Car Accident Attorneys
Scottsdale Car Accident Attorney
Contact the Scottsdale Car Accident Attorneys at Scottsdale Injury Lawyers for a Free Consultation
Unfortunately, not everyone leaves the distractions of their day-to-day lives at the edge of the driveway. Too often, this results in serious injury or even death to innocent drivers, motorcyclists, bicyclists and pedestrians. We know just how difficult recovering from a car accident can be. We appreciate the mental, physical and emotional impact a serious injury can have on people and their loved ones. We understand the frustration and anxiety that accompany a long and painful recovery, the financial stress from missed work and the seemingly endless medical bills.
A car accident affects not only those who are injured, but also the people around them who love and care for them. This may be a life partner who no longer has the companion he or she once fell in love with, a dependent who relied on the injured person to make ends meet, or a close friend or family member who looked to that person for support, strength and guidance.
Sadly, insurance companies often do not have your best interests in mind. Insurance companies get paid when you pay your premiums. Insurance companies lose money when they pay claims for injuries. The less an insurance company pays on claims, the more money the insurance company makes. The good news is, we can help.
While no amount of money can undo the damage done or turn back time, a fair and just recovery can help get you back to life as you knew it before the crash. Our Scottsdale car accident attorneys are ready to fight for you and your loved ones to get you the compensation that you deserve. Contact Scottsdale Injury Lawyers at (480) 900-7390 for a free consultation so that we can discuss all potential avenues available to you and help determine your right to recovery.
Car Accident Statistics for Scottsdale and Surrounding Areas
Too often, car accidents devastate the lives of Arizona drivers and their loved ones. With a population of nearly 4.5 million people, Maricopa County has more than four times the population of the next largest county in Arizona. In 2019, according to the Arizona Department of Transportation, Maricopa County residents accounted for 3.18 million driver licenses. To put that number in perspective, Maricopa County’s population in 2019 was 4.485 million people. This means that more than 70% of every resident of Maricopa County had a valid driver license, even without accounting for permits, restricted permits or those whose licenses had been restricted, revoked or suspended.
Unfortunately, population size is often related to the number of car accidents in an area. In 2019, there were more than 97,000 car crashes in Maricopa County. This means that in Maricopa County alone, there were more than 265 crashers per day in 2019. Car accidents in Maricopa County accounted for almost 75% of all Arizona crashes and 47% of Arizona crashes that resulted in death. Of the approximately 97,000 Maricopa County car accidents, nearly 27,000 resulted in injury. Of those that resulted in injury, more than 1,200 were alcohol related. Sadly, Maricopa County crashes also accounted for the following fatality rates out of all crashes that occurred in Arizona during 2019:
- Total fatalities: 47%
- Pedestrian fatalities: 61%
- Petacycle (bicycle for example) fatalities: 63%
- Motorcycle fatalities: 54%
After a car accident, a person naturally has a lot of questions, including:
- How bad am I injured?
- Should I go see a doctor?
- Who will pay for my injuries?
- What if I can’t afford to pay for my medical bills?
- Will my insurance cover my medical bills?
- What about pain and suffering or damage to my car?
- Is a rental car covered by anyone’s insurance?
- What if the other driver denies that he or she was at fault?
- What if the other driver has no insurance?
- Does my insurance company really have my best interests in mind?
These are just some of the many questions our Scottsdale car accident attorneys can help you answer, at a time when you need an experienced team of Arizona lawyers fighting to make sure you receive the compensation you deserve. If you or a loved one has been involved in a car accident, even if you were walking or on a bicycle, the other driver’s insurance company or your own insurance company may be responsible to pay for your injuries. The experienced attorneys at Scottsdale Injury Lawyers know just how devastating a car accident can be. We can review your case and determine whether you are entitled to compensation for the injuries you have suffered. Please call us at (480) 900-7390 for your free consultation.
What to Do if You Have Been in a Car Accident in Arizona
What you should do immediately following a crash depends on the circumstances. Though not all of these steps will apply to every situation, the following is a checklist to assist you:
- Check on the injuries of you and your passengers and dial 911
- Move your vehicle to safety
- Remain at the scene
- Notify the police
- Provide certain information to the other driver and police
- Provide assistance
- Get help from medical personnel
- Collect and document information about the crash
- Report general information about the crash to your insurance company
- Speak with a Scottsdale car accident lawyer
Check on the Injuries of You and Your Passengers
Make safety your number one priority. If you are not injured or too hurt to move, check on the injuries of the other people in the car. If you or another passenger is injured, call 911 as soon as you can safely do so. If you are seriously injured, it is important that you move as little as possible. The reason is that moving could make your injuries worse.
Of course, there are exceptions that may require that you leave your vehicle despite having serious injuries. These could include the following situations:
- A gasoline leak
- Your car is on fire or near another vehicle that is on fire
- Your car is likely to be hit by another car—for example if it is dark out and/or you are around a sharp curve in the road
- You are stopped on railroad tracks
Even if you are not injured, traffic can make it dangerous to exit your car on a busy Arizona highway. Unless you can do so safely, you should remain in your vehicle until the arrival of the police or medical personnel to assist you.
Move Your Vehicle to Safety After the Car Accident
Arizona has what is referred to as a “quick clearance” law. Under A.R.S. § 28-674, the driver or another occupant of a car involved in a crash must move the car to a safe spot on the shoulder, median or emergency lane if the following conditions exist:
- It does not appear that anyone is dead or has suffered a serious physical injury
- The driver or other occupant intending to move the car has a valid driver license
- The car can be moved safely
- The car is operable and will not be damaged further
What is considered a serious physical injury is defined by A.R.S. § 13-105 as a “physical injury that creates a reasonable risk of death, or that causes serious and permanent disfigurement, serious impairment of health or loss or protracted impairment of the function of any bodily organ or limb.”
Remain at the Scene of the Car Accident
Pursuant to Arizona law, you must remain at the scene of a car accident and provide certain information. Under A.R.S. § 28-661, a driver in a car crash that results in injury or death must do the following:
- Immediately stop at or near the crash
- Remain at the crash site and provide certain information
- Provide reasonable assistance (under certain conditions)
Failure to comply with these requirements can have serious consequences, including a felony and license suspension up to ten (10) years.
Under A.R.S. § 28-662, a driver in a car crash in Arizona that results in only vehicle damage must do the following:
- Immediately stop at or near the crash
- Come to a stop without blocking traffic, if possible
- Remain at the crash site and provide certain information
Failure to do these things could result in a misdemeanor and a suspended license for up to one year.
Call the Police Immediately After a Motor Vehicle Accident
If you are a driver involved in a crash and someone dies or is injured, you must immediately notify authorities as quickly as possible. Under A.R.S. § 28-666, you can satisfy this duty by contacting one of the following:
- The police department of the city where the crash took place
- The local county sheriff’s office
- The closest office of the Arizona Highway Patrol/Arizona Department of Public Safety
For purposes of advancing an injury claim, calling law enforcement to the scene of the car accident has significant benefits. Insurance companies and their adjusters tend to believe that if police were not called to the scene, then the car accident was not that serious. As a result, they may argue that your injuries were not caused by the accident or not as serious as you contend. However, if law enforcement is called to the scene and injuries are reported and documented, the insurance company will be less likely to argue that you were not injured as a result of the car accident.
“Insurance companies and their adjusters tend to believe that if police were not called to the scene, then the car accident was not that serious.”
Law enforcement officers are skilled in asking questions and interviewing witnesses. As such, if the officers at the scene of the car accident perform a thorough investigation, they will take statements from the drivers, passengers and third-party witnesses. The officers may even document and secure other evidence depending on the scope of the injuries and the statements made by the drivers and witnesses questioned. This could include securing video surveillance and taking measurements of skid marks and noting debris fields.
Typically, at the scene of a car accident, the at-fault driver is regretful and sorry for the crash he or she caused. It is at this vulnerable time, when he or she is most likely to tell the truth and admit fault. While a driver may still be inclined to lie about how the car accident occurred to avoid responsibility, this is far less likely when the person doing the questioning is a police officer. In fact, doing so is a crime under Arizona law. A.R.S. § 13-2907.01 sets forth that it is a class 1 misdemeanor for someone to knowingly make a false statement or misrepresent a fact for the purpose of misleading a police officer. While an at-fault driver may be willing to lie to you, others on the scene or the insurance company, he or she is far less likely to lie to a police officer. Especially when doing so exposes him or her to criminal liability.
Further, the investigating officer will often make a determination of who was at fault. Insurance companies rely heavily upon the findings of fault in a police report. Almost without exception, if a police report determines that one side is at fault for causing a collision, the insurance company will follow that finding. If there is no finding of fault by law enforcement and a party denies fault, then his or her insurance company will almost always deny liability. Of course, there are exceptions to this which include video surveillance proving otherwise and reliable eye witness statements suggesting what actually happened.
Provide Information to the Other Driver and Police
Both A.R.S. §§ 28-661 and 28-662 require drivers to remain at the scene and comply with the requirements of A.R.S. § 28-663. Under A.R.S. § 28-663, after a motor vehicle accident that results in death, injury or damage to a vehicle, a driver must give the following information to the other driver and law enforcement officers who are investigating the crash:
- Driver’s name
- Driver’s address
- Driver’s vehicle registration number
- Show your driver license, upon request, to the other driver involved in the crash
While Arizona state law does not require you to file a police report, A.R.S. § 28-667 requires police officers who investigate a crash to do so.
Provide Assistance to Others Hurt In the Motor Vehicle Collision
In addition to providing information, Arizona law requires a driver involved in a motor vehicle accident to provide assistance when someone is injured in the accident. Pursuant to A.R.S. § 28-663, if a person is injured, you must provide reasonable assistance. This includes arranging for the injured person to be taken to a doctor or medical facility. According to the statute, this requirement applies under two circumstances:
- The injured person requests to be taken to a doctor or
- Treatment appears necessary
Failing to do so can result in a felony in Arizona. Under § 28-663, the court can also order a person to be screened for drug and alcohol issues if the person who caused the crash was under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol.
Medical Treatment Following a Car Accident
Sometimes we want nothing more than to go to the comfort of our own homes after a traumatic event like a serious car accident. However, it can be vital to your well-being to begin treating for your injuries immediately, including at the scene of the accident. This is especially true if you have suffered a spinal injury, which is common in car accident cases. If you have suffered an injury to your neck or back, you should wait for the arrival of medical personnel who may immobilize your spine with a cervical collar. Emergency medical providers can safely place you on a stretcher or gurney, if necessary, and promptly transport you to a hospital.
“Sadly, insurance companies are skeptical of injured individuals who do not seek out medical treatment in the first few days following a car accident.”
A traumatic brain injury, including a concussion, is another common injury suffered by car accident victims. According to the Mayo Clinic, a head or brain injury may result in blurred vision, confusion, dizziness, disorientation, loss of consciousness or loss of balance. Attempting to exit the vehicle in this state could lead to a more serious injury if you were to be hit by oncoming traffic or fall to the ground and hit your head. Depending on the symptoms suffered, a concussion could have life-long effects. As such, concussion injuries should not be undervalued following a car accident.
In addition to the health benefits of receiving medical treatment immediately, it is also important for later advancing a personal injury claim. Sadly, insurance companies are skeptical of injured individuals who do not seek out medical treatment in the first few days following a car accident. In other words, a person is penalized by the insurance company for “toughing it out” and passing on medical treatment to see if that person’s injuries heal on their own.
“If there is any doubt whether or not you suffered injuries as a result of a car accident, you should tell law enforcement and insurance representatives that you are not sure and intend to be examined by a medical professional.”
Insurance companies also rely heavily upon what injuries are reported to police at the scene of the car accident. Likewise, insurance companies are critical if injuries are not reported to them in the first call with an insurance representative following a car accident. Often times, this puts an injured person at a disadvantage when later trying to recover compensation for his or her injuries. This is true, even though the injured person may have not appreciated the full extent and nature of his or her injuries right away. If there is any doubt whether or not you suffered injuries as a result of a car accident, you should tell law enforcement and insurance representatives that you are not sure and intend to be examined by a medical professional.
Collect and Document Information About the Car Accident
Collecting and documenting information following a motor vehicle accident is critical to protecting your rights. If possible, you should do so at the scene of the car accident. This is especially important if there is any question of who was at fault. If the at fault driver, claims that he did nothing wrong and you were at-fault, you should seek out the contact information for any eyewitnesses who observed what happened.
This step is not as important if law enforcement is on the scene and taking responsibility for gathering evidence and witness statements. However, if law enforcement is not on the scene and you are not too injured to do so, you should secure all available evidence and information. The failure to do this could be the difference between a personal injury claim being paid by the other side’s insurance or denied for liability reasons.
As discussed above, A.R.S. § 28-663 requires you to provide certain information to others at the scene of the crash. This requirement applies to the other driver as well. This means the other driver must also provide his or her name, address and vehicle registration number. You are also entitled to see the other person’s driver license if you request it.
Other steps you can take to memorialize the accident to protect yourself include:
- Getting the names and badge numbers of the investigating officers
- Getting a copy of the collision exchange slip (which allows you to obtain the crash report later)
- Taking pictures of the damage to all vehicles involved
- Taking pictures that show the positioning and locations of the vehicles immediately after the crash
- Taking pictures of skid marks or vehicle debris left on the roadway
- Taking pictures of injuries
- Writing down the names, addresses and phone numbers of any witnesses, including other passengers
- Contacting any nearby businesses or buildings that may have video surveillance systems that captured the crash and requesting that the footage be preserved
- Noting the date, time, location of the accident and weather and road conditions
- Documenting the other driver admitting fault either in a signed writing or by voice or video recording (if the other driver is willing to do so)
- Keeping a journal of how you are feeling and how your injuries have affected you
- Refusing to apologize or admit fault
Refusing to apologize or admit fault may seem insensitive. However, it should not be. This may be necessary to protect your rights. Unfortunately, other drivers and insurance companies may try to twist your words and use them against you to avoid liability. They may argue that you are partly, if not entirely, to blame. As a result, at-fault drivers and insurance companies may claim that they have no duty to fully compensate you for your injuries. This is why it is best to simply report the facts, as you recall them, to investigating officers at the scene of the accident.
Report the Car Accident to Your Insurance Company
Contact your insurance company after the crash to start the claims process. Your policy may require you to report a crash within a certain amount of time. This can also help speed up the process of getting your vehicle repaired and obtaining a rental car. Of course, this depends on the type of car insurance coverage you have.
If you have car insurance coverage that provides for the repair of your vehicle or will pay for your vehicle if it is totaled, you should use it. This is commonly referred to as a property damage claim. The property damage claim is handled separately from any bodily injury claim you may bring later. You may be charged a deductible up front, but your insurance company will seek out reimbursement of this deductible on your behalf from that at-fault party and provide it to you later.
“To summarize, if you have the coverage, always run the property damage claim through your own car insurance company.”
The reason you should run the repairs or property damage claim through you own car insurance company, is because it has a duty to treat you fairly. You own insurance company has a contractual duty to treat you fairly in the claims adjusting process. If it fails to do so, it could be liable for damages. The other side’s insurance company has no such duty. In sum, if you have the coverage, always run the property damage claim through your own car insurance company.
It is important to remember that even though you are dealing with your own insurance company, do not make any statements that might be interpreted to suggest any level of fault on your part. If the other driver does not have insurance or does not have enough insurance to cover your injuries, you may need to turn to your own insurance company for compensation. If your insurance company believes that you were partly at fault for the accident, it will argue that you are personally responsible for a corresponding amount of your own damages.
“We also recommend not providing specific details regarding the injuries you suffered until you have been fully evaluated by a medical professional and have had an opportunity to speak to a car accident attorney.”
When contacting your insurance company to report the crash, you should give the general information needed to report the accident. This would include date, time, location, vehicles involved, passengers and drivers’ names and injuries suffered. As stated above, if you have not yet treated with a medical professional and received a diagnosis for your injuries, you should tell the insurance company that you have suffered injuries and require medical treatment for further evaluation. We recommend not providing detailed specifics regarding the crash such as exact speeds, precise distances, how your body travelled upon impact, etc. We also recommend not providing specific details regarding the injuries you suffered until you have been fully evaluated by a medical professional and have had an opportunity to speak to a car accident attorney.
Most importantly, you should never give a recorded statement to any insurance company including your own. Recorded statements are taken by insurance companies as evidence to later be used against you when you make a claim for your injuries or property damage. Things you say in your recorded statement could affect your ability to receive compensation for your injuries and losses later.
A misstatement made during this recording could prevent you from recovering anything at all. That is because things you innocently say during this recording could be twisted, misrepresented and used against you. Likewise, making a mistake in recalling events or remembering something incorrectly, could make it difficult for you to recover compensation for your injuries later. As such, you should never guess, estimate or try to assume details of the crash.
“Most importantly, you should never give a recorded statement to any insurance company including your own.”
Once you are represented by a car accident attorney, the insurance companies are prohibited from discussing the car accident with you whatsoever. This means an insurance company representative cannot even ask you about the crash, much less take a recorded statement. The reason is because once you have legal representation for your car accident case, you have an attorney who will protect your rights. This includes the right to be free from unfair interviews and tricky questioning by a skilled insurance representative without your attorney allowing it. The law holds that it would be unfair for the insurance company to question you without your attorney present or with your attorney’s permission.
Call a Scottsdale Car Accident Attorney
After a car crash, you can expect to be contacted by insurance companies eager to resolve your claims for the lowest possible amounts. Doing so is how insurance companies make money. They want to resolve your injury claim as quickly and cheaply as possible. It is not uncommon for insurance companies to offer a small amount in exchange for a full release of your claim and rights in the first week after your car accident.
The main reason these offers are made so early, is because the insurance companies are trying to dispose of your claim before you have an opportunity to hire an attorney for your car accident case. Insurance companies know they can take advantage of people who do not have an attorney representing them. The insurance companies know that they pay out much less to people who do not have attorneys. Injured individuals without an experienced attorney can be taken advantage of. They are not in a position to understand the value of their claim or know what they are entitled to.
Often times, an offer is made before you have even finished medical treatment and know the full extent of your injuries, pain, suffering and medical expenses. A Scottsdale car accident lawyer can help ensure you are not wrongly blamed for the accident and that your injuries are not undervalued. Our car accident attorneys at Scottsdale Injury Lawyers can help negotiate the compensation you are entitled to under Arizona law. If the other side is unwilling to settle, we can file a lawsuit and seek the fair and full compensation that you deserve.
How do I Prove the Other Driver Was Responsible?
Most car accident cases in Arizona, and elsewhere, involve a theory of negligence. When you allege that someone was negligent, you are claiming that he or she did not act in a reasonably careful manner. To prove your negligence case, you must establish four things:
- Duty: The other driver owed you a duty to act as a reasonably careful person would act under the circumstances, in order to avoid creating an unreasonable risk of harm
- Breach: The other driver breached that duty by failing to act as a reasonably careful person under the circumstances
- Causation: The actions of the other driver caused your injuries
- Damages: You were in fact injured or harmed by the other driver
Common examples of negligent driving include:
- Texting while driving
- Talking on the phone while driving
- Failing to stop at a stop sign
- Failing to yield the right of way
- Driving after taking certain medications (even legally prescribed)
- Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol
- Aggressive or reckless driving
Negligence Per Se
Use of the “negligence per se” doctrine is another way to show a driver was at fault in an Arizona car accident case. Under this theory, if a person violates a certain traffic law, that person is automatically considered to be negligent. You do not need any additional proof that the other motorist was driving in an unreasonably safe manner. It is enough to simply show that the other driver violated a law, such as an Arizona statute that prohibits drunk driving or tailgating. The only evidence you will need to win your negligence case will be proof of the amount of your damages and that the damages were caused by the other driver.
What if the Other Driver Was Not Ticketed?
There is a misconception that the other driver must be issued a ticket to be held responsible for the accident. This is a myth. In fact, under Arizona law, A.R.S. § 28-1599, evidence of a traffic ticket is generally not admissible to prove negligence.
You might ask yourself how you could ever benefit from the negligence per se doctrine without a police officer ticketing the other driver for a traffic violation. In court, you may still show that the driver’s conduct amounted to a violation of an applicable traffic law. For example, one Arizona statute in particular prohibits tailgating. If you convince a jury that the driver did in fact tailgate, the negligence per se doctrine would apply. That is, the negligence of the other driver would be established, regardless of whether a ticket for tailgating was ever issued.
Remember that establishing a violation of a particular law is only one way to prove negligence. You may always argue simply that the other driver did not act in a reasonably careful manner. A skilled car accident lawyer will be able to evaluate all your potential claims and the best legal strategy for winning your case and obtaining the most money possible for your injuries.
What Arizona Traffic Laws Apply to My Car Accident Case?
Some of the most common Arizona statutes that motorists violate include:
- Traffic control devices: A.R.S. § 28-644 requires drivers to obey traffic control devices, e.g., traffic lights
- Speeding: A.R.S. § 28-701 requires people to drive at a reasonable speed to avoid causing a collision with another car, person or object
- Drag racing: A.R.S. § 28-708 prohibits speed contests commonly referred to as drag racing
- Driving on the right side of the road: A.R.S. § 28-721 requires drivers to operate their vehicles on the right half of the road, subject to certain exceptions, such as to pass another car
- Slow vehicles: A.R.S. § 28-721 also requires individuals driving at less than the regular speed of traffic to drive in the lane farthest to the right
- Passing on the left: A.R.S. § 28-723 requires drivers to pass on the left
- Tailgating: A.R.S. § 28-730 prohibits drivers from following cars too closely (tailgating)
- Turning signals: A.R.S. § 28-754 requires drivers to signal their intention to turn
- Stop signs: A.R.S. § 28-855 requires drivers to obey stop signs
- Driving Under the Influence: A.R.S. § 28-1381 and A.R.S.§ 28-1382 prohibit poeple from driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol
How Much Money Can I Recover for My Car Accident Injury?
People injured in car accidents are entitled to compensation as in any other personal injury lawsuit. The types of damages are generally broken down into what are referred to as economic and non-economic damages. Economic damages include the following:
- Past medical care
- Future medical care
- Lost past income
- Decreased ability to earn income in the future
- Property damage
Under Arizona law, non-economic damages include:
- Nature, extent and duration of the injury
- Pain and suffering
- Disability or disfigurement
- Loss of enjoyment of life as it was before
- Losses related to the marital or a parent-child relationship, such as love and affection
How much someone can recover for a car accident injury, depends on several factors. Each car accident case and claim must be analyzed individually on a case by case basis. Even two people with the exact same injury, may have very different damages. For example, one person may have received consistent and thorough medical treatment, while the other opted to tough it out at home. As a result, the person who received the continuous medical treatment will be in a position to recover much more for his or her medical expenses. The person who decided to tough it out at home will have very little medical expenses and much less to recover.
“Each car accident case and claim must be analyzed individually on a case by case basis. Even two people with the exact same injury, may have very different damages.”
Likewise, two people could have the exact same injury and the effect on their daily lives could be impacted very differently. For example, take two people who suffered a severe leg injury. One person may have a desk job, be out of shape and like non-physical hobbies such as playing video games and watching movies. On the other hand, the other person could have a physical job requiring them to be on his or her feet and have very physical hobbies such as exercising and playing sports. Clearly, the impact of a severely injured leg would affect the second person much more. While the first person could still do his desk job and participate in the activities he enjoyed, the second person could not. As a result, the second person would have higher wage loss damages and be entitled to more compensation for having the things he or she loved to do taken away from him or her.
The following are all factors that could influence the amount someone is entitled to recover for his or her car accident injury:
- The impact caused by the car accident (high speed vs. low speed)
- The damage to the vehicles (serious vs. minor)
- The course of medical treatment
- The ability and experience of the car accident lawyer
- The past verdicts the car accident attorney has obtained at trial
- The insurance company involved
- The insurance adjuster handling the claim
- Whether there are objective findings of injuries (ie. proof on scans or tests that show an actual injury was sustained vs. just a claim of injuries)
- The medical expenses incurred
- The wage loss suffered
- The background, education and employment of the injured person
- The effects of the injury on the person’s everyday life
- The permanency of the injury
- The need for continuing and future medical care
- The ability of the injured person to perform tasks he or she used to do
- The ability of the injured person to partake in hobbies he or she used to enjoy
- The credentials of the medical professionals rendering the treatment
- The limits of the available insurance
- The conduct of the at-fault party
- The personality and background of the at-fault party
Of the above factors, medical expenses, wage loss, permanency of the injuries, and pain and suffering are the factors that are the main driver of damages. This is not a hard and fast rule however. Several situations can lead to extremely high compensation even when one or more of these factors is not present.
For example, someone may suffer an extremely painful injury that there is no meaningful medical treatment for. As such, that person may have very little to no medical expenses but extraordinary pain and suffering. This by itself could lead to high compensation for the injury suffered.
Likewise, someone could suffer a permanent injury that does not require extensive medical treatment. For example, someone who suffered a facial laceration leaving permanent scarring. That person would receive stitches and perhaps scar revision surgery. The amount of medical expenses would not be significant, in comparison to the permanent disfigurement of the person’s face. The pain, suffering and emotional consequences of such an injury would be devastating, while the medical expenses very small in comparison. The same would hold true for someone who suffered an amputation of a finger or other appendage. While the medical treatment and expenses would be minimal, the permanency of the injury could result in very high compensation.
At the same time, someone could suffer a painful injury requiring several surgeries over the course of a year. The person could make a full recovery with no permanent disability. Under this scenario, the person could have extremely high past medical expenses and one year’s worth of pain and suffering, yet be entitled to no damages for future pain, suffering or disability. The factor of permanency of the injury would not contribute to the amount compensated. Yet the compensation could be extremely high based upon the amount of medical expenses and the nature of the pain and suffering that resulted from the multiple surgeries or procedures.
If you were injured in a car accident, it is important that you consult with a skilled injury lawyer so that your case may be evaluated properly and all factors for compensation considered. Scottsdale Injury Lawyers has a knowledgeable car accident attorney available now to discuss your potential case and claim. We can give you a preliminary appraisal of what your case may be worth. A consultation is free and costs you nothing. Contact us today for a free case evaluation.
What if I am Partly to Blame for the Car Accident?
You may still be entitled to receive compensation for your injuries even if you are partly at fault for the car accident. Arizona is known as a “pure comparative negligence” state. This means that you may still recover compensation for your injuries but that any recovery is offset by your amount of fault. This is true even if you are mostly at fault for causing your own injuries!
Under A.R.S. § 12-2506, fault is to be assigned to all persons, including the injured party. Pursuant to A.R.S. §12-2505, the injured person can still recover for the fault of all others, even if the injured person shares some or even most of the blame. However, the recovery of the injured party is decreased in proportion to the injured person’s degree of fault. To determine the amount of damages owed to you by an at-fault party, that person’s percentage of fault is multiplied by the total damages of the injured person.
“This means that you may still recover compensation for your injuries but that any recovery is offset by your amount of fault. This is true even if you are mostly at fault for causing your own injuries!”
To illustrate, assume you were involved in a car accident with one other driver. Assume further that you were 10% at fault, and that the other driver was 90% at fault. If your total damages were $100,000, you would be entitled to $90,000, which is calculated by multiplying the 90% fault of the other driver by the $100,000 total damages. On the other hand, if you were 90% at fault and the other driver was 10% at fault, you could still recover $10,000. This would be determined by multiplying the other’s driver’s 10% fault by your $100,000 in total damages.
Who Will Pay for My Injuries?
With the rising cost of car insurance, many drivers choose to take the legal and financial risks of driving without insurance coverage or without enough coverage. A recent study from the Insurance Information Institute revealed that 13% (approximately 1 in 8) of drivers in the United States were uninsured. The experienced attorneys at Scottsdale Injury Lawyers can help you navigate all options available to you so that you receive the compensation you deserve. Simply put, we can help you find additional sources to recover from through our experience and creative legal theories. Other attorneys without the same experience or skill set, may overlook these opportunities or simply may not be wiling to take on the challenges involved and do the work.
The Automobile Insurance of the Owner of the At-Fault Vehicle
Arizona’s financial responsibility law can be found at A.R.S. § 28-4135. It requires a car driven in Arizona to have liability coverage, which for most of us is our automobile insurance policy. Under A.R.S. § 28-4009, a liability policy insures both the person named in the insurance policy and anyone using the vehicle with the permission of that person.
A.R.S. § 28-4009 also sets the minimum amounts of coverage as follows:
- $25,000 for injury or death caused to one person in one accident
- $50,000 for injury or death caused to two or more people in one accident
- $15,000 for property damage in one accident
As an example, assume that you were driving alone and that you were struck by another driver, who was found to be at fault for causing the collision. Assume further that the owner of the vehicle the at-fault driver was operating carried the minimum liability coverage allowed by law in Arizona. The most the owner of the vehicle’s insurance would have a duty to pay for your injuries would be $25,000. The above limits apply to policies issued or renewed on or after July 1, 2020.
The Automobile Insurance of the At-Fault Driver
Sometimes the at-fault driver of a vehicle may have insurance separate from that of the vehicle. There could be several situations where this could be the case. For example:
- A boyfriend who is driving his girlfriend’s vehicle
- A friend who is borrowing another friend’s vehicle
- A visiting family member operating his relative’s vehicle
- A tourist operating a rental car
In all of these situations, there could be more than one insurance policy to collect from. First, the insurance policy of the vehicle’s owner would be available and the primary source of recovery. However, if there is not enough insurance under the vehicle owner’s policy, the at-fault driver’s own car insurance could be collected as secondary.
In this situation, it would provide an additional and separate source of funds. The two coverages would combine and “stack” on top of each other. In other words, if the vehicle the at-fault driver was operating had insurance coverage of $50,000 under the vehicle owner’s policy and the at-fault driver had his own car insurance providing $25,000 in coverage, the combined amount available to recover from would be $75,000.
The At-Fault Driver’s Employer if the Driver Was Working at the Time
In certain situations, an injured party may be able to recover from the insurance of an employer or other person for whom the at-fault driver was working for at the time. This is true even if the vehicle was a personal vehicle not owned or insured by the employer. For example, if an employee is required to drive his or her own car while working for an employer and is driving that vehicle in the “course and scope of employment,” the employer may be responsible for any injuries that employee causes in a car accident.
Employers and businesses usually have commercial insurance policies that provide much higher policy limits than personal insurance policies. Typically, these policies provide for at least 1 Million dollars in insurance coverage. However, there are exclusions that apply. If you believe that there may be a commercial insurance policy available, you should have a knowledgeable car accident attorney analyze the facts giving rise to the crash. The attorney you hire can also request the insurance policy and review the language of the policy itself.
Your Own Automobile Insurance Coverage
Arizona’s Uninsured/Underinsured motorist statute can be found at A.R.S. § 20-259.01. Uninsured motorist coverage protects you when your injuries are caused by a person who is driving without insurance. Underinsured motorist coverage protects you when your injuries are caused by a driver whose policy limits are not sufficient to pay for all of your damages.
Uninsured and Underinsured coverage must be offered to you at the time you apply for your car insurance. It is important to note, however, that you are not required to carry this coverage. Our attorneys can help review your policy documents to determine the availability and amount of coverage and whether your insurance company has complied with the law.
At-Fault Driver’s Personal Assets
If no insurance coverage otherwise exists, the personal assets of the liable party may be available to compensate you for your losses. Assets of the at-fault party could include:
- Land that may be seized and sold
- Other personal property, e.g., jewelry or art, that may be seized and sold
- Bank accounts
- Personal investment accounts
- Paychecks that may be garnished
The experienced attorneys at Scottsdale Injury Lawyers can help you investigate the personal finances of an uninsured or underinsured at-fault driver. We know how to handle the complex process of seizing assets to get you the money you deserve and to which you are entitled.
Government Entities: Cities, States and Counties
If the automobile insurance available is not enough to compensate you for your injuries, you may be able to recover from the governmental entity tasked with providing a safe roadway. Governmental entities are responsible for the roadways and are required to make sure that the conditions of the roadways are safe both in maintenance and design. If they fail in this regard, a claim may be advanced for a dangerous condition of public property. However, these claims are difficult and usually only advanced when there are catastrophic injuries and the damages justify the effort. Moreover, the government entity needs to have known, or should have known, of the dangerous condition and had time to correct it.
Carmakers and Automobile Parts Manufacturers
Carmakers and automobile manufacturers may provide yet another source of recovery. Claims may be advanced under a product liability theory against the makers of the vehicle involved in the crash. Similar to claims against government entities, these claims are very difficult and are only advanced when the available car insurance is not enough to compensate the injured party. In addition, the expense of pursing these claims is only justified when the injuries are life-ending or life-changing. Damages must be significant.
These claims may only be pursued if there was, in fact, a product defect that caused or contributed to the injury or extent of the injuries. Two of the most common product liability claims against auto manufacturers include crashworthiness claims and failure to install safety equipment/design defect claims. Crashworthiness claims may include:
- Brake failure
- Seatback collapse
- Airbag deployment failure
- Defective seatbelt
- Inadequate safety cage or structural protection
On the other hand, failure to install cases involve the failure to install a known safety feature that was established, could have been implemented for a reasonable amount and the benefits of which outweighed the costs of doing so. This may include the failure to install side impact airbags or other crash avoidance technology such as brake assist or forward crash avoidance.
How Long do I Have to File a Lawsuit After an Arizona Car Accident?
Under A.R.S. § 12-542, a person has two (2) years to file a lawsuit for personal injuries or property damage. This means that if you are injured in a car accident and do not settle your claim, you must file suit within two (2) years of the date of the crash. Failing to do so may result in the loss of your right to recover for the injuries you have suffered.
In addition to this, if the at-fault driver is a government employee on the job at the time, you must give notice of your claim within six months of the car accident. If you fail to do so, you could lose your right to sue and recover for your car accident injuries. The same holds true for claims against the government for dangerous conditions of the roadways/public property. With very limited exceptions, notice of your potential claim must be given to the proper governmental entity within six months from the date of the car accident.
Types of Car Accident Cases
Below are links to information on some of the more common types of car accidents in Scottsdale and across Arizona:
- Rear-End Car Accidents
- Intersection Car Accidents
- Speeding Car Accidents
- Wrongful Left Turn Car Accidents
- Failure to Yield Right-of-Way Car Accidents
- Head-On Car Accidents
- Side-Impact or T-bone Car Accidents
- Multiple-Impact or Pile-up Car Accidents
Have Your Scottsdale Car Accident Case Evaluated at No Cost
If you or a loved one suffered injuries as a result of a car accident, contact Scottsdale Injury Lawyers today. A skilled attorney is available to discuss your case and options. We will let you know if your case is worth pursuing and how best to proceed to make sure that you obtain the maximum recovery available—both physically and financially.
If you need assistance finding reputable and qualified doctors and medical professionals, we can assist with that too. From our years of helping clients injured in car accidents, we have made connections with doctors and medical practices across Arizona. If you do not have insurance and are unable to pay for medical treatment, we can help you find a doctor who is willing to treat you for your injuries.
We will provide you with a free analysis of your case and a no-cost consultation. We will tell you what we believe your case and claim may be worth. If we do decide to take your case, we advance all costs and only earn a fee if we recover for you. If we are not successful and do not win your case, it costs you nothing. Contact us now to discuss your case.
About the author: The content on this page was written 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 (Ranked Top 40 US News & World Report 2020). 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.
Disclaimer: The information on this web site is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. The information on this page is attorney advertising. Reading and relying upon the content on this page does not create an attorney-client relationship. If you are seeking legal advice, you should contact our law firm for a free consultation and to discuss your specific case and issues.