Personal injury law is complicated, especially taking into account all the laws that differ in different parts of the country. If you have been hurt in Colorado, here are some of your rights and constraints under Colorado law, courtesy of Heuser & Heuser, LLP.
The time limits for how soon or late you are allowed to file a legal claim vary both by the type of claim and by state. In Colorado, most cases involving injuries must be filed within two years of the injury–that is, the statute of limitations is two years from the incident. There are some exceptions, however. When the injury is not obvious right away, the two-year limit does not start on the date of the accident but rather on the date that you discover the injury.
There are also variations on the limit for certain types of injuries, as well as whether you are making the claim against an individual, a company or a city, county or state government. This is one reason why it is a good idea to seek out an attorney quickly, since he or she will be able to tell you the specific time limits that apply to your case.
Colorado has comparative fault laws, which means that if it is decided that you share some of the fault for the accident, the damages you claim are reduced proportionally according to how much fault is assigned to both sides of the claim.
For example, if you are found to have been 20 percent at fault for an accident and the other party is 80 percent at fault, and you have been seeking $1,000 in damages, you will only receive $800. In addition, if you are found to be 50 percent or more at fault, then you cannot collect anything. It is common for insurance companies to bring up shared fault during negotiations or in court for personal injury cases in Colorado, especially in cases that involve negligence.
Types of Damages
There are a variety of different types of damages you can claim in a personal injury case, but they can generally be grouped into two categories: economic and non-economic damages.
Economic damages are compensation for money you have lost due to your injuries; they include reimbursement for medical bills, damaged or lost property, wages you may have lost due to being unable to work while recovering, or wages that you will not be able to earn in the future. These are not limited and are determined by how much you are judged to have actually lost.
Non-economic damages are harder to determine, and they have caps to limit how much compensation you can receive. They include things like pain and suffering, emotional distress, and loss of enjoyment. In some cases, there is a third type of damage that applies: punitive damages. This comes into play when the other party is thought to have behaved maliciously or fraudulently, as well as when the injury was deliberate. Punitive damages are also limited under Colorado law, and cannot be more than the total amount of the other types of damages that have been awarded, although there are rare exceptions.
What to Do and When
If you have been hurt in Colorado, the first thing you should do is get your injuries taken care of as soon as possible. Document everything along the way: your medical bills, property damage, any time you have to take off work and the injuries themselves. Try to get pictures, copies of the accident report, contact information for any witnesses, invoices, receipts and notes on what happens and when.
Find an attorney quickly, and in the meantime, don’t give statements to anyone but the police, don’t go back to work without being cleared by your doctor, and don’t sign anything that might affect liability and future claims. For advice or a free consultation, contact us at Heuser & Heuser, LLP today.