Are You Entitled to Damages for Your Car Accident-Related Disabilities?
If you have been seriously injured in a car accident (due to the negligence, recklessness, or intentional misconduct of another party), then Arizona law may give you a right to secure compensation for your losses, including losses relating to any disability that results from the accident.
Damages for disabilities sustained due to an accident can vary substantially depending on the activities of the plaintiff and the length of the disability at-issue. For example, if you are a highly-active socialite and enjoy outdoor recreational activities, then your disabling condition may preclude you from not only working in your profession, but may also preclude you from engaging in the social and recreational activities that once defined your lifestyle. These damages can be difficult to measure, but may be significant.
Disability Benefits and Occupational Deficits
There is quite a bit of variation when it comes to disability insurance plans. In some plans, a disability is strictly defined as a condition that precludes the claimant from working in “any” occupation, whereas in other plans, a disability is more broadly defined as a condition that precludes the claimant from working in their “own” existing occupation.
For example, suppose that you purchased disability insurance coverage that includes an “own occupation” definition of a disabling condition. You are then involved in a car accident, where you suffer a back injury. Your current career is as a physical laborer in a warehouse. Due to the back injury, however, you are permanently rendered incapable of performing your current job duties. Given the “own occupation” definition, you would be entitled to benefits. If the definition had been “any occupation,” however, then you may have been precluded from claiming benefits due to the possibility of obtaining alternative office work.
Application of the Collateral Source Rule Allows for Full Damage Recovery
Arizona enforces the collateral source rule, which prohibits the jury from considering evidence relating to the plaintiff’s receipt of benefits and other forms of compensation from third-party sources (i.e., medical expenses reimbursement pursuant to health insurance coverage, and disability benefits pursuant to private disability insurance coverage).
Simply put, the courts will not allow the receipt of such benefits to affect the plaintiff’s ability to recover full and adequate damages to cover their losses, even if doing so allows the plaintiff to obtain a “double recovery” of sorts. The intention behind the collateral source rule is essentially to shift the risk-burden to the defendant. Were the collateral source rule not applied in Arizona, then the fact that a plaintiff had the good sense to purchase disability insurance coverage would reduce the liability of the defendant — and this would benefit the at-fault defendant, as opposed to the plaintiff.
Schedule a Free Consultation With an Experienced Phoenix Car Accident Lawyer Today
If you have sustained serious injuries in a car accident and are now suffering from a disabling condition, then you may be entitled to disability benefits (public or private) as well as significant damages pursuant to a lawsuit. Arizona law provides for a full and adequate damage recovery even where disability benefits are paid out to the injured plaintiff. However, given the complexities of disputes in which a disabling condition resulted from the accident, it’s important to consult with a qualified attorney who has extensive experience handling such claims.
Here at Hirsch & Lyon, we approach litigation differently. Unlike many other firms, we have a fundamentally client-oriented outlook, as we believe that truly effective litigation demands an individualized, “client-first” form of advocacy.
In fact, from the very beginning of the engagement process with our clients, this unique approach plays out in a variety of ways. Our clients are encouraged to get in touch if they have any questions or concerns, and we put forth a great deal of effort to ensure that clients are kept apprised of case developments as litigation proceeds. We are dedicated to maintaining a strong relationship with our clients, and to that end, we make house calls and hospital visits when necessary.
Interested in learning more about your claims and whether it is worth pursuing litigation?