Where do you start with filing a personal injury lawsuit? What Arizona laws do you need to be aware of before you start the process? When it comes to lawsuits, the average person has no idea where to start. The first thing to be aware of is the time limit for filing.
The Arizona State of Limitations puts a 2-year deadline on filing for personal injury lawsuits. This means that if you want to file, you must do so within two years of the date of injury. If you’re filing against a public employee or public entity, the limit is one year.
The personal injury lawsuit process is unique for each individual, which is why hiring an attorney can be invaluable. They can help make sure you don’t miss any important details that could throw off your case.
What to Keep in Mind About the Lawsuit Process in Arizona
- If you’ve been injured, you may be able to seek out compensation
- In addition to economic support, you may receive non-economic damages to cover mental anguish or pain and suffering
- Part of filing a personal injury lawsuit is providing evidence (like medical records) that the other party caused your injuries
- Working with an attorney is essential since every personal injury lawsuit case is different and it’s easy to make mistakes
What Damages Can You Recover in a Personal Injury Lawsuit?
When it comes to personal injury cases, there is no cap (limit of compensation) on damages you can receive. You can seek monetary compensation to cover damage to your car, missed income from the accident, bills, and medical costs.
Non-economic damages, such as mental anguish, impairment, and physical pain are harder to calculate but are usually assigned a dollar amount.
Steps for Filing a Lawsuit
- Filing a complaint in court is the first step for filing a lawsuit
- A summons will be issued which gives the defendant a chance to address the issues in the complaint
- Both parties then must provide an initial disclosure statement so that each side has the opposite side’s evidence and theories
- Each party may use requests for admissions or for production of documents (among other methods) to strengthen their case
- A Motion to Set and Certificate of Readiness will indicate to the courts that one of the parties involved is prepared to start the trial
- The jury or judge will provide their official ruling and state the winner of the case, including whether any damages will be recovered
The complaint and summons both have a 120-day time limit from the filing date, meaning you must serve them within that time. The defendant will have 20 days to provide their answer. If your case is valued at less than $50,000, it must go through a mandatory program called arbitration before trial.
How to Prove an Injury
In order to file a claim for a personal injury caused by someone else’s negligence, you’ll need to show evidence that they caused your injuries. Since each injury claim is different, working with an experienced lawyer is helpful when it comes to knowing which evidence counts the most. However, generally speaking you can gather the following:
If there was an accident report detailing your injury, this is a good way to provide an objective account of what happened. You can obtain police or accident reports by filing a request with the agency that responded. There are many sources online that allow you to search for or request records, as well.
Collecting medical information is a very important aspect of proving your injury. Keep everything from medical bills to any documents your physician gives you and prescription receipts. If you had to go to the ER after your accident, hold onto any records from that.
Documentation of Missed Work
Oftentimes, a personal injury will lead to lost wages due to missed work or being forced to switch to a lower-paying position. If you’ve lost income from this, ask your employer to supply you with documentation of the days you’ve missed, your payrate, and any other relevant information. You may need to show old pay stubs to show what you earned before the accident, too.
Photos are a good way to show jurors and insurance claims adjusters an accurate idea of what happened. If you can, include photos of your injuries, the accident scene, and any damage you sustained to your car or other property.
FAQ on the Personal Injury Lawsuit Process
Here are some of the most commonly asked questions on the process of filing a personal injury lawsuit:
Q: What else can I do to prove my injuries during the lawsuit process?
You can collect witness statements that give extra credibility to your claims of the how the accident happened. After your accident, ask for contact information from any witnesses that saw it. In addition to providing medical bills and prescription receipts, you can also keep a pain journal that details any discomfort you experienced as a result of the injury.
Q: Which specific types of medical records should I keep for proving my injury?
You should keep medical bills, emergency room records, and any records from psychological care or physical therapists. In addition, you can provide records from your regular physician to show how your health was before the injury. This can help protect you in case the insurance company claims you were already injured.
Q: How long do personal injury lawsuits usually take to settle?
As mentioned before, every case is different. Some cases take a few months, while others can last up to two or three years before they settle. Your lawyer might be able to give you a general estimate based on the information you provide them with.
What to Do if You’ve Been Injured in an Accident in Arizona
If you’ve been in an accident involving a motor vehicle, you should call 911 before doing anything else. The next step you should take is seeking medical attention, even if you aren’t sure whether or not you’ve been injured. Exchange insurance and contact information with the other driver but avoid making a statement to their insurance company regarding the collision.
Next, you should contact a personal injury attorney as soon as you can. Remember that the insurance agency you’re filing a claim against will be working with lawyers, so you’ll have a disadvantage if you don’t. You have a legal right to receive damages for your lost income, medical expenses, and suffering.