially nothing for their injury or loss.

Certain claims are clear.

1) CLAIMS AGAINST BARS: A claim against a tavern for over-serving a drunk who then goes out and crashes into innocent bystanders must be brought within 1 year.

2) CLAIMS FOR INJURIES ON PROPERTY OF ANOTHER: Slip and fall claims must be brought within 2 years.

3) CAR CRASH INJURIES: A simple car crash must be brought within 3 years.

4) MEDICAL/ LEGAL MALPRACTICE: Medical or legal malpractice claims must be brought within 2 years of the time that person should have reasonably known of the malpractice. When a person should reasonably know about malpractice is called the "discovery rule."

Okay, so these are the basics. Truly no attorney capable of reading a simple statute as it relates to the above claims should ever have too much difficulty keeping their client's case alive by simply filing suit within the time required, right? Wrong! Bad lawyers or distracted lawyers mess these up a lot.

Now let's get out of the shallow end of the pool and talk about the more complex statute of limitations issues.

1) ROLLOVER CAR CRASH CAUSED BY A DEFECTIVE PRODUCT: The statute of limitation for a negligent driver causing a rollover is 3 years. But if the cause of the crash is a classic defective tread separation of a well known tire, the lawyer who doesn't bring that claim within 2 years from reasonable notice of the defective tire is probably going to have a lot of explaining to do.

2) FALLS FROM THE GROUND VERSUS FALLS FROM TRUCKS: Bringing a claim for a negligent condition that causes a victim to fall on a walkway is a 2 year statute of limitation, but when it arises out of the operation or use of motor vehicle (which can be a very tricky determination), the statute of limitations is 3 years.

3) UNDER-INSURED MOTORIST CLAIMS: If you are bringing an underinsured motorist claim, the amount of time you have depends on when you resolved your claim against the at fault driver. No matter what, here too you have at least three years from the date of the accident. The applicable deadline is either three years from the date of the accident, or two years from the date you received payment from the at fault driver’s insurance, whichever is later.

4) UNINSURED MOTORIST CLAIMS: If you are bringing an uninsured motorist claim, the amount of time you have depends on when you find out the at fault driver is uninsured. No matter what, you have at least three years from the date of the accident. This is the amount of time you will have if you know the at driver is uninsured right away. The timing changes if you file suit against the at fault driver within that three-year period, and then find out that the driver is uninsured. If this occurs, then you have either three years from the date of the accident, or two years from the date that you discovered the driver was uninsured, whichever is later.

5) CAR CRASH CAUSED BY STATE UNIVERSITY PROFESSOR ON A BUSINESS TRIP: 3 years for the statute of limitation for a car crash. But, a special governmental notice which must be filed within 180 days with the correct Colorado official or the claim is over on the 181st day after the accident.

6) CAR CRASH VICTIMS THAT ARE 16 AND 18: The 18 years old's Statute of Limitation is 3 years from the anniversary of the crash. The 16 years old's statute of limitation runs a little less than 5 years after the crash on his 21st birthday.

7) WRONGFUL DEATH: A 2 year statute of limitation from the date of death. But for the first year after the death, the exclusive right to bring the lawsuit is the spouse. In the second year it can be any other lineal heir.

A client's applicable statute of limitation requires careful and precise thought. Often the limitation is clear cut. But not always.

At Anderson Hemmat we realize how complicated a statute of limitations can get, especially to someone who has never been the victim of someone else's negligence before. That's why we are happy to have you talk with one of our attorneys about your case and have it reviewed for free. Please call us today so you can speak with one of our attorneys.


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