If you have been injured in an auto accident in Arizona, you may be facing extensive medical bills and car repairs. Trying to negotiate with insurance companies can be overwhelming and confusing, especially while trying to recover from your injuries and return to your day-to-day life.
Insurance companies are not the bad guy; they exist to compensate you for your injuries. Naturally, however, their goal is to pay you as little as possible. Having an experienced trial attorney who is willing to go to trial if necessary, and has a track record of success doing so, can make all the difference.
When to Consult an Attorney
It's important to consult with an experienced attorney as soon after your accident as possible. In most cases, an attorney can successfully negotiate a settlement with the other party's insurance company (or your own in the case of an uninsured/underinsured motorist) without taking your case to court. If you are unable to reach a settlement with the insurance company, your attorney can file a lawsuit for you against the other party involved in the accident.
Who Can File a Claim or Lawsuit
After an auto accident, the injured party can file an insurance claim or lawsuit against the other party involved. If a minor child is injured in an auto accident, the child's parent or guardian can file a lawsuit on their behalf. If the injured party dies, their family may file what is called a wrongful death lawsuit.
The Plaintiff has the burden of proving that they suffered damages as a result of the other party's negligence or unlawful actions, and the amount of money that is required to compensate for those losses. The Court may then award the Plaintiff compensatory damages to restore them to the position they were in before the auto accident.
In an auto accident, compensatory damages may be awarded for such things as car repairs, current or future medical expenses, lost wages or future earnings, pain and suffering/lost enjoyment, or emotional distress.
Compensatory damages are different than punitive damages, which a Court can award to punish the Defendant for intentional - not negligent - conduct.
Liability & Comparative Negligence
In Arizona, comparative fault is used to determine the amount of damages to be awarded to the Plaintiff in an injury case. Depending on the circumstances of the incident, the Court may find that the Plaintiff's actions contributed to the accident, making the Plaintiff partially at-fault for their own injuries. Or, a third-party may be found partially at fault.
When determining the amount of damages to be awarded, the Court considers the actions of all persons involved and whether such actions contributed to the accident, assigning each a percentage of the fault. The Plaintiff's award is then reduced by this percentage. For example, if the Plaintiff is awarded $10,000 in damages, but the Court found the Plaintiff was 20 percent at fault for the accident, then the Plaintiff's award would be reduced to $8,000.
Statute of Limitations
In most auto accident lawsuits, the statute of limitations is two years from the date of the accident. If a death occurs, the family of the deceased has two years from the date of death to file.
In auto accidents where the other party is a government agency or employee, you have 180 days from the date of the accident to file a Notice of Claim before filing your lawsuit, and one year from the date of the accident to file your lawsuit.
Contact an Experienced Arizona Accident Attorney
If you've been involved in an auto accident as a result of another driver's negligence, being represented by an experienced attorney is critical to ensure that you are fairly compensated for your injuries. Call us today at (480) 771-3986 or contact us online.
Who you choose to represent you MATTERS. Choose WISELY!