In Arizona, and elsewhere, the statute of limitations imposes a deadline on the injured plaintiff’s various claims.  When the applicable statute of limitations deadline passes, then the plaintiff’s claims expire, at which point the plaintiff is no longer entitled to sue and recover for damages in an Arizona court of law.

For example, suppose that you are injured in a motor vehicle collision.  Given the seriousness of your sustained injuries, however, you spend most of your post-accident time and energy attempting to physically rehabilitate and reintegrate into your old lifestyle/career.  As a result, you wait too long to file your claims and the statute of limitations deadline passes.  You will no longer be entitled to compensation.

Importantly, the Arizona statute of limitations for injury claims — which runs for two years from the date of injury — allows for the suspension/extension of the deadline in certain circumstances.  This is known as “tolling.”  If the statute of limitations deadline has been tolled, then you may still have enough time to pursue litigation.

Tolling on the Basis of the Discovery Rule

Equitable tolling takes into consideration the possibility of a delayed discovery of one’s various injuries in the wake of an accident.  The application of the discovery rule is actually fairly straightforward, though many prospective plaintiffs are unaware of how it works.  Essentially, the statute of limitations period does not begin to run until the date that the plaintiff’s injuries are actually discovered, or until the date that the plaintiff’s injuries should have reasonably been discovered.

Consider the following example.

Suppose that you are involved in a car accident.  At the time of the accident, however, you don’t display any symptoms of injury.  A checkup with your physician (and some diagnostic tests) does not reveal injuries, either.  After two years, however, you begin to develop pain that is caused by the car accident (perhaps minor hairline fractures).  Despite the fact that the standard statute of limitations deadline has passed, you could effectively argue that the hairline fracture was not reasonably discoverable until a later date, and as such, the statute of limitations period did not begin to run until that later date.  You would therefore still have time to file your claims and potentially recover damages pursuant to litigation.

Automatic Tolling of the Limitations Period

In some cases, the statute of limitations period is automatically tolled when certain issues are present.  These include, but are not necessarily limited, to issues such as the plaintiff’s mental competence at the time of the accident, and the plaintiff’s age at the time of the accident.  For example, if the plaintiff is a minor at the time of an injury-causing car accident, then their statute of limitations period will be tolled until they reach the age of majority (i.e., age 18), at which point it will begin to run as normal.

Contact a Phoenix Car Accident Lawyer Today

If you have suffered significant injuries — whether in a car accident or otherwise — due to actions of another person or entity, then Arizona law may give you the right to sue for compensation.  Importantly, however, a statute of limitations deadline applies to all Arizona injury claims.  Waiting too long to file your claims can result in the expiration of such claims.  All is not lost, however.  Depending on the circumstances, your attorney may be able to convince the court that your limitations period should be “tolled” or “suspended,” thus extending your deadline and giving you a revived opportunity to pursue litigation.

Schedule a free consultation with a skilled Phoenix car accident lawyer today — call (602) 535-1900.  During your initial consultation, we will evaluate your injury claims and help you develop a roadmap to full and adequate damage recovery.

Our multi car accident lawyer can help

According to our multi car accident lawyer, multi-vehicle pileups (also known as “chain reaction accidents”) are not uncommon on busy roadways in Arizona, and in the United States at-large.  When a motor vehicle accident occurs, then — depending on the conditions of the road and the average speed at which cars, trucks, and motorcycles are moving — a pileup could quite easily develop, causing the initial event to spiral out-of-control and affect a much larger group of people.

If you’ve been harmed in a multi-vehicle pileup, you may be feeling confused and somewhat overwhelmed by the prospect of litigation, and for good reason.  It may be unclear where you should even begin — there could be several different drivers who you believe are responsible for causing your injuries in a Phoenix car accident.

Multi-vehicle pileup liability can be simplified through the application of basic causation principles.  Let’s take a quick look.

Understanding the Chain of Causation

In multi-vehicle pileups, the core issue is that of the chain of causation.  Defendants may only be held liable if their actions substantially contribute to the injuries you suffered, and if the chain of causation “linking” their actions to your injuries is continuous.

Concurrent Causation

Arizona law does not shield defendants from liability simply because others were simultaneously negligent, reckless, or intentionally engaged in misconduct.  If there are multiple causes to an accident (as is typical in a multi-vehicle pileup where several cars and trucks might fail to exercise reasonable care and thereby contribute to the pileup), then each defendant responsible for contributing to the accident can be held liable.

Determining whether a defendant has substantially contributed to an injury requires an evaluation of but-for causation.  In other words, if the injury would not have occurred “but for” the defendant’s negligence, recklessness, or wrongful misconduct, then their actions may be counted among the substantial causes of the injury per Phoenix car accident lawyer, Jack Hirsch.

For example, imagine that a multi-vehicle pileup begins to form.  It is a low-speed pileup, so you have fortunately not suffered a major injury.  Then, a speeding truck slams into the pile and causes a car to flip onto your hood, leading to severe injuries.  The truck is not the sole cause of your injuries but is certainly a “but for” concurrent cause.

Intervening Causation

Intervening causation is a defense used by many drivers when circumstances allow.  If the causal chain is severed, then the defendant can avoid liability.  The causal chain can only be severed if the subsequent, intervening events were not reasonably foreseeable.

For example, let’s return to the multi-vehicle pileup scenario above.  One of the low-speed defendants might argue that the speeding truck slamming into the pileup was an intervening cause, and that the truck driver should be held fully responsible for the damages.  This might not be a fair argument, however, as one could counter-argue that by causing a pileup on the roadway, it is reasonably foreseeable that a large vehicle could collide with the disabled vehicles and cause additional harm.

Liability is Proportionally Assessed

Arizona previously applied what is known as “joint and several liability,” which imposed full liability (for all damages) on each of the defendants in a case, no matter how much fault they actually contributed.  This was quite useful in the multi-vehicle pileup context, as the injured plaintiff could pursue recovery against any one of the defendants on the basis of their ability to pay the damages.

These days, however, Arizona has abolished joint and several liability.  Instead, each defendant is only responsible for damages proportional to their own fault contribution.  For example, if you are injured by three vehicles, and each is 33.3 percent at-fault, then you could recover 33.3 percent of your total damages from each of those driver defendants — no more than that.

Schedule a Free Consultation with an Experienced Phoenix Truck Accident Lawyer

Hirsch & Lyon is a Phoenix-based personal injury litigation firm with extensive experience handling various motor vehicle lawsuits, including those that primarily involve car, truck, and motorcycle accidents.  We are well-equipped to help clients navigate the complexities of a multi-vehicle pileup accident, and to secure maximum available compensation in such disputes.

Ready to connect to an experienced Phoenix truck accident lawyer at Hirsch & Lyon?  Call 602-535-1900 or send us a message through our website.  Consultation is free, confidential, and no-obligation, so don’t delay.  It’s important that you secure legal assistance as soon as possible.

Phoenix multi car accident lawyer

Are you looking for a law firm that specializes in multi-car accidents in the Phoenix area? If so, you may want to consider speaking to a qualified Phoenix Multi Car Accident Lawyer. An experienced lawyer who has dealt with similar cases in the past can help you navigate the legal process and ensure you are fully compensated for any car-related damages or injuries you have suffered. They can provide advice on legal strategies, negotiate with insurance companies, and pursue the best possible outcome for you and your family.

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