After a car accident, you may be struggling with serious injuries. You know you have important demands to meet, yet your injuries, your damaged vehicle, or your mounting bills may prevent you from meeting all of these demands. Activities you once enjoyed may be impossible, or they may fall by the wayside as you fight to keep your life, home and family together.
If this sounds familiar, you’re not alone. An experienced Arizona car accident lawyer can help you understand your options and how Arizona law applies to your unique situation. Understanding the basic rules that apply to all Arizona car accident cases can also help you make the best decision for your family.
How Long Do I Have to File a Car Accident Lawsuit in Arizona?
Arizona’s statute of limitations sets a time limit on filing a legal claim after a car accident. In Arizona, the time limit is two years, and it typically starts running on the date of the accident. Since this two-year window applies to all personal injury claims in Arizona, the same amount of time is available whether your claim involves wrongful death, personal injury or simply property damage.
It’s important to remember that the statute of limitations only applies to filing a lawsuit in an Arizona court. It doesn’t apply to filing a claim with an auto insurance company. Insurers often have much shorter windows of time to file, so it’s important to put your insurance claim first when deciding how to tackle tasks after an accident.
If you don’t file your claim within two years, the court will almost certainly refuse to consider it. Therefore, it is essential to speak to a lawyer soon after the accident.
What If I Was Partly at Fault for My Car Accident?
After an accident, some Arizona residents are hesitant to seek damages, even if they think they have a claim, because they also suspect that they were partly at fault for the accident. Arizona law does take into account situations in which both parties in a car accident were at fault. It does this by applying the “pure comparative fault” rule.
Under pure comparative fault, if you file a lawsuit against another party for a car accident but are found to share some of the fault for that accident, your total damages will be reduced by the percentage of fault that was assigned to you for the accident. This is true even if you are found to be more at fault for the accident than the other driver.
For example, imagine that you’re injured in a car accident and you file a suit against the other driver. At trial, the jury decides that the other driver did run a stop sign, but you were texting and totally ignoring the road. The jury decides that you are 40 percent at fault, the other driver is 60 percent at fault, and your total damages are $100,000.
Under the comparative fault rule, you’ll receive $60,000 of the $100,000 total. Forty percent, or $40,000, is subtracted because 40 percent of the fault was assigned to you.
The pure comparative fault rule allows you to recover as long as any amount of fault is assigned to the other driver. So even if the jury in your case decided you were 99 percent at fault, you could still recover 1 percent of the total damages award.
What Kind of Damages Are Available in Arizona Car Accident Cases?
Damages in Arizona car accident claims typically fall into two categories: economic and non-economic damages.
Economic damages are the type of damages that are easily proven with a bill, receipt, bank statement or pay stub. They’re damages for a known, fixed amount you spent or lost as a result of the accident. In car accident claims, they often include medical bills, auto repair bills and lost wages.
Non-economic damages don’t typically come with a receipt or bill attached, but they do represent real losses that would not have happened to you but for the car accident. Common non-economic damages resulting from car accidents include compensation for pain and suffering, and for loss of enjoyment of life.
Because each Arizona car accident has a unique set of circumstances surrounding it, it is essential to speak to an experienced attorney about your own situation. Your lawyer can help you understand how these general guidelines might affect your own situation. Your lawyer can also help you decide on the best course of action to take once you have a clearer understanding of how Arizona’s various laws might apply to your individual case.
If you’ve been injured in an accident, don’t hesitate to contact us. At the Folger Law Firm, we are dedicated to helping our clients seek the compensation they deserve.
We work on a contingency basis, so you won’t pay fees unless we recover for you.