Category: Litigation

Hearsay Evidence Cannot Be Introduced in Arizona Personal Injury Litigation

Apr 30, 2018 - Litigation by

Motor vehicle accidents (like many other accident scenarios) are frequently decided on the basis of evidentiary issues.  The value of effectively navigating evidentiary conflicts cannot be understated — generally speaking, skilled litigators understand the value of favorably resolving evidentiary conflicts.  Doing so will almost certainly pay dividends further downstream in the litigation process. Perhaps the most commonly encountered evidentiary issue is that of hearsay evidence admission.  In Arizona, the success of your motor vehicle accident and car accident claims can turn on the application of the hearsay evidence rule, so it’s worth considering the rule and its fundamental limitations. Let’s take a look. Arizona Law Prohibits the Admission of Hearsay Evidence According to the Arizona Rules of Evidence section 801, hearsay evidence is defined as a statement that: the declarant makes outside of the current trial or hearing, and is offered into evidence to prove the truth of the matter asserted in the statement. If the declarant testifies about a prior statement and is subject to cross-examination, or if a statement is offered into evidence against an opposing party, then — assuming that certain additional requirements are met (see section 801(d)(1) and (d)(2)), the statement will not be considered “hearsay” despite having been made out-of-court. Sifting through this legalese can be rather difficult.  Simply put, a hearsay statement is any out-of-court statement that is being offered to prove the content of the statement itself. For example, suppose that the defendant is attempting to minimize their liability by claiming that another […]

Recovering From Multiple Defendants in Arizona — The Doctrine of Several Liability

Apr 16, 2018 - Litigation by

Motor vehicle accidents — like many other accident scenarios — often involve multiple defendants.  Bringing an action against a single defendant is quite a bit different than suing multiple defendants, even if the case may seem uncomplicated upon first impression. For example, if you have been injured in a motor vehicle accident where two speeding cars collided with yours (on the highway), then you would have to sue and recover from each defendant separately.  Defendants are well aware of the fact that this burden is placed on the injured plaintiff, and may attempt to minimize their liabilities by shifting the greater portion of the blame to the other defendants in the case. Arizona Implements Several Liability, Not Joint Liability In Arizona, historically, the state implemented “joint and several” liability.  Joint and several liability gave the injured plaintiff a great deal of power — the plaintiff could sue any one of the defendants who contributed to their injuries, and in turn, recover the full amount of their damages from that one defendant, even if the defendant was only minimally liable for the injuries at-issue. For example, in a case with $1 million in damages, a defendant who was only 10 percent at-fault could be held liable for the entire $1 million! Unfortunately, lawmakers came to believe that the system was unfair to defendants, and abolished “joint and several” liability, replacing it with a system of pure several liability.  If you are injured in an accident in Arizona, you will therefore be […]

Personal Injury Lawsuits Are Public Matters — What Does That Mean?

Mar 9, 2018 - Litigation by

If you’ve been injured due to another person’s negligent, reckless, or intentional actions — for example, in a car accident with a defendant-driver who was speeding and driving in a distracted manner at the time of the accident — then Arizona law may entitle you to sue and potentially recover damages as compensation.  Though lawsuits are an excellent way to ensure that defendants are held accountable for their damaging actions, there are many limitations that people are unaware of (chiefly, the issue of privacy). Simply put, litigating a claim opens up the details to members of the public.  Upon first impression, this may not seem like a “big deal.”  After all, you might find it strange that someone in your community is scouring public databases for court records and will thereafter reveal your personal issues to the world at-large.  In reality, however, many disclosures in litigation are made known to the public through various media outlets. For example, if you are suing a local transportation company for an accident that occurred on the highway, then the local news outlets may report on litigation as it proceeds. Fortunately, there are ways to circumvent the privacy concerns associated with litigation, so if your privacy is particularly important to you, then you may still make an attempt to negotiate and resolve your dispute with the defendant without disclosing certain information to the public. Trial Details Are Matters of Public Record Again, it’s important to reiterate that the details of litigation are matters of […]

Tolling the Statute of Limitations in Arizona

Feb 28, 2018 - Litigation by

In Arizona, and elsewhere, the statute of limitations imposes a deadline on the injured plaintiff’s various claims.  When the applicable statute of limitations deadline passes, then the plaintiff’s claims expire, at which point the plaintiff is no longer entitled to sue and recover for damages in an Arizona court of law. For example, suppose that you are injured in a motor vehicle collision.  Given the seriousness of your sustained injuries, however, you spend most of your post-accident time and energy attempting to physically rehabilitate and reintegrate into your old lifestyle/career.  As a result, you wait too long to file your claims and the statute of limitations deadline passes.  You will no longer be entitled to compensation. Importantly, the Arizona statute of limitations for injury claims — which runs for two years from the date of injury — allows for the suspension/extension of the deadline in certain circumstances.  This is known as “tolling.”  If the statute of limitations deadline has been tolled, then you may still have enough time to pursue litigation. Tolling on the Basis of the Discovery Rule Equitable tolling takes into consideration the possibility of a delayed discovery of one’s various injuries in the wake of an accident.  The application of the discovery rule is actually fairly straightforward, though many prospective plaintiffs are unaware of how it works.  Essentially, the statute of limitations period does not begin to run until the date that the plaintiff’s injuries are actually discovered, or until the date that the plaintiff’s injuries should […]

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 […]

Personal Injury Claims in Arizona Must Be Filed by the Deadline

Feb 19, 2018 - Litigation by

As the injured plaintiff — in Arizona and elsewhere — you should take note of the statute of limitations for your various claims.  The statute of limitations is of prime importance in every litigation (both civil and criminal!).  Essentially, the statute of limitations acts as a deadline for your injury claims. Do bear in mind that the statute of limitations deadline is a rather strict one.  If you do not file your claims before the deadline passes, then the claims will “expire” and you will no longer be entitled to sue and recover damages against the defendant on the basis of such claims.  As such, it’s absolutely vital that you connect with an attorney who will file your personal injury claims in a timely manner, and thereby avoid relinquishing your right to sue and recover damages in an Arizona court. In the Arizona personal injury context, the statute of limitations deadline is two years from the date the cause of action accrues.  This is a somewhat short period of time for such overwhelming tasks — during such time, you’ll have to begin the process of physical and psychological rehabilitation, reintegrate yourself into your career and social life, and more, in addition to identifying relevant injury claims and filing them before the deadline passes.  A sense of immediacy is therefore critical to effective personal injury litigation. When the Cause of Action Accrues Normally, the cause of action “accrues” on the date of injury.  Like many other states throughout the country, however, […]

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 […]

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