The National Practitioner Data Bank reported an average of 12,144 cases of medical malpractice between 2009 and 2018. However, many more cases never went to court because the victims waited too long to file their claim, passing the medical malpractice statute of limitations.
The medical malpractice statute of limitations marks the difference between vast amounts of financial compensation and soul-crushing debt.
The medical malpractice statute of limitations varies by state, ranging from 2-6 years. Only a few exemptions allow medical malpractice cases to be filed after that time limit.
Unfortunately, for medical malpractice victims in Colorado, the statute of limitations is notoriously complicated.
To win a medical malpractice suit in Colorado, your attorney will have to obey strict procedural rules, a “certificate of review” must be created, and a substantial burden of proof must be presented.
Additionally, there is a cap on the damages you can be paid.
Standard Medical Malpractice Statute of Limitations in Colorado
In Colorado, you have two years from the date you discovered the harm was done to file your lawsuit. This includes two years after you could have been reasonably expected to uncover the issue (even if you didn’t).
Regardless of when you discover the harm inflicted on you, Colorado law states that you must file your case within three years of the alleged malpractice. This is called “the discovery rule”.
That said, there are exceptions.
Exceptions to Medical Malpractice Statute of Limitations in Colorado
There are three primary reasons the statute of limitations in Colorado can be extended beyond the limits set by the discovery rule.
Lawmakers created the discovery rule to protect victims who weren’t aware — and could not have been aware — of the harm done to them until well after the statute of limitations had passed.
But in Colorado, that has its limits.
Nonetheless, there are circumstances where you can successfully file a medical malpractice lawsuit against a medical professional after the statute of limitations has passed.
If the case involves either fraud or concealment on the part of the defendant and they were aware of the harm done and actively attempted to hide it from you, you can possibly file your lawsuit after the statute of limitations has expired.
Another potential exemption is for cases that involve a surgical instrument or other foreign objects inside your body.
Finally, it can be extended in some cases if it was not possible to learn about the malpractice or the resulting harm “by the exercise of reasonable diligence.”
It’s Different for Children in Colorado
As with most states, there are slightly different rules for children who are victims of medical malpractice.
If the victim was not yet six years old at the time of the incident, a parent or guardian potentially must file the lawsuit before the child turns eight.
Understanding Certificate of Review in Colorado
The certificate of review is one of many procedural hurdles your attorney will have to jump over for a medical malpractice case in Colorado.
According to the New England Journal of Medicine, only 1% of physicians avoid a lawsuit before they reach retirement age. Malpractice allegations have devastating legal repercussions, so the certificate of review helps to prevent frivolous lawsuits from being filed against licensed professionals.
The certificate of review establishes that you have consulted a medical expert to verify your lawsuit has substantial merit and it must be filed within 60 days of filing the suit.
A failure to do so can result in the dismissal of the complaint.
Colorado Cap on Malpractice Compensation
Unlike most states, Colorado doesn’t have one cap on medical malpractice — but two. They can limit the amount of compensation you can receive when you win a case.
The first is an “umbrella” cap of $1 million. That is the total compensation you can receive in a medical malpractice case, including economic losses, non-economic losses, and reduced earning capacity.
The second cap, which falls under the umbrella, is set at $300,000. It is for non-economic damages, which are hard to quantify. These can include compensation for fear and anxiety, sleeplessness, disfigurement, loss of enjoyment of life, and “pain and suffering”.
The amount of compensation can vary wildly depending on the amount of harm done. However, according to the NPDB, $309,908 is the average amount awarded.
Final thoughts: Medical Malpractice Statute of Limitations: How Do They Impact You?
Colorado’s medical malpractice statute of limitations can make all the difference to your life. A failure to file your suit in time can leave you with crippling medical bills and limited economic opportunities.
Because of this, it’s essential that you get the ball rolling as soon as you suspect you might be a victim of medical malpractice. Reach out to Aurora personal injury attorneys who understand how to navigate Colorado’s complicated claim process.
The clock begins ticking as soon as the damage is done. Act quickly to ensure that you are fairly compensated.
If you believe you’re a victim of medical malpractice in Colorado, contact our attorneys today!