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The Clock is Ticking: Personal Injury Statute of Limitations

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Notice of Claim: what does it mean to the normal two year statute of limitations?
Some people who are injured do not have the usual two year statute of limitations in which to file a law suit. It can be much shorter. Although there are times it can also be longer this article will only address the shortening of time.
Suppose you are hit by a DPS officer or other state employee while driving your car. You may be lulled into believing that the two year statute of limitations applies and you have plenty of time to find a lawyer and deal with it. Or suppose you are at the University of Arizona Medical Center and the doctor commits malpractice. You may think again you have two years. Both assumptions will leave you without a cause of action.
Arizona requires that within 180 days of the incident, you must provide what is called a Notice of Claim. There are special rules that must be followed and services that must be accomplished within 180 days or you are barred from bringing the law suit. Even after you file the Notice of Claim, you cannot immediately sue the Governmental Entity . You must wait 60 days for the State to Respond. If the State does not respond, which in my experience is always the case, you then must file the law suit. A.R.S. §12-821 says you have one year after the cause of action accrues. What happens if you wait more than 180 days and knew or should have known of the injury: you lose. Simple as that; you are out of court and have no avenue to proceed. What happens if you do not file the law suit within one year, having given the 180 Notice of Claim, you lose!
Federal employees are different. Under the Federal Torts Claims Act, you still must do a Notice of Claim although the time limits are different.
So if you have a claim against a governmental entity, either City, County or State, you are faced with the Notice of Claim requirement.
This is an area of law that snares the unwary citizen and sometime even the lawyer. If you wait too long to file the Notice of Claim, you can find yourself outside the one year statute of limitations while waiting for a response.

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