There are strict time limits on how long you can wait to hire a lawyer and file a civil lawsuit following a Phoenix car accident case. The best way to learn if you are still eligible to seek and possibly secure damages after a Phoenix accident is to reach out to a personal injury lawyer for a free review of your case.
During your initial consultation with an Arizona car accident lawyer, they will discuss the basic facts of your case, such as when it occurred, what happened, and what type of injuries you sustained. If you were in a car accident a few years ago and haven’t hired a lawyer, you may wonder if you still have time in Phoenix, AZ. The attorney can likely tell you during this meeting when the deadline will be for filing a lawsuit in your case.
The Arizona Personal Injury Statute of Limitations Is Generally Two Years
Arizona Revised Statutes §12-542 set the time limit for filing a personal injury lawsuit in civil court. This is the type of case you would pursue to recover compensation for the injuries you suffered in an accident. The deadline in an injury case is generally two years in Arizona. The time limit in a property damage case is also two years.
The clock usually begins ticking on the day of the accident and runs out 24 months later.
However, there are many factors that can affect these timelines. Discussing the facts of your case with an attorney handling car accident cases in Phoenix, AZ, is the best way to learn if you may still have time to take legal action.
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Exceptions to the General Statute of Limitations
There are some exceptions to the general statute of limitations in Arizona that could reduce or extend the time you have to file your claim or lawsuit. Here are the ones that may apply.
Minors injured in car accidents have until the age of 20 to make a claim against injuries in a car accident. Since minors may not sue until they turn 18, the clock starts on their 18th birthday. This makes the law fair for teen drivers who get injured in accidents.
Younger children riding with parents will probably get covered when their parents make a claim on their behalf, but if parents do not make a claim, then a child can make one once they turn 18.
The Rule of Discovery
If an injury isn’t discovered until much later after an accident, then the rule of discovery may apply. With this rule, the clock starts when you discover the injury or when you reasonably should have discovered it. You have two years from the discovery date to make a claim.
Claims Against the Government
If you have a claim against a government agency or a city, then your time frame is much shorter. First, you need to file a “notice of claim” with the entity within 180 days of the incident or lose your right to sue. After you’ve notified them, you have one year to sue from the date of the accident.
Act as Soon as Possible to Protect Your Right to Take Legal Action in a Phoenix Car Accident Case
Like other states, Arizona only gives car accident victims a set period to take legal action following a car accident case. While state laws do not limit how long you can wait to file a car insurance claim, they limit your ability to take the case to court after the allotted period expires.
If you do not file a civil lawsuit in your case before the deadline, you will be barred from doing so later. You will lose the right to a court award for the damages you suffered. Having the right to take your case to court is important, even though car accident cases often reach a settlement before we need to file a lawsuit.
This is because no one wants to go to court—having the option of filing a lawsuit provides the at-fault driver’s insurance company with an incentive to pay out a fair settlement in order to avoid the additional cost and time of going to court.
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A Phoenix Car Accident Attorney Will Review Your Case
If you contact an attorney quickly following your Arizona motor vehicle crash, your attorney will be able to build a strong case and have more options for pursuing the financial recovery you need and deserve. If you enlist the help of a lawyer early on in the process, they will handle your legal case while you focus on getting the treatment you need and getting better. We encourage accident victims to reach out as soon as their injuries stabilize or within a few weeks or months of their accident.
As long as time allows, your attorney will take steps to collect evidence to support your claim and pursue a settlement or award on your behalf. This could include:
- Communicating with the at-fault driver and their insurer about the case
- Managing all aspects of the legal case and providing status updates as requested
- Identifying relevant evidence
- Working with expert witnesses such as accident reconstruction experts, medical experts, and more
- Documenting your related losses and expenses
- Filing your insurance claim or taking the case to court if necessary
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What Damages Could I Ask for After My Car Accident?
Every case is different, and every victim sustained different injuries and suffered different losses. There is no way to know how much you may recover, but recoverable damages could include:
- Medical care costs related to your accident injuries
- Any additional related care costs
- Lost wages and diminished earning capacity
- Property damages including repair or replacement of your vehicle
- Out-of-pocket expenses you incurred because of your accident or injuries
- Pain and suffering damages
- Additional non-economic damages
To know which damages you’re eligible for requires the help of an accident lawyer. They know how to make insurance companies listen to what your genuine needs are so you get paid what your case is really worth.
Talk to a Phoenix, AZ, Car Accident Lawyer About Your Case
If you were in a car accident a few years ago and haven’t hired a lawyer, you may wonder if you still have time in Phoenix, AZ. At Zanes Law, we offer free reviews of your Phoenix car accident case.
We can help you understand the laws that apply and set deadlines for taking legal action against the at-fault driver. If you are eligible, we can file a claim on your behalf and represent you in settlement negotiations or at trial. Call us now to get started.