This article serves as a cautionary tale against the dangers of not contacting an attorney immediately after being involved in an auto accident, especially when it involves a government owned vehicle like a school or city bus, a police car, or garbage truck. Every potential lawsuit has a certain time limit called a statute of limitations in which it needs to be filed with a court. In Arizona, the statute of limitations for a lawsuit involving a normal car accident is two years from the date the accident took place. After two years has passed, it becomes impossible to sue whoever was responsible for the accident.
However, there exists a special exemption for whenever the government is involved in injuring someone such as a car accident, which is called a government tort. Instead of having two years to file a lawsuit, it is required to give the government notice of a lawsuit within 180 days (6 months) instead of the normal two years. In addition to this requirement to notify the government of a potential lawsuit claim if you’re injured, it is also required to then also file the lawsuit within one year.
Just recently I had someone call my office who was driving their car when they were hit by a city bus in an intersection. They required substantial surgery and recovery time from their injuries and didn’t think to contact an attorney until much later. Unfortunately, when I spoke to them it had already been a few days past that 180 day requirement since the date of their car accident, meaning there was nothing I could do to help them get compensated for their significant medical costs caused by the city. Had they been by a private individual instead, they would have still been within the statute of limitations.
If you’re involved in a wreck, don’t hesitate to contact an attorney immediately. It won’t cost you anything to speak with an attorney for an initial consultation, and can often be crucial to protect your legal rights against unknown risks like exceptions for government torts.
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