Category: Car Accidents

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 […]

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 […]

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