Category: Car Accidents

Suppressing Evidence in a Motor Vehicle Lawsuit to Your Advantage

Feb 26, 2018 - Car Accidents by

In the state of Arizona, as in other states, both plaintiffs and defendants may prevent certain evidence from being introduced into the lawsuit, to their benefit.  An effective evidentiary strategy is critical to success in a motor vehicle lawsuit, or in any other civil lawsuit — personal injury or otherwise. Generally speaking, the defendant will attempt to introduce evidence that undermines your various claims.  For example, if you apologized to the defendant after the occurrence of a motor vehicle accident, the defendant may argue that this post-accident apology constituted an admission of fault, and that it is therefore relevant to the injury claims at-issue.  Alternatively, the defendant may attempt to introduce evidence of a statement made by a witness at the scene of the accident.  Depending on the circumstances, however, each of these statements may be suppressed (to your benefit). Evidentiary Privileges As the plaintiff in an Arizona motor vehicle accident lawsuit, you are likely to encounter a number of unexpected challenges in the evidentiary context.  Oftentimes, for example, the defendant will attempt to undermine your injury claims by asserting that they are “made up” or exaggerated in some way, perhaps by introducing evidence of your past psychiatric records with your therapist.  This is a broad overreach, however, unless you have made your mental health an issue in the lawsuit — the Arizona medical record privilege shields gives you the right to suppress the introduction of medical record evidence that is not relevant to the injury claims at-issue. Other evidentiary […]

Recovering Damages from Road Rage and Intentional Collisions

Feb 21, 2018 - Car Accidents by

Our Phoenix Accident Lawyers Will Fight for Maximum Damages in Your Aggressive Driving Accident  In Arizona, and elsewhere, motor vehicle accidents typically occur due to the negligent or reckless conduct of a defendant.  Of course, there are many cases in which the defendant has intentionally caused injuries to the defendant — such conduct falls within the umbrella of intentional torts, and may expose the defendant to civil liability for damages you suffered as a result, as well as criminal liability. Many injury plaintiffs are not familiar with the prospect of twin criminal and civil liability, and don’t quite realize how one affects the other.  Put simply, the fact that the defendant is currently engaged in — or will be engaged in — a criminal prosecution will have no bearing on your ability to recover damages in civil litigation.  Even if the defendant is found innocent in criminal litigation, it’s worth noting that criminal liability requires the satisfaction of a much stricter burden of proof (i.e., 99 percent certainty, as opposed to the 51 percent certainty required in civil litigation). Road rage or other form of aggressive driving is an unfortunate reality.  In the spur of the moment, many drivers lose their senses and engage in behaviors that are designed to frustrate another driver who they perceive to be doing something wrong.  Such conduct is unarguably intentional, and can expose others to a significantly heightened risk of harm. Intentional collisions give rise to unique considerations in the Arizona motor vehicle accident […]

Can You Hold an Auto Mechanic Liable for Your Injuries?

Feb 14, 2018 - Car Accidents by

In Arizona, and elsewhere, auto mechanics can be held liable for injuries that are caused due to their negligent, reckless, or intentional misconduct in handling your vehicle while it’s “in the shop.”  The strong possibility of auto mechanic liability in a motor vehicle accident scenario can come as something of a surprise to those who are not aware of how fault can be distributed to multiple defendants. Auto mechanics must act with reasonable care while your vehicle (or the defendant-driver’s vehicle) is in their possession.  Failure to adhere to the standard of care, given the circumstances, could result in the attachment of liability. Standard of Care The standard of care in any given situation is influenced by a number of factors.  The duty of reasonable care is not universal.  This applies to auto mechanics as well.  The standard of care will be influenced by factors that include, but are not necessarily limited, to: Training and experience of the mechanic Nature of the defect requiring repair Obviousness of the defect Cost and expectations relating to the repair Whether the owner/driver has been notified as to discovered defects And more For example, an auto mechanic who is conducting an inspection on a vehicle that has a non-obvious, extremely rare defect would not necessarily be negligent for failing to discover said defect.  An auto mechanic who fails to identify faulty brakes, on the other hand, would likely be found negligent for failing to do so. How Liability Falls on the Mechanic Auto mechanic […]

Actions to Take in an Emergency Situation

Feb 12, 2018 - Car Accidents by

Motor vehicle accidents are by their very nature difficult-to-predict.  In some cases, a sudden and unexpected emergency can influence the ability of the defendant to predict the consequences of their actions and avoid an accident. For example, imagine a situation in which the defendant-driver is operating their vehicle on the highway and has a heart attack.  The driver — battling the sudden pain, spasms, and general loss of body control inflicted by the heart attack — swerves into your lane and collides with your vehicle, causing you to suffer significant injuries. Can you recover damages? There isn’t a simple yes-or-no answer that applies to all “sudden emergency” scenarios in the motor vehicle context, unfortunately.  Whether you can recover damages in a situation involving a sudden emergency is dependent largely on the circumstances at-issue — and more specifically, whether the driver acted with reasonable care given the emergency. Have you been involved in an accident and suffered injuries as a result?  You may be able to sue the defendant and obtain compensation, pursuant to Arizona law.  In the personal injury context, the person responsible for your injuries can make use of a number of defenses to escape liability.  To ensure that your claims are effectively litigated, make sure to consult with an experienced Arizona motor vehicle accident lawyer so that your lawsuit can be properly evaluated and filed. Arizona applies what is known as the “sudden emergency” doctrine to cases in which the defendant is rendered incapable of reacting in a […]

5 Common Defenses Utilized in Motor Vehicle Accident Lawsuits

Jan 31, 2018 - Car Accidents by

As an injured plaintiff in a motor vehicle accident lawsuit, your claims may be countered by various defenses.  Depending on the circumstances, the defendant may argue that they are not liable for damages on the basis that there is no causal link between their conduct and the injuries at-issue, that you were also negligent, and that there are co-defendants who must share liability, among other arguments. If you have been injured in a motor vehicle accident, you may be entitled to sue and recover damages as compensation for your injuries, pursuant to Arizona law.  Litigation is rarely straightforward, however, though it may appear to be upon first impression.  In many cases, circumstances will enable the defendant to put forth several strong defense arguments that could absolve them of liability, or — at the very least — minimize their potential liabilities.  As such, it’s important that you work with an experienced Arizona motor vehicle accident attorney who has a track record of success in handling claims where the defendant was well-positioned to counter the plaintiff’s assertions. Certain defenses are commonly used by defendants in motor vehicle accident cases to minimize their liability.  An experienced injury attorney will almost certainly have encountered these defenses before, and are well-equipped to navigate the barriers they raise to the success of your claims. Consider the following. Plaintiff Was Comparatively Negligent Arizona applies the doctrine of pure comparative negligence — or pure comparative fault.  What this essentially means is that the plaintiff may still recover damages […]

5 Evidence Gathering Tips for the Injured Plaintiff

Jan 29, 2018 - Car Accidents by

In Arizona, as in other states, evidence of your injuries — whether in a motor vehicle accident or some other accident — is critical to support your legal claims against the defendant(s).  Without sufficient evidence to support your claims, your claim will be dismissed and you will be left with no means for obtaining compensation. Attorneys are valuable early-on, as they will guide your independent investigation of the facts of the case, and can connect you with experts who will not only assess the scene of the accident, but will also help assess the gathered evidence. As a plaintiff, there are a number of ways in which you can help ensure that your case goes smoothly (from an evidence-gathering perspective).  Consider the following. Obtain Contact Info of Important Parties Once you’ve been involved in an accident, you’ll want to first identify any and all potential defendants (i.e., the defendant-driver in a motor vehicle accident scenario).  If you fail to identify the defendant and obtain their contact information, it can be rather challenging to litigate a claim against them, as the defendant may thereafter make attempts to evade litigation by maintaining their anonymity.  This happens quite often in the hit-and-run context, where negligent drivers get away before the injured victim (or anyone else) is capable of properly identifying them. Identification information need not only be phone numbers, emails, and addresses.  It can be a description of the defendant, a photograph of the defendant, the license plate number of the defendant, a […]

Breaking the Chain of Causation

Jan 15, 2018 - Car Accidents by

In Arizona, a motor vehicle accident negligence claim — same as any other negligence claim brought pursuant to personal injury law — must satisfy certain elements. More specifically, if you have suffered an injury due to the fault of another, in order to successfully recover damages in an Arizona court, you must prove that: a) you were injured; b) the defendant was negligent; and c) the defendant’s negligence caused your injuries.  Only once all these elements have been satisfied will you receive compensation for your injuries in a court of law. Have you been injured due to the negligence, recklessness, or intentional misconduct of another person or entity?  Arizona law may give you the right to litigate your claims and receive compensation.  Injury claims do not last forever, so make sure to get connected to an experienced Arizona personal injury attorney as soon as possible, before your claims expire. Causation is therefore a critical aspect of personal injury litigation.  To put it in very simple terms: you cannot hold a defendant liable for your injuries unless the defendant’s negligent acts actually “caused” your injuries. Not all cases are simple, however, and oftentimes, the defendant will use muddy, complicated circumstances to argue that they are not responsible for your injuries.  They will claim that there was some intervening cause that actually led to your injuries.  When the “chain of causation” is broken by an intervening cause, then the defendant may avoid liability. Let’s take a look at how the chain of […]

Uninsured/Underinsured Motorists and Strategies for Recovery

Dec 20, 2017 - Car Accidents by

Uninsured and underinsured motorists pose a serious risk to others on the road — drivers, passengers, pedestrians, cyclists, etc. — as their injured victims may, in many cases, be left without adequate financial recourse for obtaining a full recovery.  Perhaps more concerning are the statistics.  It is not at all uncommon to encounter an uninsured or underinsured motorist on the roads.  According to a 2015 study conducted by the Insurance Information Institute, 12 percent of Arizona drivers are uninsured, and many more are likely to have minimal insurance coverage (the state of Arizona only requires minimum liability insurance coverage of $15,000 per person) that is inadequate for accidents resulting in serious injuries. If you have been injured by an uninsured or underinsured motorist, you may be concerned that the defendant-driver does not have the resources necessary to adequately cover your damages.  Depending on the particular circumstances of your case, however, you may have alternative avenues for recovery that are worth considering.  Consult with an experienced Arizona motor vehicle accident attorney as soon as possible for further guidance on how to pursue a claim against an uninsured or underinsured motorist. When the defendant-driver lacks sufficient insurance coverage, then you — the plaintiff — are put in an unenviable position.  For example, if you have $250,000 in damages, but the defendant has only $30,000 in liability insurance, then you will have to look elsewhere to ensure that your damages are covered. Consider the following strategies for securing a fuller, more adequate recovery. […]

The Value of Expert Witness Testimony in an Injury Lawsuit

Dec 13, 2017 - Car Accidents by

Those unfamiliar with or new to the process of litigation may not realize the importance of expert witnesses in helping to construct an effective claim.  Depending on the circumstances of the case, the testimony of an expert witness can substantially affect the outcome of the lawsuit itself. What Makes an Expert Witness Different Than a Fact Witness? An expert witness is a witness with specialized knowledge, training, or proficiency who is brought in to testify in the form of an opinion as to matters related to their specialty — for example, an expert witness (qualified orthopedic surgeon) might be retained to provide their opinion on the extent of damage caused by a botched orthopedic surgery, and to discuss the standard of care that would normally apply to a surgeon in the circumstances. Critically, expert witnesses provide opinion testimony.  They do not offer direct, observational testimony as to the facts of the case. By contrast, a factual witness is an individual who is brought in to testify as to the particular facts of the case, based on their personal knowledge and observation thereof.  For example, a factual witness who observed a car accident occurring at an intersection (in other words, an eyewitness) would testify as to the sequence of events and how it played out in front of them, to the best of their knowledge.  They would not be entitled to provide their opinion on case-related matters. How Expert Testimony Helps Expert testimony can be used in a variety of ways.  […]

Punitive Damages in Auto Accident Cases

Oct 27, 2017 - Car Accidents by

In Arizona, as in other states, punitive damages are awarded only rarely in auto accident lawsuits, though when a punitive damages award is granted by the court, it tends to make a splash in the media.  Punitive damages are awarded on the basis of the compensatory damages in a given lawsuit.  If the compensatory damages amount is significant, the punitive damages award can push the total damages up to a degree that is shocking to some.  Many injury lawsuits that have entered pop-culture have done so on the basis of punitive damage awards that capture the imagination of observers. For example, suppose that you are injured in a serious auto accident, and your total compensatory damages add up to $500,000.  If the court awards punitive damages in your case (say, three times the compensatory damages), then the total damages will be $2,000,000.  Oftentimes, “million dollar” injury lawsuits involve a punitive damages award. Punitive damages are quite unlike other forms of damages, so it’s important to understand that a claim for punitive damages is not made on the same basis as a claim for lost wages, or medical expenses. Punitive Damages Are Unique Punitive damages function differently than compensatory damages. A claim for compensatory damages (i.e., pain and suffering, past and future medical expenses, lost earnings, loss of earning capacity, loss of enjoyment of life, etc.) is put forth on the basis that you — the plaintiff — are entitled to financial compensation for your injuries.  Compensatory damages are an attempt […]

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