The most common cause of personal injury cases are car accidents, so I handle plenty of those. One of the more interesting cases I handled last year was a matter involving a lady who was walking a dog in a crosswalk when a vehicle ploughed right into her and almost killed her. We were able to successfully help her case, and she received a seven-figure settlement. Besides vehicle accidents, personal injury claims are kind of a narrow window that we handle regarding personal injuries caused by another party’s negligence.
In Arizona, Is There a Statute of Limitations for When You Can File a Personal Injury Claim?
The statute of limitations for filing a personal injury claim in Arizona is two years from the date of the incident.
Is There Contributory Fault or Negligence in Arizona?
In Arizona, we have a negligence standard and what we call comparative fault (which is typically called contributory fault in the East Coast). We look at the percentage of negligence from each party and then make a determination of who’s at fault. In most auto accidents, it’s not that complicated because, oftentimes, somebody’s not paying attention or they’re on their cellphone and they rear-end someone else. I handled an interesting matter about two years ago involving a police officer who ran a stop sign and ploughed into my client. Obviously, the police officer was at fault because he’s still required to follow traffic rules, even if he has his lights and siren on. In this case, he was still negligent.
In Arizona, we have a lot of suicide turns, or left turns without a caution arrow where a person can turn into traffic, so I handle many cases involving people pulling out in front of others. Unfortunately, we also have a lot of cases where people are driving the wrong way on the freeway, which can contribute to significant bodily injury in a collision.
What Happens If I’ve Been Struck by Another Driver Who Has Little to No Insurance in Arizona? Do I Still Have a Claim?
We’ve handled plenty of cases involving uninsured or underinsured drivers, even though every driver is required to have insurance in Arizona. Most policies in Arizona include what’s called an underinsured policy. Let’s say you get rear-ended by an uninsured driver and there is $5,000 of damage to your vehicle, plus chiropractor bills and physical therapy for $2,000. If your insurance policy has an uninsured addendum to your policy, then you can actually seek damages from your own insurance company, so that’s how people get covered if the other driver is uninsured.
Now, let’s look at an underinsured at-fault driver who has a $30,000 policy. If you have $40,000 worth of damages, you seek the first $30,000 from the opposing party’s insurance and then get the rest of the $10,000 from your own underinsured policy, which is something I’ve handled in several cases.
There are other ways to seek money through a person’s home owner’s insurance policy or by putting out personal liens. I handled one case several years ago where a person got into an accident immediately right off the lot after purchasing a brand-new vehicle. Unfortunately, they had a minimum insurance level, but we knew that they had quite a bit of equity in a home. So, if their insurance doesn’t match up to your damages, you can still sue them personally for that extra amount by going after the equity in their home or other types of assets in order to make yourself whole. That’s something my firm has done in order to ensure that our clients are fully compensated for their injuries.
Is Someone’s Been in an Auto Wreck and Believes They Have a Personal Injury Claim, What Can They Do to Give Their Case the Best Outcome?
The first thing that person should do is see a medical professional. Second, don’t talk to the insurance adjuster for the opposing party’s insurance company, assuming you are the victim of the accident. They’re there to ask questions to mitigate their own exposure, not to help you. Third, hire an attorney so that they can assist you in negotiating not only the personal injury claim, but also the property damage claim. In a lot of cases, the opposing party’s insurance company will try to lowball you on the property damage claim, which will cover your vehicle, without an attorney on your side. Let’s say, for instance, your vehicle is totaled and it’s worth $15,000. They’re going to try to get you to settle for $11,000 for your vehicle, but you can fight that.
The other thing the lawyer will help you do is to visit the right medical professionals. A lot of people aren’t necessarily thinking properly, especially after a serious accident. Most people have never had a serious bodily injury claim or had to deal with lawyers and insurance companies, so they don’t know what questions to ask or what medical professionals to see. We have a list of medical professionals, including physical therapists, doctors, chiropractors, etc. that we can refer a person to. Obviously, it’s your choice in who you visit to ensure that you get the right diagnosis and the right treatment.
Right after an accident, many people might insist they’re fine, not taking into account the fact that their adrenaline is rushing, and they might not actually feel an injury for several days. A lawyer will tell you to go seek medical care anyway.
For more information on Personal Injury Cases in Arizona, a free case evaluation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (480) 637-0240 today.