If you suffered injuries in a car crash, the last thing on your mind is keeping track of how long you have to file a lawsuit. Unfortunately, this deadline, also known as the statute of limitations, is a valid concern that motor vehicle collision victims need to keep track of if they want the option of initiating litigation after their accident. That is why following a car crash, you must understand what these timelines mean for you.
Fortunately, you will not have to figure out this complicated legal situation alone. In the following blog post, to better help you understand these regulations and how they may affect you, we will walk you through everything you have to know about the statute of limitations and the factors that can affect this timeline. We will also discuss how an experienced Phoenix car accident attorney can help ensure you do not miss this target date.
What Exactly Is the Statute of Limitations?
The statute of limitations refers to the legal timeframe set by the justice system that establishes a deadline for filing different legal actions, such as a personal injury lawsuit after a car accident. These timeframes are usually stringent, and if you do not file your case within this period, you can be barred from pursuing legal action to recover compensation for the harm and losses you suffered.
While all states have a statute of limitations for filing different types of legal cases, these deadlines typically depend on numerous factors, including the type of legal claim being brought and the accident involved in the claim.
In addition, these time limits are in place to prevent claims from being filed long after an injury or accident when the evidence from it may be lost, as well as to prevent defendants from facing the possibility of a lawsuit for an event that happened a long time ago.
What Is the Statute of Limitations Following a Phoenix Car Accident?
According to the statute of limitations laws in Arizona, an individual harmed in a motor vehicle accident will only have two years to file a suit against the liable motorist that caused the accident or any other parties that contributed to the crash.
However, the statute of limitations for claims involving an individual passing away from a car crash is slightly different. According to these regulations, you will have two years from the date of the victim’s death to bring a wrongful death claim. This means that if an individual survives some time before passing away from their car accident injuries, the clock will not start after the accident date but rather after the date the victim passed away.
As a result, if you want to determine how much time you have to file your legal case, you should reach out to an experienced car accident lawyer as soon as you can. These legal professionals can not only figure out the exact amount of time you have to file your suit, but they can also make sure that they prepare the required legal motions and files and submit them before this statute of limitations expires.
Exceptions to the Statute of Limitations in Phoenix
Another issue that may affect the statute of limitations and your filing deadlines following a car crash is the exceptions involved with this rule.
If Children Are Involved
If a minor is injured in a car accident, the statute of limitations will not begin to run until these individuals reach the age of 18. This exception is in place to protect the rights of children and minors who have been harmed in an accident and give them enough time to file their cases. As a result, the statute of limitations will be tolled until these individuals reach 18 years old, and then they will have two years from this date to file their personal injury claim.
If You Do Not Know if the Accident Injured You
Following a car crash, victims will likely know whether they have been injured or not. However, in the rare situation where the victim is unaware of their injuries, they may have more time to file their claim.
According to the discovery rule, a plaintiff’s statute of limitations deadline will be extended if the individual was unaware of the harm they endured and could not have reasonably discovered the injury.
For instance, let’s say you were involved in a car collision, and your injuries were asymptomatic at the time of the accident. Even a trip to the doctor’s office did not lead to a diagnosis of the damage. However, a few years later, you start having symptoms due to spinal degeneration, which was activated because of the accident. The statute of limitations, in this instance, may be extended until the date of discovery, primarily because the condition was not discovered or could have been reasonably discovered until the later date and time.
A Claim Against the Government
Another factor that can impact the statute of limitations in Phoenix is if you are bringing a claim against a government entity or a municipality. According to state laws, an individual filing a personal injury action against a public entity must file their case within one year of the accident. In addition, this statute also requires that the victim file a “Notice of Claim” on the public entity within 180 days after the date of loss.
Consequently, if you were injured in a car accident caused by a negligent City bus driver, for example, you would have to notify the City of the facts that give rise to your claim and the specific dollar amount you need to settle the issue within 180 days. Furthermore, because each county and agency in the state may have its own particular forms and rules, it would be best to contact the agency directly to ask about their required procedures.
Thankfully, if you work with an experienced car accident attorney, you will not have to handle these complex legal issues on your own. Instead, these lawyers can determine if there are any exceptions to the statute of limitations that apply to your case and figure out precisely how much time you have to file your lawsuit. These lawyers can also ensure that all the proper legal procedures are met, especially when bringing a legal claim against a government entity.
Why Should You Not Wait to File Your Legal Case?
Even though you may have years to file your legal claim following a car accident in Phoenix, it may be best to pursue legal action as soon as possible, primarily if you want to protect your rights. Why? Because the longer you wait to pursue a lawsuit, the higher the chance is valuable evidence disappearing, witnesses no longer being available to testify, and memories of the incident fading. All factors can impact your claim and your ability to secure the money you need.
Does the Statute of Limitations Apply to Negotiations
When it comes to the statute of limitations, this law only applies to your ability to file a lawsuit against the negligent motorist, which means you are technically not prohibited from continuing negotiations with the insurance company of the at-fault driver after this time expires. However, this is not something you want to consider doing.
After the statute of limitations has passed, the insurance company will have no incentive to try to settle your case or be willing to negotiate a fair settlement with you because they know you will no longer be able to file a lawsuit. Plus, if you wait too long to make a claim with the insurance company, it could raise issues regarding the viability of your case.
That is why following a car accident, it is recommended you go over the details of your accident with an experienced car accident attorney as soon as possible. These lawyers can take on these settlement discussions on your behalf, keep track of these negotiations to ensure you do not run out of time to pursue a lawsuit if required, and help you file your suit before time expires.
Negotiating With the Insurance Companies—What You Should Keep in Mind
Although many car accident victims believe that the insurance company will try to do everything in their power to get them the money they need after an accident, especially if they were not at fault for the collision, this is not how these companies work. In truth, because insurance companies are a business, they, like other businesses, want to make money. As a result, the less they pay you for your claim, the more money they make in the process.
Consequently, following a car accident, insurance adjusters will try to do everything they can to find something that can hurt your case so that they can offer you less than you deserve or deny your claim altogether.
In addition, these insurers may also try tactics to delay your claim, such as running down the time clock of your statute of limitations that applies to your case. To do this, these insurance companies may add extra paperwork for you to fill out, force you to resubmit your claim or fail to promptly respond to your emails and phone calls.
They do this because they know that if you are struggling financially and running out of time to pursue a lawsuit, you may be in a desperate situation and more willing to agree to a lower settlement offer or make a mistake that can significantly harm your case.
How Can an Experienced Phoenix Car Accident Attorney Protect Your Rights to File a Lawsuit in Phoenix?
After a motor vehicle collision, you likely have a lot on your mind, and although you may think you have time to discuss your case with an attorney, it is best not to wait.
The benefits of contacting an experienced motor vehicle accident attorney shortly after a car accident are plentiful and typically include:
- Figure out legal options: Once retained, these attorneys can review the facts of your case, determine if you have a viable legal claim, and help you figure out the legal options you can pursue.
- Obtain and preserve evidence: These lawyers can not only thoroughly investigate your collision and secure the evidence needed to prove fault and the extent of your damages, but they can also preserve the evidence that could get lost or misplaced if not obtained quickly, such as video footage of the accident, crash scene pictures, and witness testimony.
- Bring in experts: These attorneys can hire experts to validate your case, including accident specialists, financial professionals, and medical professionals.
- Ensure you do not miss the statute of limitations: These attorneys can make sure to file your lawsuit before the Arizona statute of limitations law expires.
- Handle negotiations: These lawyers can take on settlement negotiations with the insurance company. Due to their experience and knowledge, these legal professionals understand the best time to start settlement negotiations or let you know how long you should wait, such as when you are still going through medical treatments, so that you have a better understanding of the total amount of compensation you deserve.
- Head to trial: If the other side is not willing to offer you the money you need, these attorneys can take your case to trial, where they can vigorously fight for the maximum compensation you are entitled to.
Remember, your time is limited when it comes to taking legal action after a Phoenix auto accident. For these reasons, after your crash, contact a reputable attorney at our injury law firm for a free, no-obligation consultation as soon as possible and learn how our Phoenix personal injury lawyers have helped others in similar situations and what they can do for you.