Defendants are Liable for Damages, Even if the Plaintiff is Fragile

Quite often, injury victims are not in perfect health.  One injury victim may be suffering from a serious heart condition that predisposes them to blood clots, heart attacks, and other heart-related injuries during times of great stress.  Another injury victim may be suffering from a weak back that is prone to fracture injuries. Injury victims who are in particularly poor health, or who are uniquely fragile — for example, who suffer from muscle weakness or a lack of bone density — may feel that they are not in a strong position to sue the defendant who caused their injuries.  These victims mistakenly believe that their condition precludes a lawsuit.  After all, should the defendant be held liable for injuries that are unexpected? Simply put: yes.  In Arizona, and in other jurisdictions throughout the country, defendants may be held liable for any and all injuries that were caused by their negligent, reckless, or intentional actions.  It does not matter that the defendant was “unlucky” that their actions affected a fragile victim — the defendant must bear the burden. All of this is great news for injury victims, of course, and we encourage you to speak with a qualified attorney for further guidance.  For now, let’s unpack some of this terminology so that we can clarify any remaining confusion. Defendants Must Accept the Cost Burden of Their Actions No matter what jurisdiction you’re in — Arizona or California or New Mexico or Texas — the “thin skull” rule, otherwise known as the […]

Plaintiffs May Protect Irrelevant Health Records From Intrusion

If you are suing the defendant for having caused your injuries — perhaps in a car accident, for example — then you may be concerned about having all your medical records exposed to the defendant and their attorneys. You may be uncomfortable with the prospect of having private information revealed to the public at-large (if the medical records are introduced into evidence, then the details will be made available to the public).  Further, the greater access that the defendant has to your lifetime medical records, the more likely it is that they will be able to weave together a damning narrative that undermines your arguments. Suppose that you are injured in a car accident that was caused by the defendant, who was operating their vehicle in a distracted manner.  You injure your leg as a result of the accident.  During the discovery process, the defendant requests your lifetime medical records.  That request is likely overbroad, however, and you need not honor it. If the defendant were to have access to your lifetime medical records, they might notice that you have been in-and-out of hospitals many times throughout your life, and they might argue that your leg injury is exaggerated, given your “demonstrated tendency” to malinger. By preventing the disclosure of irrelevant medical records, you therefore shield your lawsuit from damaging narratives. Fortunately, the basic rules of evidence in Arizona protect injured plaintiffs against unnecessary and over-broad investigations into their lifetime medical records.  It’s important that you secure the assistance of […]

Can the Defendant Be Excused from Negligence Liability for Mental Illness?

If you’ve suffered an injury in an accident that was caused by someone who has a cognitive disability, or who is otherwise mentally incompetent, then you’re likely wondering about the likelihood of recovery should you choose to pursue litigation against the defendant.  In the state of Arizona, much like the rest of the country, personal injury lawsuits brought on the basis of negligence (i.e., that the defendant acted in such a way that they violated the standard of care for the situation) are rather complicated when it comes to those who have cognitive impairments. Negligence Liability is Based on the Objective, Reasonable Person Standard Negligence claims — in the injury context — are fundamentally based on the concept of a standard of care.  Simply put, the difference between a mistake and negligence (for which the defendant will be held liable) turns on the standard of care.  If the defendant acts in such a way that it violates the standard of care, they will be found negligent, and may therefore be sued by the injury victim for damages.  If the defendant makes a mistake, but their actions do not violate the standard of care, then you cannot hold them liable for your injuries. The standard of care in any given situation is meant to be based on an objective, “reasonable person” standard.  Essentially, the court will determine how a reasonably prudent person would have acted in the same situation as the defendant.  If the defendant’s actions fall out-of-step with this expectation, […]

Personal Injury Lawsuits Are Public Matters — What Does That Mean?

If you’ve been injured due to another person’s negligent, reckless, or intentional actions — for example, in a car accident with a defendant-driver who was speeding and driving in a distracted manner at the time of the accident — then Arizona law may entitle you to sue and potentially recover damages as compensation.  Though lawsuits are an excellent way to ensure that defendants are held accountable for their damaging actions, there are many limitations that people are unaware of (chiefly, the issue of privacy). Simply put, litigating a claim opens up the details to members of the public.  Upon first impression, this may not seem like a “big deal.”  After all, you might find it strange that someone in your community is scouring public databases for court records and will thereafter reveal your personal issues to the world at-large.  In reality, however, many disclosures in litigation are made known to the public through various media outlets. For example, if you are suing a local transportation company for an accident that occurred on the highway, then the local news outlets may report on litigation as it proceeds. Fortunately, there are ways to circumvent the privacy concerns associated with litigation, so if your privacy is particularly important to you, then you may still make an attempt to negotiate and resolve your dispute with the defendant without disclosing certain information to the public. Trial Details Are Matters of Public Record Again, it’s important to reiterate that the details of litigation are matters of […]

Tolling the Statute of Limitations in Arizona

In Arizona, and elsewhere, the statute of limitations imposes a deadline on the injured plaintiff’s various claims.  When the applicable statute of limitations deadline passes, then the plaintiff’s claims expire, at which point the plaintiff is no longer entitled to sue and recover for damages in an Arizona court of law. For example, suppose that you are injured in a motor vehicle collision.  Given the seriousness of your sustained injuries, however, you spend most of your post-accident time and energy attempting to physically rehabilitate and reintegrate into your old lifestyle/career.  As a result, you wait too long to file your claims and the statute of limitations deadline passes.  You will no longer be entitled to compensation. Importantly, the Arizona statute of limitations for injury claims — which runs for two years from the date of injury — allows for the suspension/extension of the deadline in certain circumstances.  This is known as “tolling.”  If the statute of limitations deadline has been tolled, then you may still have enough time to pursue litigation. Tolling on the Basis of the Discovery Rule Equitable tolling takes into consideration the possibility of a delayed discovery of one’s various injuries in the wake of an accident.  The application of the discovery rule is actually fairly straightforward, though many prospective plaintiffs are unaware of how it works.  Essentially, the statute of limitations period does not begin to run until the date that the plaintiff’s injuries are actually discovered, or until the date that the plaintiff’s injuries should […]

Suppressing Evidence in a Motor Vehicle Lawsuit to Your Advantage

In the state of Arizona, as in other states, both plaintiffs and defendants may prevent certain evidence from being introduced into the lawsuit, to their benefit.  An effective evidentiary strategy is critical to success in a motor vehicle lawsuit, or in any other civil lawsuit — personal injury or otherwise. Generally speaking, the defendant will attempt to introduce evidence that undermines your various claims.  For example, if you apologized to the defendant after the occurrence of a motor vehicle accident, the defendant may argue that this post-accident apology constituted an admission of fault, and that it is therefore relevant to the injury claims at-issue.  Alternatively, the defendant may attempt to introduce evidence of a statement made by a witness at the scene of the accident.  Depending on the circumstances, however, each of these statements may be suppressed (to your benefit). Evidentiary Privileges As the plaintiff in an Arizona motor vehicle accident lawsuit, you are likely to encounter a number of unexpected challenges in the evidentiary context.  Oftentimes, for example, the defendant will attempt to undermine your injury claims by asserting that they are “made up” or exaggerated in some way, perhaps by introducing evidence of your past psychiatric records with your therapist.  This is a broad overreach, however, unless you have made your mental health an issue in the lawsuit — the Arizona medical record privilege shields gives you the right to suppress the introduction of medical record evidence that is not relevant to the injury claims at-issue. Other evidentiary […]

Recovering Damages in an Intentional Collision

In Arizona, and elsewhere, motor vehicle accidents typically occur due to the negligent or reckless conduct of a defendant.  Of course, there are many cases in which the defendant has intentionally caused injuries to the defendant — such conduct falls within the umbrella of intentional torts, and may expose the defendant to civil liability for damages you suffered as a result, as well as criminal liability. Many injury plaintiffs are not familiar with the prospect of twin criminal and civil liability, and don’t quite realize how one affects the other.  Put simply, the fact that the defendant is currently engaged in — or will be engaged in — a criminal prosecution will have no bearing on your ability to recover damages in civil litigation.  Even if the defendant is found innocent in criminal litigation, it’s worth noting that criminal liability requires the satisfaction of a much stricter burden of proof (i.e., 99 percent certainty, as opposed to the 51 percent certainty required in civil litigation). Road rage is an unfortunate reality.  In the spur of the moment, many drivers lose their senses and engage in behaviors that are designed to frustrate another driver who they perceive to be doing something wrong.  Such conduct is unarguably intentional, and can expose others to a significantly heightened risk of harm. Intentional collisions give rise to unique considerations in the Arizona motor vehicle accident context, which an experienced Phoenix accident lawyer can use advantageously in litigation.  Consider the following. Intentional Misconduct and the Sliding […]

Personal Injury Claims in Arizona Must Be Filed by the Deadline

As the injured plaintiff — in Arizona and elsewhere — you should take note of the statute of limitations for your various claims.  The statute of limitations is of prime importance in every litigation (both civil and criminal!).  Essentially, the statute of limitations acts as a deadline for your injury claims. Do bear in mind that the statute of limitations deadline is a rather strict one.  If you do not file your claims before the deadline passes, then the claims will “expire” and you will no longer be entitled to sue and recover damages against the defendant on the basis of such claims.  As such, it’s absolutely vital that you connect with an attorney who will file your personal injury claims in a timely manner, and thereby avoid relinquishing your right to sue and recover damages in an Arizona court. In the Arizona personal injury context, the statute of limitations deadline is two years from the date the cause of action accrues.  This is a somewhat short period of time for such overwhelming tasks — during such time, you’ll have to begin the process of physical and psychological rehabilitation, reintegrate yourself into your career and social life, and more, in addition to identifying relevant injury claims and filing them before the deadline passes.  A sense of immediacy is therefore critical to effective personal injury litigation. When the Cause of Action Accrues Normally, the cause of action “accrues” on the date of injury.  Like many other states throughout the country, however, […]

Can You Hold an Auto Mechanic Liable for Your Injuries?

In Arizona, and elsewhere, auto mechanics can be held liable for injuries that are caused due to their negligent, reckless, or intentional misconduct in handling your vehicle while it’s “in the shop.”  The strong possibility of auto mechanic liability in a motor vehicle accident scenario can come as something of a surprise to those who are not aware of how fault can be distributed to multiple defendants. Auto mechanics must act with reasonable care while your vehicle (or the defendant-driver’s vehicle) is in their possession.  Failure to adhere to the standard of care, given the circumstances, could result in the attachment of liability. Standard of Care The standard of care in any given situation is influenced by a number of factors.  The duty of reasonable care is not universal.  This applies to auto mechanics as well.  The standard of care will be influenced by factors that include, but are not necessarily limited, to: Training and experience of the mechanic Nature of the defect requiring repair Obviousness of the defect Cost and expectations relating to the repair Whether the owner/driver has been notified as to discovered defects And more For example, an auto mechanic who is conducting an inspection on a vehicle that has a non-obvious, extremely rare defect would not necessarily be negligent for failing to discover said defect.  An auto mechanic who fails to identify faulty brakes, on the other hand, would likely be found negligent for failing to do so. How Liability Falls on the Mechanic Auto mechanic […]

Actions to Take in an Emergency Situation

Motor vehicle accidents are by their very nature difficult-to-predict.  In some cases, a sudden and unexpected emergency can influence the ability of the defendant to predict the consequences of their actions and avoid an accident. For example, imagine a situation in which the defendant-driver is operating their vehicle on the highway and has a heart attack.  The driver — battling the sudden pain, spasms, and general loss of body control inflicted by the heart attack — swerves into your lane and collides with your vehicle, causing you to suffer significant injuries. Can you recover damages? There isn’t a simple yes-or-no answer that applies to all “sudden emergency” scenarios in the motor vehicle context, unfortunately.  Whether you can recover damages in a situation involving a sudden emergency is dependent largely on the circumstances at-issue — and more specifically, whether the driver acted with reasonable care given the emergency. Have you been involved in an accident and suffered injuries as a result?  You may be able to sue the defendant and obtain compensation, pursuant to Arizona law.  In the personal injury context, the person responsible for your injuries can make use of a number of defenses to escape liability.  To ensure that your claims are effectively litigated, make sure to consult with an experienced Arizona motor vehicle accident lawyer so that your lawsuit can be properly evaluated and filed. Arizona applies what is known as the “sudden emergency” doctrine to cases in which the defendant is rendered incapable of reacting in a […]

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