Car accidents can happen unexpectedly, and cause people involved to be seriously injured. When a person is injured in an Arizona car accident because of the negligent actions of someone else, the victim is entitled to pursue compensation by filing a personal injury lawsuit against the responsible person or entity.
However, the right to pursue compensation after a car accident is restricted by the Arizona statute of limitations. Here is what the legal team at Hutzler Law believes you should know about the deadline for filing a car accident injury or wrongful death claim.
What is a Statute of Limitation for Car Accidents?
All states establish deadlines for filing different types of legal actions. These time limits have been established to prevent claims from being filed long after an accident when evidence might be lost. They are also meant to prevent potential defendants from going through life always facing the possibility that they could be sued for something that happened long ago.
If you wait to file a lawsuit outside of the limitation period, your claim will be time-barred. The defendant of your complaint will likely file a motion to dismiss your claim, and the court will grant it. This means that waiting too long to file your claim could prevent you from recovering compensation for your losses.
How Long Do I Have to File a Claim in Arizona?
Arizona’s statute of limitation for personal injury and wrongful death claims is found in ARS 12-542. Under this statute, you will have two years from the date of your car accident to file a lawsuit for your injuries against the at-fault driver and any other responsible parties that contributed to your collision. If you wait beyond this time to try to file your lawsuit, you will be unlikely to be able to recover any compensation for your injuries.
you will have two years from the date of your car accident to file a lawsuit for your injuries against the at-fault driver and any other responsible parties
The statute of limitations for wrongful death claims is slightly different. While it is also two years, the clock does not start to run until the death of the victim. In cases in which a car accident victim survives for a time before succumbing to his or her injuries, this means that the deadline clock will not especially begin running on the accident date.
When Should You Talk to an Attorney?
You might think that two years after your car accident is a long time. However, some people have other things that come up and force them to miss the deadline. You should never procrastinate and wait to talk to an attorney. In practice, it is best to speak to an attorney as soon as possible after your car accident.
When you retain an attorney early in your case, he or she will have more time to fully investigate what happened and gather evidence to build a stronger case. Important evidence in a car accident claim may be lost as time passes.
Hiring an attorney soon after your accident can allow you to gather and preserve the crucial pieces of evidence in your case to support the basis of your claim
Witnesses who saw what happened might forget relevant details with the passage of time. Some might also move or change their telephone numbers, making it difficult to find them.
Hiring an attorney soon after your accident can allow you to gather and preserve the crucial pieces of evidence in your case to support the basis of your claim. Finally, a lawyer can also help you to avoid making critical errors that could harm your ability to recover the compensation that you deserve.
Exceptions to the Arizona Statute of Limitations
There are a few exceptions to the statute of limitations for Arizona car accident claims. These exceptions toll the date when the deadline clock starts to run and are detailed below.
The Discovery Rule
The Arizona statute of limitations can be tolled if you did not discover your injuries until a later date after your accident. For this exception to apply, you must not have discovered your injury and should not reasonably have discovered it until later.
If this happens, the deadline clock will not start to run until the date you discovered your injury or reasonably should have discovered it.
Child Victims – Minors Under the Age of 18
Another exception that can toll the statute of limitations occurs when the victim of the accident is a child or adolescent. In these cases, the deadline clock will be tolled and will not start to run until the victim turns age 18. He or she will then have two years to file a car accident claim for the losses suffered.
For example, if a child is injured in an accident at age 12, he or she will have until age 20 to file a lawsuit. This exception is allowed because children are not considered to be competent to file lawsuits.
In most car accident cases with child victims, the parents will file lawsuits on behalf of their children. Any compensation recovered for the children will then be placed in trust until the children reach the age of majority.
How Long to File a Claim Against the Government?
Some car accidents are caused by state or federal employees who are working at the time they cause collisions. When a public sector employee causes your accident, you must be aware of the different requirements and deadlines that apply to governmental claims in Arizona.
Under ARS 12-821.01, people who are injured by governmental employees must file a notice of claim with the responsible agency no later than 180 days after the accident happens. You cannot file a lawsuit without first filing a notice of intent with the appropriate agency, municipality, or other public entity.
Each agency and county in Arizona might have specific rules and forms. This means you should contact the agency or municipality directly to ask about the required procedures.
Under ARS 12-821.01, people who are injured by governmental employees must file a notice of claim with the responsible agency no later than 180 days after the accident happens.
Once the agency or entity receives the notice, it will have sixty days to accept or deny it. A denial may be sent in writing. If the agency or entity does not respond to the notice within 60 days, it is deemed to have been denied.
If your claim is denied by the agency, you will then be able to file a car accident claim in court. If you do not carefully follow the rules and procedures required by the agency or entity, you could lose your right to file your claim.
The special procedures and complex rules involved with claims against the government might necessitate the help of an experienced car accident attorney at Hutzler Law.
Our attorneys understand the requirements and procedures to file a claim against a governmental agency or entity, and we can help to ensure that your claim is properly handled and filed with the correct agency.
In addition to complying with the relevant statute of limitations for your car accident lawsuit, you will also need to file your claim with the insurance company in a timely manner. All motorists in Arizona are required to carry automobile insurance in at least the following minimum liability amounts:
- $15,000 bodily injury coverage for one injured victim
- $30,000 bodily injury coverage per accident for multiple victims
- $10,000 in property damage coverage
Arizona uses a fault-based system for motor vehicle accidents. This means that you have a few different options for pursuing a claim for compensation after your accident.
If you have comprehensive and collision coverage, you can file your accident claim with your insurance company to recover compensation after your deductible is met.
You can also file your claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance company for the damages you have suffered. If the at-fault driver’s insurance coverage is insufficient to cover your losses, you can file your claim with your underinsured/uninsured motorists policy to recover compensation.
Insurance companies might accept your claim, dispute it, or deny it.
When your injuries were caused by the actions of someone else, it is in your best interest to retain an experienced car accident attorney.
Your injury lawyer at Hutzler Law understands how the insurance claims process works and can help you to meet all of the appropriate deadlines. Working with a lawyer can also help with the negotiations process and might allow you to recover more compensation than you might on your own.
If the insurance company disputes liability or denies your claim, an attorney can help you file a lawsuit within the Arizona statute of limitations to preserve your rights to recover compensation for your losses.
Get Help from the Experienced Arizona Car Accident Lawyer at Hutzler Law
When you have been injured in a car accident, you must comply with the Arizona statute of limitations to recover compensation. If you wait too long to file a claim, you could be barred from recovering damages for your losses. It is also a good idea to get help quickly after your accident so that evidence can be preserved.
The skilled attorneys at Hutzler Law understand the statute of limitations for personal injury and wrongful death claims and can work to ensure that you meet all applicable deadlines. We offer free consultations and work on a contingent fee basis, meaning you will not have to pay attorney’s fees unless and until we recover damages for you. Call us today to schedule an appointment at 602-345-1981.