Can we get sued after 2 years?
(Colorado Springs, CO)
Two years ago we were driving after a snow storm. A semi truck leaned towards our side and we moved over, but spun out into oncoming traffic. The semi truck kept driving, never stopped. Another semi truck swerved to miss us but he went into oncoming traffic, hitting three cars, but WE got the ticket for careless driving.
Two years later we get something from an insurance company saying we owe $10k for one of the vehicles. Is this legal? Isn't there a statute of limitations? I really need some help here. How is it we can be at fault for this and get sued 2 years after it happened? Thank you.
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ANSWER for "Can we get sued after 2 years?":
Michael (Colorado Springs, CO):
The Lexis Nexis website is the only official source of the Colorado Revised Statutes. Under Colorado Revised Statutes Section 13-80-101, the Statute of Limitations for property damage claims is three (3) years.
In practical terms, this means a person who sustained property damage in a car accident must either settle his or her property damage claim, or file a lawsuit against the person who caused the property damage within three (3) years from the date of the car accident.
If the person who sustained the property damage doesn't settle his or her claim within three (3) years from the date of the car accident, and fails to file a lawsuit within that period of time, the person who sustained the property damage losses his or her legal right to continue to pursue the party who caused the damage.
While a demand from an insurance company for payment of ten thousand dollars can be unnerving, a mere demand from the insurance company is not proof of fault.
What this means is the insurance company likely already paid for the repairs to their insured's car. Now, they have turned around and are "subrogating" against you.
To subrogate means the insurance company has a right to demand reimbursement from the person who they believe was responsible (liable) for the accident and their insured's resulting property damage. While the insurance company has a right to subrogate, that right in and of itself is not proof of any kind that you were at fault. You have every legal right to dispute that claim.
Fortunately, that's why we carry car insurance. Under the terms of your insurance policy, your insurance company is legally bound to provide for you at no cost (up to the policy limits), an attorney to defend you.
Even if the attorney fails to succeed in defeating the insurance company's claim, your insurance company will still pay any amount to the insurance company up to your policy limits a court may award against you.
If you haven't already done so, contact your insurance company and report the accident. You are almost certainly contractually bound to do so under the "Notice of Occurrence" clause in your policy.
Once reported, your insurance company will take any and all action under the law in an effort to protect you, and them, from having to pay the amount demanded by the driver's insurance company.
The above is general information. Laws change frequently, and across jurisdictions. You should get a personalized case evaluation from an attorney licensed in your state. Find a local attorney to give you a free case review here, or call (888) 647-2490.
Best of luck,
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