Large Settlement Obtained For Woman Who Was At Fault In Car Accident
Not long ago, our attorneys obtained a sizeable settlement for a woman in a car accident. This is not unusual for our law firm. However, what made this case different was that the woman was found at fault for causing the crash.
In fact, the crash report attributed 100% liability to her. The investigating officer determined that she failed to yield the right of way. As a result, she crossed over the highway when it was unsafe to do so. This driving decision resulted in a high impact collision.
Details About Where the Car Accident Happened
The crash occurred in Buckeye, Arizona. The client was travelling on Southern Avenue. Southern Avenue intersects with State Route 85. The intersection is controlled by a stop sign for drivers travelling on Southern Avenue. As a result, drivers on State Route 85 have the right of way.
State Route 85 is a four lane, north-south route that has two northbound lanes and two southbound lanes. The northbound and southbound lanes are separated by a large, depressed, dirt median. Southern Avenue is a two-lane road, running east and west with one lane in each direction.
The posted speed limit on State Route 85 is 55 miles per hour. State Route 85, where the crash occurred, is in a rural section of Maricopa County. It is different than other highways in more populated areas of the County and State. One of these differences is that there are several intersections where drivers can merge onto State Route 85 or cross over it. These intersections do not have typical on-ramps or off-ramps.
Instead, drivers must wait for traffic to clear and then proceed. These intersections are controlled by stop signs. As a result, the driver has discretion of when to cross and must wait until it is safe to do so. This requires drivers to observe traffic, determine how fast cars are approaching and then make driving movements only when it is safe and clear.
Details About How the Car Accident Occurred
The client was heading eastbound on Southern Avenue. The client approached the intersection of State Route 85 Northbound and came to a complete stop at the stop sign. The client then attempted to cross State Route 85. When she did so, she was struck by a truck travelling northbound on State Route 85.
The truck was a 2007 Chevrolet 3/4 ton pickup truck. The client was driving a much smaller 2017 Nissan Altima. The front of the pickup truck hit the Nissan Altima on its passenger side.
This resulted in a major impact. Both vehicles were totaled. Airbags deployed in both vehicles as well.
The crash occurred in the middle of the day. The weather was overcast but conditions were clear with ten miles of visibility.
The crash was a side impact, t-bone car accident, due to the failure to yield that occurred at an intersection. Learn more about side impact car accidents by clicking here. Learn more about failure to yield car accidents by clicking here. Learn more about intersection car accidents by clicking here.
What Investigating Officers Noted at the Scene of the Car Accident
Investigating officers found the client’s vehicle over seventy-five feet from the point of impact. The vehicle was spun around and came to rest off the road in a dirt area. The truck was also found spun around and in the shoulder area of State Route 85 Northbound.
The officers also noted tire scuffing marks from the pickup truck. The scuff marks started in the right lane and arched to the right leading up to the point of rest. There were also scratches in the asphalt in lane two where the initial point of impact occurred. The scratches appeared to match the damage to the under carriage of the client’s vehicle.
Statements from the Involved Drivers
The client did not have a recollection of the crash. The last thing she remembered was attempting to cross State Route 85. She did not remember the impact or anything else until she awoke in the hospital.
The driver of the pickup truck stated that he first saw the client’s vehicle when it was directly in front of him. He stated he could not avoid the impact. He told officers he was unsure if the client’s vehicle failed to stop at the stop sign or just failed to yield the right of way after making a stop.
What an Eyewitness Said About the Crash
Another driver claimed to have seen the crash. She stated she was just behind the pickup truck travelling northbound on State Route 85. She said that the client came to a complete stop at the stop sign on Southern Avenue and appeared to “try to beat” oncoming traffic when crossing the intersection. She told officers that this caused the collision with the pickup truck.
The Injuries Suffered by the Client in the Car Accident
The client was seriously injured as a result of the crash. She sustained the following injuries:
- traumatic brain injury
- severe subarachnoid hemorrhaging
- multiple cervical vertebrate fractures
- several broken ribs
- multiple lumbar vertebrate fractures
- lacerations to her liver
- laceration to her kidney
- internal bleeding
- occiptocervical dissociation
She went into respiratory failure and was subsequently intubated at the emergency room.
Her cervical trauma was so severe that she was considered “internally decapitated.” Specifically, she had fractures in her cervical vertebrae that caused an occipitocervical dissociation in her skull and cervical spine. She coded out at the scene and was resuscitated.
Upon arrival at the trauma center, her condition was deemed life threatening and emergency surgery was performed. She received a neck surgery with several plates and screws. She remained inpatient at the hospital for two more weeks before being transferred to an acute care facility.
The Condition of the Client After the Car Accident.
After she left the hospital, the client required 24-hour care including, physical therapy, occupational therapy and speech therapy. For several months she was incapacitated as a result of her injuries. She required assistance with walking and needed constant monitoring by medical staff. She had difficulty speaking and swallowing. Miraculously, she made a recovery to where she was again full-functioning and could take care of her own needs.
Our Car Accident Attorneys Inspected the Vehicles at the Storage Lot
Due to the severity of the client’s injuries, our lead injury attorney made arrangements to inspect the vehicles involved in the crash. Both vehicles were being stored at the Arizona Department of Public Safety storage lot in Phoenix. Often times, with serious car accidents, vehicles will be stored as evidence for analysis and potential prosecution.
An inspection of both vehicles revealed that the client’s passenger side had been severely penetrated by the pickup truck. Based upon the depth of the penetration, our car accident attorneys determined that the pickup truck was likely travelling much faster than the posted speed limit at the time of the impact. Our attorneys were able to do this because they have extensive experience handling car accident cases.
As a result, our car accident attorneys can estimate the speed of a vehicle based upon the resulting damage to the vehicles. Our car accident attorneys did that for this crash. Our attorneys concluded that the speed of the pickup truck was a contributing factor in causing the crash.
How We Obtained the Settlement For the At-Fault Driver of the Crash
Since our attorneys physically inspected the vehicles, they were able to present evidence to the insurance company that the pickup truck driver was partially at fault. Our attorneys argued that the pickup truck driver was travelling between 70-80 miles per hour prior to the impact. This was based on three items of evidence.
Since our attorneys physically inspected the vehicles, they were able to present evidence to the insurance company that the pickup truck driver was partially at fault.
First, the depth of penetration into the client’s vehicle showed an impact much greater than 55 miles per hour. Second, the distance that the client’s vehicle was pushed from the point of impact to its final resting point showed an impact with a significant amount of force. The amount of force needed to move the vehicle that distance would have required speeds much greater than 55 miles per hour. Third, the scuff marks of the pickup truck indicated they were applied early enough to potentially stop the pickup truck had it been travelling at the posted speed limit. At a minimum, it would have slowed the pickup truck enough to minimize the impact and cause less severe injuries to our client.
How Comparative Fault Applied to the Analysis
Arizona applies comparative fault to car accidents and other negligence cases. This means that the parties involved are responsible for damages to their degree of fault. For example, if someone is 50% at fault for causing an accident, any recovery they are entitled to will be reduced in half for their own negligence in causing their own injuries.
In this case, our client had medical expenses approaching one million dollars. She also had serious injuries. We believed her injuries entitled her to pain and suffering of several million dollars.
This means that the parties involved are responsible for damages to their degree of fault.
As a result, we were able to argue that her damages could be as high as 5 million dollars. As a result, if the pickup truck driver was found to be merely 10% at fault for causing the crash, he would be responsible for 10% of that 5 million. In other words, he would be responsible for paying $500,000.
The Settlement Obtained for the At Fault Driver of the Car Accident
We were able to obtain the other side’s entire insurance policy limit for our client. We were also able to obtain the full amount of our client’s underinsured motorist policy. The two policies combined resulted in a sizeable settlement.
This result was achieved because our lead car accident attorney took the time to investigate the case thoroughly. Based upon his investigation and experience, he was able to attribute a portion of fault to the other driver. The client received a large settlement, when she otherwise would not have, even though she was “mostly” at fault for causing the crash.
Contact An Experienced Car Accident Attorney Today
Experience matters when selecting an attorney. The quality of your attorney can be the difference between receiving nothing and a large payout. Do not compromise when you select an attorney to handle your serious injury case.
Our personal injury attorneys have handled serious injury cases for over twenty years. We have handled hundreds of car accidents cases. That experience matters when confronting difficult facts of a challenging car accident case.
Contact one of our car accident attorneys if you or a loved one was involved in a car accident. A consultation is free and we only earn a fee if we recover for you. An attorney is available now to speak to you about your case.
About the author: The content on this page was provided by Scottsdale personal injury attorney and civil rights lawyer Tony Piccuta. Piccuta graduated with honors from Indiana University-Maurer School of Law in Bloomington, Indiana (Previously Ranked Top 35 US News & World Report). Piccuta took and passed the State bars of Arizona, California, Illinois and Nevada (all on the first try). He actively practices throughout Arizona and California. He is a trial attorney that regularly handles serious personal injury cases and civil rights lawsuits. He has obtained six and seven figure verdicts in both state and federal court. He has been recognized by Super Lawyers for six years straight. He is a member of the Arizona Association of Justice, Maricopa County Bar Association, Scottsdale Bar Association, American Association for Justice, National Police Accountability Project and Consumer Attorneys of California, among other organizations.
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