After getting into a car accident, your first step for financial compensation should be filing an insurance claim. A claim with the at-fault party’s insurer may result in payment for your crash-related losses, such as medical bills, lost wages, and property damages. If an insurance claim does not work, however, you may need to take the at-fault party to court during a personal injury lawsuit. In the state of Colorado, you have time limits on both types of claims.
What Are the Statutes of Limitations for Accidents in CO?
The statute of limitations in Colorado refers to the deadline for filing a car accident claim. The state enforces a deadline to encourage claimants to file promptly after a crash. The state has different statutes of limitations depending on the type of civil case. If you wish to file a civil car accident claim in Colorado, you generally have three years from the date of the car accident to file your lawsuit.
The three-year timeline exists for most types of personal injury claims in the state. If you do not discover your injuries until after the accident, you have three years from the date of discovery rather than the date of the collision. During a wrongful death car accident claim, the clock will start to tick on the date of your loved one’s death, not the date of the accident. Keep in mind, however, that the statute of limitations refers to civil lawsuits – not car insurance claims.
You have a much shorter deadline for filing an auto insurance claim than a personal injury lawsuit. Most car insurance companies require claimants to report accidents as soon as possible. This typically means 24-72 hours after the collision, or as soon as the victim is physically able to make the phone call. Failing to file the insurance claim quickly could lead to losing your right to any compensation.
How Long Do Insurance Companies Have to Respond and Resolve a Claim?
Once you file your claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance company (or your own insurer, if you caused the crash), the insurance company must acknowledge your claim within a reasonable amount of time. In most cases, this is seven to ten business days. The insurance company will then have 30 to 45 days to issue a response that resolves your claim. During this time, the insurer will investigate your case. You may receive phone calls from insurance claims adjusters.
The insurance company should either accept or deny your claim within the appropriate amount of time. A claim acceptance moves your case to the next stage: insurance claim negotiations. You, your attorney, the defendant, and the defendant’s insurance company and/or attorney will work together to settle your case for a satisfactory amount. If the insurer denies your claim or you do not get a response, you may then take the at-fault party to court.
Most car accident cases settle during insurance claim negotiations, without having to go to court. However, if you and your attorney cannot come to a reasonable agreement with the defendant’s insurance company, you may have to take your case to trial. In Colorado, the offer of settlement statute states that if the offered settlement is higher than the jury verdict at the conclusion of the lawsuit, the party that passed on the settlement has to pay the legal fees for both sides. A Colorado car accident attorney can help you settle your case as quickly and for as much compensation as possible.
Do You Have to Report an Accident to Police?
In Colorado, you legally have to report an accident to the police if it was serious enough to cause bodily injury, fatalities, or property damage that disabled one or more vehicles. The law requires drivers to call 911 to report the accident immediately. Drivers must also notify police if the crash involved a potentially intoxicated driver or a hit-and-run. All involved parties must stop and remain at the scene of the crash until police arrive. When in doubt, protect yourself by calling the police. Getting an official record of the accident can help your case later.