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If you are injured in an accident, you should consult with an attorney as soon as possible. The deadline to bring a claim, or for filing a lawsuit, is very case-specific. A statute of limitations is a law, which establishes the amount of time you have to file a lawsuit.

Different types of cases have different time limits. Knowing which statute of limitation applies is imperative, since if you do not file within the time limit, the right to sue and recover damages is lost. The Arizona statute of limitation for a personal injury lawsuit is usually relatively short and subject to a number of factors. 

One should consult with an attorney to determine the time limit associated with his or her case. Below are some of Arizona’s most common statutes of limitation.

Personal Injury Generally (A.R.S.§ 12-542)

The statute of limitation for actions alleging personal injury is two years. See Matter of Estate of Chase, 125 Ariz. 270, 609 P.2d 85 (App. 1980) (statute of limitation on personal injury claim begins to accrue at the date of injury).

For Claims Against a City, County, the State of Arizona, or any Other Governmental Entity in Arizona:

Notice of Claim (A.R.S. § 12-821.01): See Notice of Claim article (Link to the separate article on this subject). 

Statute of Limitation (A.R.S. § 12-821): All actions against any public entity or public employee shall be brought within 1 year after the cause of action accrues and not afterward.

Medical Malpractice (A.R.S. § 12-542(I))

Like general personal injury claims, the statute of limitation for an alleged action of medical malpractice in Arizona is two years. Under the discovery rule followed in Arizona, the cause of action does not accrue until the patient knows or should have known that the malpractice occurred. Mayer v. Good Samaritan Hospital, 14 Ariz. App. 248, 482 P.2d 497 (1971).

Negligence (A.R.S. § 12-542)

The statute of limitation for an action alleging negligence is two years. Hatch v. Reliance Insurance Company, 758 f.2D 409 (9TH Cir. 1985, CERT. DENIED, 474 U.S. 1021 (1985); Nielson v. Arizona Title Ins. and Trust Co., 15 Ariz. App. 29, 485 P.2d 853 (1971). The cause of action for negligence accrues when the plaintiff knows, or in the exercise of reasonable diligence should have known, of the defendant’s negligent conduct, or when the plaintiff is first able to sue. Sato v. Van Denburgh, 123 Ariz. 225, 599 P.2d 181 (1979).

Wrongful Death (A.R.S. § 12-542(2))

The statute of limitation is two years for a wrongful death claim. Rogers v. Smith Kline & French Laboratories, 5 Ariz. App. 553, 429 P.2d 4 (1967). Generally, the two year statute of limitation begins to accrue at the date of decedent’s death. See, e.g., James v. Phoenix General Hospital, Inc., 154 Ariz. 594, 744 P.2d 695 91987). However, in Anson v. American Motors Corp., 155 Ariz. 420, 747 P.2d 581 (App. 1987), the Arizona Court of Appeals held that the statute of limitation does not accrue until the plaintiff discovers or with reasonable diligence should have discovered that he has been injured by the defendant’s negligent conduct. See also, Lawhon v. L.B.J. Institutional Supply, 159 Ariz. 179, 765 P.2d 1003 (App. 1988) (cause of action does not accrue until plaintiff knows he has been negligently injured by a particular defendant).

Product Liability (A.R.S. §§ 12-551, 12-542(1))

The statute of limitation for a product liability action is two years. No products liability action may be commenced if the cause of action accrues more than 12 years after the product was first sold for use or consumption, unless the cause of action is based on negligence of the manufacturer or seller or breach of an express warranty. A.R.S. §§ 12-551.

Children Under 18 (A.R.S. § 12-502)

If a child is inured in Arizona, special statute of limitation rules apply. As a general rule, the statute of limitation does not begin to run for an injury until the child turns 18 years old. 

Important Reminder

Even if the statute of limitations seems far away, it is important to discuss your case with an attorney early in the process. Doing so allows the attorney to negotiation with the at-fault party before having to result to filing a lawsuit. If the at fault party is willing to compensate the injured client then there is no need to file a lawsuit, which saves the client time and money. If one waits until the end of the statutory period to consult an attorney, he or she will have to file lawsuit to maintain their claim.

In all matters involving personal injury, it is essential to act promptly to preserve evidence, investigate the accident, and to file a lawsuit prior to the end of the statute of limitations. Call REP Law as soon as possible after an injury. We will ensure a lawsuit is filed only when necessary and always within the statute of limitations.