Hit and Run Accidents

Hit and run accidents are more common throughout the United States than you might think.  A recent AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety report indicated that an average of 682,000 hit and run crashes occur annually (based on data recorded since 2006).  If you’ve been injured in a hit and run accident, then you may have a right of action for damages, even if the other driver cannot be found.  If the driver can be found and depending on the circumstances, your case may be strengthened by the fact that the defendant fled the scene. Reasons Why a Defendant May Flee the Scene There are a number of reasons as to why a defendant may flee the scene of an accident, some of which are more “egregious” than others.  Consider the following: Lack of insurance coverage Underinsured Concern over potential liability Driving while intoxicated (and want to avoid being arrested and charged) Fear of reprisal Shock Unaware of collision If a defendant flees the scene, you are not entirely without options for litigating your injury claims.  You may be able to identify the defendant by gathering and evaluating surveillance footage, speaking to eyewitnesses or by monitoring the accident scene after the collision, as most drivers tend to stick to a pattern of travel if the collision occurred on a daily commute. Civil Liability for a Hit and Run Accident Hit and run accidents may not only expose the defendant to criminal liability, but may also expose them to potential civil liability, […]

Are You Entitled to Damages for Your Car Accident-Related Disabilities?

If you have been seriously injured in a car accident (due to the negligence, recklessness, or intentional misconduct of another party), then Arizona law may give you a right to secure compensation for your losses, including losses relating to any disability that results from the accident. Damages for disabilities sustained due to an accident can vary substantially depending on the activities of the plaintiff and the length of the disability at-issue.  For example, if you are a highly-active socialite and enjoy outdoor recreational activities, then your disabling condition may preclude you from not only working in your profession, but may also preclude you from engaging in the social and recreational activities that once defined your lifestyle.  These damages can be difficult to measure, but may be significant. Disability Benefits and Occupational Deficits There is quite a bit of variation when it comes to disability insurance plans.  In some plans, a disability is strictly defined as a condition that precludes the claimant from working in “any” occupation, whereas in other plans, a disability is more broadly defined as a condition that precludes the claimant from working in their “own” existing occupation.  For example, suppose that you purchased disability insurance coverage that includes an “own occupation” definition of a disabling condition.  You are then involved in a car accident, where you suffer a back injury.  Your current career is as a physical laborer in a warehouse.  Due to the back injury, however, you are permanently rendered incapable of performing your current job […]

Can I Recover Damages if I Was Hit While Walking on a Roadway?

If you have sustained serious injuries in a pedestrian accident while you were walking on a roadway, then you might be somewhat confused as to your rights — after all, it may not be clear whether you were actually entitled to walk on the roadway (under Arizona law) at the time of the collision. Arizona regulates pedestrian roadway use quite stringently.  Let’s take a look at the basics. Sidewalk Use is Highly Controlled Section 28-796 of the Arizona Revised Statutes governs pedestrian use of roadways in situations where sidewalks may or may not be present.  More specifically, Arizona statutory law prohibits pedestrian use of roadways when there are sidewalks on (or adjacent to) the roadway at-issue. Where no sidewalk has been provided, pedestrians are allowed to walk along the roadway, but this accessibility is limited.  Pedestrians may only walk: On the left side of the roadway, or On the shoulder of the roadway, facing traffic that may be approaching from the opposite direction. Further, you may not stand in a roadway — even briefly — to solicit a ride.  For example, it is illegal to step onto the road to call a taxicab.  You must stay on the sidewalk (assuming that a sidewalk has been provided). Arizona Comparative Negligence In the event that you did, in fact, violate the various statutory regulations concerning sidewalk use and pedestrian roadway use, then Arizona law may not necessarily preclude you from suing and recovering damages for your injuries — though your recovery will […]

Common Negligent Acts Giving Rise to a Truck Accident

Truck accidents are not only quite common, but they tend to give rise to more severe injuries than other types of auto accidents, in major part because the impact force caused by a truck tends to be much higher on average.  As such, it’s critically important that truck drivers are considerate of unique the risks involved in operating their vehicles, and that they drive appropriately so as to minimize those risks to the best degree possible. If you have suffered injuries in a truck accident scenario, then you may have a right of action against the truck driver — and potentially even their employer — for damages under Arizona law.  In Arizona, and elsewhere, truck accidents (whether involving a commercial truck or a personal vehicle) may be caused by a range of negligence-related factors. Consider the following. Improper Cargo Loading Improper cargo loading is perhaps one of the most common causes of truck accidents, as it can lead to rollover risks.  Truck drivers — along with cargo loaders, supervisors, etc. — must make reasonable efforts to ensure that cargo has been loaded appropriately so as to avoid a heightened rollover risk.  This applies to non-commercial contexts, too.  For example, if the defendant has rented a U-Haul truck, and decides to load all their heavy furniture to one side of the truck, then that could lead to a rollover accident. Failure to Properly Maintain Vehicle Trucks must be adequately maintained to prevent mechanical issues that could lead to an accident on […]

The Legality of Lane Splitting in Arizona

In Arizona, and elsewhere, motorcyclists sometimes attempt to split lanes in an effort to cut through traffic and avoid the gridlock.  This is perfectly natural, of course — many motorcyclists see lane splitting as a maneuver that is meant to take advantage of the unique dimensions of a two-wheeled vehicle.  Motorcyclists (like most others on the road) tend to also see themselves as exemplary operators and may therefore find any restriction on lane splitting to be questionable. In reality, however, lane splitting can expose both motorcyclists and others to a significant risk of injury.  It should come as no surprise that Arizona and most other states have regulated lane splitting in an effort to minimize the occurrence of motorcycle accidents (and the injury claims that may result from such behaviors).  As per section 28-903 of the Arizona Revised Statutes, the state imposes a complete ban on motorcycle lane splitting. How does this effect damage recovery in a motorcycle accident?  Let’s take a look. Recovering Damages in a Lane Splitting Accident Given that lane splitting is banned in Arizona by statute, if you are involved in an accident while you are splitting a lane (i.e., riding between two lanes of traffic or between adjacent rows of vehicles), then you will be found negligent per se. Importantly, however, the fact that you are negligent for violating the lane splitting prohibition is not — in and of itself — enough to prevent you from successfully recovering damages in an accident.  Arizona implements the […]

Survival Actions vs. Wrongful Death Actions

In Arizona, and elsewhere, the surviving family members of an individual who has died due to the negligence or wrongful misconduct of another party are entitled to sue and recover damages pursuant to a wrongful death action — and in some cases, pursuant to a survival action.  Though the two actions are closely-related in many respects, there are fundamental differences that are worth evaluating. Consider the following. The Basis of the Action is Different Survival actions are brought on behalf of the deceased with the intention of recovering losses that were suffered by the deceased directly (prior to their death).  If the deceased dies instantly in an accident, for example, there would likely not be an actionable claim on this basis.  On the other hand, if the deceased is injured in a car accident, and their condition worsens over the course of a month before they die, then their estate would likely be entitled to bring a survival action for significant damages. Wrongful death actions are independent of survival actions, and meant to account for the losses suffered by the surviving family members of the deceased — for example, damages for wrongful death may cover the mental anguish suffered by a surviving spouse after the death of their husband. If you believe that you may have a legitimate survival action or wrongful death action, it’s important to get in touch with a qualified Phoenix wrongful death attorney for further assistance and an evaluation of your claims. Debtors, Creditors, and Liabilities […]

Defendants Must Keep Their Car in a Reasonably Safe Condition

If you are injured in a car accident where the collision is caused by the defendant’s failure to maintain their vehicle in a reasonably safe condition, then you may have a right of action against the defendant for damages.  In Arizona, and elsewhere, drivers have a duty to maintain their vehicles — failure to do so could expose them to significant civil liability in the event of an accident. Defendants Have a Duty to Properly Maintain Their Vehicles In Arizona, all drivers have a duty to maintain their vehicles in a reasonably safe condition so as to minimize the risk of injury to others.  Ensuring that one’s vehicle is properly maintained and free of defective conditions (that could pose an injury risk) may require a wide range of active behaviors, such as regular inspections, professional servicing and repair, and more. Whether the defendant has done enough to maintain their vehicle will depend on the circumstances of the case.  For example, if the defendant notices that their engine is acting up quite a bit, and they refuse to inspect the condition to determine whether the engine is faulty and in need of repair, then that may constitute negligence (if the engine fails and leads to a collision). Knew or Reasonably Should Have Known Critically, you can only hold a defendant-driver liable for the failure to adequately maintain their vehicle (in a safe condition) if you can prove that the defendant knew of the defective condition at-issue, or reasonably should have known […]

Damages Available in a Wrongful Death Lawsuit

In Arizona, and all other state jurisdictions, the surviving family members (i.e., the surviving spouse, child, parent, guardian, siblings, grandparents, etc.) of the deceased may bring a wrongful death action against the defendant whose negligence or other misconduct caused the death of their loved one. For example, if your loved one died in a car accident involving a defendant-driver who was intoxicated at the time of the accident, then you would likely be entitled to bring a wrongful death action for damages. Wrongful death actions can give rise to significant damages.  Specifically, such actions are intended to compensate the surviving family members of the deceased for the losses they suffered due to the death of their loved one.  These losses are quite varied, and are certainly not limited to emotional losses — in fact, surviving family members may be entitled to recover for a range of damages that include lost financial support and lost companionship. Wrongful Death Damages — Basics Wrongful death claims can vary significantly from case-to-case, as the individual bringing the action may have a more interdependent relationship with the deceased (than others with a wrongful death claim).  For example, if you are completely financially dependent on your spouse, and your spouse dies in a car accident (involving the defendant’s negligence), then you would be entitled to wrongful death damages that account for the lost financial support that you would have otherwise received had your spouse survived. Wrongful death damages include, but are not limited, to: Funeral, burial, […]

Diminution in Value Claims in Car Accident Lawsuits

If you’ve been involved in an Arizona car accident, then you may not only be entitled to bring an action against the defendant for damages related to your injuries, but you may also be entitled to claim property loss as a component of your overall damages.  In fact, many plaintiffs are unaware that their injury claim may include a purely economic, property loss component, and are surprised to learn that those damages can be significant, depending on the overall circumstances. The Basics of Property Loss in the Context of Car Accidents  In any injury lawsuit, there are both economic and non-economic damages.  Economic damages are objectively measurable and related to specific financial losses.  Non-economic damages, by contrast, are subjective in nature and are somewhat more speculative than economic damages.  Property loss claims fall within the category of economic damages, and are quite commonly encountered in the car accident context. Suppose, for example, that you suffer serious injuries in a car accident — more specifically, you have suffered debilitating back and shoulder injuries, for which you have had to see many medical specialists and have had to undergo surgery.  Naturally, you would be entitled to assert damages for pain and suffering, medical expenses, emotional distress, wage loss, and various other losses. You would also be entitled to fold your property loss into your overall damage claim.  If your car was totaled in the accident, then you might be entitled to recover the full value of the vehicle at the time of […]

Unsafe Vehicle Design Can Expose the Manufacturer to Liability

In the majority of motor vehicle accident lawsuits, injury victims initially focus their attention on obvious defendants — other negligent drivers who contributed to the accident, or perhaps the government agency that failed to maintain the roadway in a reasonably safe condition.  In reality, however, the vehicle manufacturer may be a potentially liable defendant worth bringing an action against, depending on the circumstances. All product manufacturers — in Arizona and elsewhere — have a duty to ensure that their products are not defective and are reasonably safe for their foreseeable uses.  Failure to adhere to this duty could expose the manufacturer to significant liability.  This could prove especially useful in cases where the other defendants (i.e., the drivers) are uninsured or underinsured and therefore not equipped to cover your damages in full. There are a number of different product liability claims — defective manufacture, defective design, failure to warn, and breach of warranty — but for now, let’s focus on defective design in the motor vehicle accident context. Defective Design Liability Arizona implements strict product liability, which is a boon for injured plaintiffs involved in litigation with a vehicle manufacturer.  Stated simply, the plaintiff need only prove that the vehicle is defective in some way, and that the defect substantially contributed to the injuries they suffered in the accident.  It is not necessary for the plaintiff to prove the manufacturer’s negligence. Of course, this does not mean that litigation is easy.  Arguably, the implementation of strict liability simply puts the […]

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