If you’ve been injured in a car accident, you may feel overwhelmed by the decisions confronting you. Even a moderately severe accident can require surgery, physical therapy, and time off from work for recovery. Unless you’ve been through this before, it’s difficult to know how to proceed.
Under Arizona law, if another party’s negligence caused your injuries, you are entitled to compensation. The Tucson personal injury lawyers at Wattel & York are here to help. We work on a contingency basis, so you don’t have to pay out of pocket. All consultations are free, so call today.
During the claims investigation carried out by the at-fault driver’s insurance company, the adjuster is tasked with identifying these damages and making a settlement offer to the victim to — seemingly — repay the victim for all the damages they have endured.
Why You May Want a Personal Injury Attorney
No accident legally requires a personal injury lawyer. Oftentimes, motor vehicle accidents don’t result in physical injuries. If that’s the case, you can file a claim with the insurance company for property damage repairs. In many situations, however, car or truck accidents can cause injuries. You may experience substantial medical expenses, lost wages, diminished capacity, and pain and suffering. In a wrongful death incident, you may face lost future earnings, emotional anguish, and loss of companionship.
So why hire a personal injury law firm to pursue your claim? Whether you are trying to receive compensation from an individual, a business, or their insurance company, defendants in personal injury claims have a vested interest in minimizing their payouts. You probably don’t have extensive experience and legal knowledge to pursue your personal injury claim, and the other party will likely use that to pressure you into accepting a lower amount than you’re entitled to.
On the other hand, a personal injury law firm with experience in these cases can assess your damages and negotiate for a full and fair settlement. Many personal injury lawyers in Arizona work on a contingency basis, which means they only receive compensation if your case settles or you win in court. Typically, the increased settlement amount also covers the law firm contingency fee.
Elements of a Car Accident Personal Injury Case
For a personal injury lawsuit to be viable, the plaintiff’s law firm must be able to prove that the following four elements exist.
The Defendant Owed a Duty of Care to the Plaintiff
Individuals are responsible for their safety, but there are many times when we also owe a duty of care to one another. A driver who gets behind the wheel, a doctor offering medical treatment to a patient, and a store or restaurant owner who serves the public all owe a duty of care to those around them.
The Defendant Breached the Duty of Care
To successfully sue a defendant, you must demonstrate how the defendant breached their duty of care. For example, in a car accident case, you would need to show that the action that led to the injury stemmed from another driver’s negligence. Collecting evidence at the scene can help establish that someone else’s negligence caused your injuries.
The Breach Resulted in Damages to the Plaintiff
Without damages, there is no basis for a lawsuit. For personal injury claims to be actionable, you must show that the defendant’s breach of their duty of care adversely affected you. Car accident victims may suffer injuries ranging from minor cuts and bruises to paralysis. Proper documentation is the key to proving this element.
The Plaintiff’s Damages Had a Measurable Impact
You must be able to assign a monetary amount to your damages. To do this, you will need to prove the economic and non-economic damages you sustained due to the accident. We will discuss these damages in a later section.
Car Accident Personal Injury Laws of Arizona
Every state has its own personal injury laws regarding car accidents. If you are familiar with the laws of another state but were injured in Arizona, it’s beneficial to familiarize yourself with Arizona car accident laws.
Types of Personal Injury Damages
Arizona personal injury law divides damages into two main categories: economic damages and non-economic damages.
If you’re injured in a car accident, you could face a torrent of medical bills, miss time from work, and have to pay for other expenses like medication, follow-up appointments, and transportation. These are referred to as economic damages. Anything you can assign a monetary value to would qualify under this category.
Non-economic damages are often referred to as pain and suffering. These damages include physical pain, loss of physical capacity, and emotional trauma. In the case of wrongful death, they can also include loss of companionship or mentorship. A personal injury law firm like Wattel & York Accident Injury Attorneys can review the intangible costs of your accident and determine the appropriate amount of compensation that you’re entitled to.
Arizona does allow punitive damages under the law, but they are rare in most car accident personal injury cases. To recover punitive damages, the plaintiff must demonstrate that the defendant’s actions were purposeful and intended to cause harm.
Damage Caps in AZ
Under Article 2 Section 31 of the Arizona state constitution, no law caps what damages you can recover for your injuries. There are case law guidelines, however, that dictate the damages you would likely receive in court.
Statute of Limitations Under Arizona Law
For personal injury cases in Arizona, the statute of limitations is two years from the car accident date. After that time, you will not be able to sue the defendant. However, in wrongful death cases, the clock starts on the date of the victim’s death, regardless of when the underlying accident occurred.
Legal Principles in Arizona Personal Injury Cases
Arizona is a fault car accident state. This means the person who caused the accident is responsible for damages that follow. In a pure comparative fault state like Arizona, you can collect money from an accident even if you are 99% at fault and the other driver is 1% at fault. You would simply be able to collect a net 1% of your bills from the other driver.
A Tucson car accident lawyer can fight to prove you had a lesser percentage of fault than the other party to maximize your claim. The insurance company will then payout based on the percentage of liability each party is apportioned. Our car accident attorneys can ensure you get the money you are entitled to.
AZ Accident Statistics
In 2019, there were 129,750 motor vehicle crashes in the state of Arizona. Of these, 39,926 (28%) resulted in injury. There were also 911 deaths due to auto accidents. Over 85% of all accidents involved more than one vehicle. If you’ve been injured in an accident in Tucson or the surrounding areas, contact our law firm and speak to a personal injury attorney about your case. We work on a contingency basis, so you will not have to pay for the consultation.
Car Accident Personal Injury Frequently Asked Questions
As a personal injury law firm in Tucson, AZ, we encounter many car accident claims. While no two accidents are the same, our potential clients’ questions are often similar. Here are some of the most frequently asked questions we receive. Nothing on this site should be construed as legal advice, but you can speak to the team at Wattel & York Injury & Accident Attorneys for free.
My insurance company is offering me an immediate settlement. What should I do?
If you face financial distress while you recover, you will have to find a way to pay it yourself. Insurance companies are often quick to offer a payout to limit their liability and settle the case quickly. If you accept their offer, you will be required to sign a waiver of liability, which prevents you from pursuing any further damages. Before accepting any offer, you should contact our law firm and talk to one of our personal injury lawyers.
Will I be required to testify in court?
Most personal injury cases are settled out of court. There is always the possibility that your case can end up in court, but it’s less likely than reaching a settlement. If you do have to go to court, consider having a battle-tested Wattel & York attorney in your corner. We will work tirelessly to help recover compensation for you.
How long does an Arizona insurance company have to acknowledge my claim?
An insurance company has ten business days to acknowledge your claim and send the policyholder the appropriate paperwork.
How long do they have to make a decision on my claim?
After receiving your paperwork, the company will have 15 business days to investigate and make a decision regarding your claim.
How long does it take to receive a settlement?
The settlement time depends on several factors, including the case’s complexity, the type of case, and the reluctance of the insurance company or responsible party to settle. If your claim is approved, they have 15 days to pay. Certain cases take longer, and as a rule, the greater the amount you are seeking, the less likely the defendant will want to pay. Cases with more serious injuries may take longer to settle.
What should I do if I’m in a car accident?
There are certain things that you can do to protect yourself and help your case should you need to file a claim.
- Get to a place of safety if you may be facing additional danger.
- Call 911 and give the dispatcher your location, a description of the injuries of all parties involved, and any other information they ask for.
- Take pictures and videos of the damage to each vehicle with your phone.
- Talk to witnesses and get their contact information.
- Allow medical personnel to examine you and take you to the hospital if necessary.
- Follow up with your doctor.
- Save all medical documentation, including doctors you see, treatments received, and medications prescribed.
- Document any additional expenses that you have incurred resulting from the accident.
- Consider calling Wattel & York Injury & Accident Attorney.