Common Statute of Limitations Exceptions in Arizona
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If you’ve been injured due to the negligence, recklessness, or intentional misconduct of another party, then Arizona law may give you a right to sue and recover compensation for your various losses. When pursuing a claim against the defendant(s), however, it’s important to understand that you do not have an unlimited amount of time — personal injury claims are governed by a statute of limitations deadline. If the deadline passes before you file your claims, then you will be barred from pursuing compensation in an Arizona court. The risk of “waiting too long” is therefore substantial.
The statute of limitations can vary from case-to-case. Generally speaking, personal injury claims are governed by a two-year statute of limitations deadline in Arizona, though this period may be shortened under certain circumstances (i.e., the defendant is a public employee or entity, for which the deadline will be just one year from the date of injury).
Fortunately, you may not be entirely without options if the deadline passes. In Arizona, and elsewhere, there are a few exceptions that allow the plaintiff to suspend the statute of limitations countdown, thus extending the deadline. We encourage you to contact Hirsch & Lyon for an assessment of your case and guidance on how to proceed, particularly if you find yourself in a difficult procedural situation.
Absence of Defendant from State
According to Section 12-501 of the Arizona Revised Statutes, if the defendant is absent from the state during the statute of limitations period, then the countdown will be suspended until they return. For example, suppose that you are injured in a car accident, and the defendant flees Arizona immediately. The defendant does not return until three years later. Normally, the deadline would have already passed, but because the defendant was absent from the state of Arizona, the period of time they were gone (three years) was suspended. You may bring an action against the defendant upon their return, with whatever time you have remaining on your statute of limitations.
Minor plaintiffs (and other incompetent plaintiffs, such as disabled or ill plaintiffs who are mentally incapable of bringing a claim against the defendant) are not affected by the statute of limitations during their period of minority. It is only once they reach the age of majority (age 18) that the statute of limitations will begin to run.
The discovery rule is perhaps the most common exception to the statute of limitations, in Arizona and elsewhere. Under the discovery rule, a plaintiff’s statute of limitations deadline will be extended if they are not aware of the injuries they suffered due to the defendant’s fault, and they could not have reasonably discovered the injury.
How does it work?
Suppose that you are injured in a slip-and-fall accident on the defendant’s property. At the time of the accident, your injuries were asymptomatic. In other words, you did not feel that you were injured, and your visit to a physician did not lead to a diagnosis of injury. A few years later, however, symptoms finally arise due to spinal degeneration (that was activated by the fall). Given that the injury/condition could not have been reasonably discovered until the later date, and that you did not know about the injury despite your best efforts, the statute of limitations will likely be suspended until the date of discovery.
Schedule a Free Consultation at Hirsch & Lyon
Here at Hirsch & Lyon, our attorneys have decades of experience representing injured plaintiffs in a variety of personal injury disputes. Unlike many of our competitors, we have tried many cases to conclusion. This willingness and ability to litigate a dispute not only gives us substantial leverage at the negotiating table (to secure a favorable settlement compromise) but has also given us a keen eye for what is necessary to overcome the barriers presented by opposing counsel.
Ready to move forward with your injury claims? Call 602-535-1900 or send us a message online to schedule a free and confidential consultation with a skilled Phoenix serious injuries lawyer at Hirsch & Lyon today.