In Arizona and most other states, claims for all personal injury damages must be brought at the time of trial. In cases of significant injury, damages may be ongoing when a trial takes place. Damages such as future pain and suffering, or the cost of future surgeries and medical treatment, may not be known with certainty. What is the best course to insure that all damages are recovered?
When is the Best Time to Bring a Lawsuit for a Personal Injury Claim?
When possible, personal injury lawsuits are best commenced after the time that injuries have stabilized and before the expiration of the statute of limitations. In Arizona, the statute of limitations is generally – but not always — two years following the date of an accident. (Depending on the circumstances the time limit to bring a claim may be as short as 180 days and occasionally may be longer than two years, so if you believe you have a claim, you should consult a lawyer promptly.)
Stabilization of Injuries
It can be unclear for several months after an accident what long-term medical treatment may be required. Sometimes, injuries appear likely to need long-term medical care, but turn out to be less severe than first thought. In other cases, the reverse is the true. Seemingly minor injuries cause prolonged pain and problems and need more care than initially anticipated. This is often the case for “soft–tissue” injuries, such as back and neck injuries.
Bringing The Complete Claim For Damages
At trial, the plaintiff (the person injured) must bringthe complete claim for damages against the defendant. Additional claims for damages from the same injury cannot be brought in a later case. Past costs and expenses, such as medical bills, are usually easy to prove because the plaintiff will be able to show the medical bills received. Past pain and suffering can be shown to the jury through testimony from the plaintiff and other witnesses.
Future costs and damages, such as lost wages, costs of future medical care, and related future pain and suffering, usually must be determined based upon expert testimony. As an example, a physician may testify on necessary future medical care, surgeries, and rehabilitation. Vocational experts may testify on future diminished wages because of chronic injury. Medical experts and others may testify concerning likely future pain and suffering.
In Arizona, for future damages to be recoverable, the plaintiff must prove (1) that the damages are likely to occur, and (2) the amount of the damages.
In seeking a full recovery for our clients, we work to understand the full nature of damages, including pain and suffering, that our clients have suffered in the past, and also those which our clients are likely to suffer in the future. This is the only way that our clients can be appropriately and fully compensated.
To Learn More About the Damages to Which You May Be Entitled, Please Call Us for a Free Case Consultation