A personal injury claim in Arizona must be prosecuted within two (2) years of the date of injury or when the person knew or should have known they were injured by the fault of another. This is the statute of limitations for the general personal injury claim. There are exceptions to this limitations period which depend on (1) the type of claim and (2) the person or entity that caused the injury and (3) the capacity of the person injured.
The reason for the know or should have known language is this: some injuries may be entirely latent and not even occur or become known to the victim until months or years later. An automobile accident would NOT fall under this language, even if all of the injuries did not manifest until later. Rather, this language is reserved for cases where the entire injury and cause of the injury are unknown. A typical example would be a person that works remediating a commercial building and later develops cancer due to asbestos exposure. These statute of limitations periods apply to personal injury cases and not to other types of causes of action such as contract, fraud etc.
Type of claim
If you are pursuing a claim based on statute, then the time to make the claim is one (1) year of the date of the injury or when you knew or should have known you were injured by the fault of another. A good example of this is an injury caused by an unleashed dog. There is a specific statute that indicates that an owner of a pet is liable for injuries caused by a “dog at-large.” If filing a claim under this statute, you are limited to one year.
Person or entity causing the injury
If a private individual causes your personal injury the statute of limitations is two years as referenced earlier. If the person or entity that injured you is a governmental injury or government employee that injuries you during the course and scope of their employment, then the statute is one year. In addition to the one year statute against the governmental entity (or its employee), you must serve a notice of claim upon all defendants within one hundred eighty days (180 days) from the time you were injured. This requires that you not only draft a notice of claim, you must actually serve the notice of claim on the governmental entities and/or employees that you intend to sue within 180 days of being injured. A one year statute then applies (1 year from the date of being injured) to file a lawsuit.
Sometimes a minor (person under the age of 18) is injured or a person that does not have the proper capacity to sue (severe mental disability, etc). In the case of a minor, the statute of limitations periods (as well as the notice of claim requirement) do not begin to run until the minor turns eighteen, at which time the statute of limitations begin. Thus, if a minor was injured in an automobile accident, the statute of limitations remains two years, though the statue does not begin until the minor turns eighteen. Thus, the minor would have two years to file a suit after they turn eighteen.