If you get injured in a preventable accident in Arizona and wish to pursue financial compensation with a personal injury claim, it is important to understand a law called the statute of limitations. Arizona’s statute of limitations gives most claimants no more than two years from the date of an accident to file a personal injury claim. If you wait too long, you could risk missing your statute of limitations and losing your opportunity to recover compensation for your injuries forever.
General Personal Injury Statute of Limitations: Two Years
Arizona’s personal injury statute of limitations is found in Arizona Revised Statutes (A.R.S.), Section 12-542. This law states that claims for injuries done to another person shall be commenced and prosecuted within two years after the cause of action accrues. This law gives a strict deadline of two years to file a personal injury claim, including an action for medical malpractice and injury done to an estate or property.
Statutes of limitations are in place to promote timely claims filing by injured accident victims. The courts want claimants to file lawsuits as soon as possible, while evidence for both sides is still available and reliable. Without a time limit, an injured victim could potentially hold the threat of a lawsuit over a defendant’s head indefinitely, with no legal recourse. Statutes of limitations keep the civil justice system just for both parties.
The Discovery Rule
In most personal injury claims, the date that a cause of action accrues means the date of the accident. However, there is an exception for the delayed discovery of injuries. It is common for victims not to notice their injuries until days or even weeks after an accident. This can be due to adrenaline masking pain or an injury showing symptoms slowly over time. In these cases, the Arizona courts will toll (pause) the statute of limitations until the date that the victim discovers or reasonably should have discovered his or her injuries.
Injured Minors (Under the Age of 18)
Another exception is granted to accident victims who are under the age of 18 at the time of their injuries. Special rules apply to cases involving injured children. After a dog attacks a child, for example, the family of the injured victim will be given a longer length of time to file a related dog bite injury claim. In these cases, the clock on the two-year statute of limitations does not begin to run until the child reaches 18 years of age; in other words, an injured child has until age 20 to file a personal injury claim.
Claims Against the Government in Arizona
Every state in the country is subject to laws of sovereign immunity, which protect
government entities from liability for negligence-related accidents. Most states, including Arizona, have enacted laws that grant exceptions to the sovereign immunity rule. Tort Claims Acts list specific circumstances when victims can file claims against government agencies and recover financial compensation. According to A.R.S. 12-821.01, claims brought against a public entity, public school or public employee in Arizona must be filed within 180 days.
Wrongful Death Claims
State law (A.R.S. 12-542(2)) says that when death ensues from injuries done to another person, a related cause of action must be commenced within two years of the date of death, even if this is longer than two years from the date of the accident that inflicted the fatal injury. In a wrongful death case, an action is considered as accruing upon the death of the party injured, not the date of the accident (if the two are different).
The Importance of Contacting an Attorney Early
The courts in Arizona take the statutes of limitations very seriously. If you wait too long to consult with an attorney and bring a personal injury claim, you could miss your filing deadline and forfeit the right to pursue financial compensation for your injuries. The defendant or at-fault party in your case will most likely file a motion to dismiss the case based on the expired statute of limitations. Consult with an attorney at the Law Offices of John Phebus right away to avoid missing your statute of limitations.