Every state imposes time limits for both criminal and civil cases to be brought to court. These statutes of limitations on cases serve to ensure that evidence is still available when a case comes to court and that eyewitness testimony to the event remains fresh and reliable. Colorado courts set specific statutes of limitations on cases ranging from when prosecutors can bring forward criminal charges to when an injury victim can bring a lawsuit for compensation for their damages.
Colorado’s Statute of Limitations on Personal Injury Cases
Most personal injury cases in Colorado have a two-year statute of limitations for lawsuits. This limit applies to:
- Slip and fall injuries
- Dog bites
- Defective product injuries
- Medical malpractice injuries
- Workplace injuries
- Wrongful death
The state’s statute of limitations on motor vehicle accident lawsuits is 3 years from the date of the accident. A claim against a government entity has a statute of limitations of 180 days in Colorado. The statute of limitations for claims of slander or libel is 1 year.
The state’s statute of limitations not only serves to preserve the integrity of evidence and witness testimony, but it also protects defendants from living under the indefinite threat of lawsuits.
Exceptions to the Colorado Statute of Limitations for Personal Injury
When an injury occurs to a minor child, the statute of limitations for them to make a personal injury claim on their own behalf begins ticking on the day they turn 18.
In some instances, the statute of limitations may be delayed due to the state’s discovery rule. This means the clock begins ticking on the date the injury victim discovers the injury. For example, if a doctor determines that a nagging backache was due to fractured vertebrae from an accident a year earlier, the statute of limitations begins on the date of the discovery.
In most cases, an attempt to bring a case to court after the statute of limitations has passed results in the case being thrown out.
If you have a question about the statute of limitations in your case, an experienced Westminster personal injury lawyer can help.
Colorado Statute of Limitations for Criminal Cases
The legal time limits for prosecutors to bring criminal charges against a suspect in Colorado vary depending on the crime. Typically, the more serious the crime, the longer prosecutors have to bring a case to court. For instance, the statute of limitations for petty offenses runs out after only 6 months from the date of the offense. Most misdemeanors have an 18-month statute of limitations, including for misdemeanor theft. Traffic misdemeanors have a 1-year statute of limitations in Colorado.
Sex crimes have longer statutes of limitations ranging from 5 years for victims over the age of 15 and 8.5 years for victims under the age of 15.
Felony charges have statutes of limitations ranging from 3 years to 10 years for serious felonies like vehicular homicide.
Criminal charges in Colorado that have no statutes of limitations include:
- Felony forgeries
- Sex crimes against a child
- Sexual assault in cases reported within 20 years of the assault and with DNA evidence
In most criminal charges, the statute of limitations begins on the day the crime is committed, but in cases such as theft and fraud, the clock begins ticking on the date of the crime’s discovery.