Category: Car Accidents

Unsafe Vehicle Design Can Expose the Manufacturer to Liability

Jul 24, 2018 - Car Accidents by

In the majority of motor vehicle accident lawsuits, injury victims initially focus their attention on obvious defendants — other negligent drivers who contributed to the accident, or perhaps the government agency that failed to maintain the roadway in a reasonably safe condition.  In reality, however, the vehicle manufacturer may be a potentially liable defendant worth bringing an action against, depending on the circumstances. All product manufacturers — in Arizona and elsewhere — have a duty to ensure that their products are not defective and are reasonably safe for their foreseeable uses.  Failure to adhere to this duty could expose the manufacturer to significant liability.  This could prove especially useful in cases where the other defendants (i.e., the drivers) are uninsured or underinsured and therefore not equipped to cover your damages in full. There are a number of different product liability claims — defective manufacture, defective design, failure to warn, and breach of warranty — but for now, let’s focus on defective design in the motor vehicle accident context. Defective Design Liability Arizona implements strict product liability, which is a boon for injured plaintiffs involved in litigation with a vehicle manufacturer.  Stated simply, the plaintiff need only prove that the vehicle is defective in some way, and that the defect substantially contributed to the injuries they suffered in the accident.  It is not necessary for the plaintiff to prove the manufacturer’s negligence. Of course, this does not mean that litigation is easy.  Arguably, the implementation of strict liability simply puts the […]

Does Receiving Workers’ Comp Benefits Affect Your Recovery for Damages?

Jul 17, 2018 - Car Accidents by

In Arizona, many employees are covered by workers’ compensation coverage that pays out for wage loss and medical expenses in the event that an employee suffers an injury in the workplace or while otherwise performing their duties. Workers’ compensation is an exchange that is often sensible for both parties.  Employers agree to provide no-fault coverage, which gives employees the right to obtain workers’ compensation benefits even if there was no negligence or wrongful conduct involved, while employees agree to give up their right to sue the employer (and thereby obtain damages through standard litigation). Many employees understand the basics of workers’ compensation, but aren’t quite sure what to make of “borderline” situations where they are also entitled to sue a third-party that is liable for their injuries. Suppose, for example, that you are injured in a car accident while using the company vehicle to deliver products to a warehouse.  Though the accident was not the fault of your employer, you would be entitled to submit a claim for workers’ compensation to obtain benefits that account for your wage loss and medical expenses. Now, even though you are not entitled to sue your employer, you might be entitled to sue a third-party — perhaps the negligent driver that collided with you — to secure a more extensive range of damages. Oftentimes, injured employees are incentivized to bring an action against a liable third-party as workers’ compensation benefits can be quite limited — workers’ compensation benefits may only cover medical expenses and […]

Poor Intersection Design Can Lead to a Collision

Jul 3, 2018 - Car Accidents by

Intersections tend to be hotspots for motor vehicle and pedestrian accidents, in Arizona and throughout the country at-large.  According to a 2008 study conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, there were roughly 2.31 million crashes that occurred at intersections in that year alone. If you suffer injuries in a motor vehicle accident that occurs at an intersection, and the intersection was designed in a way that contributed to the accident, then you are entitled under Arizona law to sue the person or entity that owns or possesses the intersection property. Whether an intersection represents a hazard depends on a number of factors, but ultimately rests on a determination that the intersection presents an unreasonable risk of danger to users of the intersection.  There are a number of different factors to consider, of course.  Let’s take a look at a few. Obstructed Visibility Oftentimes, intersection accidents occur due to problems with visibility — whether caused by inadequate lighting, narrow or otherwise constrained sight lines leading up to the main intersection, and various physical obstructions such as poorly placed signage, trees, and other items.  When designing and maintaining an intersection, those responsible must consider the ability of drivers and pedestrians to identify the presence of the intersection (and others near the intersection) in advance, thus giving them the time necessary to make adjustments. Non-Functioning Traffic Signals Intersections must be properly maintained to ensure that the traffic signals are in good working order.  In some cases, for example, an errant traffic […]

Collecting Damages After a Judgment in Your Favor

Jun 27, 2018 - Car Accidents by

In Arizona (and throughout the country), even once you have secured a court judgment in your favor, the task is not yet complete — you must still collect the damages which you are owed by the defendant.  The type of case is irrelevant to collection.  Whether you were involved in a car accident lawsuit, or some other lawsuit, will have no effect on the procedure that you are required to follow. Unfortunately, defendants can be challenging.  Though in most cases the defendant will honor their responsibilities and — having lost the case — will pay the damages that you (the plaintiff) are owed, in some cases, the defendant will maneuver around the judgment and create roadblocks to collection. The defendant may ignore your request for damages, costs, and legal fees.  Alternatively, they may outright refuse to pay the judgment.  As a general rule, these are a clever application of stalling tactics.  If the defendant can stall for a long enough period of time, then they may be able to hide or otherwise relocate their assets so that you — as the judgment creditor — cannot seize them. What can you do to ensure that you collect your damages in full, after a judgment has been entered in your favor? Let’s take a look at some of your options. What is a Court Judgment? A court judgment is essentially a formal document that gives you, the successful plaintiff, the unrestricted right to seize the assets of the defendant in order to […]

The Duty to Mitigate: What Injured Individuals Need to Know

Jun 22, 2018 - Car Accidents by

Our Phoenix Accident Attorneys Explain the Duty to Mitigate In Arizona, and throughout the country, injured plaintiffs are entitled to recover damages for damages they incur due to the negligent, reckless, or intentional acts of others — whether they are injured in a car accident or a slip-and-fall accident, or some other accident scenario.  This right to recovery is not absolute, however.  Injured plaintiffs must act in accordance with their various duties and responsibilities under the law, which includes the duty to mitigate their losses. What is the Duty to Mitigate? Defendants cannot be held liable for losses that they do not actually cause.  This “causation” requirement is fundamentally linked to the duty to mitigate. How so? The duty to mitigate requires that the injured plaintiff exert “reasonable efforts” to reduce their total losses — failure to do so will result in a proportional decrease in one’s recoverable damages.  Losses can be quite varied, and as such, mitigation must cover all the losses that the plaintiff intends to claim.  This can all be somewhat confusing to understand, so let’s use a quick example to clarify. Suppose that you are injured in a motor vehicle accident by the defendant, who was excessively speeding at the time, thus causing the accident.  You sustained significant neck and back injuries during the accident, and as a result, you can no longer work.  Now, suppose that you seek adequate medical diagnostics and treatment as soon as possible.  Your doctor asks that you sign up for […]

Road Debris and Hazards Must Be Fixed to Protect Motorists

Jun 8, 2018 - Car Accidents by

Motor vehicle accidents are often caused — in whole or in part — by the presence of unexpected road debris and various other roadway hazards.  In the state of Arizona, for example, the Department of Transportation estimates that road debris alone is responsible for 1,000 crashes on an annual basis.  Accidents from dangerous road conditions can be particularly disastrous, as drivers may not be prepared for If you have been involved in an accident that was caused by road debris or some other roadway hazard, then you may be entitled to damages, as it the existence of the dangerous condition may be indicative of another’s negligence.  You’ll therefore want to get in touch with a Phoenix injury lawyer as soon as possible for an evaluation of your car accident claims and how best to proceed with litigation. Though the existence of a roadway hazard may not always be the fault of another party, there are many cases in which the negligence of the defendant — typically the possessor of a particular roadway (i.e., the government, or some private entity) — has contributed to the hazard at-issue.  If the defendant fails to correct the hazard or fails to warn motorists of the existence of the hazard so that it can be avoided, then liability may attach under prevailing Arizona law. Roadways Must Be Maintained in a Reasonably Safe Condition Claims arising out of injuries sustained due to road debris (or other roadway hazards) generally come under the umbrella of premises liability.  […]

How Health Insurance Coverage Influences Recovery in a Personal Injury Lawsuit

May 21, 2018 - Car Accidents by

If you’ve been injured in a motor vehicle accident (due to the negligent or wrongful acts of another), then you may be somewhat confused as to how your health insurance coverage affects your ability to recover damages for incurred medical expenses. After all, it might seem reasonable to the injured plaintiff that they be entitled to recover damages only for losses incurred out-of-pocket.  If your health insurer is paying for all your medical expenses, can you assert such damages in litigation against the defendant? Thanks to the collateral source rule: yes.  Arizona law gives injured plaintiffs the right to recover for medical expenses, even if their insurer is covering such expenses. The Collateral Source Rule In Arizona, as in many other states, the “collateral source rule” applies to a range of personal injury actions.  The rule essentially prevents the jury from being able to consider evidence relating to plaintiff’s receipt of funds from outside sources, such as insurance, so that the defendant cannot escape significant liability simply because the plaintiff had the good sense and foresight to purchase insurance coverage. In practical terms, the application of the collateral source rule means that you — the injured plaintiff — are entitled to recover damages for any and all legitimate medical expenses, even if those expenses are being covered by your insurer.  Simply put: your health insurance coverage will not negatively affect your ability to secure damages in a personal injury lawsuit.  Claim reimbursement is irrelevant. Recovering Damages for the Amount Paid […]

Defendants are Liable for Damages, Even if the Plaintiff is Fragile

Mar 30, 2018 - Car Accidents by

Quite often, injury victims are not in perfect health.  One injury victim may be suffering from a serious heart condition that predisposes them to blood clots, heart attacks, and other heart-related injuries during times of great stress.  Another injury victim may be suffering from a weak back that is prone to fracture injuries. Injury victims who are in particularly poor health, or who are uniquely fragile — for example, who suffer from muscle weakness or a lack of bone density — may feel that they are not in a strong position to sue the defendant who caused their injuries.  These victims mistakenly believe that their condition precludes a lawsuit.  After all, should the defendant be held liable for injuries that are unexpected? Simply put: yes.  In Arizona, and in other jurisdictions throughout the country, defendants may be held liable for any and all injuries that were caused by their negligent, reckless, or intentional actions.  It does not matter that the defendant was “unlucky” that their actions affected a fragile victim — the defendant must bear the burden. All of this is great news for injury victims, of course, and we encourage you to speak with a qualified attorney for further guidance.  For now, let’s unpack some of this terminology so that we can clarify any remaining confusion. Defendants Must Accept the Cost Burden of Their Actions No matter what jurisdiction you’re in — Arizona or California or New Mexico or Texas — the “thin skull” rule, otherwise known as the […]

Plaintiffs May Protect Irrelevant Health Records From Intrusion

Mar 23, 2018 - Car Accidents by

If you are suing the defendant for having caused your injuries — perhaps in a car accident, for example — then you may be concerned about having all your medical records exposed to the defendant and their attorneys. You may be uncomfortable with the prospect of having private information revealed to the public at-large (if the medical records are introduced into evidence, then the details will be made available to the public).  Further, the greater access that the defendant has to your lifetime medical records, the more likely it is that they will be able to weave together a damning narrative that undermines your arguments. Suppose that you are injured in a car accident that was caused by the defendant, who was operating their vehicle in a distracted manner.  You injure your leg as a result of the accident.  During the discovery process, the defendant requests your lifetime medical records.  That request is likely overbroad, however, and you need not honor it. If the defendant were to have access to your lifetime medical records, they might notice that you have been in-and-out of hospitals many times throughout your life, and they might argue that your leg injury is exaggerated, given your “demonstrated tendency” to malinger. By preventing the disclosure of irrelevant medical records, you therefore shield your lawsuit from damaging narratives. Fortunately, the basic rules of evidence in Arizona protect injured plaintiffs against unnecessary and over-broad investigations into their lifetime medical records.  It’s important that you secure the assistance of […]

Can the Defendant Be Excused from Negligence Liability for Mental Illness?

Mar 16, 2018 - Car Accidents by

If you’ve suffered an injury in an accident that was caused by someone who has a cognitive disability, or who is otherwise mentally incompetent, then you’re likely wondering about the likelihood of recovery should you choose to pursue litigation against the defendant.  In the state of Arizona, much like the rest of the country, personal injury lawsuits brought on the basis of negligence (i.e., that the defendant acted in such a way that they violated the standard of care for the situation) are rather complicated when it comes to those who have cognitive impairments. Negligence Liability is Based on the Objective, Reasonable Person Standard Negligence claims — in the injury context — are fundamentally based on the concept of a standard of care.  Simply put, the difference between a mistake and negligence (for which the defendant will be held liable) turns on the standard of care.  If the defendant acts in such a way that it violates the standard of care, they will be found negligent, and may therefore be sued by the injury victim for damages.  If the defendant makes a mistake, but their actions do not violate the standard of care, then you cannot hold them liable for your injuries. The standard of care in any given situation is meant to be based on an objective, “reasonable person” standard.  Essentially, the court will determine how a reasonably prudent person would have acted in the same situation as the defendant.  If the defendant’s actions fall out-of-step with this expectation, […]

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