Personal Injury, Colorado Style
If someone’s negligence caused you to suffer an injury in Colorado and you decide to bring a personal injury lawsuit to recover damages, you’ll need to follow Colorado rules.
File the Claim
Personal injury is a civil matter, as opposed to a criminal one, and is typically handled in Colorado state court. You’ll need to file your complaint in the Colorado county or district where you reside or where the injury took place. Whether you file in district or state court will depend somewhat on the amount of damages you sustained.
Don’t Wait Too Long
Like all states, Colorado provides a timeframe, or statute of limitations, during which personal injury cases must be filed, counting from the date of the accident forward. In Colorado, most personal injury cases, including medical malpractice, must be filed within two years of the injury, although the statute of limitations for cases involving car accidents is three years.
What Can I Recover?
In Colorado, you can recover two types of damages:
- Economic damages to compensate you for the money you lost as a result of the accident. These damages include medical bills, lost wages, and loss of future earning capacity.
- Non-economic damages that compensate you for the effect the injury has had on your life. These damages might include pain and suffering, emotional distress, and loss of enjoyment of life.
Colorado limits your ability to recover damages based upon a modified comparative fault standard with a 50 percent threshold. This means that you can only recover damages if you are less than 50 percent responsible for the accident, and your damages will be reduced by your degree of fault.
The Colorado Legislature has established damage caps that limit the amount of compensation available for wrongful injury and loss. Generally, non-economic damages may not exceed $366,250 for injuries occurring after January 1, 1998, although a court may allow an award in excess of this amount under certain circumstances.
Where Do I Start?
You should begin by retaining a personal injury attorney who is experienced in handling cases similar to yours. Don’t make a decision about an attorney based solely on someone else’s recommendation. A face-to-face meeting will usually reveal some important things about a potential attorney, including his personality, philosophy, track record, and general empathy for someone in your situation. That should tell you what you need to know.
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