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It’s a scenario no one wants to encounter: You suspect a loved one has been abused or injured and that their nursing home or long term care facility is responsible.

The trauma of the injury is already enough to handle; do you really want to get a lawyer involved?

You think about it for a couple weeks or months, deciding what the best course of action is. How quickly should I act? When should I contact a nursing home abuse lawyer?

Unfortunately under Arizona state law you only have a limited amount of time to bring a case of abuse or neglect. Read our article to find out how this works, what the statute of limitations is for nursing home cases like these and what your options are.

When should you pursue a nursing home abuse case?

You should always pursue a nursing home abuse and neglect case as soon as possible as you only have a limited amount of time available.

In Arizona the deadline to file a case against a nursing home or long term care center is two years from the date of the “loss.”

What is the date of loss and why is it important?

It’s the date that the injury, abuse or death was realized.

Determining when the date of loss is crucial and often a fact-intensive inquiry. This means that the medical records and paperwork from the nursing home must be reviewed as soon as possible to determine the “date of loss” and to allow legal proceedings to begin.

Establishing the exact date of loss is crucial because you must make a claim within two years of this date to recover compensation from the responsible party.

What is a Statute of Limitations?

The Statute of Limitations is the legal terminology for the deadline a person or loved one has to make a claim for damages incurred due to the abuse or neglect of another responsible party.

Different crimes, or causes of action, can have different statutes of limitations associated with them, and some very serious crimes may have no limit at all.

The following causes of action have a two year Statute of Limitations in the state of Arizona:

For each of these incidents the 2 year statute of limitations period begins from the established date of loss.

What if I don’t know the exact date my loved one sustained an injury?

Arizona law outlines criteria to determine when your loved one sustained an injury, and therefore when the “date of loss” occurs.

Nursing home residents often suffer from mental deficiencies, dementia or other health concerns that prohibit them from reporting injuries.

Arizona law protects these vulnerable adults by “tolling” the statute of limitations.

What does tolling mean?

It means the date of loss is not always the date that the injury took place, but instead it is:

The date that the injury is known or should have been known to the person that is responsible for asserting the vulnerable adult’s rights if the adult is unable to articulate their injuries.

Tolling can have a different effect on the date of loss depending on the type of incident that has occurred:

  • Personal Injury: The date of loss is the date which you or your loved one sustained an injury.
  • Negligence: The date of loss is the date which the injured party knows, or reasonably should have known, of negligent conduct on behalf of the defendant.
  • Medical Malpractice: The date of loss is the date the injured party knew or should have known that the medical malpractice occurred.
  • Wrongful Death: The date of loss is usually the date of the decedent’s death. However, Arizona courts have held that the date of loss could be when a loved one discovers or with reasonable due diligence should have discovered that their loved one was injured due to a defendant’s negligence.

What if the party is a public entity or public person?

If the party responsible for you or your loved ones injuries or death is a public entity or person, then the deadline to file a claim is even shorter than the two year deadline for private entities or individual.

A Notice of Claim must be filed and served upon the public entity or person within 180 days of the date of loss.

If the Notice of Claim is not filed or served upon the public entity or person within the 180 deadline, then no further action may be pursued.

What is a public entity or public person?

A public entity or public person is generally any governmental entity or person operating under in a governmental capacity.

Examples of public entities or persons include, but are not limited to:

  • State run nursing homes or long term care facilities
  • Hospitals
  • Assisted living centers and homes
  • Group homes
  • Behavioral health residential facilities
  • Hospice centers
  • Home health agencies
  • Outpatient recovery centers
  • Intermediate care facilities for developmentally disabled

What is a Notice of Claim?

A Notice of Claim is a specific form that must be completed and served upon the public entity or person that is responsible for you or your loved ones injuries or death.

The Notice of Claim must contain certain and specific facts about the claim, as well as a specific amount the claim may be settled. Facts supporting the settlement amount must be included as well.

If you believe that the party responsible for your loved one’s injury is a public entity or public person it’s even more important to start legal proceedings as quickly as possible.

What happens if a claim is not made within the Statute of Limitations?

If you fail to make a claim within the statute of limitations period, it means you lose the right to recover compensation for losses incurred.

Unfortunately there is not any other legal avenue you can take once the statute of limitations has passed, which is why it’s crucial to speak with a lawyer as quickly as possible.

This is why it is crucial to speak to an experienced nursing home abuse attorney as early as possible to avoid time running out and having no option but to abandon legal proceedings.

Contacting a lawyer earlier in the process can also have several other benefits. An experienced attorney should be able to:

  • Help file your initial complaint
  • Help identify and document any key evidence
  • Communicate on your behalf
  • Offer guidance around the legal process itself, including mediation and settlement negotiations

Our experienced attorneys offer comprehensive guidance on all personal injury matters by phone or video conference call.

Our team of lawyers work closely with their injury clients across Arizona, communicating clearly whilst offering reassurance and empathy through an often very difficult and emotional process. During the free consultation, our lawyers will discuss your concerns before creating a comprehensive plan for you, while also assessing the strength of your claim.

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