Understanding the Statute of Limitations for Personal Injury Claims in Arizona

Understanding the Statute of Limitations for Personal Injury Claims in Arizona

The aftermath of an accident is complex and confusing. From finding a skilled personal injury lawyer to filing a claim against the responsible party before the statute of limitations, it’s almost impossible to navigate the process alone. That’s why the Esquire Law team is here to support you.

Our Arizona personal injury lawyers have the experience and resources required to win your case and secure maximum compensation on your behalf. From the get-go, we’ll make sure you understand your legal rights, options, and responsibilities—which include filing your claim within the statute of limitations established by the state of Arizona. Keep reading to learn more about the statute of limitations in Arizona, exceptions to the rule, and how an attorney can help you achieve the results you want.

What Is the Statute of Limitations?

Definition and Purpose

When plaintiffs file a civil lawsuit against an individual or entity, they must do so within a certain amount of time after the accident occurs. This legal deadline is known as a statute of limitations. The statute of limitations is two years for most personal injury cases, although there are some exceptions for specific circumstances. This means a plaintiff has two years from the accident date to file a lawsuit against the defendant.

The purpose of a statute of limitations is twofold. It:

  • Ensures lawsuits are filed when key evidence, such as DNA evidence and eyewitness testimony, is still available
  • Protects defendants from ongoing threats of litigation

Arizona’s Statute of Limitations for Personal Injury Claims

The statute of limitations for most personal injury cases in Arizona is two years from the date of injury or death caused by injury. The injuries can be sustained in any type of accident, including:

  • Car accidents
  • Slip and fall accidents
  • Truck accidents
  • Motorcycle accidents
  • Bicycle accidents
  • Medical malpractice
  • Dog bites
  • Boat accidents
  • Pedestrian accidents

The statute of limitations for a personal injury case can be shorter or longer than the typical two years, depending on the circumstances of the case and what parties are involved. For example, when it takes a plaintiff more than a year to reasonably discover an injury, they might be granted an extension to file a lawsuit. Here’s a breakdown of common types of personal injury cases and their relative statutes of limitations.

Case TypeStatute of Limitations
Personal Injury2 years
Product Liability2 years
Claims against the city, county, or state180 days
Libel/slander1 year
Fraud3 years
Property damage2 years
Trespassing2 years
Contracts6 years (written); 3 years (oral)
Collection of debt3 years
Judgments4 years

Understanding Tort Law

Tort Law Basics

A tort exists when an individual’s rights are compromised, which causes them some form of identifiable harm—whether it be physical, psychological, or financial. Tort law is the type of law that protects and compensates those who have been injured due to the negligence, recklessness, or intentional actions of another person or an entity—such as a manufacturer or government agency.

Key Elements of a Personal Injury Claim

A plaintiff must prove four elements to file a lawsuit and win a tort case. Those elements are:

  • Duty
  • Breach of duty
  • Causation
  • Damage


Whether it’s two drivers on the road or a medical provider and a patient, one or both parties owe a duty of care to the other. In the first scenario, both drivers owe a duty of care to each other to follow the rules of the road (i.e. stopping at stop signs and maintaining a safe following distance). In the second scenario, the medical provider owes a duty of care to the patient not to harm them and to attend to their medical needs. The duty can be either explicit—as shown in these two circumstances—or implicit.

Breach of duty

A breach of duty occurs when one party fails to uphold their duty of care to another person. The breach can be the result of negligence, recklessness, or intent to harm.


The plaintiff must prove the defendant’s negligence, recklessness, or intent to harm resulted in their injuries. Causation gets complicated when the plaintiff has a preexisting condition or was injured in some way before the accident occurred.


Once the plaintiff proves the defendant’s actions caused their injuries, they must prove their injuries resulted in some form of identifiable harm. The harm can be physical (scarring and disfigurement), psychological (emotional trauma), or financial (medical bills). In more severe cases, the harm could be the loss of a loved one.

The Discovery Rule

The Discovery Rule allows for an extension of Arizona’s two-year statute of limitations for personal injury cases. Under this rule, the statute of limitations begins when the person knows or should have reasonably known about an injury they suffered. Here’s an example:

A patient undergoes a routine surgery that seems to go according to plan. However, the patient discovers a year after the surgery that their incision site has not healed properly, leaving them with a permanent scar that causes long-term emotional distress. The patient learns the doctor who performed the surgery used the wrong kind of stitches, which resulted in the scar.

In a case like this, the Discovery Rule stipulates that the statute of limitations starts once the patient discovers the medical malpractice that caused the permanent scarring.

Wrongful Death Claims

Wrongful death is a particular type of personal injury that results in the death of a loved one. A surviving family member or representative of the decedent’s estate can file a lawsuit against the defendant on their behalf. In wrongful death cases, the two-year statute of limitations begins on the date the victim dies.

Tolling Provisions and Exceptions

Like with any rule, there are always exceptions. The statute of limitations can be shortened or extended when the circumstances surrounding a case allow for it. Tolling is a legal doctrine that allows the statute of limitations to be paused or delayed, making it possible for a plaintiff to file a lawsuit even after the original statute of limitations ends. Here are two examples of when tolling is allowed in Arizona:

  • If a child is injured, the statute of limitations does not begin until they turn 18 years old. They have two years from their 18th birthday to file a lawsuit against the party that harmed them. If the child’s parents file a lawsuit on their behalf before they turn 18, they must file within two years of the accident. If a government entity caused the child’s injury, the statute of limitations might be shorter than two years.
  • If a plaintiff files a claim against a public entity or a public employee, they must file with the person or people responsible for accepting service for that entity or employee within 180 days after the injury. If the plaintiff waits until after 180 days have passed, they cannot file a claim against the defendant.

Seeking Legal Advice

The Importance of Legal Counsel

Seeking professional legal counsel for a personal injury case is essential. While not impossible to win a case without legal representation, it’s highly unlikely. Even if you do win your case, your chances of securing the amount of compensation you need to cover all accident-related costs are low.

Hiring a personal injury attorney to represent your case offers the following benefits:

  • Increase your chances of having a successful case
  • Maximize your compensation so you aren’t left with out-of-pocket expenses
  • Your lawyer will gather all necessary evidence to support your claim
  • Your lawyer will use this evidence to tie your injuries to the accident, establishing negligence, recklessness, or intent to harm
  • You gain access to a wealth of resources, such as medical experts and accident reconstructionists
  • You don’t have to stress about paperwork or deadlines
  • You get justice for yourself or a loved one who was lost

Maybe you know you need legal counsel, but you don’t know where to find it. Esquire Law is here to help. Our personal injury attorneys will support you every step of the way until your case is resolved and compensation is secured on your behalf. Here are just a few of the ways our legal team helps victims like you.

  • We provide compassionate legal representation during a difficult time in your life
  • We listen to your concerns and thoroughly answer your questions at any point in the process
  • We investigate the accident, consult relevant experts, and gather evidence to strengthen your claim
  • We calculate your losses in full and determine how much compensation you would need to cover all past, present, and future expenses
  • We fight back against unfair tactics employed by insurance companies during negotiations to maximize your compensation
  • We represent your case in court, if necessary, to get the justice you deserve

Consulting an Attorney

Contact a personal injury lawyer as soon as possible after your accident occurs. Our team will sit down with you in person or speak with you over the phone to understand the details of your case, explain your legal rights and options, and create an action plan for what comes next.

Let’s take a look at some qualities you should look for in an attorney, as well as questions to ask during the initial meeting.

Qualities to Prioritize

A lawyer should:

  • Be board-certified
  • Have experience representing personal injury cases like yours
  • Have a high success rate
  • Have mostly positive reviews
  • Be transparent about communication methods and billing
  • Not make any promises they can’t keep

Questions to Ask

While not an exhaustive list, here are some questions you should consider asking when you first meet with an attorney.

  1. What do you charge for your services?
  2. How long have you been practicing personal injury law?
  3. Have you handled personal injury cases like mine before? If so, how many, and what were their outcomes?
  4. What challenges or issues do you foresee with my case?
  5. How will you keep me updated on the progress of my case?
  6. Do you have testimonials or references from previous clients that I can see?
  7. What happens if I lose? Will I still have to pay for case-related costs?

Esquire Law Will Fight for Your Rights

Unless one of the exceptions described above applies to your case, the clock to file a claim starts ticking the day your accident occurs. Don’t risk losing out on your rightful compensation by missing the deadline to file. Contact an Esquire Law attorney today to start the process of filing a claim. We’ll work hard to secure the compensation you deserve so you can move on with your life.

Contact us today to claim your free case evaluation.

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