Category: Car Accidents

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

Does Receiving Workers’ Comp Benefits Affect Your Recovery for Damages?

In Arizona, many employees are covered by workers’ compensation coverage that pays out for wage loss and medical expenses in the event that an employee suffers an injury in the workplace or while otherwise performing their duties. Workers’ compensation is an exchange that is often sensible for both parties.  Employers agree to provide no-fault coverage, which gives employees the right to obtain workers’ compensation benefits even if there was no negligence or wrongful conduct involved, while employees agree to give up their right to sue the employer (and thereby obtain damages through standard litigation). Many employees understand the basics of workers’ compensation, but aren’t quite sure what to make of “borderline” situations where they are also entitled to sue a third-party that is liable for their injuries. Suppose, for example, that you are injured in a car accident while using the company vehicle to deliver products to a warehouse.  Though the accident was not the fault of your employer, you would be entitled to submit a claim for workers’ compensation to obtain benefits that account for your wage loss and medical expenses. Now, even though you are not entitled to sue your employer, you might be entitled to sue a third-party — perhaps the negligent driver that collided with you — to secure a more extensive range of damages. Oftentimes, injured employees are incentivized to bring an action against a liable third-party as workers’ compensation benefits can be quite limited — workers’ compensation benefits may only cover medical expenses and […]

Negligent Entrustment and Car Owner Liability in Arizona

In Arizona, and in all other states, the doctrine of negligent entrustment gives injury victims in motor vehicle accident scenarios the opportunity to bring an action for damages against the owner of the vehicle (if the owner is different from the driver).  Negligent entrustment is not always applicable, of course, but it can be quite a powerful tool for securing maximum compensation. What is Negligent Entrustment? Negligent entrustment occurs when the defendant vehicle owner allows another person — the driver — to operate the vehicle at-issue, despite the fact that the permitted driver is physically or mentally unfit to do so without exposing others to an unreasonable risk of injury. Broken down into its component elements, a successful negligent entrustment claim requires that the plaintiff prove: The driver was incompetent to drive safely at the time that they were given permission to operate the vehicle; The defendant vehicle owner (the entrusting individual) knew or should have known that the driver was incompetent; The defendant vehicle owner entrusted the driver with the vehicle; and The driver’s incompetence is what caused the plaintiff to suffer injuries. Let’s use an example to clarify. Suppose that you are injured in a motor vehicle accident.  The driver was intoxicated at the time of the accident.  After consulting with an attorney, you begin the investigation process, and you find that the vehicle was entrusted to the driver by the owner (a friend of the driver).  Further investigation reveals that the defendant vehicle owner entrusted the car […]

Poor Intersection Design Can Lead to a Collision

Intersections tend to be hotspots for motor vehicle and pedestrian accidents, in Arizona and throughout the country at-large.  According to a 2008 study conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, there were roughly 2.31 million crashes that occurred at intersections in that year alone. If you suffer injuries in a motor vehicle accident that occurs at an intersection, and the intersection was designed in a way that contributed to the accident, then you are entitled under Arizona law to sue the person or entity that owns or possesses the intersection property. Whether an intersection represents a hazard depends on a number of factors, but ultimately rests on a determination that the intersection presents an unreasonable risk of danger to users of the intersection.  There are a number of different factors to consider, of course.  Let’s take a look at a few. Obstructed Visibility Oftentimes, intersection accidents occur due to problems with visibility — whether caused by inadequate lighting, narrow or otherwise constrained sight lines leading up to the main intersection, and various physical obstructions such as poorly placed signage, trees, and other items.  When designing and maintaining an intersection, those responsible must consider the ability of drivers and pedestrians to identify the presence of the intersection (and others near the intersection) in advance, thus giving them the time necessary to make adjustments. Non-Functioning Traffic Signals Intersections must be properly maintained to ensure that the traffic signals are in good working order.  In some cases, for example, an errant traffic […]

Collecting Damages After a Judgment in Your Favor

In Arizona (and throughout the country), even once you have secured a court judgment in your favor, the task is not yet complete — you must still collect the damages which you are owed by the defendant.  The type of case is irrelevant to collection.  Whether you were involved in a car accident lawsuit, or some other lawsuit, will have no effect on the procedure that you are required to follow. Unfortunately, defendants can be challenging.  Though in most cases the defendant will honor their responsibilities and — having lost the case — will pay the damages that you (the plaintiff) are owed, in some cases, the defendant will maneuver around the judgment and create roadblocks to collection. The defendant may ignore your request for damages, costs, and legal fees.  Alternatively, they may outright refuse to pay the judgment.  As a general rule, these are a clever application of stalling tactics.  If the defendant can stall for a long enough period of time, then they may be able to hide or otherwise relocate their assets so that you — as the judgment creditor — cannot seize them. What can you do to ensure that you collect your damages in full, after a judgment has been entered in your favor? Let’s take a look at some of your options. What is a Court Judgment? A court judgment is essentially a formal document that gives you, the successful plaintiff, the unrestricted right to seize the assets of the defendant in order to […]

The Duty to Mitigate: What Injured Individuals Need to Know

In Arizona, and throughout the country, injured plaintiffs are entitled to recover damages for damages they incur due to the negligent, reckless, or intentional acts of others — whether they are injured in a car accident or a slip-and-fall accident, or some other accident scenario.  This right to recovery is not absolute, however.  Injured plaintiffs must act in accordance with their various duties and responsibilities under the law, which includes the duty to mitigate their losses. What is the Duty to Mitigate? Defendants cannot be held liable for losses that they do not actually cause.  This “causation” requirement is fundamentally linked to the duty to mitigate. How so? The duty to mitigate requires that the injured plaintiff exert “reasonable efforts” to reduce their total losses — failure to do so will result in a proportional decrease in one’s recoverable damages.  Losses can be quite varied, and as such, mitigation must cover all the losses that the plaintiff intends to claim.  This can all be somewhat confusing to understand, so let’s use a quick example to clarify. Suppose that you are injured in a motor vehicle accident by the defendant, who was excessively speeding at the time, thus causing the accident.  You sustained significant neck and back injuries during the accident, and as a result, you can no longer work.  Now, suppose that you seek adequate medical diagnostics and treatment as soon as possible.  Your doctor asks that you sign up for long-term physical therapy sessions in order to regain some […]

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