It's useful to know which Arizona laws apply if you've been
injured in an accident in Arizona. This article explores a few key laws
that affect Arizona injury cases, whether you're filing a lawsuit in
court or dealing with an insurance company in settlement talks.
Like all states, Arizona has a law known as the "statute of limitations"
that sets a time limit on bringing injury cases to court. This time
limit affects any case you might file in court after an accident or
In Arizona, you have two years to file a lawsuit related to a personal injury. In most cases, this time limit starts running on the date of your accident. However, if you suffer a hidden injury that you don't discover until later, your two-year time limit might start on the date you discover the injury, rather than the date of the accident.
For claims against a city, county, or the State of Arizona:
When you try to hold a person or
company responsible for your injuries, you may hear them argue that you
were partly or totally to blame for your own injuries. In Arizona,
certain laws apply to cases where you are found partly at fault, and
they reduce the amount of damages you can recover.
This rule is known as comparative negligence, and it works like this. Suppose that you're sitting in a chair by your pool one day, when the chair suddenly breaks underneath you, causing you to fall and suffer injuries. You decide to seek compensation from the chair's manufacturer, but the manufacturer replies that you were to blame for the damage because the chair's warning label clearly states it should not be used outdoors. Eventually, your fault is calculated at 20 percent, and the manufacturer's fault is set at 80 percent.
If your total damages in this accident were $10,000, Arizona's comparative negligence rule will reduce your total by the amount of your fault. Here, that means you could walk away with $8,000, or the $10,000 total minus $2,000 that represents your 20 percent of the fault.
Arizona courts will apply the comparative negligence rule in injury cases, but insurance adjusters may bring it up as well. Don't be surprised if, during injury settlement negotiations, an insurance adjuster mentions that your compensation should be reduced because you were partly at fault. Be prepared to counter the argument if you can.
Arizona uses an "at-fault" system
to handle auto accident cases. This means a person injured in an
accident has the option to try to settle the claim with insurance
companies or to go to court to prove fault and seek damages. Arizona
also requires drivers to have basic auto insurance coverage, which may
provide the compensation an injured driver needs without having to take
the case to court.
Arizona's at-fault auto insurance laws have flexibility built into them, which can help you when you're trying to reach an insurance settlement.
In many states, dog owners are protected (to some degree) from injury liability the first time their dog injures someone if they had no reason to believe the dog was dangerous. This is often called a "one bite" rule. In Arizona however, specific statutes (Ariz. Rev. Stat. §11-1025, and Ariz. Rev. Stat. §11-1020) make the owner "strictly liable", meaning regardless of the animal's past behavior, the dog owner is responsible for a personal injury caused by his/her dog. Specifically, one statute reads:
"The owner of a dog which bites a person when the person is in or on a public place or lawfully in or on a private place, including the property of the owner of the dog, is liable for damages suffered by the person bitten, regardless of the former viciousness of the dog or the owner's knowledge of its viciousness." - Ariz. Rev. Stat. §11-1025
A "damages cap" is a law that
limits the amount of compensation an injured person can receive in
certain kinds of cases -- or for certain categories of harm. Different
states have different damages caps that apply to certain types of
injuries. Our companion article on damages in injury cases provides more information.
Arizona has no caps on damages in personal injury cases. In Arizona, damage caps are prohibited by Article 2, Section 31 of the state constitution.