How Arizona Statutes Affect Personal Injury Claims

A statute is a law enacted directly by a legislature, such as the Arizona State Legislature. Statutes are not the only source of law. There are regulations, for example, and there is judge-made law derived from individual cases. Arizona statutes can affect personal injury claims in a variety of ways. 

The Workers’ Compensation Act

The Workers’ Compensation Act

If you suffer a work-related injury, the Arizona Workers’ Compensation Act allows you to claim up to two-thirds of your salary for wage replacement benefits (assuming that you issued work because of your injuries). 

There is an absolute maximum, however, of $3,690.86 per month. The government adjusts this maximum upwards every year to account for increases in the cost of living. Worker’s compensation offers other benefits as well, depending on the nature of the accident and injuries.

The Arizona Wrongful Death Act

If someone’s misconduct causes the victim to die, close relatives can file a wrongful death lawsuit. Damages include:

  • Loss of financial support to the family;
  • Loss of companionship;
  • Funeral and burial expenses Unless the victim’s estate pays them); and
  • Other non-economic damages such as emotional distress and loss of guidance.

Wrongful death damages tend to be high. The executor (personal representative) of the victim’s estate can also file a survival action. Damages go to the victim’s estate and include the victim’s medical bills, lost income, funeral and burial expenses (if the estate paid them), and related losses, starting from the time of the accident and continuing until the victim dies. 

The Arizona Dog Bite Law

An Arizona dog owner bears liability if their dog bites someone else, even if the dog has never before shown any aggressive tendencies. This is different from many other states where the dog essentially gets one “free bite” before liability will attach automatically. 

The Personal Injury Statute of Limitations

In general, you have until two years after an accident to either finalize a settlement or file a lawsuit. If you miss the deadline, your claim will die immediately. 

However, certain exceptions exist, such as if you had no way of discovering the existence of your claim until some time after your injury occurred. Contact an attorney to confirm the filing time limit for your case.

Comparative Negligence

Arizona has a comparative negligence statute that applies “pure comparative negligence,” which is a form of contributory fault

That means that if more than one party causes an injury accident, including the victim, a court will apportion damages according to each party’s percentage of fault as determined by the court. For example, if one party is 30% at fault, they will lose 30% of their damages. 

Barriers To Filing a Medical Malpractice Lawsuit

To avoid an avalanche of frivolous medical malpractice lawsuits generated by unscrupulous lawyers, Arizona has enacted certain barriers to medical malpractice victims who file lawsuits:

  • A Notice of Claim: You must notify the defendant of your intent to file a lawsuit, including facts about your claim and a specific settlement demand, within 180 days of the incident that gave rise to the claim.
  • An Expert Affidavit: You must submit an expert affidavit together with your initial claim. This affidavit must confirm that your claim has a reasonable basis, and a medical expert must sign onto it after investigating your case. The medical expert’s subfield must be related to your claim. The expert must be practicing medicine–they cannot be a “professional expert witness.”

If you fail to provide these documents, the court will dismiss your medical malpractice claim.

Premises Liability

Arizona has a premises liability law that requires owners or managers of property to inspect their property and repair or warn of dangerous conditions so guests don’t get hurt. This issue generally arises when a customer suffers an injury at a business establishment, but it can also apply to accidents on public property.

Insurance Bad Faith

An insurance company against whose policy you are making a claim must deal with you in good faith-–that is, fairly and honestly. If they fail to do so–by denying your claim arbitrarily, for example, you can sue them and win damages. 

It’s not that easy to win an insurance bad faith claim against an insurance company unless their conduct is outrageous. If you do win, however, you win two claims in one. To win, you have to prove that your original personal injury claim is valid. In addition to the money that would entitle you, you can also win additional damages–perhaps even damages for emotional distress.

Mandatory Minimum Auto Insurance

Any driver with a car registered in Arizona must purchase the following minimum auto accident insurance:

  • $25,000 for one person suffering bodily injury or death in an accident,
  • $50,000 total for two or more persons suffering bodily injury or death, and
  • $15,000 for damage to someone else’s property (typically their car).

If three or more persons suffer injury in an accident, the $50,000 maximum applies even if each victim receives less than $25,000.Of course, a driver can purchase more than the minimum amount of insurance. 

Many Arizona drivers are illegally uninsured. It’s a good idea, then, for you to purchase uninsured motorist insurance before an accident.

The Arizona Tort Claims Act

The Arizona Tort Claims Act applies if you seek to sue the state or local government (the City of Phoenix, for example). Essentially, the Act places restrictions and barriers relating to your right to sue the government. You can do it, but it’s more difficult and time-consuming. Seek a lawyer with experience handling claims against the government. 

Do You Need a Phoenix Personal Injury Attorney?

If you’ve been injured by somebody else’s misconduct, schedule a free initial consultation with an experienced Phoenix personal injury lawyer. 

Since personal injury lawyers work for free unless they win, you can know this much for certain. If the lawyer offers to take your case, (i) they believe they can win it, and (ii) they believe they (and therefore you) can make significant money from victory.