Individuals, businesses, and institutions generally operate best with a structure or framework in place for purposes of organization and efficiency, and the courts are no exception. In the realm of civil actions and proceedings, the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (FRCP) are the guidelines that local courts model their own rules of civil procedure from. Courts have an affirmative duty to handle civil litigation in a manner that is fair and without unnecessary costs or delays. In a personal injury action, there are generally time frames and deadlines that must be adhered to throughout the proceedings.
Time Considerations Following an Injury
When a person is injured and receiving medical care following an accident that is likely to raise liability issues, no party with potentially adverse interests may
- attempt to discuss a settlement with the injured party for 30 days,
- attempt to enter a release of liability agreement with the injured party for 30 days, or
- attempt to obtain a verbal or written statement from the injured party for 15 days.
Any release of liability agreements or statements would be void and inadmissible as evidence. These provisions are not applicable to statements obtained by law enforcement.
Initiating a Claim & Alternate Dispute Resolution
A plaintiff initiating a claim must serve the defendant within 63 days after filing a complaint. A failure to do so could result in the action being dismissed without prejudice, unless an extension is granted for good cause. Injury claims against governmental units or public employees require a notice in writing within 182 days. After the case is at issue, the parties must meet to discuss (confer) within a 14-day period and attempt a settlement discussion within a 42-day period.
Motions, Responses, & Replies
A filed motion must identify the relevant regulation or statute and explain the legal basis. Generally, a response to a motion must be completed within 21 days after being served. A reply to a response must generally be completed within a 14-day period after service of the response.
Extensions & Continuances
Parties may request one 21-day extension of time beyond the limit of the presiding court for pleadings, interrogatories, document requests, etc. Other continuances require court approval. These motions must include the reason(s) the extended period of time is necessary.
Scheduling Orders (Case Management)
A court officer will coordinate a schedule and generally a plaintiff will file a proposed order of scheduling. A meeting should be conducted within a 21-day period before the tendering of a proposed order of scheduling in accordance with Rule 26. Disclosures should be shared within a 14-day period after Rule 26 meeting. Parties should assume the courts will modify proposed orders of scheduling. Discovery may begin after service of the order outlining how the case will be managed (scheduled).
Discovery, Expert Disclosures, Subpoenas, & Depositions
Deposition requests should allow a 14-day notice. Parties requesting a deposition should consider convenience and cost effectiveness. Parties seeking modifications of the procedures regarding disclosures by experts shall include a statement justifying the request. The deadline for discovery is 49 days before the trial date. Subpoenas must allow for a minimum of 48 hours advanced notice before their appearance.
Pretrial Motions, Witnesses, & Exhibits
Generally, the deadline for pretrial motions is 35 days before the trial date. The deadline for counsel to share witness and exhibit lists is 42 days before trial. When previous witness testimony will be presented, it must be reported 28 days before the trial.
Statute of Limitations
Statutes of limitation are the deadlines for filing a claim that seek to “discourage unnecessary delay.” A three-year statute of limitations applies to tort actions for injury and damage to property involving motor vehicles. A two-year statute of limitations generally applies in actions of wrongful death.
With so many phases and complexities in Colorado’s procedures for civil claims, it is strongly recommended that these actions are facilitated by an experienced personal injury lawyer. In accidents resulting in catastrophic or life-altering injuries, it is of even further importance. A seasoned attorney will manage the process and utilize the best practices and strategies in establishing negligence, gathering evidence, coordinating witness and expert testimony, adhering to deadlines, and much more.