Are Waivers of Liability Enforceable in Arizona?

Waivers of liability are quite common, particularly in the context of recreational activities — this ubiquity means that laypeople are generally familiar with the concept of a “liability waiver” and what it entails.  Simply put, a liability waiver shields the defendant from civil liability for serious injuries and damages that they cause due to their own negligence. Still, few laypeople understand that liability waivers are not always applicable to a given situation, or that enforceability will depend on a number of different factors that could be evaluated in their favor. Freedom to Contract Arizona law recognizes the freedom to contract, but this freedom is not unlimited.  Though two or more parties are reasonably entitled to contract around their potential liabilities, the law will not necessarily accept all such agreements as enforceable.  In Arizona, for example, the state generally disfavors agreements (i.e., liability waivers) designed to release liability.  As such, any and all liability waivers are strictly construed against the defendant seeking to enforce the waiver. Determining Whether the Liability Waiver is Enforceable Enforceability of a liability waiver depends on the circumstances.  Courts will analyze the facts of the case (surrounding the liability waiver) and will consider those facts in the context of the following factors. Ambiguity in the Waiver Agreement Liability waivers must be sufficiently clear and unambiguous such that they function as a fully adequate notice of the inherent dangers associated with the covered activity.  The dangers must be reasonably communicated to the participants.  If there is ambiguity in […]

How a Hit-and-Run Affects an Injury Claim

If you have been injured by a driver who fled the scene — whether you were a pedestrian or in a car, truck, or motorcycle at the time of the accident — then you may not only be entitled to compensation for your injuries under Arizona law, but your claims may also be affected by the fact that the defendant did not remain on the scene. Though Arizona law expressly forbids hit-and-run conduct — drivers must remain at the scene of an accident (which involved property damage and/or injuries) until authorities give them permission to leave — these scenarios are unfortunately common.  The shock of a hit-and-run can give some plaintiffs pause.  As such, it’s worth getting in touch with a qualified Phoenix injury lawyer for guidance. Hit-and-run accidents can significantly influence how litigation plays out — in many cases, the conduct of the defendant could undermine their arguments and make it easier for you to recover.  On the other hand, the defendant might have successfully evaded authorities, making it a challenge to identify them and thereby secure compensation. Let’s briefly explore some of the ways in which a hit-and-run accident can influence your injury claims. Identifying the Driver Drivers sometimes feel guilty after initially fleeing, and either return to the scene of the accident or turn themselves into police soon thereafter.  In many cases, however, the driver may simply flee without intending to contact the injured victim or relevant authorities.  If the defendant-driver successfully evades authorities, then this can […]

Damages for Vehicle Property Loss

In Arizona, and in other jurisdictions throughout the country, those who are involved in a motor vehicle accident (caused by another’s fault) are entitled to recover damages as compensation for property loss.  Property loss damages are particularly relevant in cases where the value of the motor vehicle is quite high, and are given further import when the injuries sustained were relatively minor. If you have been injured or have otherwise been involved in a car accident, truck accident, or motorcycle accident in which you sustained losses with regard to the value of your vehicle, we can help secure full and adequate compensation on your behalf.  Get in touch with a Phoenix accident attorney here at Hirsch & Lyon for further guidance on how to proceed. Property loss may seem like a simply claim at first glance, but the recovery process can be complicated by conflicts with the defendant over the cost of repairs, diminution in value, and loss of use, among various other issues. Let’s take a look at each of these property loss considerations, in turn. Recovering for Property Loss — Aspects of the Claim In the personal injury and motor vehicle accident contexts, property loss falls under the umbrella of economic damages.  There are (generally speaking) two forms of damages: economic and non-economic.  Economic damages — such as property loss, wage loss, and various medical expenses — are more objective and easier to measure, as they are based on actual financial losses.  Non-economic damages — such as pain […]

Road Debris and Hazards Must Be Fixed to Protect Motorists From Risk of Injury

Motor vehicle accidents are often caused — in whole or in part — by the presence of unexpected road debris and various other roadway hazards.  In the state of Arizona, for example, the Department of Transportation estimates that road debris alone is responsible for 1,000 crashes on an annual basis.  Road debris accidents can be particularly disastrous, as drivers may not be prepared for If you have been involved in an accident that was caused by road debris or some other roadway hazard, then you may be entitled to damages, as it the existence of the dangerous condition may be indicative of another’s negligence.  You’ll therefore want to get in touch with a Phoenix injury lawyer as soon as possible for an evaluation of your car accident claims and how best to proceed with litigation. Though the existence of a roadway hazard may not always be the fault of another party, there are many cases in which the negligence of the defendant — typically the possessor of a particular roadway (i.e., the government, or some private entity) — has contributed to the hazard at-issue.  If the defendant fails to correct the hazard or fails to warn motorists of the existence of the hazard so that it can be avoided, then liability may attach under prevailing Arizona law. Roadways Must Be Maintained in a Reasonably Safe Condition Claims arising out of injuries sustained due to road debris (or other roadway hazards) generally come under the umbrella of premises liability.  Premises liability […]

Loss of Enjoyment of Life Damages in Arizona

Whether you’ve been injured in a car accident in Phoenix, a slip-and-fall accident, or in any other scenario where the defendant’s negligent or wrongful acts have contributed to your injuries, plaintiffs are entitled to claim (as a separate element) damages for “loss of enjoyment of life” (LEL), otherwise known as “hedonic damages.”  These damages account for a unique set of losses arising from an injury — specifically, the plaintiff must assign a monetary value to their recreational activities, and thus calculate the losses due to the injuries at-issue. LEL damages have not always been accepted, and in some jurisdictions, there remain questions as to their viability as a separate element of damages.  In fact, Arizona courts have only recently deemed LEL damages independent of pain and suffering damages.  This case law development has led to a spike in litigation involving significant LEL damage claims. Confused by all this complicated legal terminology?  Let’s break down some of the basics and take a brief look at how LEL damages actually work, and how they might be applicable to your case. Basics of LEL Damages LEL damages (i.e., hedonic damages) are intended to compensate the injured plaintiff for various losses related to their recreational activities, social life, and relationships.  They are a form of non-economic damages, and as such, are inherently subjective, which is to say that they are based on your personal, emotionally-tinted experience of loss, as opposed to some objective indication of loss. Suppose that you are severely injured in a […]

How Health Insurance Coverage Influences Recovery in a Personal Injury Lawsuit

If you’ve been injured in a motor vehicle accident (due to the negligent or wrongful acts of another), then you may be somewhat confused as to how your health insurance coverage affects your ability to recover damages for incurred medical expenses. After all, it might seem reasonable to the injured plaintiff that they be entitled to recover damages only for losses incurred out-of-pocket.  If your health insurer is paying for all your medical expenses, can you assert such damages in litigation against the defendant? Thanks to the collateral source rule: yes.  Arizona law gives injured plaintiffs the right to recover for medical expenses, even if their insurer is covering such expenses. The Collateral Source Rule In Arizona, as in many other states, the “collateral source rule” applies to a range of personal injury actions.  The rule essentially prevents the jury from being able to consider evidence relating to plaintiff’s receipt of funds from outside sources, such as insurance, so that the defendant cannot escape significant liability simply because the plaintiff had the good sense and foresight to purchase insurance coverage. In practical terms, the application of the collateral source rule means that you — the injured plaintiff — are entitled to recover damages for any and all legitimate medical expenses, even if those expenses are being covered by your insurer.  Simply put: your health insurance coverage will not negatively affect your ability to secure damages in a personal injury lawsuit.  Claim reimbursement is irrelevant. Recovering Damages for the Amount Paid […]

Arizona Law: Understanding Survival Actions

In the state of Arizona, loss-of-life claims — more specifically, wrongful death claims and survival claims — are a category of injury claims brought either by the surviving family members, or by the estate of the deceased individual.  When a person is killed due to the negligent or otherwise wrongful acts of another, then Arizona law may entitle a qualified subset of survivors to pursue an action in litigation against the defendant and recover damages. When most laypeople think of loss-of-life claims, they tend to think of “wrongful death.”  Survival actions are an important part of the legal landscape, however, and may lead to significant damage recovery. So, what’s the difference?  Let’s take a look. Survival Actions vs. Wrongful Death Actions Survival actions are fundamentally different than wrongful death actions, though these differences are often misunderstood. Stated simply, survival actions are brought against the defendant (who is responsible for causing the death at-issue) on behalf of the deceased individual.  In essence, a survival action gives the estate of the deceased an opportunity to recover damages for the wrongs committed against the deceased individual.  It arguably acts as a form of claim preservation — whatever claims the deceased would have had in the event they survived, are preserved and may be pursued by their estate. Suppose, for example, that your loved one is killed in a motor vehicle accident by a distracted driver.  Their death was not immediate, however.  After a week of attempted treatment, your loved one finally succumbed to […]

Wage Loss Damages in a Personal Injury Lawsuit

In Arizona, if you’ve been injured in an accident due to the fault of another person or entity, then you may have the right to recover a range of damages to cover your losses — generally speaking, this includes lost wages. When bringing a lawsuit against the defendant, it’s important to remember that damages may vary substantially from plaintiff-to-plaintiff.  Every case is different.  In fact, it is a fundamental principle of law that the defendant be forced to “accept the victim” as “they found them.”  Stated another way, compensatory damages are not capped based on the type of accident that occurred.  If you have significant wage loss damages, you will not be prevented from recovering such damages simply because they seem excessive in comparison to the damages suffered by the average person. Wage loss recovery is actually rather straightforward to understand.  Let’s explore the basics to get a clearer picture of how it works. Wage Loss at a Glance Wage loss damages account for actual losses suffered due to an inability to work (following an injury).  Wage loss damages are somewhat different from lost earning capacity.  For example, if your injury has not resulted in time off from work but has reduced the likelihood that you will be promoted in the future, then you’ll want to claim loss of future earning capacity damages — not wage loss damages. Wage loss damages must generally be “certain” — they can be estimated, but there must be evidence that reasonably supports the numbers.  […]

Hearsay Evidence Cannot Be Introduced in Arizona Personal Injury Litigation

Motor vehicle accidents (like many other accident scenarios) are frequently decided on the basis of evidentiary issues.  The value of effectively navigating evidentiary conflicts cannot be understated — generally speaking, skilled litigators understand the value of favorably resolving evidentiary conflicts.  Doing so will almost certainly pay dividends further downstream in the litigation process. Perhaps the most commonly encountered evidentiary issue is that of hearsay evidence admission.  In Arizona, the success of your motor vehicle accident and car accident claims can turn on the application of the hearsay evidence rule, so it’s worth considering the rule and its fundamental limitations. Let’s take a look. Arizona Law Prohibits the Admission of Hearsay Evidence According to the Arizona Rules of Evidence section 801, hearsay evidence is defined as a statement that: the declarant makes outside of the current trial or hearing, and is offered into evidence to prove the truth of the matter asserted in the statement. If the declarant testifies about a prior statement and is subject to cross-examination, or if a statement is offered into evidence against an opposing party, then — assuming that certain additional requirements are met (see section 801(d)(1) and (d)(2)), the statement will not be considered “hearsay” despite having been made out-of-court. Sifting through this legalese can be rather difficult.  Simply put, a hearsay statement is any out-of-court statement that is being offered to prove the content of the statement itself. For example, suppose that the defendant is attempting to minimize their liability by claiming that another […]

Recovering Damages for Injuries You Sustain in the Workplace

In Arizona, as in other states, workplace injuries (and other injuries sustained while performing one’s workplace duties, even off-site) can lead to quite a bit of confusion.  Many workers may not realize that they not only have the right to receive workers’ compensation benefits, but that they may also have a legitimate right of action against one or more defendants. If you were delivering pizzas, for example, and you were subsequently injured in a serious car accident, then you would not only be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits, but you may also have other claims worth pursuing. Workplace injuries can be particularly challenging from both an emotional and financial perspective.  Still, if you’ve suffered serious injuries, it’s critical that you consult with an attorney who can evaluate the situation and determine whether you have actionable claims — workers’ compensation benefits alone may be insufficient to account for your losses. Arizona “No Fault” Workers’ Compensation Workers’ compensation in the state of Arizona is mandatory — employers are required to pay for workers’ compensation insurance that covers their employees.  As such, if you are an employee and you are injured in a job-related incident (on-site or off-site), then you are almost certainly entitled to receive workers’ compensation benefits. Importantly, Arizona workers’ compensation is a “no-fault” system.  In no-fault systems, it is irrelevant whether you contributed to your own injuries (so long as you did not intentionally cause your own injuries).  Further, it is not necessary to prove that the employer acted negligently […]

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