You do not have an unlimited amount of time in which to bring a personal injury claim in Arizona. Like all states, Arizona has a statute of limitations – a law restricting how long you have to bring a claim to the courts as a plaintiff. If you miss your statute of limitations, the courts in Maricopa County will generally refuse to hear your personal injury case.
What is the Statute of Limitations in Arizona?
Arizona has different statutes of limitations for different types of claims. If you wish to file a personal injury claim in Phoenix, for example, you may have more or less time than if you were filing a breach of contract claim. It is important to learn the statute of limitations for your specific type of claim well before your deadline expires. Otherwise, you risk missing the time limit and losing the right to any money damages.
In Arizona, you will have two years on average from the date of your accident to file a personal injury claim (Arizona Revised Statute 12-542). This statute of limitations states that a plaintiff must commence a claim within two years of the accrual of the cause of action for personal injuries, medical malpractice, trespassing, robbery and wrongful death. During a wrongful death case, however, you will have two years from the date of death rather than the date of the accident.
You also have two years from the date of the accident to file a claim for property damages only. If you have a case involving fraud, however, you have a statute of limitations in Arizona of three years. Furthermore, if a car accident case has an uninsured or underinsured driver, the victim will have three years from the date of the accident to file a claim. You may have less than two years to bring a claim if the defendant is a government entity. Under Arizona Revised Statute 12-821.01, a person with a claim against a public entity only has 180 days after the accident to file a suit.
General Rules for Time Limits on Claims
The goal of a statute of limitations is to maintain the fairness of the justice system. It serves to encourage prompt and timely filing of a claim as soon as a plaintiff recognizes the possible signs of wrongdoing. In most cases, the civil and criminal courts are strict with their adherence to statutes of limitations. They may deny a plaintiff the chance to bring a claim after the statute of limitations has expired. Some exceptions to Arizona’s statutes of limitations exist, however.
Most statutes of limitations have an exception called the discovery rule. Some cases involve the delayed discovery of personal injuries. If you sustain a concussion in a car wreck, for example, you may not notice symptoms until a few days after the crash. Likewise, the victim of medical malpractice might not discover a foreign object left behind during surgery until months or years later. Most cases with the delayed discovery of an injury have tolled (paused) statutes of limitations. In general, you will have two years from the date of damage discovery, rather than the date of the incident, if you discover your injuries later.
For uninsured and underinsured vehicle claims, that statute requires that claims be filed within three years of the accident date or when the date the person knows that there is likely to be an insufficiency in the amount due. To learn more about these types of claims, get in touch with an experienced Phoenix car accident lawyer.
The Statute of Limitation for Cases Involving Minors
Another exception exists in Arizona for cases involving victims who are minors. If the victim was under the age of 18 at the time the cause of action accrued, the victim will have two years from his or her 18th birthday to file a personal injury claim, even if this is longer than two years from the date of the accident. Statutes of limitations can be difficult to apply to your specific case.
Seek Legal Counsel Promptly After an Injury
Because of the critical importance for ensuring that a lawsuit is filed prior to the expiration of the applicable statute of limitations, and because the date upon which the statute of limitations may expire for a given claim may not always be clear, anyone who suspects that they may have been injured due the negligence or reckless acts of another should immediately consult a personal injury attorney.
If you believe that you or a family member may have been injured, please contact us as soon as possible in order to protect your rights. Once we learn about your case, a lawyer from Begam Marks & Traulsen, P.A. can explain how that statute of limitations will apply, as well as how our law firm may be able to help.