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Statute of Limitations for Car Accident Claims in Arizona

arizona statute of limitations car accident

Arizona is a great state in which to spend time on the road. With sweeping landscapes and year-round sunny weather, you may find yourself itching to get behind the wheel. However, accidents are also very common in the state. Each year, approximately 121,340 crashes occur throughout the state.

If you’ve been in a car accident in Arizona, the best thing you can do is to file a claim to get compensation for injuries and property damage. To have the best chance at being successful, you need to turn to a car accident lawyer in Arizona. At Gerber Injury Law, we offer representation you can depend on.

When you’re considering the Arizona statute of limitations, car accident claims can have various exceptions. Learn more about what you need to know after being in a car accident.

What Is the Statute of Limitations, and Why Is It Important in Car Accidents?

A statute of limitations is the law that defines how much time the parties involved in a dispute have to file a claim or lawsuit. Statutes of limitations apply both in criminal and civil cases.

The statute of limitations might seem unnecessary or even harmful in some instances, but it’s essential when dealing with car accidents. Proving fault in car accidents often means relying on witness statements and physical evidence.

The sooner you file the claim, the better the chances are that the evidence will be available. Witness memory can also be fresher.

Statutes of limitations also help prevent the defendant from going through their lives worrying about a lawsuit for something that happened a long time ago.

The Key Deadline in Arizona: Two Years to File a Personal Injury Lawsuit

In Arizona, the law states that for most personal injury lawsuits, you have two years to file the claim. If you allow two years to pass without filing the claim, your chances of being compensated are slim to none.

It’s important to note, however, that there are exceptions to this deadline, which is why getting a lawyer to help you is so essential.

Exceptions to the Rule: When the Deadline Might Be Extended

If the person who was injured in the accident was under the legal age at the time of the collision, the statute of limitations does not begin to run until they turn 18.

Another exception is when the injuries or damage are not immediately apparent. This exception requires that the victim not discover the injury until later, but it only applies when reasonable. For example, if you suffered a very visible facial injury, you couldn’t claim you didn’t know about it right away.

The statute of limitations for wrongful death cases is also slightly different. Although the time you have to file a claim is still two years, those two years don’t begin at the moment of the accident but at the moment of the person’s death.

This is essential for accidents in which a person survives for a time before dying from the injuries.

Another exception is if the person at fault leaves the state after the accident but before you file the personal injury lawsuit. The clock pauses until the defendant returns to Arizona.

There is also an exception that shortens the deadline instead of extending it. It involves bringing a claim against a government employee.

A “Notice of Claim” has to be filed with the proper entity within six months, and then, the victim has to wait for either a denial or two months for the municipality or state to respond, whichever comes first. In the majority of these cases, you have only one year to file a claim.

Consequences of Missing the Deadline: Losing Your Right to Legal Compensation

If you miss the deadline, most of the time, there’s nothing to be done. You’ve missed your right to legal compensation. The court is likely to dismiss your claim.

However, you should still consult with an attorney to ensure there’s no other recourse.

A lawyer will be able to assess the specifics of your case to see if any exceptions apply. They can also help you explore if there are any other legal avenues you can take, like filing claims against insurance policies or government entities.

Understanding the Deadline

If you have been in a car accident, it’s important to know the ins and outs of the statute of limitations in Arizona.

The first thing you should know is when to calculate the starting point. In other words, when does the clock start ticking?

For most accidents that result in injuries, the clock starts ticking as soon as the accident occurs. If someone dies in a car accident, the two-year deadline starts on the date of the accident. If, however, a person sustains severe injuries and later succumbs to them, the clock starts at the moment of their death.

The two-year limit applies for injuries as well as property damage that occurred in an accident that was someone else’s fault.

If there are minors involved in the accident, they can file a claim when they turn 18. This means that their statute of limitations doesn’t begin until they are officially of age. If a person is incapacitated because of the accident, the statute of limitations doesn’t begin to run until they regain their mental capacity.

Common Scenarios and Questions

Each case is different, and that means dealing with complexities most people are not qualified to handle. That’s why turning to a personal injury lawyer is so crucial.

What if I Wasn’t Sure Who Was at Fault Initially?

Not being sure who was at fault doesn’t excuse you from not filing a claim within the time limit. Arizona follows pure comparative fault. This means that each party involved in an accident gets assigned a percentage of fault. This means that even if you were partly at fault, you can still receive compensation.

In some instances, the statute of limitations can be paused if there are many parties involved, and it’s not clear until later who was at fault, but this only occurs under very narrow circumstances.

Because of the complexities of Arizona law, you always want to reach out to a lawyer to file a claim — whether you think you were to blame or not.

Does Filing an Insurance Claim Pause the Deadline?

The statute of limitations still starts counting the moment the accident occurs. An insurance company could even try to stall the negotiation process so that you run out of time. This is another reason why you need a lawyer on your side.

What If I’m in Ongoing Medical Treatment Due to the Accident?

Even if you’re in ongoing medical treatment, the statute of limitations affects you. Because it can be difficult to gather evidence and file the necessary paperwork for a claim while dealing with injuries, you have to depend on an experienced attorney.

Can I Still Negotiate With the Insurance Company After the Deadline?

If you miss the deadline, your insurance company will likely not consider any negotiations. It’s crucial that you reach out to a personal injury lawyer so that you can work together to file the claim on time.

Taking Action Before the Deadline

To avoid the complications that arise from filing a claim too late, you need to take action as soon as possible.

From the moment the accident occurs, you should start documenting the injuries, property damage, and anything else you can use for evidence. When you get medical treatment, make sure to get records of everything.

If you plan on filing a personal injury claim, you should get medical treatment for every injury you receive in the accident, no matter how small. Even if you have a shallow cut, you want it recorded.

If you’re well enough to do so right after the accident occurs, take pictures of the vehicles involved in the collision, as well as of any evidence on the street, like skid marks. If you need to get medical attention, ask someone else to do this for you.

Your next step after getting medical treatment is to consult with a personal injury lawyer. A lawyer will assess your case and help you understand your legal rights.

The sooner you act, the better the chances of getting the compensation you deserve. Not only will you be ensuring you don’t miss the statute of limitations deadline, but your lawyer will be able to gather better evidence from witnesses and even from the accident site. All of this helps them put together a stronger case.

Trust the Experienced Car Accident Lawyers at Gerber Injury Law

Don’t wait to get the help you need after a car accident. At Gerber Injury Law, you can expect a dedicated and hardworking team ready to assist you in getting compensation for the injuries you’ve suffered.

We have over 20 years of experience offering guidance to clients in Arizona. We will assess your case carefully and put together the best plan of action. We know how to deal with insurance companies and never shy away from taking your case to court if necessary.

Contact Gerber Injury Law today to schedule your free consultation with us.