Category: Car Accidents

Factors Contributing to Poor Road Visibility

Car Accident Lawyer in Phoenix, AZ If you’ve been injured in a motor vehicle accident — whether you’re a pedestrian, driver, or passenger — then Arizona law may give you a right to sue and obtain compensation for your various losses.  There is significant diversity from case-to-case in terms of the fact patterns and how the dispute must be litigated. In many cases, there are issues involving defects with the roadway itself (such as poor road visibility) that contributed substantially to the accident.  These defects can be influenced by a number of factors. Consider the following non-exhaustive list. Grading and Sudden Elevation Changes Sudden elevation changes can have an enormous effect on road visibility.  When a crosswalk is placed at a plateau between sharply-graded roads, then rising traffic may have their visibility significantly impeded. Elevation changes need not be sudden to have an impact, however.  Even roads with a more gradual vertical grade can influence visibility — for example, if a road is graded upwards at a low degree, this could have an inhibiting effect on drivers at a distance, preventing them from easily identifying crossing pedestrians further down the road.  With the assistance of a road safety expert, you can identify the potentially negative consequences of such elevation changes. Adjacent Property Interference Adjacent property can quite easily interfere with road visibility.  For example, if a home built next to a road has an overgrown tree in the yard that extends out into the street, then the branches might cause […]

First Party Insurance Claims and Wrongful Denial

If you’ve been injured in a car accident, and you have significant liability coverage, then you may be entitled to compensation pursuant to the terms of your insurance plan.  In many motor vehicle accident cases, however, the injured are constantly challenged by their insurer and may not be awarded the benefits they seek.  This can place a significant burden on the injured plaintiff, who may not have any other recourse for compensation. Here at Hirsch & Lyon, we have extensive experience handling motor vehicle accident disputes, including those that require a first-party insurance claim.  Contact us for comprehensive guidance on how to proceed. First Party Insurance Coverage is Invaluable First-party insurance coverage is particularly applicable to motor vehicle accident scenarios in which the defendant-driver lacks sufficient insurance coverage to compensate you for your losses.  For example, if you have suffered damages in excess of $200,000, but the defendant has insurance coverage that pays out only $35,000, then that will be insufficient for your purposes.  You will have to seek full and adequate compensation through other means — in most cases, through first-party insurance coverage. Wrongful Denial and Bad Faith Claims Many plaintiffs do not realize that insurance companies are fundamentally arrayed against them.  It is the insurer’s goal to minimize their payouts so that they can maximize their overall profits.  As such, insurers tend to be aggressive in denying first-party insurance claims made by policyholders.  They may justify the denial in a number of different ways, such as by arguing […]

Can a Defendant Be Held Liable if They Had a Medical Emergency?

In Arizona (and throughout the United States at-large), if you’ve been injured in a car accident due to the fault of another party, then you may be entitled to significant damages as compensation for your losses. What you may not realize, however, is that your ability to recover could be affected by the defendant’s unique circumstances and impairments.  For example, though the defendant-driver may have crashed into your vehicle, if they were experiencing a sudden medical emergency at the time of the accident, then they may be able to avoid liability for your injuries. The sudden medical emergency defense can be confusing, so we’ll explore some of the basics to clarify how it works. Basics of the Sudden Medical Emergency Defense In order for the defendant-driver to take advantage of the sudden medical emergency defense and successfully avoid liability, they must show that: They suddenly lost consciousness, or experienced some other medical emergency symptoms that caused them to lose control over their vehicle; and The medical emergency at-issue was sudden and unforeseeable. Let’s take a closer look at these two elements. Loss of Control The defendant-driver cannot make use of the sudden medical emergency defense if they did not lose control over their vehicle at the time of the accident.  If the defendant was merely impaired, for example, but could still exercise a sufficient level of control that they could have avoided the collision, then they can be held liable for the resultant injuries. Events Were Sudden and Unforeseeable A […]

You Can Hold Your Mechanic Liable for Negligence

Many injured car accident plaintiffs mistakenly believe that their lawsuit will progress in a simple and straightforward manner.  This is natural, of course.  They may approach the case with their own understanding of what transpired, and who is responsible for their damages.  In truth, however, a car accident lawsuit can develop in a rather non-standard fashion (depending on the circumstances), which can take a plaintiff by surprise. In the car accident context, one of the various non-standard possibilities for recovery is the negligence of a mechanic/auto shop.  Drivers trust their mechanics to perform comprehensive inspections and to correct defects as they are discovered, or to — at the very least — notify them as to the existence of such defects.  If a mechanic fails to do so, then they could be held liable for the damages suffered in a subsequent car accident. How does this all work?  Let’s take a closer look. Negligent Inspection and Maintenance Basics Mechanics have a duty to properly inspect, maintain, and repair vehicles that have been entrusted to them (for such services).  If a mechanic fails to exercise reasonable care in inspecting a vehicle (and thereby fails to identify a defect), or performs a negligent repair using substandard parts, then that may give rise to liability in the event that it contributes to a car accident later on. It’s worth noting that a mechanic’s liability (for negligence) can generally be imposed on their employer, the auto repair shop, through the application of vicarious liability principles.  […]

How the Defendant’s Hit and Run Affects Your Injury Claim

If you’ve been harmed in a car accident scenario in which the defendant-driver fled the scene of the accident — known colloquially as a “hit and run” — then you may be entitled to damages, though litigation may be more complicated than a standard car accident case.  In a hit and run lawsuit, there are a number of unique challenges and opportunities to keep in mind when considering the dispute process. Let’s take a closer look. Identifying the Defendant Perhaps the most significant problem facing injured plaintiffs in hit and run accidents is identifying the defendant in the wake of the accident.  If the defendant gets away without leaving a “trail,” then you might not have an opportunity to litigate your claims against them and obtain the compensation you deserve. Given the risk of a defendant successfully avoiding a lawsuit in a hit and run accident, it’s important to consult a skilled attorney as early as possible — your attorney will work with expert investigators and various stakeholders (i.e., law enforcement, businesses located near the accident) to secure evidence, such as video footage and traffic photos, to secure information that could be used to identify and track down the defendant. Implied Fault When the defendant flees the scene of the accident, they are painting themselves as the liable party, even if their negligence is questionable.  If you can identify the defendant-driver and bring an action against them, they will be fundamentally disadvantaged throughout the litigation process, as they must account […]

Recovering for Injuries Sustained in an Uber or Lyft

Ridesharing is a form of transportation in which the customer connects to an independent driver who is registered on a mobile app.  The customer requests a ride, and the app links up one of the rideshare drivers to the customer.  The company takes a cut of the ride’s overall cost. In Arizona, and elsewhere, ridesharing services (such as Uber and Lyft) have become increasingly common over the years.  Still, despite its ubiquity, many injured plaintiffs are unsure of their rights under the law and how they can secure adequate damages in a rideshare accident scenario (car, truck, etc.).  If you’ve been injured in an accident involving a rideshare vehicle, then you may be entitled to damages, but the dispute may be complicated by a number of issues. Let’s take a peek at some of the basics. Insurance Coverage Whether you are likely to receive damages will depend — in many cases — on the insurance coverage.  In Arizona, rideshare companies such as Uber and Lyft pay for liability insurance coverage of up to $1 million to cover accidents involving their drivers.  This liability insurance may vary depending on the circumstances. For example, suppose that you are riding as a passenger in an Uber when the driver crashes the car.  Given that the driver had already picked you up and was taking you to your destination, you would be entitled to the full $1 million of insurance coverage. Now, if a driver has not yet picked their passenger up, but is […]

Settlement Should Not Be Your Only Option

If you’ve been injured in a car accident that was caused by the negligence, recklessness, or intentional misconduct of another party, then Arizona law may give you a right of action against the defendant for damages.  As a general rule, most cases end in a settlement — rather than allow a case to proceed all the way through to trial, the defendant will typically negotiate a monetary compromise with the plaintiff. Effective negotiation is critical to successful car accident litigation, but it’s important that your attorney be a capable trial litigator as well.  Each of these skillsets have a significant impact on one another during litigation. Let’s take a closer look. Basics of Settlement Negotiation Settlement negotiations are fundamentally about “uncertainty.”  When you bring a lawsuit against the defendant(s), there is almost always an element of uncertainty.  For example, the defendant may be able to circumvent liability altogether.  Importantly, even if you can strategically corner the defendant and prove that they are liable, there may be uncertainty about the damages amount that you are entitled to receive. Now, this uncertainty has an effect during settlement negotiations, as a settlement is essentially an approximation of the risk to each party (and referenced against the total damages). How does this work? Suppose that you are injured in a car accident and have damages of roughly $100,000.  The defendant cannot avoid liability, but they argue that your damages are only $50,000.  All else being equal, the settlement compromise is likely to hover around […]

Negligent Hiring Claims and Commercial Vehicle Liability

Phoenix Accident Lawyer If you’ve been injured in a motor vehicle accident due to the fault of another, then you may be entitled to recover damages pursuant to Arizona law.  It’s worth noting, however, that the lawsuit may change depending on whether the defendant was operating a “commercial vehicle.” If the defendant-driver was operating the vehicle for a commercial purpose — in other words, if they were an employee acting within the course and scope of their employment — then you might have legitimate, actionable claims against their employer on the basis of vicarious liability and negligent hiring theories of liability.  Claims against an employer are valuable for a number of reasons, chief amongst them the fact that employers tend to have deeper pockets and more to lose by going through litigation (i.e., their commercial reputation), and as such, you’re likelier to secure full and adequate damage recovery in litigation against the employer. Let’s explore negligent hiring claims. Independent Employer Negligence and Negligent Hiring Negligent hiring claims are “independent” claims brought against the employer for their own contribution of negligence in a commercial vehicle accident — they are quite unlike vicarious liability claims, which impose liability on the employer for the negligence perpetrated by the employee. In Arizona, you can hold the employer liable for both negligent hiring and for claims falling under the vicarious liability umbrella. Thus, in order to succeed in establishing liability in a negligent hiring lawsuit, you’ll have to show that the defendant-employer actually acted in […]

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, […]

Sudden Emergency Defense in Car Accident Lawsuits

Phoenix Car Accident Lawyer In Arizona, as in other states, the behavior of the defendant-driver in a car accident is not always unjustifiable.  Depending on the circumstances, the defendant-driver may have acted in a reasonable manner, even though their actions ultimately led to an accident (and subsequent injuries).  These situations tend to be rather uncommon, but they do happen — the sudden emergency doctrine covers one such scenario. By developing a more complete understanding of the defenses commonly used to avoid liability in a car accident lawsuit — such as the sudden emergency defense — you can be better prepared to undermine the defendant’s argument. Let’s take a closer look. What is the Sudden Emergency Defense, and How Does it Work? The sudden emergency doctrine — on which the defense is anchored — establishes that a defendant cannot be held liable for when they act reasonably (given the circumstances) in reaction to an emergency.  This can be a difficult concept to explain using general terms, so let’s explore a quick example to clarify. Suppose that you are injured in a car accident where the defendant-driver shifted into your lane suddenly and slammed into the side of your car, causing you to collide with the median and suffer serious harm.  As it turns out, however, the defendant-driver only acted in that manner in order to avoid a massive ditch that would have sent their car falling at least ten feet or so.  The defendant was acted out of necessity due to […]

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