Phoenix Car Accident Lawyer

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Phoenix Car Accident Attorney

You never expect to be in a car accident. When you get in a car and drive toward your destination, you expect to reach your destination without any issues. Unfortunately, though, that’s not always what happens. After you’ve been involved in an accident caused by another party, a Phoenix car accident lawyer can help you make a claim.

When you are involved in a car accident, the problem is often just beginning. Hopefully, your injuries are only minor, but for many people, there are serious medical consequences and bills. If you are dealing with such situations, you can contact our skilled Phoenix personal injury lawyers who can help you deal with all legal matters.

For some, the situation can be enough that they miss significant work time. In those cases, the damage to your vehicle can seem a small concern compared to the pain, suffering, and other psychological turmoil the accident has caused. It’s still, though, another concern.

These costs are the responsibility of those liable for the accident, although more often than not, it is their insurance companies that will be paying. The insurance companies, though, are in the business of making money, and paying you what you’re owed means less for their bottom line. It’s not uncommon for them to reject a claim that should be honored or offer someone less than they are rightfully owed.

Therefore, the law has created the ability for you to bring a civil claim against them to get what you rightfully deserve. To give yourself the strongest chance of success in taking that option, you should consider working with the Bleaman Law Firm. We understand what our clients need and fight for everything they deserve.

Who Might Be Liable in a Phoenix Car Accident?

The first step in a car accident claim is determining what party or parties may potentially be liable. Often, people assume it’s one of the other drivers who was involved in the accident. While that may be true in many circumstances, it’s not always the case.

It’s important to note, as well, that there may be more than one party who is liable for an accident. There are some situations where multiple parties made errors that converged together to cause the accident.

Some of the potentially liable parties include:

  • Another Driver in the Accident – More often than not, the party most likely to be liable for an accident is one of the other drivers directly involved in an accident. They may have been speeding, driving drunk, driving recklessly, not following the rules of the road, or making some other driving error.
  • Another Driver Not in the Accident – In some circumstances, the driver who caused the accident may not have even been involved in the accident directly. If someone is driving erratically and recklessly, it can cause others around them to take evasive maneuvers.

Sometimes, though, those evasive maneuvers may result in an accident with another driver. That could mean, then, that it is the initially reckless driver who is at least partially liable for what occurred.

  • A Driver’s Employer – Something like a trucking accident or accident with someone else driving for work could lead to their employer being held liable. This is particularly the case if something about their policies, like unreasonable delivery expectations, created a likelihood of the driver behaving recklessly.
  • A Parts Manufacturer – Sometimes, an accident can be caused by a defective part failing. If that’s the case, the manufacturer of the part could be held liable.
  • A Vehicle Maintenance Shop – There are also times when the part itself might not fail, but an improper installation could cause a problem and lead to an accident.
  • The Government – The government is responsible for maintaining functional roads, signs, and traffic signals. If a problem with these things leads to an accident, the government in charge could be held liable.

What Is the Time Limit to File a Car Accident Claim in Phoenix, AZ?

How long you have to file a lawsuit is determined by the statute of limitations. For a car accident in Phoenix, AZ, which is determined by the general personal injury statute of limitations, this limit is two years. There are a few exceptions that may extend the potential window, such as if the injured party is a minor.

There are also some that shorten the window. For instance, the statute of limitations to bring a claim against the government is only one year, and in most cases, a notice of a potential claim must be submitted within 180 days. A couple of years may seem like a while, but it is, in reality, not a lot of time, so it’s critical that you contact a Phoenix car accident lawyer promptly after you are injured in an accident.

How to Prove Fault in a Phoenix Car Accident?

A car accident claim is a form of personal liability claim. This means that proving fault will follow the same general process of proving negligence in personal injury claims. It’s important to recognize that the burden of proof is on you in these cases, and your lawyers are responsible for proving the defendant’s fault for the accident.

To prove this, they could rely on things like photographs, video, or other evidence. They may also use eyewitness testimony, expert witness testimony, or anything else that could be valuable in showing the defendant’s fault.

Duty of Care

Proving fault begins by demonstrating that the defendant had a duty of care. This is the idea that the defendant had a civil responsibility to behave in a manner that was careful not to put others affected by their actions in any kind of needless danger or risk.

The idea is that in society, we owe it to others to be considerate of how what we do or don’t do might impact others, and we don’t have a right to endanger others with our recklessness.

In the case of a car accident, a duty of care is relatively easy to establish. It’s widely understood that vehicles carry a significant amount of inherent risk and danger. It’s also understood, though, that our actions involving vehicles could very easily create more risk and danger, so we need to use an appropriate amount of care and caution.

Breach of Duty

In a car accident claim, establishing a duty to care is necessary because the plaintiff’s lawyers must next show that the duty was not met. This is known as a breach of duty. This means that the defendant, either by their action or inaction, failed to provide the level of careful behavior that was due to others. This could occur as a result of a variety of behaviors, depending upon who the defendant is and their relationship to the accident.

In some cases, the breach of duty may be a violation of laws and even criminal, but it doesn’t have to be. Civil law covers things that are “honest mistakes” that don’t rise to the criminal level but are still a violation of what participants in a civil society owe to each other. Therefore, proving a breach does not always require proving that someone behaved criminally but instead that they failed to behave as a reasonably careful person would have in the same circumstances.

A breach of duty in a car accident can take many different forms. If another driver is at fault, it could be something like a violation of the rules of the road, drunk driving, reckless driving, or distracted driving in Phoenix, and and hazardous areas such as the most dangerous roads and intersections in Phoenix. In circumstances where a driver’s employer is at fault, it might be something like an unreasonable policy or delivery expectations.

A defective part or incorrectly installed part could be considered a breach by the manufacturer or installer. The government could also potentially be at fault if they have failed to keep the roads, signs, and traffic lights in functional working order. To prove the breach, the plaintiff’s lawyer will need to have evidence demonstrating that it occurred.

Connecting the Breach to the Accident

The final thing the plaintiff’s lawyers must do to prove fault in a car accident is connect the breach of duty by the defendant to the injuries suffered by the plaintiff. Because of the nature of the car accident, this will probably involve proving two things, both of which could receive some resistance from the defense.

It must be shown that the breach of duty led directly to the accident. This might seem like something that wouldn’t be debatable, but there can be times when a breach doesn’t contribute to an accident.

Imagine if someone is on their phone, texting while driving. If they are going through a green light while maintaining their lane and speed, but another car comes through the intersection and runs into them because the light malfunctioned and both directions had a green, it would be hard to argue that the person texting contributed much to the cause of the accident, if at all.

Providing Evidence of the Defendant’s Liability

The breach must be shown to be the reason that the accident occurred in Phoenix. In other words, the plaintiff’s lawyer needs to be able to show that without the breach, there wouldn’t have been any accident. To show this, they will rely on a variety of evidence and may even call on an expert witness in car crashes who may be able to demonstrate the way that the breach precipitated the accident.

The injuries, then, must be a direct result of the accident. This is also the kind of thing that many people might not think would be particularly disputable. However, there have been attempts to defraud insurance companies by claiming either that pre-existing conditions were the result of an accident or that injuries suffered after an accident were caused by it.

To prevent these kinds of issues, there will be some level of scrutiny placed on the injuries that are attributed to the accident to ensure that they aren’t exaggerated or the product of something else. The plaintiff’s team will need to demonstrate the connection and, again, could rely on the use of an expert witness if needed.

What Could Compensation Cover in a Phoenix Car Accident?

Compensation in a car accident claim, as with all personal injury claims, is paid out in what is referred to as damages. Damages also must follow the causal connections from the breach, so the plaintiff’s lawyers must be able to demonstrate that the costs the damages will cover are a direct result of the injuries suffered in the accident.

It needs to be shown that without the breach, you wouldn’t have incurred those costs. It’s only with that direct evidence that the defendant is going to be considered liable for them. Therefore, it’s critical that you maintain thorough documentation of the injuries you suffered and the costs associated, as that is what your car accident lawyer will use to prove the costs caused by the accident.

The damages in a car accident claim are usually paid out in three forms:

  • Economic Damages – Many of the costs of a car accident have a clear, tangible financial component to them. Things like medical bills from the injuries you sustained, repairs for a vehicle or even replacement of a totaled vehicle, and the wages you’ve lost from having to miss work are all things that have an easily recognizable financial component. That makes them relatively easy to calculate as well.

These kinds of things are all covered with economic damages. These also extend into the future, so if your injury will require ongoing medical care, physical therapy, medications, and rehabilitation, the cost of those things will be included. Additionally, if your injuries are going to keep you from returning to work at the same level as you were able to before, or altogether, then lost earning capacity is also covered.

  • Non-Economic Damages – The costs of an injury aren’t limited to those things for which there is a bill. There are less tangible psychological and emotional costs that you may have to deal with as well, so things like pain and suffering, mental anguish, and loss of enjoyment in life are given values.

These are then compensated through non-economic damages. Of course, these aren’t the kinds of problems money can solve, but money can help alleviate stress and anxiety regarding other issues in life. Hopefully, that can free up time and space to better manage these kinds of concerns.

  • Punitive Damages – A third kind of damages is determined not so much by what the plaintiff has suffered but rather by an assessment of the defendant’s actions. These punitive damages aren’t awarded in most cases, though, as they serve the purpose of acting as a punishment and deterrent.

They are only given out in cases where the actions of the defendant were particularly egregious. Therefore, the only way they are likely to be awarded is if there was something malicious or otherwise glaring about the defendant’s behavior.

What Is Comparative Negligence?

When considering damages, it is worth recognizing that Arizona civil claims operate under what is known as a pure comparative negligence system. What this means is that the plaintiff’s possible contribution to the accident and their injuries could potentially limit the damages that they are able to collect.

The defendant’s lawyer will have the opportunity to argue that the plaintiff was also at fault for the accident. The burden of proof will be on them to demonstrate the components of fault regarding the plaintiff’s actions leading up to the car accident.

If they are able to make a case for the plaintiff’s fault, then both parties will be given a percentage according to their contributions to the accident. The plaintiff, then, will have their damage award reduced proportionately to their share of the fault. For instance, if it can be shown that the plaintiff was 10% at fault on a $200,000 damages award, they will receive $180,000.

In some states, the party that is more than 50% responsible for accidents cannot collect damages at all. Because Arizona operates off a pure comparative negligence system, this is not a concern. In Arizona, even if someone is 99% at fault for an accident, they could still collect 1% of damages.

Settling a Claim vs. Going to Court

A common concern for some people is whether or not they should settle a claim or take it to court. The right answer will depend on a variety of factors—in particular, the nature of your accident and your preferences. There are upsides to either option and risks with both.

In the case of settling, the only major risk is that you are getting less than you may possibly get after going to court. The benefits of settling, though, are the inverse of the risks of going to court. When you settle, you are able to be certain that you are going to receive exactly what you agree to. Taking a case to court carries some level of risk.

No matter how strong your case is, there is always some possibility that you may not get a ruling in your favor, particularly when it comes to the contributory negligence element. By settling, you ensure you will get the agreed-upon funds.

Another benefit of a settlement compared with going to court is the timing benefit. In most cases, you will receive the money you agree to within weeks of settling a claim. A court case, though, runs the risk of dragging on for months and potentially years. Depending on how urgently you need the funds, this kind of delay can be troubling for some people.

Whether the potential of maximizing your award in a court claim is worth the delay and risk compared with the guarantee and timely nature of a settlement is something you will have to decide for yourself.

It’s important to work with a lawyer, though, who can give you an understanding of what all of the elements look like with regard to your specific case. They can help you better understand how to consider these choices in your situation.

What Does a Phoenix Car Accident Lawyer Do?

Working with a Phoenix car accident lawyer, as you can find with the Bleaman Law Firm, can be critical to ensuring that you get the funds that you need from your car accident claim. Your lawyer will perform a number of essential functions as they represent you and advocate on your behalf.

One of the most important things your lawyer does is investigate your car accident. They will see what they can uncover about the circumstances surrounding the accident and gather the critical evidence they need to make your case.

In the course of the investigation, they will not only be looking for what parties are liable and the evidence necessary to hold them accountable, but they will also be seeking to find evidence that can be used against accusations that you were at fault. This can be helpful in defending against contributory negligence attempts.

Representation Throughout Negotiation and Trial

Your lawyer can also represent you in negotiations with the insurance company that is responsible for paying what the liable party owes. This can be helpful in a couple of different ways. Having your lawyer communicate with the insurance companies can help you avoid saying something that they might use against you.

Additionally, when you allow a lawyer to negotiate for you, that alone can lead to a more serious offer from the insurance companies. Insurance companies realize that a lawyer has experience that allows them to recognize what would and wouldn’t be a fair offer. Having a lawyer negotiate also carries the implicit threat of going to court, which can lead to a more willing negotiation partner.

If a settlement isn’t going to be a viable option, then it’s your lawyer’s job to represent you through the legal process. This can include things like preparing and filing the claim, hearings and other procedural elements and making your case in a civil trial.

They will demonstrate why the defendant is liable by showing the evidence that they’ve gathered and calling witnesses as needed. They’ll also demonstrate the reason for the damages that you’re seeking. Finally, they will offer a defense against claims that you share in liability for the accident. Working with the right car accident lawyer in Phoenix can be vital to getting the compensation that you need.

What to Do After a Car Accident in Phoenix, AZ?

A car accident is often a disorienting experience for those involved. Shock and adrenaline can leave a person feeling like they’re in a bit of a haze. Of course, any physical injuries only add to the chaotic feelings of the moment. What you can and can’t do in the immediate aftermath of an accident is going to be limited by these factors.

However, to whatever extent you can, there are some things you may be able to do in the immediate aftermath of a car accident that can be helpful to your later case. As the situation moves forward, there are also some practices that can be helpful.

Some of the things to do after a car accident include:

  • Seek Medical Help – It’s important that you get medical help both at the scene of the accident and afterward. The paramedics who come to the scene of an accident with injuries are trained to look for traumatic injuries. They may recognize something is wrong that you aren’t even aware of yourself because of the shock.

Letting them check for possible injuries is important. Even if you don’t have to go to the hospital because of your injuries, it’s a good idea to get a full medical examination shortly after the accident. Because paramedics are trained to focus on traumatic injuries, they may have missed something that could be more routine and less urgent. A doctor might later catch these issues.

Additionally, the adrenaline wearing off might alert you to something that needs attention that you didn’t notice before. It’s important to get this more comprehensive medical examination soon after the accident. A delay could lead to the defendant’s lawyers attempting to argue that the injuries either weren’t as serious as described or that they occurred in the intervening time. Getting examined promptly can help counter those arguments.

  • Get Contact Information – It’s important to, if possible, get contact information at the scene of the accident. Obviously, it’s important to get the contact and insurance information of any other drivers involved in the accident. It’s also a good idea to see if there were any eyewitnesses present and to get their contact information. Your lawyer may be able to use their help in making your case.
  • Document More Than You Think You Need to – Documentation is vital to making your case. It will provide your lawyer with everything from evidence needed to argue the defendant’s fault to justification for the damages you’re seeking. If your injuries will allow it, or if someone else you trust can handle it, it’s helpful for documentation to begin at the scene of the accident.

Photos and videos of the scene can be helpful in making your case later. It’s important to get photos of the vehicle damage, injuries, road signs, and anything else that may be relevant to the accident. In particular, you will want to try to get a wide shot of the scene that shows any skid marks caused by the accident. The documentation, though, continues beyond the scene of the accident.

It’s important that you have thorough documentation regarding the injuries you suffered and the costs associated with those injuries. You will also want to be sure you document the costs of vehicle repair. In general, it’s better to gather as much documentation as you can. Having too much is not a problem, and it is much better than having too little, as your lawyer can always filter out things that are most relevant to your case.

  • Be Cautious About What You Say – It’s important to choose your words very carefully if you are discussing the accident with anyone. The defendant’s lawyer will also be looking for anything that they can find to use against you. If something you have said can be presented as though you are taking the blame, you can be pretty sure they will use it when it comes time to argue for contributory negligence.

You especially want to be careful when talking with other drivers in the accident. You also want to watch what you say when communicating with any insurance agent, as they will be on watch for anything that sounds like accepting blame. When possible, it’s usually good practice to let your lawyer represent you, as they are familiar with what should be avoided.

  • Contact the Bleaman Law Firm – Getting in touch with a car accident lawyer in Phoenix soon after an accident can be essential to ensuring that you protect every option available for you to receive the compensation you deserve.

We can begin investigating the accident, determine the relevant statutes of limitations, and represent you in negotiations with the insurance companies. Of course, if the case needs to go to court, we will be more than prepared to represent you and make your case there as well.

We Can Help You Seek the Compensation That You Deserve

The costs of a car accident can pile up quite quickly, especially when the accident is quite serious. The reason that drivers are expected to carry car insurance is so that there is appropriate compensation for those who suffer costs as a result of these accidents.

Things like medical bills, property damages, lost wages, and pain and suffering all should be properly compensated as the responsibility of those who caused the accident. Insurance, then, ensures that there will be the appropriate funds to cover these costs.

The insurance companies responsible for appropriate compensation aren’t always quick to pay what they should. Often, insurance companies try to deny compensation or lowball those they owe restitution to. The law, though, allows for those injured in car accidents to seek what they owe through a civil claim. In some circumstances, even just the credible threat of a civil case can lead to a more willing partner in negotiations.

To ensure that you have a strong chance of getting what you’re owed, it’s a good idea to work with an experienced Phoenix car accident lawyer like those you’ll find at the Bleaman Law Firm. If you’ve been injured in a car accident and need fair compensation, contact us today.


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