What is the Statute of Limitations in Arizona
The statute of limitations in Arizona for filing personal injury claims in civil court is generally two years from the date of your injury. The statute of limitations is an important deadline. If you fail to file a claim within this time frame, you will be unable to seek compensation for your injuries through the court system.
There are some exceptions to this deadline which can shorten or lengthen that time frame depending on the circumstances of your case. So it’s best to consult with a personal injury lawyer as soon as possible to determine if you still qualify to file a personal injury claim under Arizona law.
What is a Statute of Limitations and How Do They Work?
A statute of limitations is a law that sets the maximum amount of time after an event within which legal proceedings may be initiated. In most jurisdictions, these time limits exist for both criminal law and civil law such as contract law and property law, though often under different names and with varying details.
Statutes of limitations are enacted for a number of reasons, including:
- To protect defendants from being prosecuted for crimes that occurred long ago, when evidence may be difficult to obtain and witnesses may have died or disappeared.
- To promote fairness and certainty in the legal system.
- To encourage plaintiffs to file their claims promptly, while the evidence is still fresh and witnesses are available.
What are Some Exceptions to the Arizona Statute of Limitations for Personal Injury?
There are a number of exceptions to Arizona’s 2-year statute of limitations for personal injury claims. Some of the most common exceptions include:
The discovery rule
The discovery rule is an exception to most statutes of limitations. It is not uncommon for people to discover personal injuries later in some cases. Symptoms of an injury may not be apparent until weeks after a car crash, for example. Similarly, a patient who undergoes surgery may not discover a foreign object left behind until months or years later.
It is common for statutes of limitations to toll (pause) when someone discovers an injury later. When you discover your injuries later than the date of the incident, you generally have two years from the date of discovery of damage to file a claim.
In Arizona, the statute of limitations for personal injury claims is two years. However, there is an exception for minors. If the injured person was under the age of 18 at the time of the accident, the statute of limitations does not begin to run until they turn 18. This means that a minor has two years from their 18th birthday to file a personal injury lawsuit, even if the accident occurred many years ago.
Here are some examples of how Arizona’s personal injury statute of limitations applies to minors:
- A 10-year-old child is injured in a car accident. The child’s parents have two years from the date of the accident to file a personal injury lawsuit on the child’s behalf.
- A 16-year-old teenager is injured in a slip-and-fall accident at a grocery store. The teenager has two years from their 18th birthday to file a personal injury lawsuit against the grocery store.
- A 17-year-old football player is injured during a high school football game. The player has two years from their 18th birthday to file a personal injury lawsuit against the school district, if the school district was negligent in causing the injury.
It is important to note that there are some exceptions to the minor exception to the statute of limitations. For example, if the minor’s parents file a personal injury lawsuit on their behalf within the two-year statute of limitations period, the minor will not be able to file their own lawsuit after they turn 18. Additionally, if the minor’s injury was caused by a government entity, the statute of limitations may be even shorter than two years.
there is an exception for people who are “of unsound mind” at the time of the injury. If a person is mentally incapacitated, the statute of limitations does not begin to run until they regain their mental capacity.
This exception to the statute of limitations is important because it protects people who are unable to understand their legal rights or pursue a personal injury claim on their own behalf. For example, a person with a severe brain injury may not be mentally capable of understanding that they have a legal claim against the person who caused their injury. In this case, the statute of limitations would not begin to run until the person regained their mental capacity.
It is important to note that there is no bright-line test for determining whether a person is “of unsound mind” for purposes of the statute of limitations. A court will consider a variety of factors, including the person’s mental condition, their ability to understand their legal rights, and their ability to pursue a personal injury claim on their own behalf.
Fraud or concealment
Fraud of concealment is a legal doctrine that can toll, or stop, the running of the statute of limitations for a personal injury claim in Arizona. Fraud of concealment occurs when the person or entity who caused the injury intentionally or recklessly conceals the fact of the injury from the victim.
If the victim of a personal injury does not discover their injury until after the statute of limitations has expired, they may still be able to file a lawsuit if they can prove that the defendant committed fraud or concealment. To prove fraud or concealment, the victim must show that:
- The defendant knew or should have known of the injury;
- The defendant took affirmative steps to conceal the injury from the victim; and
- The victim was unable to discover the injury despite exercising due diligence.
If the victim can prove these elements, the statute of limitations will be tolled until the victim discovers or should have discovered the injury.
Here are some examples of fraud or concealment in personal injury cases:
- A doctor fails to tell a patient about a surgical error or misdiagnosis.
- A manufacturer of a defective product fails to warn consumers of the danger.
- An employer fails to report a workplace injury to the appropriate authorities.
In some cases, the statute of limitations may be “tolled” or temporarily suspended when an out-of-state defendant is involved. If the defendant is not physically present in Arizona or cannot be served with legal papers within the state, the clock on the statute of limitations may be paused until the defendant enters the state or can be served with the lawsuit. This is often done to ensure that the defendant has an opportunity to defend themselves and that the plaintiff has an opportunity to pursue their claim.
Government or public entity
Arizona’s statute of limitations for personal injury cases involving government or public entities is different from the statute of limitations for cases involving private parties. For personal injury cases against government or public entities, the statute of limitations is one year. This means that the injured person must file a lawsuit within one year of the date of the injury.
There are a few exceptions to the one-year statute of limitations for personal injury cases against government or public entities. For example, if the injured person is a minor, the statute of limitations does not begin to run until they turn 18. Additionally, if the injured person is mentally incapacitated, the statute of limitations does not begin to run until they regain their mental capacity.
Be aware that there are also specific notice requirements for personal injury claims against government or public entities. The injured person must provide the government or public entity with written notice of their claim within 180 days of the date of the injury. If the injured person fails to provide timely notice of their claim, they may lose their right to sue the government or public entity.
What Are Some of the Most Popular Civil Claims?
Both individuals and companies can bring civil cases, and people file many different types of claims in civil court.
The following types of cases are common:
- Personal injury claims
- Contract disagreements
- Class action lawsuits
- Equitable claims
- Property debates
- Family law or divorce matters
Again, each type of case has a different deadline under state law.
Do Product Liability Cases Have Any Special Rules?
The statute of limitations for product liability cases in Arizona is two years. This means that the injured person must file a lawsuit within two years of the date of the injury or the date that they discovered or should have discovered the injury.
There is also a statute of repose for product liability cases in Arizona. The statute of repose means that a lawsuit cannot be filed more than 12 years after the product was first sold for use or consumption. This exception only applies to negligence and breach of warranty claims, not claims based on strict liability.
Here are some examples of how the statute of limitations and statute of repose work for product liability cases in Arizona:
- A person is injured by a defective product. The person has two years from the date of the injury to file a lawsuit against the manufacturer or seller of the product.
- A person discovers that they have been injured by a defective product several years after the product was sold. The person has two years from the date they discovered the injury to file a lawsuit against the manufacturer or seller of the product.
There are some exceptions to the statute of limitations and statute of repose for product liability cases. For example, the statute of limitations may be tolled if the injured person is a minor or if they are mentally incapacitated.
How Long Do Injured Workers Have to File Workers’ Compensation Cases?
Injured workers in Arizona have one year from the date of the injury or the date that they knew or should have known of the injury to file a workers’ compensation claim. This is known as the statute of limitations.
If an injured worker fails to file a workers’ compensation claim within one year of the injury, they may lose their right to benefits. However, there are some cases where the Industrial Commission of Arizona may make an exception and allow the worker to file a late claim.
Here are some tips for protecting your rights in the event of a workplace injury:
- Report the injury to your employer immediately.
- Seek medical attention for your injury.
- Keep all documentation related to the injury, including medical records, receipts, and photographs.
- Contact a workers’ compensation attorney to discuss your legal options.
It is important to note that the workers’ compensation system is designed to be a no-fault system, meaning that injured workers are eligible for benefits regardless of who caused the injury. However, there are some cases where the injured worker may be able to file a third-party lawsuit against the person or entity that caused the injury.
Is it Necessary to Resolve the Case by the Filing Deadline?
The statute of limitations gives you a two-year time limit for resolving your case, but it only addresses the deadline for filing a lawsuit. Complex cases may require more time to conclude. So long as you have filed your lawsuit within the statute of limitations, you can still use the prospect of a court verdict as leverage in settlement negotiations, even if more than two years have passed.
Do not risk missing your claim deadline by delaying seeking legal help.
Don’t Miss the Statute of Limitations in Arizona. Seek Legal Counsel Today.
Any individual who suspects they may have suffered an injury due to negligence or reckless act of another should immediately consult a personal injury attorney due to the critical importance of filing a lawsuit before the applicable statute of limitations expires.
If you or a family member has suffered an injury, contact a lawyer as soon as possible to protect your rights. A personal injury lawyer from Gallagher & Kennedy can explain how that statute of limitations will apply to your case, as well as how their firm can help. Contact us today for your free consultation and protect your rights.