How Long Do I Have for Filing a Personal Injury Lawsuit in Arizona?
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If you or a loved one have been injured in an accident, you often have many pressing concerns to focus on, such as your physical recovery from your injuries, when you may be able to return to work, or how you are going to pay for your medical bills. You may also be thinking about whether you will be able to seek compensation for your injuries. It is important to know how long you may have after your accident to file any lawsuit in Phoenix; if you wait too long, you may be unable to seek compensation from the party responsible for your injuries or damages.
If you have been injured in an accident, call Zinda Law Group at (800) 863-5312 to schedule your free consultation with one of our experienced Arizona personal injury attorneys. If we are not able to win your case, you will not owe us anything.
how long do i have to file a personal injury lawsuit in arizona?
Each state typically establishes legal time limits, called a statute of limitations, within which someone must file specific types of lawsuits, such as personal injury lawsuits. Generally, any lawsuits that are brought after this statute of limitations has expired will not be allowed. Most states typically have a statute of limitations for personal injury claims of two or three years.
Under Arizona law, Arizona Revised Statute (A.R.S.) Section 12-542 requires injury victims to file any personal injury lawsuit against a private party within two years. This means that you will have two years from the date of the accident to file a lawsuit to seek any compensation you may be entitled to. This statute of limitations will generally apply regardless of whether the accident was caused by the other party’s negligence or if your injuries were instead intentionally caused by the other party, such as by assault and battery or some other intentional misconduct.
are there any exceptions to arizona’s statute of limitations?
While most personal injury lawsuits in Arizona must be brought within two years from the date of the accident, Arizona law does provide for some exceptions depending on the nature of the injuries, who was responsible for the accident, or certain characteristics of the victim. Depending on the nature of the exception, the statute of limitations may be shortened, or it may be extended by means of tolling when the statute of limitations will begin. If you have been injured in an accident, you should contact an experienced personal injury lawyer in Arizona as soon as possible to determine whether any of these exceptions may apply to your case and to make sure that you file any lawsuit before the expiration of the applicable statute of limitations.
Injuries Caused by a Public Entity or Public Employee
If your injuries were caused by a public employee, such as a police officer, or occurred on the property of a public entity, such as a sidewalk outside city hall, A.R.S. Section 12-821 requires you to file any personal injury lawsuit in Arizona against the public entity or employee within one year of the date of the accident. Further, before you can file a lawsuit against a public entity or employee in Arizona, you must also first submit a formal claim for compensation to the appropriate public entity within 180 days of your accident. If you fail to submit this formal claim, any lawsuit against the employee or entity will not be allowed pursuant to A.R.S. Section 12-821.01.
Injured Victim is Under the Age of 18 or Was “Of Unsound Mind”
While the statute of limitations is shortened for claims against public entities, it may actually be extended in some situations, such as if the victim is considered “disabled” whether by reason of not having yet reached the age of majority by being at least 18 years old or by reason of “insanity” or being “of unsound mind” pursuant to A.R.S. Section 12-502. First, if the victim was under the age of 18 at the time of the accident, then the statute of limitations will be tolled until the minor reaches the age of 18. The minor will then have two years from the date of his or her 18th birthday in which to file a personal injury lawsuit for any injuries or damages sustained in the accident.
Meanwhile, the statute of limitations may also be tolled if the victim was “of unsound mind” at the time of the accident. Generally, a victim may be considered “of unsound mind” if he or she lacks, either temporarily or permanently, the cognitive ability to make rational decisions. If the victim’s disability later becomes lifted, then the victim will have two years from the date the disability was lifted within which to file a personal injury lawsuit seeking compensation for the accident.
Importantly, this provision will only apply if the disability existed at the time of the accident. For example, if the victim later suffered a stroke a few months after the accident in question and was placed into a coma, the statute of limitations would not be tolled because the disability did not already exist at the time the accident occurred and when the statute of limitations first began to run.
Your Injuries Were Not Discovered Until Later
Further, the statute of limitations does not begin running until either the date you were injured, or the date you became aware of your injuries or should have become aware of your injuries. In some cases, your injuries may not be readily apparent immediately after your accident; for example, in some medical malpractice cases, your surgeon may leave an object inside you during surgery or otherwise cause an internal injury that could take weeks or even months to manifest itself. In this case, the statute of limitations would not begin running until the date that you became aware of your injuries or when you should have become aware of them, as this date is when you should have actually become aware that you had been injured, such as by the surgeon in the prior example.
The Liable Party Left Arizona
Finally, the statute of limitations may be tolled if the party responsible for causing the accident leaves the state of Arizona before you file the personal injury lawsuit in Arizona to seek compensation for your injuries. If the liable party leaves the state, then the statute of limitations will be tolled while the party is outside the state, pursuant to A.R.S. Section 12-501. This tolling will begin whenever the liable party becomes absent from the state, whether at the time the cause of action accrues, such as when the victim first becomes aware of his or her injuries, or at any time while the statute of limitations is currently running.
Thus, A.R.S. Section 12-501 effectively serves to pause the statute of limitations while the liable party is out of the state, until the party’s return. Since there are several scenarios that may extend, shorten, or pause Arizona’s statute of limitations, you should contact a personal injury lawyer in Arizona as soon as possible; this person will be able to help you understand your legal options and make sure that the applicable statute of limitations to your case does not expire before you have had a chance to file a personal injury lawsuit.
how your attorney can help you with your personal injury lawsuit
Hiring a skilled attorney near you may be the difference between winning or losing your case, as well as in ensuring whether or not you are able to seek maximum compensation. Initially, your lawyer can help you understand who may be liable for your injuries as well as how much compensation you may be entitled to. After discussing the nature of your claim, your lawyer can also explain how much time you may have left to file any personal injury lawsuit and whether any exceptions may impact the length of the statute of limitations applicable to your case.
CONTACT An arizona personal injury lawyer TODAY
Personal injury lawsuits can become complicated in a variety of ways, including while gathering the necessary evidence to support your claim, negotiating with an insurance company, and proving your case at trial if necessary. However, none of these aspects of a lawsuit will be possible if the statute of limitations expires before you can file a lawsuit.
If you or a loved one have been injured in an accident in Phoenix, you should call one of the experienced Arizona personal injury attorneys from Zinda Law Group as soon as possible to discuss your situation. Based on the unique facts and circumstances of your accident and other factors, your attorney can help you understand your legal options as well as determine when the statute of limitations will expire so that you can file your personal injury lawsuit before your time expires, with the assistance of the skilled team at Zinda Law Group.
Meetings with attorneys are available by appointment only.