Thinking about filing for a civil lawsuit can be exhausting. What is the process like? What are the specific Arizona laws I need to know regarding my case? How much will a lawsuit cost? Is the lawsuit even worth the potential compensation? When it comes to filing a personal injury lawsuit, most people don’t even know where to begin. The time and research that goes into filing an Arizona personal injury lawsuit is extensive but having a Phoenix personal injury lawyer can alleviate a lot of these stresses and help you better prepare for the upcoming case.
So what do you need to know about filing a lawsuit in Arizona? In short, each lawsuit is circumstantial and will have special conditions and contingencies. First off, it is important to understand the timeline in which a lawsuit must be filed and completed. Statute of limitations in Arizona set a time limit on bringing a case to court and will vary based on the injury’s circumstance.
Statute of limitations in Arizona (A.R.S.§ 12-542)
- Personal injury: The deadline for filing an Arizona personal injury lawsuit is two years from the date of injury. All personal injury actions against a public entity or public employee must be brought within one year of the injury date.
- Medical malpractice: Medical malpractice injuries can result from a variety of things including dangerous medications to medical device errors. Alleged medical malpractice lawsuits must be filed within two years of injury.
- Negligence: The statute of limitation for an action alleging negligence is two years and begins to accrue when the plaintiff knows/should have known of the defendant’s negligent conduct or when the plaintiff is first able to sue.
- Product liability: Allegations surrounding product liability have a statute of two years in Arizona.
- Wrongful death: At the date of the decedent’s death, a wrongful death claim has a statute of two years.
- Special conditions apply to minors who are involved in an Arizona lawsuit (children under the age of 18). Generally speaking, the limitation period ends on a minor’s 18th birthday, except in cases of wrongful death.
Process of an Arizona Lawsuit
The process of an Arizona personal injury lawsuit is unique to each case, which is why having a lawyer can become crucial. We see often the term “special conditions apply” in lawsuits and failing to execute a step in the right manner or missing a small detail could cost you the case. A lawyer can walk you through each step in detail, but it is important to be aware of the process’ entirety beforehand. Below lists the general process of a civil lawsuit, in simple terms.
- Filing the complaint to a court, based on your case (small claims court, justice court, or superior court)
- Issuing the summons allots the time in which the defendant must answer the allegations provided in the complaint. Both the complaint and summons must be served within 120 days from the filing date; then the defendant then has 20 days to answer the complaint.
- After the complaint is answered, both parties must file an initial disclosure statement. The goal of this is to provide each party with the opposition’s theories and evidence, ultimately creating a fair trial.
- Parties may make use of four different types of discovery throughout the process to strengthen their case, including: depositions, requests for production of materials or documents, requests for admissions and interrogatories.
- A motion to set & certificate of readiness will set a cased for trial. However, if the case is valued under $50,000 in Arizona the matter must got through arbitration before trial.
- Filing a summary judgment motion asks the court to apply the law to the undisputed facts of the make to determine a favored party.
- Finally, the judgment is the official ruling- by either a judge or a jury- stating the case winner, and damages recovered will be included in the official ruling.
Potential Damages you can recover
Arizona doesn’t have damage caps in personal injury cases, which are laws that sets a maximum limit of compensation an injured party can receive, based on the case. Therefore, there isn’t a limit on compensatory damages that you can receive. Damages can be subdivided into two categories: economic and non-economic.
Economic: Monetary compensation can cover the cost of medical expenses, bills, income due to inability to work, and repairing damages of elements involved in an accident like your car.
Non-economic: General damages that make up non-economic damages include physical pain and suffering, any type of impairment, mental anguish, and lowered quality of life. These can be more difficult to calculate, but generally damages are assigned an exact dollar amount to the subject.
How do personal injury attorneys charge for services?
Firms in Arizona often work on a system that allows the injured party to hire a personal injury lawyer without fronting the legal fees. Contingency agreements are arranged so lawyer fees are deducted from the final settlement of your Arizona personal injury lawsuit. The percentage deducted is generally determined by the stage of your case.
Many decide to represent themselves in lawsuits, as opposed to hiring a Phoenix personal injury lawyer. While there are many free lawsuit guides online that you can follow, ask yourself if risking your compensation is worth it. Regardless of the complexity of a case, having an experienced lawyer by your side in an Arizona personal injury lawsuit can make the process much smoother and offers the opportunity to maximize your compensation.