How Much Time Does One Have to Initiate an Auto Accident Lawsuit in Arizona?

Posted on April 2, 2020 in Car Accidents

The aftermath of an auto accident can be confusing to navigate as an injured victim. While you try to focus on getting well from your injuries, legal matters such as insurance claims and liability may interrupt you. One law, however, is extremely important to learn: the deadline for filing. Like all states, Arizona limits victims on how much time they have to initiate auto accident lawsuits. Missing your deadline will generally mean giving up any right to file an injury claim.

What Is the Statute of Limitations on Auto Accident Lawsuits in Arizona?

The law calls the deadline to bring your auto accident lawsuit the statute of limitations. This is a type of law every state uses to motivate plaintiffs to come forward with their claims as quickly as possible. A statute of limitations aims to keep the civil system just for both the plaintiff and the defendant. Without this rule, the victim bringing the claim could wait an undue amount of time to file – perhaps until important evidence no longer exists.

The statute of limitations on most personal injury and wrongful death claims in Arizona, including auto accidents, is two years. With a few exceptions, you will have two years to file a formal complaint with the court to claim damages in your county. The two-year clock typically starts counting down on the date of the auto accident. If you could not or should not have reasonably discovered your injuries until a later date, however, the clock may not begin until the date of injury discovery.

Also, there are some situations where you must file earlier than two years (for example if you are receiving worker’s compensation benefits for an accident, you must file within one year to avoid your claim being assigned to the worker’s compensation insurance company).  Because the facts and circumstances of any accident could potentially involve different deadlines, you should ask a Phoenix auto accident lawyer about your specific statute of limitations early to avoid missing your deadline.

 Shorter Statute of Limitations on Claims Involving the Government

Most states have unique statutes of limitations on claims against government entities. In Arizona, these car accident cases abide by the rules of Arizona Revised Statute 12-821.01. This law states that all claimants with lawsuits against public entities, public schools or public employees must file and serve initial notices within 180 days of the accident in question. You will have one year from the date of your accident to initiate your lawsuit against the government entity.  This applies to all Arizona government entity claims. Deadlines and rules differ for pursuing claims against the federal government.

What If You Miss the Deadline?

If you try to file your auto accident lawsuit after your statute of limitations has expired, the civil courts in Maricopa County will most likely refuse to hear the case. Arizona courts take filing deadlines very seriously. Filing past the time limit could mean you have lost your right to bring the lawsuit at all. Even if the courts agree to hear your car accident case, the defendant could move to dismiss the case based on the missed deadline. It is extremely important to learn your deadline and act quickly to pursue financial compensation after an auto accident in Arizona.

The sooner you bring your injury claim, the sooner your car accident lawsuit can conclude. On average, a car accident lawsuit that requires a trial will take a year or longer to resolve. If you and your injury attorney can achieve an insurance settlement, it can take a few months to a year. Timely filing of your auto accident claim can initiate the process right away, meaning you can reach your outcome sooner rather than later. Contact a Phoenix injury lawyer as soon as you can after a harmful car accident in Arizona.