Personal injury cases are those in which someone's negligence or unsafe actions cause injury or death. Successfully resolving a Colorado personal injury case requires following state rules and conducting a thorough investigation.
Where Do I File My Claim?
Personal injury is a civil matter, usually handled in state court. In Colorado, you generally file your complaint in the county or district where you live or where your injury occurred. The choice between district or county court depends partly on the amount of damages you seek.
What Is Colorado's Statute of Limitations?
Most personal injury cases, including medical malpractice, must be filed within two years of the incident. The statute of limitations for cases involving motor vehicles is three years.
What Are My First Steps?
After filing your complaint with the court, you must notify the person you are suing, called the defendant. To do this, you must arrange to deliver a summons, usually with a copy of the complaint. The defendant has a short time to file a response and answer your allegations. Both sides then start preparing for trial.
What Damages Can I Recover?
You might be able to recover two types of damages:
Economic damages represent money lost as a result of your injury, such as medical bills, lost wages and lost future earnings.
Non-economic damages compensate you for how the injury has affected your life, such as by causing pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment, and emotional distress. The state caps the amount you can receive for most types of injuries.
Permanent injury or death may entitle you or your loved ones to additional damages for loss of the family relationship you once enjoyed.
What is Modified Comparative Fault?
Colorado limits your ability to recover damages according to a modified comparative fault standard with a 50 percent bar. This means you can only recover damages if you are less then 50 percent responsible for the accident, and your damages will be reduced by your degree of fault.
What is The Discovery Process?
Discovery involves uncovering the facts of the case and may include several methods:
- Written questions and answers, called interrogatories, must be answered under oath.
Oral interviews of both parties, called depositions, might include witnesses for each side.
The defense may also ask for its own doctors to examine the plaintiff to corroborate injury claims.
What Is Mediation?
You may be able to settle your case through a process called mediation. During mediation, both sides meet with an impartial third party who tries to help them come to a fair settlement.
What Happens at Trial?
Unless both sides agree to waive a jury trial, most trials start by selecting the members of the jury. Each side then makes opening statements and takes turns presenting evidence and witnesses.
Can I Afford a Personal Injury Attorney?
Many lawyers work on personal injury cases for a contingency fee. This means they receive a percentage of your award. If you lose at trial, you do not pay anything.
What Else Should I Know?
Even if you lose your case, you might still have a few options:
A motion for a new trial argues that your case should be retried because legal errors occurred during the first trial.
A notice of appeal requests that an appeals court review your case's decision. You must have sufficient grounds, such as misapplication of the law, for the court to agree to review your case.
Other motions are available as well, and an experienced attorney will know which have the best chance of success in your case.
Where Can I Get Answers to Questions?
Personal injury statutes are complex and it may not always be clear which ones apply to a specific case. A personal injury attorney in your state will be able to help you prepare a strong case.