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Motor vehicle collisions are common occurrences in Gilbert, Arizona, and across the state. In 2020, the most recent year for which data is available, the Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT) reported that a total of 98,778 motor vehicle accidents occurred in Arizona. Out of those, 970 people were killed, and 28,610 were injured. Maricopa County accounted for the majority of the accidents that happened in 2020 with 71,611 occurring in the county out of the total reported that year. Out of the accidents that occurred in Maricopa county, 460 were fatal, and 19,997 resulted in injuries.

In the Motor Vehicle Crash Causation Study conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the NHTSA found that 94% of car accidents were caused by driver error. When drivers negligently engage in poor driving behaviors, they can cause preventable accidents that can harm others. People who suffer serious injuries in car crashes caused by another driver’s errors can file injury claims against the at-fault motorists. By filing a lawsuit, an accident victim might recover compensation for their medical expenses, income losses, property losses, and non-economic losses. Having the help of an experienced Gilbert car accident lawyer at Lamber Goodnow might increase the likelihood that you will be fully compensated for the losses you have suffered as a result of driver negligence.

Each Lamber Goodnow Gilbert car accident attorney is dedicated to obtaining justice for our clients. Our lawyers have represented negligence victims for years and thoroughly investigate each claim to help us build the strongest claims possible for our clients. When necessary, we hire experts and investigators to help us understand all aspects of a case. Our legal knowledge, litigation skills, reputation, and hard work combine to help us negotiate fair settlement agreements on behalf of our clients in most cases. When an insurance company refuses to offer a fair settlement, we are unafraid to fight for justice on behalf of our clients before juries and judges. Here is some information about the car accident claims process and relevant laws that could impact your case.

Steps to Take Following a Collision in Gilbert

Statistics demonstrate that on average, people can expect to be involved in motor vehicle accidents between three to four times in their lives. This means that you should be prepared and know what to do if you are involved in an accident. Taking the right steps after an accident can help you recover from any injuries you might suffer and protect your ability to recover damages. Here is a list of what to do following a car crash in Gilbert.

1. Stay at the Accident Scene, and Call the Police.

Under ARS 28-661 and ARS 28-662, you are legally required to remain at the scene of an accident. Even if you were not at fault for causing the accident, you could face criminal charges if you fail to remain at the accident scene and exchange information with the other involved motorist. Leaving the scene of an accident that resulted in injuries or death could result in felony charges carrying the potential for prison. Stop your vehicle as close as possible to the scene of the collision. If the scene is unsafe, move your vehicle to the closest safe area. Get the other motorist’s driver’s license number, name, address, registration information, and insurance information. Call 911 to report your accident, and wait for the police to arrive. If the other driver tries to convince you to handle your accident between the two of you without involving the police, don’t agree. If you do so, you will both violate the law. If you try to pursue a claim, it will be much more difficult to prove the other motorist caused your accident when you failed to report it.

2. Check Everyone for Injuries.

You should next check everyone involved in the collision for injuries and provide first aid while you wait for the arrival of the emergency responders. Do not move an injured victim unless you have to. You could exacerbate their injuries by moving them. However, if there is an emergency such as the potential for a gas explosion from fumes or existing fire, move the victim carefully to a safer location.

3. Ask Witnesses to Stay.

If others witnessed your accidents, try to get them to stay and talk to the police. At a minimum, ask for their names and contact information so that your Gilbert car accident lawyer can contact them later. If possible, ask witnesses if they would be willing to allow you to record them explaining what they saw with your cell phone. Since witnesses aren’t biased in favor of either motorist in a car accident, their statements can be very helpful in helping to prove liability.

4. Take Pictures and Video.

If possible, take photographs and videos of the accident scene with your smartphone. Take pictures of the positions of both your vehicle and the other motorist’s car, the damage to both, any debris left on the road, tire skid marks, stop signs or stop lights, the road conditions, and the weather conditions. Take more photographs than you think are necessary. Having pictures of the details of an accident scene can be invaluable pieces of evidence when your Gilbert car accident attorney is negotiating with the insurance company for you.

5. Tell the Police What Happened.

Tell the responding officers what you recall from your accident. Make sure to avoid speculating or apologizing. Instead, tell the facts of what happened. Even if you believe that you are uninjured, you shouldn’t tell the officers that you weren’t hurt. You could have hidden injuries that you’re not immediately aware of, and the insurance company will likely seize on any statements you make about a lack of injuries when you file a claim. If the officer asks you if you were hurt, tell them you want to get checked out by a doctor.

6. See a Doctor Immediately.

If you are seriously injured, go to the hospital from the accident scene by ambulance. Otherwise, you should make sure to see a doctor for an examination as soon as possible. If your doctor can’t get you in, go to an urgent care center. Getting help from a doctor right after an accident can help to identify injuries with delayed symptoms and facilitate a faster recovery. Getting medical care right after an accident can also help to prove that your accident caused your injuries instead of a different, intervening event and help to protect your claim. Once you see a doctor, make sure to follow their recommendations. Keep full records of all of your medical appointments and a pain journal in which you track how your symptoms affect your daily life.

7. Consult a Gilbert Car Accident Attorney at Lamber Goodnow.

After receiving medical treatment, your next step should be to consult a Lamber Goodnow attorney in Gilbert. By getting help from a lawyer as soon as possible after your car wreck, you can avoid making mistakes when speaking with the insurance company. Mistakes that you might make could threaten your ability to recover compensation. Working with a lawyer from the start can also help to preserve evidence that could otherwise be lost. Your lawyer can handle all of the claims processes for you while you continue to recover from your injuries.

Understanding Insurance in Gilbert Car Accident Cases

In Arizona, auto accident claims follow a fault system. When you are involved in a collision caused by someone else, this means that you will file your accident claim with the other motorist’s insurance company. However, you should also be aware that resolving your claim fairly is rarely straightforward. Instead, insurance companies typically employ multiple tactics to try to minimize the amount they will have to pay or avoid paying claims altogether.

Remember that the insurance adjuster who contacts you about your accident is employed by the insurance company. While the adjuster might express concern about your accident and injuries, remember that their loyalties lie with the company that provides their paychecks and not you. Insurance adjusters are tasked with trying to help their employers pay as little as possible in accident claims, and they are trained to ask questions in such a way that victims might make statements the company can use against them to reduce the claim’s value.

Never agree to talk about your accident and injuries with an insurance adjuster from the other motorist’s insurance company Since you do not have a contract with that company, you have no legal obligation to speak with them. Instead, politely tell the insurance representative that you need to speak to an attorney before you will provide any statements. Once you hire a lawyer from Lamber Goodnow, the insurance company will have to go through your attorney instead of you.

Similarly, the insurance company might also tell you it can’t settle your claim until it can verify your injuries. It might send you a medical authorization form and ask you to sign and return it. Don’t sign a release that allows the other motorist’s insurance company to access your medical records. If you do, the company will dig through your records to try to find something else on which to blame your injuries. Your attorney can help by securing your medical records and only providing those that are relevant to the at-fault driver’s insurance company.

A final common tactic used by insurance companies is to send an early settlement offer to an accident victim soon after the collision. A company might do this if the other motorist’s liability is clear to try to get you to accept a low settlement offer. Early settlement offers are typically far less than what you might recover with the help of a lawyer. If you receive an early settlement offer, you should bring it with you to our office so that we can review it and help you understand the likely value of your case. Don’t accept an early settlement offer. If you do, you won’t be able to ask for more money later when you learn that it wasn’t enough.

Relevant Car Accident Laws

The following laws commonly arise in Gilbert car accident cases:

  • Must obey stoplights and stop signs unless a police officer otherwise directs you –ARS 28-644
  • Must avoid reckless driving or face a potential conviction, jail, and fines –ARS 28-693
  • Must drive at a reasonable speed under the conditions while driving on the highway –ARS 28-701(a)
  • Must drive in the right lane on a highway except when passing, driving on a one-way street, or driving on a highway with three or more lanes –ARS 28-721
  • Must pass on the left and stay there until it is safe to move back into the right lane –ARS-723
  • Passing on the right only allowed when passing a car turning left, driving on a road with multiple lanes, or driving on a one-way road –ARS 28-724
  • Must avoid following another vehicle too closely –ARS 28-730
  • Drunk or drugged driving prohibited –ARS 28-1381et. seq.

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FAQs: Gilbert Car Accident Lawsuits

It is common for people to be confused about the accident claims process following an injury collision or fatal accident. To help you better understand your case, here are some common questions received by the Gilbert car accident attorneys at Lamber Goodnow.

Q: When Should I Talk to a Lawyer?

A: Arizona’s statutes of limitations for injury and wrongful death claims are found in ARS 12-542. Following an injury accident, you have a deadline of two years to file a lawsuit. If you lost a close family member, the deadline is two years following their death. In other words, if your loved one lived for a few weeks before succumbing to their injuries, the wrongful death statute of limitations starts to run from the date of their death instead of the accident.

However, there are other times when the statute of limitations for filing a lawsuit will be different. For example, if your accident was caused by a government employee while they were driving for their jobs, the statute of limitations is six months under the Arizona Tort Claims Act.

The best approach is to talk to an attorney right after your accident. Doing so can give your attorney more time to investigate what happened, preserve evidence, and build a stronger case.

Q: What If the Other Driver Was On the Job at the Time of My Accident?

A: Employers are considered to be vicariously liable for the negligence of their employees when they are working. If the motorist who caused your accident was on the clock at the time of your accident, their employer will be liable to pay damages for your losses. Employers frequently have liability policies with much higher policy limits than other motorists, so the employer’s vicarious liability might help you to recover full compensation for your losses.

Q: The Other Driver’s Insurance Adjuster Asked Me to Give a Recorded Statement. What Should I Do?

A: Never give a recorded statement to the other motorist’s insurance company’s representative. Insurance adjusters are trained to ask leading questions to try to elicit harmful statements from accident victims. Politely tell the adjuster you are planning to speak to an attorney and will not give a statement about your accident or injuries until you have talked to a lawyer.

Q: Who Will Pay My Medical Bills?

A: If you secure a settlement or verdict, the other motorist’s insurance company will ultimately be responsible for paying your medical bills. While your claim is pending, you can use your medical insurance to cover your medical expenses minus your copays and deductibles. Your lawyer might also help you find a doctor who is willing to treat you while your claim is pending.

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