A Few Essentials About Claims Against an Arizona Public Entity

Hi folks, this month sharing few general tips on requirements to pursue a legal claim against an Arizona public entity.

Courthouse

Generally, you need to file a claim quickly with the appropriate authority –In Arizona, we have the Notice of Claim Statutes, Arizona Revised Statutes. Sections, 12-820 through 12-826, govern the Notice and it is not the easiest of statutes to follow. It mandates that anyone who seeks to make a claim against such a public entity first provide the appropriate authority of that entity with a valid notice of the claim within 180 days of when the claim has accrued. I emphasize the bolded terms because these are the areas of traps for the unwary and those unfamiliar with the statute and how it has been applied by the Arizona courts since the statute was passed by the Arizona legislature in 1994.

  1. The appropriate authority – The authority that is authorized to accept delivery of a notice of claim is not always a simple task. As a rule, one should ask the public authority such as a city, a county, a board, or a commission, who is the person who is authorized to accept a Notice of Claim. For example, if you have a claim against a state university, the Arizona Board of Regents is the authority that must receive a Notice of Claim. Usually, the Arizona Attorney General is the authority to serve a Notice of Claim against a state public entity.
  2. What must a notice of claim include? – The Notice of Claim statutes require that the notice include: (a) sufficient facts that support the claim, and (b) and provide a “specific amount for which the claim can be settled and the facts supporting that amount.” While these conditions seem straightforward, the sufficiency of facts and specificity of the amount is often litigated.
  3. The 180 days and One Year Statute– All notices must be first delivered to the authorized entity within 180 days after the claim is discovered, and after this prerequisite (should matters not resolve), a lawsuit must be filed within one year after the claim has accrued as provided under R.S. 12-821.
  4. Don’t be surprised if you don’t receive an answer to your Notice of Claim –The public entity may wait until a lawsuit is filed before it will respond to a Notice of Claim.
  5. Final words: If your claim is of relatively low value there may be a standard form to complete. A good place to make an initial inquiry is the administrative authority, for example, if the entity is a City contact the City Clerk and ask how to file a Notice of Claim. If you believe you have a substantial claim, I suggest that you contact an attorney who has possibly acted against that particular entity, as they should be well versed in how to proceed efficiently to pursue all your viable claims to recover for your harm and loss.

Keep safe and be well,

Christine

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