Phoenix motor vehicle accident lawyers
According to a report in Forbes from car insurance industry experts, the average driver will have an accident every 18 years or approximately four during a lifetime. This demonstrates the likelihood that you will be involved in one or more collisions at some point. If another driver is at fault for your accident, you should talk to an experienced car accident lawyer at Lamber Goodnow about your rights and legal options. Our attorneys are focused on helping our clients to recover full compensation for their losses by delivering the highest-quality legal representation.
The types of personal injury matters we accept
Lamber Goodnow’s team of experienced personal injury lawyers are prepared to help you after an accident in Phoenix or anywhere else in Arizona. We focus our practice on helping negligence victims to recover compensation for all of their losses. To help our clients build the strongest possible cases, we start working immediately and conduct thorough research. Our proactive approach helps us to identify all sources of recovery and to present clear cases of liability to insurance companies and juries.
We represent accident victims in many different types of claims, including all of the following:
- Car accidents
- Motorcycle accidents
- Truck and bus crashes
- Bicycle accidents
- Pedestrian accidents
- Aviation accidents
- Dog bites
- Swimming pool accidents
- Explosions, fires, and electrical accidents
- Product liability claims
- Workplace injuries and accidents
- Premises liability claims
- Wrongful death claims
Call our downtown Phoenix office to request a consultation to discuss your potential case.
What to do after an accident
The steps that you take immediately following your injury accident are critical to your claim. Several laws govern what you are required to do after being involved in an injury accident.
Under A.R.S. § 28-666, you are required to immediately notify the law enforcement agency that has jurisdiction, including the police department, the sheriff’s department, or the Arizona Highway Patrol. Once you call the authorities, you should then stay at the accident scene and wait for help to arrive. You must also exchange your information with the other drivers and provide aid to anyone who has been injured while you are waiting for help under A.R.S. § 28-663.
Beyond fulfilling your legal obligations, there are several other steps that you should take after your accident. If you can, use your smartphone or camera to take photographs and video of the scene. Your pictures and video should include as much detail as possible, including the damage to all of the involved vehicles, their relative positions, the license plates, and broad pictures of the entire scene. Make sure to photograph relevant details, including the weather conditions, nearby speed limit signs, traffic control devices, and tire skid marks on the road. You should also take photographs of any visible injuries that you have, or ask someone to take the photos for you.
If any bystanders witnessed what happened, ask for their names and contact information, including phone numbers, addresses, and email addresses. Your attorney will want this type of information so that he or she can interview the witnesses about what they saw. As soon as you can, write down everything that you remember happening in the minutes leading up to your accident. It is best to include as many details as you can.
After the police arrive, tell the officer what occurred. You should never accept blame or say that you are uninjured. Even if you think that you might be partially at fault, you might not be aware of other factors that caused your accident. Because of the release of adrenaline that happens after an accident, you might also be unaware of your injuries. Once you have given your statement, make sure that you seek immediate medical attention to check for injuries, and receive prompt medical care.
For accidents in Phoenix, most injury claims will either be filed in the Maricopa County Superior Court or the U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona. Rules of evidence apply to cases in both the state and federal court systems. To admit evidence, you must follow the court’s evidentiary rules. Preserving important evidence in your case correctly can help to strengthen your claim and allow a jury to consider it. There are several different types of evidence that could be important in your case.
Preserving physical evidence
Preserving physical evidence is crucial because it can help you to prove the other driver’s liability. Following your accident, you should gather as much physical evidence as you can. Taking photographs can help to show damage to vehicles or other relevant information about other types of accidents. Getting prompt legal help can also help you to preserve evidence before it can be lost with the passage of time. Your attorney might work with an accident reconstruction expert and other types of experts to gather, document, and analyze the physical evidence in your case.
You will also have to show the chain of custody for the physical evidence that is gathered. This includes documentation that demonstrates the parties that have custody of the evidence, when and to whom it is transferred, when and how it is seized, and under whose control the evidence is. You must establish the chain of custody for your evidence for it to be admitted in court. The reason for this is to show that the evidence in your case has not been altered, destroyed, or spoliated after your accident.
The role of police reports
Responding officers investigate accidents after they arrive. They then write police reports to document their observations and what they found during their investigations. Getting copies of the police reports from your accident can help you to determine liability. They are helpful because they often include relevant information about the location, time, date, weather, and the contact information and statements given by the involved parties. While a police report can be helpful for negotiations with the insurance companies. However, police reports are generally inadmissible in court because they include hearsay statements. Since the statements in a police report are not made under oath, this means that the people who made them were not subject to the court’s observation or a lawyer’s cross-examination. Instead, the witnesses and parties will have to testify about what happened in court so that their statements can be challenged and their behavior observed while they are on the stand.
Medical records are very important in personal injury cases. They help to document the nature and severity of your injuries and the treatment that you received. Your medical records help to determine how much to demand for your monetary compensation. Getting prompt medical attention after your accident is also important. If you wait to see a doctor, the insurance company may try to argue that your injuries were caused by an intervening event instead of your accident. You will want to get copies of the paramedic report, records from the emergency room visit, the nurses’ notes, doctors’ notes, examinations, tests, and your doctor’s diagnosis and prognosis of your condition. Your attorney may work with medical experts to gain a better understanding of the likelihood of recovery and the way in which your injuries affect your ability to perform the activities of daily life.
Certain types of out-of-court statements that are admissible
While out-of-court statements are generally considered to be inadmissible hearsay, there are exceptions to the hearsay rule under both the federal and state rules of evidence. Your attorney at Lamber Goodnow can explain the exceptions to the hearsay rule and whether they might apply in your case.
Many lawyers now use a process of electronic discovery. This includes identifying, gathering, preserving, and processing evidence. It also includes the process of providing evidence to the opposing side and presenting it at jury trials. Because of the increasing prevalence of electronic discovery, the Arizona Judicial Branch issued administrative order 2016-129 in 2016. This order governs how electronic evidence must be managed.
Important Arizona laws for personal injury cases
Many different laws can affect your personal injury claim. Understanding these laws can help you to protect your rights after an accident. Some of the relevant laws include the following:
Case law may also be important to your claim. The lawyers at Lamber Goodnow continually work to keep current with all of the changes in the law as they happen so that they are always prepared to effectively represent their clients.
Arizona is a fault state for car accidents. This means that you will have a few options to recover damages after an injury accident. You can file an insurance claim with the other driver's insurance company or with your own company. You can also file a lawsuit against the at-fault driver who is responsible for your accident and injuries.
Under A.R.S. § 28-4009, Arizona mandates all drivers to carry liability insurance in the following minimum amounts:
- $25,000 for bodily injury
- $50,000 total for accidents that injure two or more people
- $15,000 property damage coverage
These minimum requirements apply to policies that were issued or renewed after July 1, 2020. If the at-fault driver in your accident has an insurance policy with only the previously required minimums, it could have limits of $15,000/$30,000/$10,000. Even with the newer, higher minimum liability requirements, the policy limits may be woefully inadequate if you suffer serious injuries in an accident. To protect yourself in situations in which you are involved in an accident with an underinsured or uninsured at-fault driver, you can purchase underinsured and uninsured motorist coverage. UM/UIM insurance allows you to file a claim with your company when the other driver's policy limits are too low to fully compensate you for your losses.
Health care provider liens
Under A.R.S. §§ 33-931 - 33-936, health care providers are allowed to file health care liens against your future award or settlement to recoup the costs of your care. Health care providers in Phoenix routinely file health care liens. These liens can be filed even though you have medical insurance so that the providers can recover the difference between their full rates and the amount that your insurance covers. If you do not succeed with your claim, you will not have to worry about health care liens. The law also places a limit on these types of liens to match the provider's customary charges for the provided services. They cannot charge you more than others who receive similar services. Health care liens must also be recorded within 30 days of when you received services to be valid.
A health care lien cannot be filed unless you have an outstanding balance with your health care providers. If your insurance company has satisfied the balance, your health care provider must release its lien. Your lawyer might be able to negotiate with your health care providers to lower the amounts of their liens or to release them.
Your insurance company can also file a lien against your settlement or award. Most insurance companies include clauses in the policies they issue that allow them to be reimbursed for what they pay for your accident injuries. However, Arizona does not allow insurance companies to subrogate personal injury awards. This means that an insurance company cannot take over your compensation in a state court injury case. However, if your insurance is a self-funded ERISA plan, it will fall under federal law. Federal law allows subrogation and will preempt the state's law.
What to expect from the claims process
The vast majority of personal injury claims never end up at trial. Our downtown Phoenix injury lawyers settle most of our clients' claims short of trial through hard work and superior negotiating skills. In some cases, however, a lawsuit might be necessary to reach a successful resolution.
After you retain our Phoenix personal injury law firm, your attorney will begin working immediately. He or she will start by gathering and analyzing the evidence so that he or she can value your claim. You will then be given an estimated range within which a fair settlement amount should fall. Your attorney will then write a demand letter to request a settlement amount in the upper end of your range. After the insurance company receives the demand letter, it can accept it, deny it, or make a lower offer. In some cases, our injury attorneys in downtown Phoenix can secure a successful settlement by continuing to negotiate with the insurance company. If the insurance company denies your claim or makes an unreasonably low offer, your attorney might have to file a civil complaint in court. In Phoenix, personal injury lawsuits may be filed in federal or state court.
How claims proceed in state court
If your attorney files a claim in state court, it will likely be filed in the Maricopa County Superior Court. Once the complaint is filed, your attorney will make sure that it is properly served on the defendant. The defendant will be served with a copy of the complaint and a summons to respond and will be given time to file the answer. In the answer, the defendant might agree to the allegations in your complaint or deny them. Once both the complaint and answer have been filed, the case will enter the discovery phase.
Discovery is a process during which both sides must exchange evidence with each other. This can include documents and other evidence that is relevant to your case. During discovery, either attorney may send interrogatories. These are written questions that you must answer in writing. You might also have to appear at a deposition and testify under oath. Your attorney will continue negotiating with the defense during the discovery phase, and many cases are resolved before trial. If your case does proceed to trial, your attorney will meet with you and help you to prepare for trial. At a trial, both sides will be able to call witnesses, present witnesses, and cross-examine witnesses called by the other side. Once both sides rest, the case will go to the jury. When the jury reaches a verdict, it will be announced in court.
Either party can appeal the jury's verdict. If your case goes to trial and is appealed, it will be heard by the Arizona Court of Appeals. Appellate cases are decided by a three-judge panel. The Court of Appeals may affirm the trial court's decision or return it to the lower court for further proceedings, including a new trial. You can also file an appeal of the decision reached by the Arizona Court of Appeals. However, the Arizona Supreme Court does not have to accept every case and agrees to accept very few.
How claims proceed in federal court
In some cases, a civil complaint may be filed in federal court instead of the state court. Federal court cases are filed with the U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona, which is a part of the Ninth Circuit. Your case might be filed in federal court if the court has jurisdiction to hear it. The federal court has jurisdiction to hear cases that deal with federal laws, federal treaties, or the U.S. Constitution. It can also hear cases that involve people who live in different states with more than $75,000 at issue. If your complaint is filed in federal court, your attorney will ensure that proper service is made on the defendant. The defendant will then be given time by the court to file an answer. Once the answer is filed, the case will enter the discovery phase. Like state court cases, our downtown Phoenix injury lawyers continue to negotiate throughout the discovery phase and frequently successfully resolve cases short of trial. However, if your case goes to a jury trial in federal court, the jury must reach a unanimous decision.
Once a verdict is handed down, either side can file an appeal. Federal appeals are heard by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. Either side can file a writ of certiorari to the U.S. Supreme Court if they disagree with the decision reached by the Court of Appeals. However, the Supreme Court refuses to accept most cases.
The injury attorneys in downtown Phoenix at Lamber Goodnow will carefully review your case before choosing the jurisdiction in which it should be filed. Because of the complex nature of most personal injury cases, it is important for you to get help from an experienced attorney. Contact our Phoenix personal injury law firm today to request a free consultation.
 Forbes, "How Many Times Will You Crash Your Car?" Des Toups, July 27, 2011. https://www.forbes.com/sites/moneybuilder/2011/07/27/how-many-times-will-you-crash-your-car/?sh=75eab44f4e62
 Premier Physicians Group, PLLC v. Navarro, 240 Ariz. 193 (2016).
 Abbott v. Banner Health Network, 236 Ariz. 436 (App. 2014), reversed on other grounds.
 Allstate Ins. Co. v. Druke, 576 P.2d 489 (Ariz. 1978).