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.