Personal injury claims include a wide range of incidents in which you may suffer physical or psychological harm and incur damages, such as medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering. You may present a legal claim against the responsible person, a governmental body, an organization or business entity if you were injured as a result of someone’s wrongful or negligent conduct.
Types of Claims
Common types of personal injury claims include motor vehicle accidents, medical malpractice, product defects, and premises liability. Arizona, like all states, has its own particular laws governing how a personal injury claim is handled in its courts.
Attorneys take personal injury cases on a contingency basis and are prohibited in Arizona from charging a flat or hourly fee for their services. No attorney may charge you any fee until your case is resolved and results in a monetary judgment or settlement.
Where Should I File My Claim?
Personal injury claims are filed in the Superior or Justice Court where the injury occurred or where at least one of the defendants lives. Injury claims alleged to exceed $10,000 are filed in Superior Court with a General Civil Unlimited classification. Smaller injury cases that are valued between $5,001 and $10,000 are classified as General Civil Limited cases in the Superior Court or in the Justice Court, which has equal jurisdiction for these types of cases. Smaller claims are filed in small claims court.
Should your injury involve a defendant who lives out of state, you may file your claim in federal court, but different laws and rules will govern how your lawsuit will proceed.
Arizona Statute of Limitations
Most Arizona personal injury claims must be filed in the appropriate court within two years from the date of injury. A product defect claim and medical malpractice lawsuit must be filed within two years from discovery of the defect or medically negligent conduct, or when it should have been discovered through due diligence. Statutory claims against a public entity have a shorter limitation period in which to file statutory notice of an injury claim.
For minor claimants, the two-year statute begins to run after the child turns 18, except in wrongful death cases in which the statute begins to run two years from the date of occurrence regardless of the injured party's age.
What You Should Expect
If you cannot settle your case before filing a lawsuit, you will have to prosecute your injury claim by filing and serving on the defendants a summons and complaint in which you describe the circumstances of the incident and present the assorted causes of action that allege the negligent conduct of the defendants. The summons notifies the defendants of when they have to file an answer to the complaint and how to serve it.
Arizona’s Comparative Fault Law
Arizona is a pure comparative fault state, meaning that if a jury concludes that you had any degree of fault in causing the accident, any damages awarded are reduced in proportion to the relative degree of your fault. For example, if you were responsible for 70 percent of the accident, you can still be awarded 30 percent of your damages.
What Is the Discovery Process?
Once your claim is filed, the defendant’s attorney will serve on you a series of interrogatories or questions requiring your written responses. You will also typically have to attend a deposition where the defense attorney can ask you under oath a wide range of questions about the accident, your injuries, employment and health history, and more. You may also have to submit to a medical or psychological examination by a doctor selected by the defense attorney.
Why Consult an Arizona Personal Injury Attorney?
Each state has its own specific laws and regulations and individual court rules governing how personal injury claims are processed. Consult an Arizona personal injury lawyer regarding your legal rights and how to pursue your injury claim.