Serious car crashes can set you back financially, cause injuries, and leave you devastated. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, car accidents create an estimated $1 trillion in economic losses. However, when you experience a car accident that isn’t your fault, you can receive compensation to cover both economic and non-economic damages.
You can work with a proven car accident lawyer in Phoenix at Wattel & York, who can assist you in recovering the costs of your healthcare bills, property damage, and lost wages. In addition, they will work with the other party’s insurance company to demand the compensation you deserve.
Life can be a whirlwind after a car accident. Car accidents can be life-threatening, cause property damage, and often result in wrongful death, so you should not take them lightly. However, you can work with an attorney in Phoenix, Arizona, who has a track record of proven success in all personal injury matters, including drunk driving, premises liability, and medical malpractice claims, and knows what your case is worth.
What Our Phoenix Car Accident Lawyers at Wattel & York Can Do For You
Having a reputable Phoenix car accident attorney working for you is critical as you navigate the claims process. You may be overwhelmed and intimidated at first, but with our team fighting for your rights, you can get through these trying times and maximize your financial recovery.
Although there is no legal requirement that you must have an attorney on your side, having a legal advocate working for you could have a significant impact on the outcome of your case. Some of the top ways our Phoenix car accident attorneys at Wattle & York fight for our clients include:
- Conducting an in-depth investigation into the cause of your accident
- Figuring out who is responsible for causing your injuries
- Obtaining valuable evidence that can prove negligence and the liability
- Regularly updating you when there are changes to your case
- Going over your economic and non-economic damages so you are fairly compensated for your losses
- Negotiating with insurance companies and holding them accountable for their monetary obligations
- Preparing to bring your car accident case to trial when necessary
Cause and Fault for Your Car Accident Injuries and Damages
One of your car accident lawyer’s most important tasks will be figuring out how the accident happened. Arizona is a fault state for car accidents and insurance purposes. This means when your accident happens within the state of Arizona, the liable party should be ordered to compensate you for your damages.
For this reason, one of our top priorities will be to review the cause of your accident. This way, we can more easily identify those responsible for your injuries and damages.
Negligent driving is one of the most common causes of car crashes across Phoenix and the state of Arizona. All motorists have an obligation to the safety of other drivers on the roadways. When they fail to pull these applications, they can be held accountable for the victim’s injuries. Some of the most common types of negligent driving include
- Following too closely
- Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs
- Distracted driving
- Driving without sufficient experience
- Failure to yield
- Failure to stop
- Unlawful use of a turn signal
- Making illegal turns
- Road rage
- Aggressive driving
- Other types of irresponsible or dangerous driving practices
When negligent driving is the cause of your accident, you can almost always count on filing a claim against the driver that hit you. However, that does not mean the driver that hit you is the only party responsible for your injuries.
Dram Shop and Social Host Liability
According to Arizona dram shop and social host liability laws under Arizona Revised Statutes 4-311, dram shop and social hosts can also be sued under specific circumstances. Dram shops refer to establishments that sell or serve alcohol. Social hosts often refer to adults that allow minors to consume alcohol on their premises.
Under the law, social hosts can be held accountable if drunk drivers go on to cause devastating car accidents. Dram shops can be held accountable when they serve alcohol to someone who is already visibly intoxicated. These types of claims are particularly difficult, as your attorney must be able to prove that the dram shop or social host knew or should have known that the drunk driver was going to be operating a motor vehicle or impaired. However, our thorough investigation will uncover the evidence needed to prove negligence and liability in your case.
Dangerous Road Conditions in Phoenix
Another top cause of car accidents in Phoenix is dangerous road conditions. When hazardous roads result in devastating injuries, the individual or entities responsible for road safety and maintenance should be held accountable. Some examples of dangerous road conditions that may warrant an insurance or civil claim after a car accident include
- Lack of sufficient street lighting
- Missing street signs
- Failure to make necessary road repairs
- Ignoring complaints from motorists
- Failure to fill potholes in a timely manner
- Failure to install traffic lights, safety signs, or street lamps
- Failure to properly secure highway or road construction zones
The Arizona Department of Transportation (AZDOT) is generally responsible for road maintenance and safety across the state. If your accident occurred in Phoenix, you may have grounds for a claim not only against the AZDOT, but you may also have the right to file a claim against the city of Phoenix. Whoever has jurisdiction over the roads where your accident occurred can be held accountable.
Defective or Malfunctioning Vehicle Parts
Defective road conditions and negligent driving is not the only way car accidents can occur. We have all heard of auto parts being recalled and defective. However, many of these recalls do not happen until victims suffered devastating injuries. Some of the most common motor vehicle parts known for malfunctions or defects include:
- Steering wheels
- Windshield wipers
- Braking systems
- Wiring systems
- Gas tanks or fuel lines
When dangerous and defective auto parts cause your injuries, filing a claim against the appropriate party is essential. Some of the parties may be able to sue include:
- Vehicle maintenance workers
- Auto parts safety inspectors
- Motor vehicle parts designers and manufacturers
- Motor vehicle parts distributors and retailers
- Motor vehicle dealerships and executives
These are only a few of the parties who could share fault for the injuries you sustained. Our careful investigation into the cause of your collision will uncover the identities of anyone and everyone who may share fault for your injuries.
How the Car Accident Claims Process Works
It is not unusual for car accident victims to feel intimidated or overwhelmed thinking about moving forward with their cases. However, now is the time to be courageous and stand up for your right to maximum financial compensation.
Once you have a better idea of how the car accident claims process works in Phoenix, you may feel more confident in pursuing your case. With that in mind, here is a general idea of what you can expect when you decide to take action against those responsible for causing your car accident and resulting injuries.
First, your Phoenix car accident attorney needs to thoroughly investigate the cause of the accident. We need to review the car so we can determine who is responsible. Throughout the course of our investigation, we will be looking for compelling evidence we can use to support your case. Examples of such evidence might include:
- Blood test results that indicate drunk or impaired driving
- The defendant’s poor driving record
- Video surveillance of the collision
- Photos of the damage surrounding the accident scene
- Photos of your injuries
- Copies of the defendant’s cell phone records
- Data obtained from your vehicles (electronic data recorder) EDR
- Witness statements and eyewitness testimony
- Reports from expert witnesses
- Reports from accident reconstructionists
- Accident data and police reports
These are just a few examples of the types of evidence we might use to support your case. It is our responsibility to gather the compelling evidence we need, as liability must be proven based on a preponderance of the evidence. This means the evidence we present must indicate to the judge and jury that the defendant is more than likely at fault for causing the injuries.
Negotiate With Insurers
Once we know who is responsible for causing the injuries, we can move forward with your insurance claim. Most reliable parties will have some type of insurance coverage in place. For instance, if another driver’s negligence was the cause of your accident, they would likely have auto insurance coverage in place as required by Arizona auto insurance laws under Arizona Revised Statute 28-4009.
Once we know which insurance company to file a claim with, your attorney can move forward with negotiations. However, do not be surprised if negotiating with the insurance company proves futile at first. This is because insurance companies lose money by paying out on claims. Therefore it is in the insurance company’s best interest to pay out as little as possible on your claim.
Your car accident lawyer is well aware of these insurance company tactics and will do everything possible to protect you from being taken advantage of. Remember, insurance is not designed to compensate you for every loss. Insurance covers specific types and amounts of damages.
For instance, rental car coverage compensates victims for the cost of their rental car after a collision. Bodily injury liability coverage is designed to cover your medical bills. However, you should not expect to receive total compensation through the insurance company alone. We will do everything possible to ensure the insurance company handles your claim fairly and prepare to go to trial where necessary and appropriate.
Go to Trial
Unfortunately, since insurance does not cover every single loss, many injury victims find it necessary to move forward with a formal trial. Going to court may be the last thing you want to have to deal with at this time in your life.
However, when insurance is not enough, or the liable party does not have insurance coverage, it may be necessary for you to move forward with a lawsuit. That way, you are not settling for less than you are entitled to.
Compensation for Your Car Accident Damages
Car accident victims are entitled to compensation for every single loss. Many victims believe they are only entitled to reimbursement for financial losses. However, this is not the case. Victims have the right to be repaid for every single way their lives have been affected by the injuries they sustained and the accident itself.
Economic damages describe the out-of-pocket or financial losses victims deal with after a car accident. They are easy to prove since they have set monetary values. You might include copies of vehicle repair estimates, bank records, receipts, and other financial information to prove their value.
Examples of economic damages that may be recovered after a Phoenix car accident include:
- Damage to your credit report or score
- Unexpected childcare cost
- Costs of hiring household maintenance professionals
- Out-of-pocket medical bills
- Prescription medication costs
- Future of medical expenses
- Loss of financial support
- Reduced earning capacity
- Loss of income, employee benefits, bonuses, and salary increases
- Loss of retirement savings contributions and health insurance coverage your employer-provided
These are just a few examples of out-of-pocket or economic damages you might be able to recover after a car accident. You may also be entitled to reimbursement for damages that do not have a stat financial value, commonly referred to as general damages or non-economic damages.
Non-economic damages are different from economic losses, as non-economic damages do not have a financial value. This can make them more difficult to quantify, but that does not mean you should not be repaid for them fairly. Since their impact on your life may be far more significant than the economic damages you experienced, you must go over these damages in depth with your attorney to ensure you are repaid fairly.
Some examples of potentially recoverable non-economic damages include:
- Pain and suffering
- Mental anguish or emotional distress
- Disfiguring skin scars
- Permanent disability
- Inconvenience and embarrassment
- Shame and indignity
- Reduced quality of life
- Loss of consortium
- Anticipation and apprehension
Punitive damages may also be possible following a car accident. However, punitive damages are not awarded as often as you might think. Many people believe the civil court system awards punitive damages in every case. However, this is not true. Punitive damages are only awarded in cases where the court system finds the defendant’s conduct grossly negligent, intentionally malicious, or reprehensible.
They must find it appropriate to punish the defendant for this conduct. Damages are not awarded as frequently as you might think, so do not plan on such an award as you move to the claims process. However, if your attorney has sufficient evidence to prove punitive damages may be warranted, we may have a chance to substantially increase the value of your settlement.
Grounds for a Car Accident Claim
For your car accident claim to be successful, you might assume that you must have suffered life-threatening or catastrophic injuries. You may be pleasantly surprised to discover that this is not always the case. It is the negligent actions of another and the severity of your injuries that will determine whether you have the right to take legal action against the liable party.
The Elements of Negligence
The elements of negligence must be met for any car accident case to be successful. This means your car accident attorney must show that the defendant had an obligation to your safety and breached that obligation in some way.
This breach in the duty of care must be the direct or proximate cause of your damages or subsequent injuries. Although you do not need to have suffered life-threatening injuries for your claim to be successful, your auto accident attorney must show that your injuries or the accident itself have substantially affected your life.
Types of Injuries You Can Sue For After a Car Accident
As previously mentioned, you do not necessarily need to have suffered life-threatening injuries to have grounds for a car accident claim. However, it is not unusual for car accident victims to suffer life-threatening or catastrophic injuries. Oftentimes, these injuries have a lasting or permanent impact on the victims’ lives.
Examples of injuries you might be able to sue for following a car accident in Phoenix include:
- Brain trauma
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Spinal cord injuries
- Penetrating brain injuries
- Soft tissue injuries
- Herniated discs
- Neck injuries
- Back injuries
- Second impact syndrome
- Emotional trauma
These are just a few examples of injuries we often see in Phoenix car accident cases. If you were diagnosed with other injuries related to your motor vehicle accident but do not know whether you have the right to pursue a claim, do not hesitate. Contact Wattle & York today to find out whether you have grounds for legal action against those responsible for causing your injuries.
Phoenix Car Accident FAQ
If you feel overwhelmed after the trauma of your car accident, you are not alone. Between dealing with your physical injuries and the emotional trauma you sustained, thinking about how involved the claims process can be is often overwhelming.
Thankfully, you do not need to navigate the claims process on your own. We have answered some of the most frequently asked questions regarding Phoenix car accident claims below. Any additional questions you might have can be discussed when you contact our office to schedule your free, no-obligation consultation.
Do I need a lawyer after a car accident in Phoenix?
There is no legal obligation that says you must hire a personal injury lawyer to handle your car accident claim. However, assuming you have a legal advocate working for you, the better. It is not uncommon for insurance companies and liable parties to do everything they can to take advantage of injury victims during some of the most difficult times in their lives.
You can protect yourself from being taken advantage of by having your lawyer step in and negotiate with insurance companies on her behalf. You will also fully understand the true value of your claim, so you do not have to worry about being tricked into settling for less than your claim is worth.
What is the statute of limitations for car accident lawsuits in Arizona?
The statute of limitations for car accidents in Lawsuits in Arizona can be found under Arizona Revised Statute Section 12-542. Here, the law allows for up to two years to pass before the statute of limitations deadline passes. If your claim is not filed before this deadline, you can expect the court system to deny you the right to have your case heard at trial.
There are also several instances where the statute of limitations may extend beyond the two-year limit. For instance, if your child was injured, the statute of limitations may temporarily pause or be “stayed” for several years until your child reaches the age of 18. Then, the statute of limitations would expire two years later. However, you might be able to file a claim on behalf of your child if you do not want to wait to get started on your claim.
Statute of limitation deadlines can also be temporarily paused until the injury victim knows or should have known about the injuries they sustained. It is more common than you might think for victims to suffer injuries that are not diagnosed until days, weeks, months, or even years after the accident. When this happens, the statute of limitations will expire two years from the date you should have known you suffered injuries related to your car crash.
As can be seen, the statute of limitations deadlines can often be confusing. Your car accident lawyer will ensure the statute of limitations deadline is clear so you do not find yourself prohibited from pursuing your case.
Is Arizona a no-fault state for car accidents and insurance?
Arizona is not a no-fault state for car accidents and insurance claims. And no-fault states, drivers are required to purchase personal injury protection (PIP) coverage or no-fault insurance. Then, when they are involved in an accident, they file a claim with their own insurance company. However, Arizona is not a no-fault state. We are a fault state.
This means you file a claim with the at-fault party’s insurance company. Every motorist is required to have a Minimal amount of auto insurance coverage under Arizona car insurance laws, including:
- $25,000 per person and bodily injury liability coverage
- $50,000 per accident in battle injury liability coverage
- $15,000 per accident in property damage liability coverage
This will cover the victim’s damages when the policyholder is responsible for causing the accident. However, insurance will only pay out up to the highest amount of the policyholder’s claim. This means you may have remaining damages the insurance company does not cover after your collision.
What if I’m partially at fault for my injuries?
According to the law of comparative negligence, when you are partially at fault, you can still receive compensation for your car accident. Your percentage of fault is deducted from your total settlement amount. In Arizona, even if you were 99% at fault for your car accident, then you can still receive 1% of coverage in damages.
Speak To Personal Injury Representatives As Soon As Possible
Let your Phoenix car accident attorneys take a look at your personal injury claim to find out how much you should receive. They will show how you were injured and do their best to ensure the other party is held accountable for your damages. We work on a contingency fee basis, so reach out to us for a free consultation and call Wattel & York today or visit our Google My Business to learn more about our personal injury law firm.