Category: Litigation

Recovering for Medical Expenses in an Injury Lawsuit

Jan 24, 2018 - Litigation by

In Arizona, as in other states, injured plaintiffs — whether in motor vehicle accidents, or any other tortious accident caused by the negligence, recklessness, or intentional conduct of a defendant — are entitled to recover damages that include both past and future medical expenses. Let’s begin with a simple example. Suppose that you are injured in a motor vehicle accident due to the negligent operation of a vehicle by another driver.  You suffer significant injuries to your back, neck, and limbs that require you to not only undergo diagnostic procedures and surgical treatment, but will also (for up to a year or more) require that you consistently attend rehabilitation sessions to get your strength back.  In addition to the various other losses that you may claim damages for (i.e., wage loss, pain and suffering, emotional distress, etc.), you may also claim damages for the medical expenses that you have already suffered, and for reasonably anticipated medical expenses in the future. Medical expenses tend to be a substantial component (and in many cases, the largest component) of a plaintiff’s overall damage claim, as the cost of medical care includes a range of services, from diagnostics to treatment, and everything in-between.  As such, medical expenses are a frequent target of criticism in the litigation context.  Depending on the medical care that you have received, the defendant may assert that the medical care you have received (or that you will receive) is not reasonably necessary. Past Medical Expenses Past medical expenses are those […]

What is the Difference Between a Mistake and Negligence in Arizona?

Jan 22, 2018 - Litigation by

In a motor vehicle accident — or any other personal injury scenario, for that matter — it can be rather difficult for the injured victim to determine whether the defendant simply made an understandable mistake, or whether the defendant acted negligently, thus exposing them to potential damages liability.  In fact, this uncertainty often discourages injury victims from bringing a lawsuit against the defendant and thereby securing damages to compensate them for their various injuries. If you have been injured due to the conduct of another person (or entity), and you believe that the defendant’s conduct violated the standard of care — given the circumstances — then you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries.  Injury claims often seem simple upon first impression.  In reality, however, your injury lawsuit can be complicated by a number of issues, such as the presence of multiple hostile defendants, evidentiary challenges, and more.  Make sure to consult with an experienced Arizona personal injury attorney for assistance. If simple mistakes do not give rise to liability (except in product defect litigation, and other limited circumstances), and negligence does, wherein lies the difference between these two concepts?  At what point does a mistake “become” negligence and grant the injured party a right to sue and recover damages? The answer to these difficult questions is embedded in the concept of “standard of care,” so let’s consider some of the fundamentals of the standard of care and how negligent conduct is borne from the violation of applicable standards. […]

How Settlements Can Work to Your Benefit

Jan 17, 2018 - Litigation by

In Arizona, and elsewhere in the United States, most cases never make it through to trial litigation.  Instead, a settlement is negotiated between the parties.  In fact, legal industry observers estimate that more than 95 percent of cases are resolved before trial litigation can begin.  For those unfamiliar with the process of litigating an injury claim, the fact that trial litigation is relatively uncommon (and seen as a “last resort” option) can come as something of a surprise. Have you been injured in an accident that was caused by the negligent, reckless, or intentional conduct of another person?  Trial litigation may enable you to recover damages as compensation for your injuries, but it can be time consuming, expensive, and full of uncertainty.  Negotiating a settlement can save you a great deal of trouble in the long run, and secure you a favorable result — in some cases, a settlement can even ensure a level of amicability that might not otherwise be possible.  Get connected to an Arizona personal injury attorney who has extensive experience settling claims. Many plaintiffs may be unaware of the value in negotiating a settlement.  Let’s take a quick peek at how settlements can work to your benefit, and then we’ll explore how a favorable settlement is negotiated. Benefits of Settlement Settlements are often said to be a win-win for both parties.  In our adversarial legal system, this can be a confounding result.  It’s actually quite simple to understand, however.  When the plaintiff and defendant negotiate a […]

Suing the Employer of a Commercial Driver

Nov 24, 2017 - Litigation by

In Arizona, if you have been injured in a car accident (or any other accident) due to the negligence of a defendant-driver who is an employee acting within the course and scope of their employment at the time of the accident, then you may be entitled to sue and recover damages from their employer.  This is known as the doctrine of vicarious liability. What is Vicarious Liability? Vicarious liability — also known as respondeat superior — is a doctrine implemented by the state of Arizona (and many other states) that holds employers liable for the negligence committed by their employees.  A claim brought against an employer pursuant to vicarious liability is not separate or distinct in any way from the claim that you would otherwise bring against the driver.  If you are bringing a claim against the employer for contributing to your injuries (i.e., asserting that the employer negligently hired or supervised the employee driver), then that will be separate and distinct from your vicarious liability claim. This can all be rather complicated to understand, at first glance, so let’s go through a quick example for clarification. Imagine that you suffer injuries in a car accident involving a pizza delivery driver.  The driver was operating their vehicle negligently at the time of the accident, and was on their way to delivering pizzas to customers.  You could ostensibly sue and recover damages from both the driver and their pizzeria employer. In some cases, the employer may contribute to the accident by […]

How Negligence Per Se Works

Nov 17, 2017 - Litigation by

If you have been injured in a motor vehicle accident due to the negligence of another person or entity, you may be entitled to recover damages as compensation for your injuries.  Proving that the defendant was acting negligently can be quite difficult, but in some cases, negligence may be proven if you can show that the defendant violated certain laws in causing the accident at-issue. When a statutory violation leads to an automatic finding of negligence, that is known as “negligence per se.”  In the Arizona motor vehicle accident context, negligence per se is a legal doctrine that can significantly strengthen your case. What is negligence per se? Stated simply, negligence per se is automatic negligence.  In a standard negligence situation, you would have to establish a standard of care, and prove that the defendant failed to adhere to that standard of care.  With negligence per se, the defendant’s law-breaking behavior serves as automatic proof of negligence. Arizona imposes a few requirements on plaintiffs attempting to prove negligence per se, however.  Violation of a law only serves as proof of negligence if: The law must be enacted for the protection and safety of the public; and The law expresses rules of conduct in specific and concrete terms. In other words, the law must be related to public safety and must be explicit (and specific) about what behavior is prohibited.  Generally speaking, traffic violations tend to fall within the category of laws that qualify for a negligence per se finding. For […]

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 […]

Understanding the Comparative Fault Doctrine

Oct 20, 2017 - Car Accidents by

In Arizona, those who suffer injuries due to the negligent acts of another are entitled to recover damages as compensation for their injuries, even when they have contributed in some way to their own injuries.  Unfortunately, many potential claimants in Arizona are not aware that they may recover in situations where they were negligent — an injury claimant might avoid consulting with an attorney despite having a legitimate claim for damages.  It’s important that accident victims in Arizona understand that their claims may be legitimate even if they were partially at-fault in the circumstances. For example, if you were injured in a car accident, but you were also speeding at the time (and the speeding contributed to your injuries), you would not be barred from litigating your claims and obtaining compensation. Arizona allocates fault to different parties in an injury lawsuit based on their proportional contribution of fault.  To better understand how this system works, let’s go through some of the basics of the comparative fault doctrine. Comparative Fault Basics Arizona implements the doctrine of pure comparative fault, also known as pure comparative negligence.  The pure comparative fault doctrine is particularly beneficial for personal injury claimants, such as those who have been injured in a car accident, truck accident, or motorcycle accident. How does comparative fault work? The principle of comparative fault is actually rather straightforward.  Essentially, in a comparative fault system such as the one that Arizona adheres to, each party involved in an accident is assigned a percentage […]

Personal Injury Damages Explained

Jul 21, 2017 - Litigation by

In any personal injury claim or lawsuit, the plaintiff alleges that the defendant engaged in conduct or took actions (or failed to take actions) that caused injuries and other damages to the plaintiff. The defendant’s conduct is usually characterized in the litigation as negligent, careless, reckless or illegal. The goal of the lawsuit is to obtain compensation for the plaintiff — a monetary award or settlement — so that she is “made whole” for those damages. The damages claimed in a lawsuit can be economic (for example, plaintiff was forced to incur medical expenses) and non-economic (plaintiff experienced pain and suffering). The idea is that the damages should restore the plaintiff to her condition before the injuries took place — or at least appropriately compensate the plaintiff for the permanent changes to her life. The exact mix of damages claimed in any lawsuit depends on the circumstances of the case, the types of injuries sustained and the relevant state law. To ensure that you receive the most up-to-date information that is specific to your situation, we encourage you to contact a Phoenix personal injury lawyer at Hirsch & Lyon today. The following are the most common types of damages claimed in a personal injury case: Medical Expenses This form of damages compensates the plaintiff for the out-of-pocket doctor bills and other medical expenses (testing, treatment, therapy, hospital stays) that she has already incurred and those expenses the plaintiff will need to pay in the future because of the injuries. If […]

Things You Need to Know Before Your Deposition

Jul 5, 2017 - Litigation by

If you are the plaintiff in a personal injury case, you will eventually be asked to testify in a deposition taken by opposing counsel. Depositions are part of the discovery process that parties to a lawsuit conduct before trial to learn about the facts, legal theories and claims of the other parties. A deposition typically takes place in a law firm conference room and consists of a witness (you) being asked questions under oath by opposing counsel (i.e. the lawyers for the parties you have sued). Your lawyer will attend the deposition for the purpose of protecting you from unfair, misleading, unclear or irrelevant questions (your lawyer will object to those questions). Your lawyer will also ask you some questions to correct, expand upon or clarify the answers you’ve given to opposing counsel. All of the questions and answers in a deposition are transcribed by a court reporter and the transcript becomes part of the discovery material produced by the parties before trial. So, what do you need to know before testifying at a deposition? Why are depositions taken? Depositions can be used to impeach your credibility at trial so it is important to relay the same facts and give the same answers that you intend to give at the trial in your case. If you change your story at trial, the inconsistencies with your pretrial deposition will be used against you. A deposition is not your opportunity to tell “your story.” You are there to answer the questions asked […]

Should I settle or hire a lawyer?

Apr 14, 2016 - Litigation by

This is a great question that should always be asked before accepting any offer made by an insurance company in a personal injury case. In fact, this is the number one question I am asked. So, how do you find the answer? Unless you have been through this before, you should call an experienced personal injury attorney. Nearly all of them offer a free consultation, which should include a ballpark evaluation of your case. When you compare the value with the adjuster’s offer you must factor in the lawyers’ fee to see if it makes sense to hire an attorney. For example, the adjuster offers you $12,000 to settle your case. As a result of the free consultation you learn your case is worth about $15,000. If the lawyer can get you the $15,000, but charges one third of the value of case, you end up with less. That’s simple arithmetic. Try to make the decision analytically based on finances rather than emotion. The settlement amount is not the only factor The amount of the settlement is not the only reason to hire a lawyer. In many cases, the lawyer will find doctors that will await payment so you don’t have to front money for your medical treatment. Also, when the case is over most lawyers will negotiate with the doctors and hospitals to reduce their bills, resulting in more money to you. I’ve even had cases where the medical bills were far more than the insurance coverage. Making sure […]

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