Differences between Arizona and California Personal Injury Laws

Say you’re from Arizona, but you are driving through California and you get t-boned at an intersection. Do you know what you’re up against for litigating the claim in that state instead of your home? Or say you are visiting a friend in Arizona and you are injured on their rotting porch step. Do you know how to deal with this claim in that state instead?

Hiring a personal injury lawyer in the state where you are filing the claim will help you know your legal rights and responsibilities. However, it’s a good idea to do a little reading up on the law yourself so that you can come to the table a little more prepared. Having the education will also help you know what steps to take first if you are ever injured in either state. Here’s a basic look at how personal injury law compares between California and Arizona:

Time Limits

You can’t just file a personal injury lawsuit whenever the mood strikes you. The law imposes time limits for filing your claim. In Arizona, you have two years from the date of your accident to file a lawsuit. You will have additional time if your injuries were not immediately apparent after the accident. In that case, you would have two years from the time you discover the injury, but you will have to work with a personal injury lawyer who can prove this course of events.

If you are filing against a government agency in Arizona, you will have to file a formal claim within 180 days and bring a lawsuit within one year.

In California, you also have two years from the date of your accident to file a claim, though you do not have the exception of additional time if you discover injuries at a later time. California does not impose a time limit if you are filing a personal injury claim against a government agency at the city, county, or state level.

Determining Fault

Arizona has what is known as a “comparative negligence” law. This means that the amount you are able to recover may be lowered if it can be shown that you contributed to your accident in some way. Maybe you were t-boned because the other party ran a red light, but if that person’s lawyer can show that you were also speeding or looking at your cell phone, you may be considered partly to blame for the accident, and your compensation may be reduced.

California has the same rule. In either state, courts would determine what percentage they think you contributed to the accident, and your compensation would be reduced by that percentage. So if you are considered to be 10 percent to blame for the accident, your compensation would be reduced by 10 percent.

You can clearly see that this rule has some problems. How do you determine what 10 percent of an accident is? How do you determine what percentage driving 1 mile above the speed limit contributed to an accident caused by someone running a stop sign because it was covered by brush? These are issues that will be fought fiercely between attorneys, whether in settlement talks or in litigation.

Limits on Damages

Some states limit what compensation you can recover from an accident. These limits are known as “damage caps.”

Arizona does not put any limits on damages in a personal injury case. In fact, that state specifically has a rule in its constitution that prohibits damage caps.

California does put limits on damages. Specifically, it prohibits uninsured drivers from collecting damages for “pain and suffering” from an accident, no matter what the circumstances of the accident were. It also prohibits them from recovering damages for any other non-economic issue, such as inconvenience, physical impairment, or disfigurement. The only exception to this rule is if the person was in an accident caused by a driver under the influence of drugs or alcohol. (The driver must also be convicted of DUI.)

California also caps non-economic damages in malpractice causes to $250,000. There are no exceptions to this law.

Other Personal Injury Laws

Both California and Arizona have other quirks about their personal injury laws that are worth noting.

Both states impose strict liability for dog bites. In other states, dog owners are usually allowed a “one bite” rule, which means that they are given a pass if a dog bites someone for the first time if they had no reason to believe that the dog was dangerous. In California and Arizona, dog owners are held liable even the first time their dog bites someone. Fault or negligence typically does not need to be shown in these cases.

When you have been injured in an accident or a loved one has been killed in one, it is important that you talk with an experienced personal injury lawyer in the state where the accident happened. Only your attorney can help you understand the law and how it applies to your case. Your attorney can guide you through the process and help you get the maximum compensation available.

In California, Citywide Law Group is ready to help. These personal injury attorneys are located in West Los Angeles, but they can meet you throughout the LA metro area. These skilled and experienced attorneys represent clients in vehicle and motorcycle accidents, pedestrian accidents, dog bites, wrongful death claims, premises liability cases, and more. They work on a contingency fee basis, which means that they don’t collect unless you do.

In Arizona, My AZ Lawyers can help. Their experienced personal injury lawyers serve the Phoenix and Tucson areas in cases involving all types of vehicle accidents, pedestrian accidents, catastrophic injuries, dog bites, police misconduct, medical malpractice, slips and falls, nursing home neglect, defective products, and much, much more. Their comprehensive personal injury practice aims to help those injured get the maximum compensation under Arizona law. Contact them for a free consultation to learn more about your options for pursuing a personal injury case in Arizona.