Phoenix Car Accident Lawyer
Were you a victim of a car accident in Phoenix? Did you lose a loved one due to another driver’s negligent actions on the road? If so, you may be eligible for compensation, and we can help you recover the damages you deserve. To file an auto accident claim, contact Hirsch & Lyon today. Our attorneys care about your rights as a victim of a car crash and will help you obtain justice for your losses.
How Our Experienced Car Accident Lawyers Help Victims
Car accidents are an everyday part of life. Everyday, drivers, passengers and pedestrians are seriously injured in automobile accidents that are not their fault. While countless factors ranging from speeding, to drunk driving, to poor weather conditions can cause accidents, distracted driving is the leading cause of motor vehicle crashes in the United States. Whether the driver is texting, eating, talking on a cell phone or engaging in other activities that take his or her eyes off of the road, distracted driving is a very serious problem that injures thousands of innocent people each year.
An auto crash involves a lot more than just the collision itself and an insurance claim. In a perfect world, the at-fault driver would willingly stop after an accident, ensure everyone involved in the crash was safe, exchange insurance information with the parties involved, and take responsibility for their actions. Unfortunately, this scenario doesn’t always happen.
Many times, drivers leave the scene of the accident, do not have auto insurance, and – worst of all – try to avoid liability for any damage to the victim’s property or injuries suffered. Victims are then left to fend for themselves. They either take out a claim against their own insurance policy (which may not always cover the full extent of the damages or medical bills) or are left with no choice but to pay for accident expenses out of pocket – an accident that wasn’t even their fault. While these situations are common, car crash victims need to know they are not alone. Help IS available. That’s where an experienced car accident attorney can step in and make all the difference.
The car accident lawyers at Hirsch & Lyon have over 60 years of combined experience successfully representing injured auto victims. We know you are already dealing with the pain of your personal injuries and the costs of fixing your car, bicycle or motorcycle. The last thing you need is to struggle with the burden of filing a claim or figuring out how you will pay for medical bills or property repairs. Our Phoenix car accident attorneys take care of all the technical details after your accident. We contact insurance companies, file your paperwork, investigate the scene of the accident, and even help you obtain medical care for your injuries.
How Much Time Do You Have to File an Injury Claim After a Car Accident?
In Phoenix and throughout Arizona, as in other states, you have a limited period of time during which you can file your claims against the relevant defendants. According to Arizona Statute Section 12-542, motorists who suffered a personal injury in an auto accident only have two years to file a claim. As such, it is critical that you consult with a qualified attorney if you’ve been involved in an auto crash in Phoenix as soon as possible.
Many first-time car accident plaintiffs do not quite understand the enormous value of an attorney at an early stage of their dispute. Attorneys serve many roles and can perform a variety of critical functions on behalf of the plaintiff, including:
- Claims evaluation
- Facts investigation
- Gathering evidence
- Mediating interactions with the insurer and opposing counsel
- Filing claims in a timely manner (before the statute of limitations deadline)
- Negotiating a potential settlement
- Litigating the claim
Here at Hirsch & Lyon, we are dedicated to our clients and committed to litigation on their behalf. Our team is not only experienced, but has a track record of success in obtaining compensation for our clients (with over $100M in damages recovered for our clients and their families). To schedule a free consultation with one of our injury lawyers, call 602-535-1900 today. We have offices in Phoenix and throughout the State.
Top Factors Contributing to Auto Crashes
Several factors can contribute to a car crash. Although some auto collisions occur due to unforeseen circumstances, such as hazardous weather conditions, the vast majority are caused by another person’s negligence. Negligence can take on many forms. It can mean a motorist failing to abide by proper roadway safety standards, an auto manufacturer failing to properly test vehicle parts for defects, or even a ride sharing company like Uber or Lyft failing to thoroughly vet their drivers for experience.
The most common factors that can lead to a car accident include, but are not necessarily limited to:
- Intoxication (DUI)
- Driving while exhausted or fatigued
- Unlicensed driving
- Distracted driving
- Failure to yield
- Failure to stop
- Improper lane changes
- Failure to inspect the vehicle
- Improper cargo loading
- Car defects
- Road hazards, including debris and roadway defects
- And more
Common Types of Personal Injuries Following a Car Accident
Depending on the type of vehicle and severity of the collision, an auto accident can lead to a range of injuries. If lucky, a car crash victim may walk away from the accident with just a few minor bumps and bruises. Sadly, numerous victims sustain severe and life-threatening personal injuries. Those involved in accidents with large commercial trucks tend to suffer some of the most catastrophic injuries. Given the sheer size and weight of trucks, such as 18-wheelers and fuel tankers, the force of the impact can lead to permanent disability or even death.
When a car accident involves a motorcyclist, bicyclist or pedestrian, the results are even worse. Even when wearing a helmet, bikers stand no chance when hit by a truck or car. Pedestrian injuries are by far the worst. A regular bystander crossing the street or even walking along a sidewalk has no protection to shield them from an impact with a motor vehicle, regardless of how slow the driver is traveling.
Some of the most common motor vehicle accident injuries include:
- Lacerations, Scarring or Road Rash
- Neck Injuries or Whiplash
- Disc Injuries
- Spinal Cord Damage
- Head Injuries, Including Concussions and Traumatic Brain Injuries
- Limb Loss
- Vision Loss
- Burn Wounds
- Wrongful Death
What Damages Are Available in Car Accident Claims?
Compensatory damages are meant to cover the losses suffered by the injured plaintiff so that they can be returned to a position that closely approximates their status prior to the car accident at-issue. Damages may include, but are not necessarily limited, to:
- Medical expenses
- Wage loss
- Loss of future earning capacity
- Property loss
- Pain and suffering
- Mental anguish
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- And more
There is no limit to compensatory damages in Arizona. Thus, consulting with a car accident lawyer will often reveal a much higher compensation total that what the insurance company offered.
Punitive damages are awarded with the intention of punishing defendants and discouraging similar “bad behavior” in society. In Arizona, punitive damages can multiply the total compensatory damages by up to nine times, thus leading to significant recoveries that many people believe lead to an unfair windfall of funds.
Though punitive damages are only rarely awarded, it is worth pursuing when circumstances allow. Generally, punitive damages will only be available in car accident cases where the defendant’s behavior is willful, malicious, or particularly egregious. If a defendant is angered in a fit of “road rage” and intentionally collides with your vehicle, for example, then you might be able to persuade the court to award punitive damages. Drunk driving accidents may also give rise to punitive damages, depending on the level of reckless disregard showcased under the circumstances.
Arizona Comparative Fault Laws: What This Means for Auto Accident Victims
Arizona implements the doctrine of pure comparative fault — otherwise known as pure comparative negligence. So, what is pure comparative fault, and how does it affect a plaintiff’s accident claims?
In Arizona, pure comparative fault is a means by which the court can allocate liability among multiple parties, including the plaintiff. Many cases are complicated by various factors, and do not implicate just one party — in fact, multiple parties may each have contributed to the accident at-issue by engaging in negligent behavior. Each faulty party will be assigned a portion of the total fault.
The concept of “pure comparative fault” can be confusing without some additional context. Let’s walk through a quick example for clarification.
Suppose that you are injured in an accident on the highway. The defendant-driver was driving while distracted, and was talking on their mobile phone at the time — their negligence led to a collision with you on the highway. The facts reveal that you might be partly to blame as well, because at the time of the collision, you were speeding. Had you not been speeding, you may have been able to brake or turn in time to avoid a collision with the defendant-driver.
Application of Arizona pure comparative fault will require that the court assess each party’s respective fault contribution. Ultimately, the court may find that the defendant was largely to blame for the accident. The court may — after presentation of the facts — determine that the defendant was 80% responsible, and that you were 20% responsible. Under a pure comparative fault system, the fact that you contributed to your injuries does not prohibit you from recovering damages. Instead, your damage recovery will simply be reduced to match the actual liabilities. Here, if your claim was worth $500,000 in total, you would only be entitled to recover $400,000.
Suing Multiple Defendants for Damages
Car accidents often involve multiple vehicles, and as such, an injured plaintiff may have multiple different claims against a variety of defendants. Arizona applies several liability, but not joint liability. Put simply, the court will evaluate each defendant’s fault contribution, and will impose damage liability in proportion with the assigned fault. This can complicate and delay a case somewhat, as defendants might argue that others are “more” at-fault.
If you have been injured in a car accident where the driver is an employee, and was operating their vehicle within the course and scope of their employment, then you may have an actionable claim in Arizona against the employer.
Bringing a personal injury lawsuit against the employer is an effective strategy for securing full and adequate damages from a party that typically has “deeper pockets.” Compared to an employee, an employer likely has more significant insurance coverage and assets to cover your losses.
The doctrine of vicarious liability automatically imposes liability on the employer for the negligence of the their employee, so long as the employee was acting within the course and scope of their employment. Vicarious liability operates on strict liability principles, and as such, it is not necessary to show that the employer was negligent in any way.
For example, if a delivery driver was speeding while delivering pizzas, and they collide with your vehicle, then you might have an actionable claim against their pizzeria employer under vicarious liability.
In some cases, the employer may be held independently liable, such as car accident scenarios where the driver-employee was negligently hired. For example, suppose that you are injured in a car accident with a pizza delivery driver. You further investigate the situation and discover that the driver has a suspended license and a poor driving record overall — the employer was aware of these issues, but chose to hire the driver anyways. Given those facts, you would likely have a persuasive argument for damages pursuant to a negligent hiring claim against the employer.
What to Do After a Car Accident
For many, the first reaction after being involved in a motor vehicle accident is panic – and rightfully so. Even if you don’t sustain any injuries, the sheer trauma of the collision alone can be traumatizing. In the moments immediately following an auto crash, it is imperative to remain as calm as possible and assess the situation – if you are physically able to do so. Why? Because the more information and evidence that can be gathered right after the accident can mean the difference between obtaining considerable compensation and receiving minimal – if any – monetary damages.
In all our years handling accidents, we’ve seen far too many collision victims miss out on their rightful recovery because of a lack of evidence. If you did not suffer any serious injuries, it is crucial to document as many details of the incident as possible – and as quickly as possible. By the time police arrive and witnesses disperse, crucial evidence can be tampered with or destroyed due to natural elements, passing vehicles or other unforeseen circumstances.
Below are 5 steps to take after an automobile accident, if you have not suffered debilitating injuries:
- Take pictures – Photograph your car, motorcycle, bicycle, your injuries and the other motorist’s vehicle, the driver, and vehicle license plate as quickly as possible in the event the motorist moves their automobile or leaves the scene of the accident.
- Obtain the at-fault driver’s insurance information – If the motorist is uninsured, ask to see their driver’s license or some other form of identification and jot down the details.
- Call 911 – Even if you don’t feel like you incurred any injuries, it is always best to contact paramedics to ensure you did not suffer a concussion or other physical injury. The adrenaline rush that follows a collision can often mask the full extent of your injuries and other times, severe injuries can manifest hours later, so it is always better to play it safe and seek medical attention immediately.
- Contact law enforcement officials – Contact police as soon as possible so an officer can document the scene and provide you with a written record of the incident.
- Call an attorney – A lawyer can get started on your case before police even arrive at the scene. At Hirsch & Lyon Accident Law, we do not waste any time in assessing the details of the accident and begin your legal defense the moment you contact us.
Offered a Settlement? Speak to a Phoenix Car Accident Lawyer First
Many accident victims just want to be done with the ordeal as quickly as possible. They want to put the incident behind them and move on with their lives. For this reason, many people who are involved in auto collisions tend to opt for an insurance settlement without questioning the payout or how much money they are actually entitled to. Sure, we can understand that. No one wants to drag on a traumatic event any longer than necessary. Unfortunately, settling for an insurance payout can leave victims high and dry.
Insurance companies are looking after their own interests. They don’t want to lose any more money than they have to. As a result, they may reach out to victims directly and offer a settlement. Upon first glance, the offer may seem generous. Insurance providers may even try to put a time limit on the settlement offer so victims feel rushed to settle or risk not getting any compensation at all. Tempting as it may be, we urge victims to speak to a accident lawyer prior to making a decision.
An attorney with experience handling auto claims will take every piece of evidence into account. They will evaluate the accident, what caused the crash, the extent of the victim’s injuries and property damage, potential loss of wages, short and long-term financial costs, as well as the settlement offer itself. Many times, these settlements are low-balled. By working with a knowledgeable auto accident law firm, victims stand an exponentially higher chance of recovering thousands – or even millions – more than the car insurance company was willing to offer.
Aside from settlement issues, motor vehicle accident victims can often find themselves in a lengthy and difficult dispute with insurance companies. From undervaluing damage appraisals to delaying payment for repairs, going up against auto insurance providers can be an uphill battle.
A Phoenix car accident lawyer can help crash victims in the event that a dispute arises with an insurance company. Whether the issue involves the victim’s own insurer or that of the at-fault driver, an attorney who has experience with insurance claims can help negotiate a better – and oftentimes faster – solution.
Injured in an Auto Wreck? Contact the Accident Law Firm Hirsch & Lyon Today
Hirsch & Lyon is focused entirely on providing top-tier legal advocacy for the victims of motor vehicle accidents. Our car accident attorneys have over 65 years of combined experience, with a long track record of success in obtaining favorable results for clients, whether through settlement negotiations or at trial.
At Hirsch & Lyon, we understand that client engagement is crucial to success. Our staff is available 24/7 to respond to any questions or concerns you may have. For your convenience, we are also available to make hospital and home appointments. As we are confident in our ability to serve our clients, our injury lawyers provide legal services at a discounted rate (our contingency fee is 25%, and up to 30% if the case proceeds to trial, plus costs). When you win through Hirsch & Lyon, you keep more of it for yourself!
Call 602-535-1900 or contact us online to set up a free consultation with one of our lawyers today. Our legal team will assess your claims and help you navigate the challenging landscape of litigation.