The moments after being injured in an accident lead to a rush of emotions; anger, frustration, sadness, and fear can engulf the senses. Whether this is the first time you have been hurt or just one of many instances, the sudden onslaught of feelings can be the same. After an accident and injury, many people are left with questions, such as:
- Who is going to pay the medical bills?
- What if I can’t work?
- Is there anything I can do about this?
The last question can be answered with one word: yes. Anyone who has been injured as a result of the negligent actions or inactions of another individual or entity may be entitled to file a personal injury claim.
What is a Personal Injury Claim?
You may have heard the term personal injury but not know exactly what it means. A personal injury refers to any physical or emotional injury, which includes injuries that are fatal. Most personal injury claims hinge on negligence. Negligence refers to when a person or company fails to take care when performing a task or maintaining an asset. For example, a driver who failed to exercise proper care by driving recklessly acted negligently and caused a car crash.
How is a Personal Injury Defined in Arizona?
Personal injury in Arizona is defined no differently than it is in other states. However, Arizona negligence does follow the principle of comparative negligence. This means that the state may split the blame and the responsibility of paying damages between the parties involved in the personal injury claim.
For example, if you were involved in a pedestrian accident and it is discovered that you were texting while walking and didn’t see the vehicle making an illegal turn, you may be considered partly to blame for your injuries. Still, this doesn’t mean that you will not be able to obtain compensation. Even if you are partly at fault, you may be able to recover some damages. Damages may be reduced by whatever percentage it is determined that you were at fault. If it is found that you intentionally caused or contributed to the injury, you may not be entitled to damages in a personal injury claim.
Who Can Make a Personal Injury Claim?
Whether or not you can file a personal injury claim will depend on proving four specificities:
- Duty: the person who caused the injury owed some duty to you. For example, a store owner had a duty to keep their premises safe.
- Breach: the defendant breached that duty by failing to exercise reasonable care. For example, the store owner failed to clean up spilled water and didn’t put out a sign warning about the danger of a wet floor.
- Cause: the defendant’s failure to act caused your injury. For example, the store owner’s failure to notify shoppers about the wet floor caused you to slip and fall.
- Damages: the injuries led to damages, such as medical expenses and lost wages
If it can be proven that there was a duty of care that was breached, which led to your injuries and damages, then a personal injury claim can move forward. The most common types of personal injury claims involve:
- Car accidents
- Medical malpractice
- Premises liability
- Nursing home abuse
The range of personal injury claims is wide. If you’re unsure of whether you can file a personal injury claim, speaking with a lawyer can help provide clear answers.
How Long Do I Have to File a Claim?
The amount of time you have to file a claim will vary based on what led to the injury. Based on the Arizona statutes, you have between 6 months and two years to file a claim. A general personal injury claim may be filed within two years of when the accident or injury occurred. For injuries to children under the age of 18, special rules apply. The statute of limitations may not begin until the child reaches 18 years of age.
Different exceptions may apply depending on the case, which may extend the statute of limitations.
Where to File a Personal Injury Claim
The personal injury claim may be filed in the Superior or Justice Court where the injury occurred. Injury claims that may exceed $10,000 in damages are typically filed with Superior Court. The first step in the process begins with filing a claim. After the claim is filed, the defendant has up to 30 days to respond from the receipt of the claim. From there, the process can delve deeper into legal proceedings.
Although some people believe that they can handle insurance proceedings on their own, having a lawyer on your side can help you obtain the benefits you need and deserve. A personal injury lawyer will be with you every step of the way, fighting for your right to fair and just compensation.
Having your case evaluated can mean the difference between obtaining some compensation or obtaining the maximum you are entitled to for damages. Click here to learn more.