If you’ve been injured due to the negligence of another person, it’s your right to pursue compensation for your medical bills, lost wages, and more. However, you must pursue justice within a specific time frame, known as the statute of limitations. In the state of Arizona, statutes of limitations typically begin at the time of the injury, but the time limit varies depending on the type of injustice committed.
Today, we’re breaking down the Arizona statutes of limitations for personal injury claims, from car accidents to medical malpractice. If you’re unsure if you’ve surpassed your local statute of limitations, be sure to reach out to a qualified personal injury attorney as soon as possible. The longer you delay, the less of a chance you have to receive compensation.
What are the Arizona Statutes of Limitations?
A statute of limitations is a time limit placed by courts that determines how long a victim has to file a civil claim. In other words, it’s the period in which you can take action against the individual who harmed you. Actions taken during this period can include filing a lawsuit or filing a claim against the individual’s insurance company. Once the period is over, you can no longer pursue justice. Statutes of limitations ensure personal injury victims receive swift justice, and they also safeguard the court from fraudulent or exaggerated claims.
Each state establishes its own statutes of limitations, often with varying time limits for different crimes. After the time period has run its course, you cannot pursue prosecution—meaning the accused individual or entity is essentially free. If you miss the Arizona statute of limitations for your case, your claim will likely be dismissed entirely.
Arizona Statutes of Limitations for Personal Injury Lawsuits
Arizona law has multiple statutes of limitations that depend on the type of crime committed. For instance, the statute of limitations for car accidents is different from the statute of limitations for medical malpractice. Personal injury victims must understand the time frame for their claim so they can pursue justice and receive compensation for their injuries.
If you’re unsure which personal injury category your Arizona civil action falls under, contact a personal injury attorney as soon as possible.
General Personal Injury Claim: Car Accidents or Slip and Fall Cases
The primary or proximate cause of a general personal injury claim is another person’s negligence. For instance, failure to adhere to the proper speed limit or failure to clean up a spill are two leading causes in general personal injury claims. In cases such as these, you must file a claim within Arizona’s two-year statute of limitations.
These personal injury cases include:
The two-year deadline to file your personal injury claim begins on the date of injury. So, if you were injured on May 1, 2020, your time period begins May 1, 2020, and it extends until May 1, 2022. However, there is an exception to this rule: the rule of discovery.
The rule of discovery states if a victim is unaware of their injury on the date of the accident, the statute of limitations begins when they discover the injury. For example, if your accident occurred on May 1, but your injuries were not revealed until you attended a doctor’s appointment on October 3, the statute of limitations for your case would begin on October 3. Not to be confused with the discovery phase of a lawsuit, the discovery rule is especially important for individuals unaware of the extent of their damages on the date of injury.
Wrongful Death Claim
Arizona law defines wrongful death as a death caused by a preventable act or neglect. A wrongful death claim is typically reserved for situations where the victim would have been able to file their own personal injury claim, had they survived. A common example of a wrongful death claim is filing a civil action after the death of a loved one, killed in a semi-truck accident. There is a two-year statute of limitations to pursue damages on behalf of the deceased.
Arizona law allows only specific parties to bring a wrongful death claim against the at-fault individual or entity. Parties legally entitled to file a wrongful death claim on behalf a loved one include:
- The surviving spouse of the deceased
- Any surviving children of the deceased
- The surviving parent or guardian of the deceased
- A personal representative of a deceased spouse, child, parent or guardian
- A personal representative of the deceased’s estate
- The parents or legal guardian of the deceased, if the deceased is a child under the age of 18
Medical Malpractice Claim
If you sustained damages due to substandard or negligent medical treatment, you are entitled to a medical malpractice claim. The medical malpractice statute of limitations in Arizona adheres to the discovery rule. In other words, you have two years to file a claim once you discover your injury was caused by medical malpractice. Many medical malpractice patients are under sedation or anesthesia at the time of their injury. Therefore, it’s often difficult to determine if the medical practitioner acted negligently for weeks, months, or even years after the procedure.
For example, if you received substandard medical treatment for a back injury in December 2018, but you didn’t discover your injuries until December 2019, your two-year medical malpractice time frame begins in December 2019. In medical malpractice cases, the victim has the burden of proof. As the victim, you must provide evidence you did not or could not have known the injury existed before you took legal action. It’s recommended you find a personal injury lawyer with whom you have a strong attorney-client relationship. Together you can form this burden of proof.
Claims Involving Children and Mentally Impaired Individuals
Arizona’s statute of limitations is delayed in all personal injury claims involving a child under the age of 18. According to Arizona revised statute 12-821.01, the statute of limitations does not begin until the child injury victim reaches their 18th birthday. Once the victim turns 18, they have a two-year period to file a personal injury claim.
For victims the court deems mentally unsound, meaning they lack the cognitive ability to understand and make rational decisions, the statute of limitations is delayed until the removal of the disability.
Once the court deems the individual mentally sound, the victim has two years to file a claim.
Product Liability Claim
Arizona’s product liability law handles claims involving injury from a defective product. Victims of defective products have two years after suffering an injury to file a product liability claim. Victims can file claims against the product’s designer, manufacturer, or retailer. However, the victim must file within 12 years of when the product was initially sold for use or consumption. Additionally, the claim must reflect the manufacturer’s negligence or a breach of warranty.
The reasoning behind these stipulations is simple. If you drank milk that was 12 years expired, you would expect to get sick. So, you couldn’t sue the milk company because you chose to drink expired milk. However, if the product’s warranty or seller’s information claimed you could still safely drink the milk after 12 years, you have a right to sue.
Personal Injury Claim Against Government
If you’ve been injured due to the actions of one of Arizona’s public institutions or public employees, you have a 180-day window to file a claim. This time limit equates to roughly six months. The statute of limitations begins once you realize you’ve been injured and know the public entity or employee is the source of the injury.
Any claim filed against an Arizona public figure or organization must clearly state the facts of the case to prove liability. The claim must contain a specific amount you’re willing to accept as a settlement, as well as a reasonable conclusion for how you reached that amount.
Typically, your settlement amount should reflect the total of your medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering. If you’re unsure how to price your damages, reach out to a personal injury attorney today.
Seek a Free Consultation with an Arizona Injury Lawyer
Unfortunately, one of the most common reasons for a claim’s denial is failing to meet the statute of limitations. No victim deserves to miss out on justice because of a timing technicality. If you were injured and have been unaware of the statute of limitations for your personal injury claim, reach out to a trusted personal injury attorney in Phoenix, Tucson, or Mesa for a free case review. A personal injury law firm can provide the legal advice you need. There may still be time to receive compensation for your suffering.