In this section you will find many of Colorado’s personal injury laws. For more details on how to handle your personal injury case, we are not a substitute for one of the many great personal injury attorneys in Denver or throughout Colorado.
Colorado Limitations Act
a lapse by statute of limitations It is a law that specifies the amount of time between the time a crime or injury occurs and the time a lawsuit is filed. You may have heard this term used in TV shows or movies related to criminal law. There is no statute of limitations for murder, for example. When it comes to personal injury law, Colorado has two different statutes of limitations:
- There is a two-year statute of limitations on all personal injuries. This two-year period starts from the date of injury or from the date on which the victim becomes aware of the injury.
- Colorado law allows an additional year for auto accident personal injury claims. This means that auto accident claims have a statute of limitations of three years.
Colorado Personal Injury Laws
Colorado does not have a lot of unique personal injury laws. The extra year Colorado law gives for filing an auto accident claim is somewhat unusual, but statutes of limitations for personal injury claims in the two to three year range are very common.
Colorado has some unique features of its personal injury laws:
- Many states assume that a dog is not dangerous until it has actually bitten a person, which is called the “one bite” rule. This practice makes dog owners responsible for dog bites only after the first bite. Colorado does not follow this trend and holds owners strictly liable even the first time their dog bites someone.
- Colorado has maximum limits for non-economic damages in injury cases. The law was passed in 1986 and capped non-economic damages at $250,000, or $500,000 if there is clear and convincing evidence justifying the increase in damages. The law allows for inflationary adjustments to be made to these amounts, which means that the current amounts are more than double the initial numbers. In 2023, the maximum limits for non-economic damages are $642,180 and $1,284,370.
- There is also a cap on non-economic damages in Colorado cases involving wrongful death. That limit is currently $598,350. However, this limit will be raised if the death is a result of criminal homicide.
- Colorado also limited non-economic damages in medical malpractice cases. These cases cannot award non-economic damages in excess of $300,000.
Detecting fault and defining negligence
All personal injury claims are based on the concept of negligence. There are four elements of neglect:
- duty. Each of us owes each other certain duties and certain duties to our society—a duty to obey traffic laws, a duty not to harm others, and so on. Manufacturers have a duty to consumers to manufacture products that are reasonably safe and fit for the purpose for which they are designed to be fulfilled. It is the physician’s duty to perform his or her job in a reasonable manner consistent with the standard of care.
- busts. There are those who owe a duty and fail to perform that duty. This is a breach. Breach of duty is what creates a cause of action in a negligence suit.
- causation. Breach of duty causes you harm. In our doctor’s example, let’s say they broke their duty by prescribing 1,000 mg instead of 10 mg. If this error does not cause any harm, no negligent action can be taken. A breach must cause harm in order to be actionable.
- Damages. Finally, the damages for the infringement must result in a monetary loss or a financially recoverable loss. For example, if a bad prescription causes a stroke, the costs of hospitalization, treatment, lost wages, and other consequences of the stroke are the damages. A stroke in itself is not a financial harm, but it can be compensated for with money.
Colorado follows the Modified Comparative Negligence Rule when determining who has the right to recover after an injury. This rule allows anyone who bears less than half the responsibility for the accident to recover.
For example, imagine slipping and falling in a grocery store aisle that a grocery store employee had just mopped and used the wrong disinfectant liquid, so the floor was particularly slippery. They also failed to close the aisle as required by store policy.
The client who slipped and fell was walking backwards not looking where they were going. The customer entered the smooth spot and slid to the ground, throwing his basket into the air. The contents of the basket hit the employee. The jury found that the accident was 90% employee fault and 10% customer fault.
- If a customer suffers $1,000 in damages, the amended comparative negligence rule allows them to recover $900. The rule prevents the customer from recovering all of his damages because the customer was responsible for some of those damages himself.
- If the employee wants to sue the customer, the amended comparative negligence rule prohibits the employee from doing so, because the employee is more than 50% liable for the accident that led to his injury.
How can a lawyer help you?
There are many other nuances in personal injury law. Personal injury law covers everything from birth injuries to wrongful death and animal bites to Zoloft class action lawsuits.
Complicating matters further, Colorado can change its laws every year. The statute of limitations on certain types of personal injury could change in the next legislative session. The laws regarding how much you can get a refund or what the application process looks like next year may vary.
If you have been injured due to medical malpractice, a traffic accident, a dangerous product, assault, or any other act of negligence, the value of an attorney cannot be overstated. In many circumstances, a personal injury claim is the only way to hold those who harm you accountable. Sometimes, these lawsuits just don’t benefit the person being represented. Many of the consumer protections now in place are the result of lawsuits brought by personal injury attorneys.