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 […]

Are Waivers of Liability Enforceable in Arizona?

Jun 20, 2018 - Litigation by

Waivers of liability are quite common, particularly in the context of recreational activities — this ubiquity means that laypeople are generally familiar with the concept of a “liability waiver” and what it entails.  Simply put, a liability waiver shields the defendant from civil liability for serious injuries and damages that they cause due to their own negligence. Still, few laypeople understand that liability waivers are not always applicable to a given situation, or that enforceability will depend on a number of different factors that could be evaluated in their favor. Freedom to Contract Arizona law recognizes the freedom to contract, but this freedom is not unlimited.  Though two or more parties are reasonably entitled to contract around their potential liabilities, the law will not necessarily accept all such agreements as enforceable.  In Arizona, for example, the state generally disfavors agreements (i.e., liability waivers) designed to release liability.  As such, any and all liability waivers are strictly construed against the defendant seeking to enforce the waiver. Determining Whether the Liability Waiver is Enforceable Enforceability of a liability waiver depends on the circumstances.  Courts will analyze the facts of the case (surrounding the liability waiver) and will consider those facts in the context of the following factors. Ambiguity in the Waiver Agreement Liability waivers must be sufficiently clear and unambiguous such that they function as a fully adequate notice of the inherent dangers associated with the covered activity.  The dangers must be reasonably communicated to the participants.  If there is ambiguity in […]

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.  […]

Loss of Enjoyment of Life Damages in Arizona

May 29, 2018 - Litigation by

Whether you’ve been injured in a car accident in Phoenix, a slip-and-fall accident, or in any other scenario where the defendant’s negligent or wrongful acts have contributed to your injuries, plaintiffs are entitled to claim (as a separate element) damages for “loss of enjoyment of life” (LEL), otherwise known as “hedonic damages.”  These damages account for a unique set of losses arising from an injury — specifically, the plaintiff must assign a monetary value to their recreational activities, and thus calculate the losses due to the injuries at-issue. LEL damages have not always been accepted, and in some jurisdictions, there remain questions as to their viability as a separate element of damages.  In fact, Arizona courts have only recently deemed LEL damages independent of pain and suffering damages.  This case law development has led to a spike in litigation involving significant LEL damage claims. Confused by all this complicated legal terminology?  Let’s break down some of the basics and take a brief look at how LEL damages actually work, and how they might be applicable to your case. Basics of LEL Damages LEL damages (i.e., hedonic damages) are intended to compensate the injured plaintiff for various losses related to their recreational activities, social life, and relationships.  They are a form of non-economic damages, and as such, are inherently subjective, which is to say that they are based on your personal, emotionally-tinted experience of loss, as opposed to some objective indication of loss. Suppose that you are severely injured in a […]

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 […]

Arizona Law: Understanding Survival Actions

May 14, 2018 - Litigation by

In the state of Arizona, loss-of-life claims — more specifically, wrongful death claims and survival claims — are a category of injury claims brought either by the surviving family members, or by the estate of the deceased individual.  When a person is killed due to the negligent or otherwise wrongful acts of another, then Arizona law may entitle a qualified subset of survivors to pursue an action in litigation against the defendant and recover damages. When most laypeople think of loss-of-life claims, they tend to think of “wrongful death.”  Survival actions are an important part of the legal landscape, however, and may lead to significant damage recovery. So, what’s the difference?  Let’s take a look. Survival Actions vs. Wrongful Death Actions Survival actions are fundamentally different than wrongful death actions, though these differences are often misunderstood. Stated simply, survival actions are brought against the defendant (who is responsible for causing the death at-issue) on behalf of the deceased individual.  In essence, a survival action gives the estate of the deceased an opportunity to recover damages for the wrongs committed against the deceased individual.  It arguably acts as a form of claim preservation — whatever claims the deceased would have had in the event they survived, are preserved and may be pursued by their estate. Suppose, for example, that your loved one is killed in a motor vehicle accident by a distracted driver.  Their death was not immediate, however.  After a week of attempted treatment, your loved one finally succumbed to […]

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