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Statute Of Limitations: How Does Timing Affect Your Potential Claim?

Posted January 08, 2024 in Uncategorized

Statute Of Limitations: How Does Timing Affect Your Potential Claim?

DON’T MISS YOUR STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS!

One important matter all potential litigants need to consider prior to preparing a lawsuit is whether their claims have expired.

Most potential claims will be subject to something called a “statute of limitations,” defined as any law that bars claims after a certain period of time passes after an injury. This means that, even if you can definitively prove that someone injured you, if you wait too long and let the time period under the statute run out, you may be barred from bringing the claim. We say “may be” because a legal analysis is needed with respect to your fact situation to determine if the statute has run.

PURPOSE OF STATUTES OF LIMITATIONS

The purpose of statutes of limitations is primarily to protect defendants. Interestingly, its application goes all the way back to Ancient Athens (where it established a five-year statute of limitations for almost all cases). Three public policy arguments support the ongoing use of statutes of limitations:

  • A plaintiff with a valid cause of action should pursue it with reasonable diligence.
  • By the time a stale claim is litigated, a defendant might have lost evidence necessary to disprove the claim.
  • Litigation of a long-dormant claim may result in more cruelty than justice. For example, a potential defendant may have moved on with their life, created new bonds, and/or has moved far away since the date of injury/discovery; forcing them to litigate could disrupt their lives more heavily than the alleged injury he or she committed is meant to impose. More importantly, valuable documentary evidence might have been lost, witness memories eroded by the passage of time, and physical evidence destroyed, sold, or gifted away.

VARIATIONS OF STATUTES OF LIMITATIONS

Importantly, the period of time varies based on jurisdiction and the type of claim. Colorado will have different statutes of limitations as compared with Arizona, California, etc. Additionally, there is not a single “blanket” time limit for claims: they vary greatly based on the exact type of claim attached to it. Generally speaking, most statutes of limitations in Colorado vary from about 1 to 6 years in length, with the majority of time limits falling in the 1-3 year timeframe from when you are injured or some other wrong was inflicted on you. It is relatively rare to be able to sue after 10 years, but that might still be possible under unusual circumstances.

HOW TO CALCULATE

In order to calculate when your potential claim’s statute of limitations will run, your lawyer will typically start from the date of injury or when you discovered it (or the date on which it would have been discovered with reasonable efforts if earlier). Then, the lawyer will add the amount of time allowed by the applicable statute.

As a practical matter, do not wait until the last minute before seeking legal advice. Even if you make efforts to retain counsel within a few days before the statute of limitations runs, you might face difficulties. An attorney might not feel comfortable with the short amount of time they have to look into the claim and complete other pre-filing preparation before filing suit. Alternatively, if you do retain an attorney, he or she may not be able to flesh out your claim in the pleadings as much as you would have liked due to the restricted amount of time he or she had to work on it. Bottom line: don’t risk the stress! Seek legal advice as soon as your injury occurs.

NARROW EXCEPTIONS

Although rarely applicable, many jurisdictions “toll” (suspend) the limitation period in exceptional circumstances such as intimidation of the injured/harmed party, if the injured/harmed party was a minor when the injury occurred, or the injured/harmed party has filed a bankruptcy proceeding. In such cases, the statute of limitations may be “tolled” (paused) until the condition ends. Following the intimidation, reaching an adult age, or resolving bankruptcy issues, the statute of limitations will often begin to run once more.

CONTACT AN ATTORNEY TODAY

Are you thinking about suing or have been sued? Reach out to Volpe Law today to schedule a consultation. We can be contacted through our online form or call us directly at (303) 268-2867. Our team of dedicated attorneys are here to listen to your case and identify the best legal options for you.

DISCLAIMER

The information contained on this website is provided for informational purposes only. It is not legal advice and should not be construed as providing legal advice on any subject matter.  Laws frequently change and therefore this content is not necessarily up to date, nor comprehensive. Contact us or another attorney with any legal questions specific to your matter. You may request a consultation by calling us as 303-268-2867 or completing a consultation request form.

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The material on this site and on any third-party web site link included on the Volpe Law, LLC website is for informational purposes only. Nothing on this website may be construed as legal advice. Laws frequently change and therefore this content is not necessarily up to date, nor comprehensive. Contact us or another attorney with any legal questions specific to your matter. You may request a consultation by calling us as 303-268-2867 or completing a consultation request form. Using this website, filling out any forms, or communicating with Volpe Law, LLC through this site does not form an attorney/client relationship. Your matter may be subject to time limitations. You may be barred from taking any action if you do not timely act. Using or interacting with this website does not constitute your reliance on Volpe Law, LLC to take any action to represent you or preserve any claim that you may have or may assert. Please see Terms of Use for further information.

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