The last thing you need in the event of a car accident in Arizona is an arduous legal battle while you are trying to financially and/or physically recover. If you’ve been in a car accident in Arizona, contact our team of highly skilled and passionate auto accident attorneys at (480) 498-8998 to receive the compensation you’re entitled to.
Our attorneys have decades of experience handling all manner of car accident cases, and will confidently represent you in or out of court so that you’re not taken advantage of by insurance companies, opposing counsel, or any other party invested in limiting your compensation.
Car accidents are common in Arizona. Each year, more than 100,000 vehicle accidents happen. The table below offers a glimpse of the kinds of car accidents that can occur, and their frequency.
BREAKDOWN OF CAR ACCIDENTS IN ARIZONA, 2022
|Accident Type||Number of Accidents|
|Accidents involving bicycles||1,159|
|Accidents involving alcohol||5,489|
|Accidents resulting only in property damage||82,935|
Source: Arizona Department of Transportation, 2022 Arizona Crash Facts Summary
One takeaway from this table is that if you are unfortunate enough to be involved in a car accident in Arizona, chances are it will involve another car and another driver, and property damage will likely occur as a result. In up to one-third of car accidents, someone will be injured, too.
Sometimes defensive driving is not enough. You can be the model driver, and obey every Arizona traffic law all the time, and still get into an accident with another vehicle.
If you have been in an accident, here are two key things to do as soon as possible.
No two accidents are the same, but the outcomes can produce catastrophic harm. You can suffer serious injuries, such as severe bone fractures, spinal cord injury, traumatic brain injury, loss of limbs, and chronic pain. Some common kinds of injuries you can experience as a result of a car accident include:
If you were injured in a car accident and are reading this, then it is likely that enough time has passed for you to have taken care of any emergency medical treatment. Remember, though, that some common kinds of soft-tissue injuries from a car accident do not always show symptoms right away. If you experience pain symptoms in the days or weeks following an accident that you think could be connected with it, then we strongly recommend that you see a doctor to make sure that a serious underlying injury does not exist or to receive treatment if a medical exam reveals an accident-related injury.
There is no point in “toughing it out” if you are experiencing pain after a car accident. Injuries left untreated can become worse or may not heal properly. Also, medical records of injury diagnosis and treatment are important evidence if someone else caused or contributed to the accident and you need to prove your legal damages in court.
If you have been injured or your vehicle or other property has been damaged in a car accident, then you have options to seek redress. One is to file a legal claim. The other is to file an insurance claim. Each of these options is subject to time limits within which you must act. If you miss the appropriate time limit, then you may lose your claim. The Arizona statute of limitations sets the time within which to file a lawsuit. Your insurance company may also have time limits within which you must file a policy claim.
Arizona law sets limits on your legal rights after a car accident. The most important of these is the state statute of limitations, which sets the time limit within which you must file a legal claim if you seek compensation for your resulting injuries of property damage. Insurance companies can also impose time limits within which you must file a policy claim.
The Arizona statute of limitations for personal injury and property damage cases is two years from the day of the injury to you or the property damage. If, however, you have an injury that does not become apparent right away after the accident, then the statute of limitations begins when you discover it.
If your car accident involves a vehicle owned by the city or county in which you live, or by the state of Arizona, then a different and shorter statute of limitations applies. You have 180 days to file a legal claim against the government, and must initiate a lawsuit within one year to keep your right to sue.
Your insurance company can require you to make a policy claim within a reasonable time after the accident. Check your policy to see what that time limit is.
Your insurance company – and that of the other driver – can participate in settlement claim negotiations before trial, or if negotiations fail then insurers can hire attorneys to represent their policyholders.
The key to reaching a settlement for a fair amount of injury compensation is ensuring your claim is expertly managed throughout the negotiation process. An experienced accident attorney can help you at every stage – from assisting you with finding medical care and filing your claim to successfully negotiating with an insurance company for adequate compensation. An adequate settlement means enough money to cover your medical bills, lost income, damage to your vehicle, pain and suffering, and any other losses you have suffered.
If you do not have a Phoenix personal injury lawyer who is experienced in auto accident claims to help you, then the other driver’s insurance company will likely try to place the majority of the blame for the crash on you to limit how much you can recover through a personal injury lawsuit.
Most car accidents will happen because of one of three general causes: driver error, vehicle problems, and environmental factors.
Driver error is the most common cause of vehicle accidents in Arizona. Driver mistakes can take many forms:
Driving defensively is a good way to reduce your risk of causing a car accident because of driver error, but unfortunately it does not always protect you from another driver who is not driving in a careful or reasonable way.
Automobiles are complex machines with many parts that can fail. Sometimes these failures can make a car unsafe to drive, and unsafe for others. A failure of any of the vehicle components below can lead to loss of driver control and to a collision:
Keeping your car in good working condition can help you avoid being the cause of an accident. As with driver error, though, there is little you can do to control how other drivers maintain their vehicles.
Modern automobiles have many safety features to make driving safer in a variety of weather and light conditions: headlights, anti-lock brakes, and automatic slip reduction technology can save you from an accident in some cases when you are driving in the rain, or at night, or on an icy road.
Sometimes, though, you can still fall victim to circumstances and conditions that surround you on the road. Here are some well-known environmental causes for loss of vehicle control that can lead to a crash:
In some of these examples, such as defects in road design or lack of maintenance, you can file a claim against the government agency that is responsible for the condition that led to the accident.
You do not need to be the driver of a car to be involved in a car accident. If you are the passenger in a car and suffer harm from an accident, the same principles of personal injury law, property damage remedies, and insurance claims will still apply.
This is the case whether you are riding in a personally owned vehicle, or in a taxi, bus, or ride-for-hire service like Uber or Lyft.
In car accident litigation, passengers who file suit for injuries are sometimes called “faultless plaintiffs” because they are generally not subject to counter-claims for contributing to the cause of the crash.
Now that we have explored how car accidents can happen in Arizona and the injuries and property damage that can happen to you, let’s look at how you can use Arizona law to seek a remedy against the other driver, or that person’s insurer, or the government.
Lawsuits for car-accident-related personal injuries are usually based on legal claims of negligence. At a fundamental level, a driver is legally negligent if that person was driving in a way that was unreasonable under the circumstances and harm results.
The standard of what is reasonable behavior usually depends on how a fictional “reasonable person” would have behaved under the same circumstances that caused the accident. Examples of driving behaviors a jury, arbitrator, or judge could find unreasonable include tailgating, distracted driving, or speeding.
To prove a claim for injury or property damage in an Arizona court, the law requires you to meet some specific elements. Basically, they are:
If you can persuade whoever it is that decides the facts of your case – a jury, an arbitrator, or a judge – that it is more likely than not that the other driver’s negligent behavior caused you harm, then you have proven a negligence claim. This is an easier standard of proof than the beyond-a-reasonable-doubt standard in criminal trials.
In civil (as opposed to criminal) legal claims, the ordinary remedy for negligence-based harm is “money damages.” Your damages can be direct (like immediate hospital bills for injury treatment after the accident) or indirect (like calculating lost wages).
Your money damages can cover property loss, physical harm, and emotional distress. If you prevail in a lawsuit for negligence, you might also be able to recover your costs to do so, like court costs and attorney fees.
Here is a list of some of the kinds of car accident harm you can recover money damages for:
Another kind of recovery for car accident injuries is one that you might not want to think about: damages for wrongful death. In the event of your death, or the death of a passenger in your vehicle, wrongful death allows for a lawsuit on behalf of the deceased person in favor of that person’s surviving relatives or personal estate.
Many times accidents can have more than one cause, and more than one person can contribute. If you are the plaintiff in a negligence lawsuit for a multi-car accident in Arizona, then it is possible that the other driver will claim that you were also at least partly at fault.
Comparative negligence describes what happens if the result of your lawsuit is that both sides to the accident played a part in causing it. This apportionment of contribution comes in a percentage-based assignment of fault. If the defendant is less than 100 percent at fault, then your damages award will be reduced by your contributing responsibility. For example, if the defendant is 80 percent at fault and you are 20 percent responsible, then your damages award would be subject to a 20 percent reduction.
Personal injury lawsuits from car accidents can lead to both drivers filing legal claims against each other. Counterclaims and cross-claims are two ways a lawsuit can expand to include more people and more claims for damages.
Counterclaims are claims that the defendant might make against you. They are not defenses the other party raises against your lawsuit claims, but are separate, independent claims that can effectively make the defendant into a plaintiff and you a defendant against those cross-claims.
For example, if you claim that the other driver made an unsafe lane change that caused the accident, the other driver might raise a cross-claim that you were driving too fast or following too closely.
Any successful counterclaims are offset against your claims as a plaintiff in comparative damages calculation.
Cross-claims are claims that can arise when there are more than two parties to the dispute. For example, let’s say there are three people involved in an accident: a driver and a passenger in one car, and a driver alone in the other car. The initial personal injury lawsuit comes from the passenger, against the driver of the other car. The driver of the passenger’s vehicle does not join in the initial lawsuit.
In this case the driver being sued by the passenger might still involve the other driver in the accident by naming that person as an additional, cross-claim defendant, based on a claim of comparative negligence that he or she contributed to causing the accident.
Sometimes a car accident can lead to additional injuries or property damage. A third party can be any person or company who was not involved in the original car accident but still either contributed to causing the accident or suffered harm to person or property as a result of it.
For example, if a two-car collision leads to a third vehicle being struck while parked in a homeowner’s driveway, the owner of that third vehicle could still become involved as a litigant against one or both of the first two drivers even though that person played no role in the original collision.
Another kind of third-party claim can involve claims against companies – including the car manufacturer or its suppliers – that make defective car parts that contribute to the accident, or a construction firm that negligently creates conditions on or near the road that made it unsafe and contributed to the crash. These parties can in some cases be liable for product liability, which is a basis for a legal claim separate from personal injury.
If your car accident is at least partly the result of a violation of Arizona vehicle or traffic laws, then depending on the seriousness of the alleged statutory violations you could be subject to a criminal proceeding that a city or county commences separately from any civil lawsuit between you and the other driver.
Although in civil court many counterclaims, cross-claims, and third-party claims can be joined together in a single lawsuit, criminal cases are always tried separately from civil lawsuits.
When you have suffered a serious injury in a car accident, it is important to know what you are entitled to in terms of compensation. Discuss your potential claim with a dedicated Phoenix car accident attorney today. Call Stone Rose Law at (480) 498-8998 or fill out our online form to schedule a free consultation.
How do you prepare my car accident personal injury claim for settlement or trial?
The key to successful negotiation or trial preparation begins with our investigation of your car accident. This can involve visits to the accident scene, gathering video evidence from camera recordings, reviewing available police reports, and talking with witnesses to the accident. In some cases we can also work with an expert in accident reconstruction.
The purpose of our investigation will be to establish the facts of the accident, including how it happened, who caused it, the lighting, weather, and road conditions at the time of the accident, and whether any third parties were involved.
My insurance company has hired an attorney to represent me in my personal injury lawsuit. Why should I hire a Phoenix car accident lawyer of my own?
Your insurer hires the attorney it assigns to represent you. The potential problem with this arrangement is that sometimes your best interests and what your insurance company thinks are in its best interests might not always be the same thing. In this kind of conflict of interest situation, the insurance company lawyer will act according to the old saying, “He who pays the piper calls the tune.” For example, if it is in the best interest of the insurance company to settle your car accident claim as quickly as possible then it might accept a settlement offer from the other driver or its insurer that is less than what you could be entitled to in money damages.
It is also possible in some insurance policy claims that your auto insurance company denies your insurance claim. In these situations, having a lawyer of your own becomes even more important because your insurer is taking a position adverse to your interest.
At Stone Rose Law, when you retain us we are your Phoenix car accident lawyers. We have no divided interest or conflicting loyalties: getting the best possible outcome for you in settlement or trial is our only focus. We deal not only with the other driver and that person’s lawyer, but also with the insurers to make sure they treat you fairly.
What should I do to help you prepare my personal injury case?
Our accident investigation will uncover many important details as we prepare your claim for settlement or trial. Some things you can do to help include documenting your post-accident symptoms, physical limitations time lost from work, medical treatment visits and medical bills, whether you need to hire any in-home assistance services, and other consequences that are impairments to how you can work or engage in normal life activities. This information can help us to calculate the harm you have suffered.
Our Phoenix auto accident attorneys at Stone Rose Law proudly serve car accident clients throughout Arizona. We do everything in our power to ensure you obtain the compensation you deserve. Reach out to us online or call (480) 498-8998 to schedule your free consultation to discuss your car accident case with a qualified car accident lawyer in Phoenix, Chandler, Scottsdale, or throughout Maricopa County, AZ.
If you have become one of the thousands of Arizona drivers to be involved in an auto accident that has caused you personal injury or property damage, and you want to be sure you receive the best possible legal representation from an experienced Arizona personal injury law firm, call us.
If your insurance company has denied your policy claim after you are in a car accident, call us.
Or even if you are unsure of what to do after getting into a car accident and have a question about your legal rights in a personal injury case, call us.
Do you prefer to communicate with us online? You can reach us here to schedule a free initial consultation, or to ask a question to one of our dedicated Phoenix car accident lawyers.
Remember – the Arizona statute of limitations for personal injury car accidents is only two years, and your insurance company might give you even less time to make a policy claim. Let us help you to protect car accident claim – call us today.