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Experienced Phoenix Car Accident Attorneys
With over 30 years of experience, Marc Lamber and the dedicated team of Phoenix auto accident attorneys at Lamber Goodnow prioritize helping every client obtain justice and recover the deserved compensation.
Straight Talk From Marc Lamber
“Recovering from a car accident is a personal journey, but seeking justice should not be. Our reputation is built on a foundation of relentless advocacy for our clients and ensuring those at fault are held accountable. With a record that speaks for itself, a 99% success rate, we remain dedicated to fighting tirelessly for justice.”
Dedicated Legal Assistance for Car Accident Victims in Phoenix
Driving in Phoenix can often feel like second nature, but it might be the riskiest activity you engage in daily. If you or a loved one is involved in a car accident, you need a top Phoenix car accident lawyer to fight for your rights. In the worst of times, you can count on us to be at our best.
Innovative Legal Approach
Our car accident lawyer Phoenix team offers an innovative and skilled legal approach. We conduct thorough investigations of each claim to gather and preserve critical evidence, build strong liability claims, and work with experts when needed. This allows us to understand all critical details of an accident and present the strongest possible arguments to insurance companies.
Committed to Winning Your Case
The combination of our experience, litigation skills, and legal knowledge allows us to negotiate agreements to settle claims for maximum compensation in most cases. If an insurance company refuses to fairly settle, our Phoenix car accident attorneys have the experience and skills to take cases to trial and fight for our clients. With our reputation and lengthy successful case record, many insurance companies recognize the benefit of settling rather than risking a loss at trial. Yet, we’re unafraid to fight for your rights at trial if necessary.
Personalized Legal Assistance in Arizona
Your car accident lawyers at Lamber Goodnow will take the time to listen to your concerns, understand your accident, and identify the losses you’ve suffered. We will take all necessary steps to recover the compensation you should be entitled to.
What You Should Do Immediately After an Accident
Every case is unique, and the steps that must be taken in any particular case vary. You should consult with an experienced attorney to obtain legal advice regarding how to proceed in any given matter. That said, although the below is not legal advice, below are some of the general steps that individuals often take following an incident.
Call 911 immediately.
It is virtually always necessary to get police and emergency medical personnel on the scene of an accident. You may not be able to tell right away if you or someone else involved has sustained serious injuries. Shock and adrenaline can mask internal injuries and head trauma.
Be careful what you say to police and to the other driver.
Do not admit fault. Admissions can be used against you in a legal case and you may not be aware of all of the facts and circumstances that contributed to an incident when the admission is made. Only discuss the facts of the accident with police and others involved. Cooperate with emergency personnel.
Follow the advice of emergency medical personnel and seek immediate medical attention for injuries.
After an accident, it’s crucial to prioritize your health. Emergency medical personnel are trained to assess injuries, some of which may not be immediately apparent due to shock or adrenaline. Follow their guidance closely. If they suggest further medical evaluation or transport to a hospital, it’s imperative to heed their advice. Immediate medical attention not only ensures your well-being but also creates a medical record that can be vital in any legal proceedings.
Document as much at the accident scene as you can.
- Other driver’s name, address, phone number, email, insurance information, license plate number, and make and model of vehicle.
- Contact information of all passengers and witnesses.
- Photos of vehicle damage, road conditions, witnesses, other people involved in the accident and any other elements of the accident scene.
- Police officers’ names and badge numbers.
- Police report number and a copy of the accident exchange information.
Report the accident to your insurance company.
Consult with an experienced car accident attorney before giving a recorded statement to any insurance company. If you ever elect to pursue a claim, information that you give to anyone can possibly be misunderstood and taken out of context to be used against your case.
Be sure to see a doctor of your choice for appropriate medical attention.
Even if emergency services deem it unnecessary to go to the hospital immediately, it’s advisable to see a doctor as soon as possible. Choose a healthcare provider you trust for a thorough examination. Some injuries, especially those related to soft tissues or internal organs, may not manifest immediately. A detailed check-up will ensure that all injuries are identified and treated, and it provides essential documentation should you need to pursue legal action for any injuries sustained.
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Additional Steps You Should Take Following an Accident
The days immediately following an accident are often the most important for finding and preserving evidence of what occurred. It is vital that relevant evidence be gathered, identified and catalogued. Phoenix-based accident cases that go to trial typically end up being heard in Maricopa County Superior Court or Arizona Federal District Court. Both courts have complex rules of evidence that determine what a jury will ultimately hear. Although each piece of evidence must be looked at on its own, there are steps that can be taken early in a case to ensure that a jury has the opportunity to examine all relevant evidence. Some examples include:
Physical evidence may be very helpful to show who was at fault in an accident. Some examples of physical evidence include:
- Damage to a car showing it was hit
- Torn or bloodied clothing
- An overhanging branch that blocked road visibility
It is important to recover physical evidence immediately after an accident because, if it is not preserved or photographed in the first few days, it may get modified by time, the weather, lost, destroyed or repaired. It is also important that you work with an attorney to catalog its location once stored to ensure what’s called the “chain of custody” and future admissibility.
Chain of custody refers to the paper trail, or chronological documentation, showing the seizure, custody, control, transfer and analysis of physical, or electronic evidence. The process is important to show that the evidence gathered is legally acceptable to courts and government agencies. It is important to be able to show that the evidence collected at an accident scene has not been altered, hidden, or destroyed, and that it accurately reflects the actual events that occurred.
In the digital age, the evidence preservation process has become important in civil litigation and injury cases. In the criminal arena, police would seize evidence, seal it in plastic bags, label it, and sign it in to a locked evidence room until its presentation at the trial. If the evidence were taken out for any reason, it would be noted in an evidence log. In the civil arena, however, evidence can be both electronic and physical. The stages of electronic discovery in civil litigation are identification, preservation, collection, processing, review, analysis, production and presentation of evidence at a trial. Examples of non-electronic evidence in a injury case may include photos of the accident scene, photos of vehicles, physical vehicle parts, natural contributors to an accident such as a tree branch, police reports, medical records and personal notes about the accident.
The Arizona Judicial Branch understands the importance of digital evidence; consequently, it has established the Task Force On Court Management of Digital Evidence by Administrative Order 2016-129 in order to develop policies for court management of digital evidence.
Under ARS § 28-666, the driver of a vehicle involved in an accident that results in injury to or death of a person shall give notice immediately to either the local police department, county sheriff or nearest highway patrol.
When the police arrive at the scene they will create a police report. The police report will usually be an important piece of evidence in determining the cause of the accident, even though it is often inadmissible in court. A police report will contain helpful information such as the date, weather conditions, time and location of the car crash. It will also often contain the name, telephone numbers and statements of others involved in the accident, or any witnesses to the accident, which may prove invaluable when trying to prove fault. Additionally, the report will have the officer’s initial assessment of fault. This will include the officer’s written narrative of the details and causes of the accident, and usually includes a diagram.
Once a police report has been created you may obtain a copy by requesting it from the police department. If you know which law enforcement agency came to the scene of the accident and prepared the report (state highway patrol, county sheriff), you may call the police department and obtain the records. Depending on the jurisdiction, there are also online record request services.
A police report is usually inadmissible (not accepted as valid) in court because it is considered hearsay. The legal definition of hearsay is: “a statement made out of court that is offered in court as evidence to prove the truth of the matter asserted.” In other words, hearsay is any statement made outside the court that is offered in court to prove that the information in the statement is true. A statement may be considered written, oral or even a gesture.
The reason these statements are usually inadmissible is because they are not made under oath, therefore, a judge or jury cannot personally observe the demeanor of the person making the statement. Additionally, the opposing party cannot cross-examine the person making the statement. If the statement is made out-of-court, a judge or jury does not have the ability to analyze the statement for ambiguity, insincerity, faulty perception or erroneous memory.
Not all out-of-court statements or assertions are considered hearsay. The statements of any parties to a case are admissible in Arizona personal injury cases, as is the case with all civil matters. The Federal Rules of Evidence, and the Arizona Rules of Evidence, outline various types of statements that are excluded by the Hearsay Rule, as well as exceptions to the Hearsay rule, and thus, may be heard and considered by a judge or jury.
In some situations, facts in the police report may be admissible under Arizona Rules of Evidence Rule 803(8), the public records exception to the hearsay rule. Reports made by government agents, such as police reports, are included in this exception. The full list of Arizona hearsay exceptions provides additional opportunities for evidence to be admitted.
A police report may, however, be used in your Phoenix car accident settlement negotiations. If the police report indicates fault, it may be used as a settlement tool. The attorneys on the Lamber Goodnow team or their partner firms will corroborate and use information from the police report, as well as medical records, evidence of lost wages, explanations of loss of enjoyment and other important documents to draft a demand letter. The letter, directed to the defendant’s insurance company, summarizes the facts of the case, describes the injury(s), provides evidence of loss and demands compensation for injuries.
Medical records are a crucial form of evidence because they can help establish the extent of a person’s injuries, and the amount of compensation they should demand. If you have been injured in the accident, make sure you receive medical treatment for your injuries as soon as possible. Seeing a medical professional is important to begin immediate treatment, as well as to document your injuries from an accident. Medical treatment and therapy may last much longer than you anticipate, so make sure that you preserve all medical records. Documents to preserve include:
- Emergency room admitting charts
- Paramedic reports
- Doctors’ and Nurses’ notes (this includes therapists)
- Test and exam results
- Your physician’s diagnosis and prognosis
Arizona’s Hearsay Exceptions 803(6), Records of a Regularly Conducted Activity and 803(4), Statement Made for Medical Diagnosis or Treatment are both hearsay exceptions that create the admissibility of Medical Records in court.
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Frequently Asked Questions about Car Accidents in Phoenix
Navigating through the aftermath of a car accident in Phoenix, Arizona can be complex, and you may find yourself with numerous questions about the claims process and what to anticipate. To help you better understand your situation and options, here are some frequently asked questions about car accidents claims in Arizona.
Q: Who will be responsible for paying my medical bills? What do I do with the bills that I receive?
A: It is common for people to incur substantial medical expenses following accidents. You might be left facing mounting medical bills combined with income losses, causing your financial circumstances to be impacted. Who will be responsible for paying your medical bills when you have been injured in an accident will depend on whether you were at fault or if another driver or party was at fault for your accident. If you were at fault, your own medical insurance will pay for your medical bills. In that case, you will be responsible for paying your deductibles and copays. If another party was at fault, his or her insurance company will be responsible for paying your medical expenses out of the bodily injury coverage on the policy.
If you have an accident with an uninsured motorist, you can submit your medical expenses to your own uninsured motorists/underinsured motorists coverage through your own policy as long as you have it. Since the at-fault motorist’s insurance policy will not pay damages for your medical expenses until your claim is resolved, you will not need to do anything about your medical bills when you receive them. Your accident attorney in Phoenix can talk to your doctors about your claim. In most cases, doctors will agree to wait for payment until your claim is resolved. You can also submit the medical expenses to your own health insurance company for payment. Your company can then go after the at-fault party’s insurance company for recovery of its expenditures once your claim is resolved.
Q: What happens when my accident was caused by a defective part instead of a driver?
A: Some accidents are caused by defective components instead of through the fault of either driver. If you have been injured in an accident that was caused by a defective part on your car or on the car of another driver, you may be able to file a lawsuit against the designer or manufacturer of the defective component under a legal theory called products liability. Designers, manufacturers, distributors, and others who are responsible for bringing defective products to the market may be liable under a products liability theory as long as you were using the product as it was intended and were injured as a result of its defect. Some common examples of defective parts that have resulted in injuries and fatalities include defective airbags, defective tires, defective steering, defective brakes, and others.
Q: I was hit by a commercial truck. Who is responsible?
A: In a trucking accident that is caused by a commercial truck, multiple parties may hold liability. In addition to the truck driver, the driver’s employer may also be liable. Trucking carriers are vicariously liable for the negligence of their drivers, meaning that the carrier will likely be responsible for paying damages since it will have a liability policy with much higher limits. Truck drivers and trucking carriers are not the only potentially liable parties, however. Depending on what happened, multiple parties could have contributed to the accident. These parties might include the parties who were responsible for maintaining and repairing the truck, the distribution companies that loaded and secured the truck, municipalities, and contractors that are responsible for maintaining the roads, truck leasing companies, and others. Your attorney at Lamber Goodnow will conduct an in-depth investigation so that he or she can identify all of the parties that might hold liability for your accident. Identifying and naming all of the potentially liable parties can provide you with more sources of recovery so that you might recover enough compensation to cover your losses.
Q: Can anyone be sued if they are responsible for causing an accident that killed someone?
A: Historically, the ability to recover compensation for injuries ended when someone was killed. This meant that families could not recover damages from the parties who were responsible for causing their loved ones’ deaths. The Arizona Legislature recognized this as inherently unfair and unconscionable. As a result, they enacted a statutory right to file a lawsuit for wrongful death. Under A.R.S. § 12-611, people who would have held liability under a theory of tort law if the person had remained alive can still be sued for wrongful death. Wrongful death cases may be filed when a person’s death was caused by the negligent, reckless, or intentional actions of other people or entities.
Q: Who can sue if someone was killed in an accident?
A: The law limits the parties who can file lawsuits for wrongful death. Under A.R.S. § 12-612, wrongful death lawsuits can be filed by the surviving spouse of the decedent, the children of the decedent if there is no surviving spouse, the decedent’s parents if the decedent was unmarried and had no children, the siblings, the grandparents, or the personal representative or executor of the decedent’s estate. When they are filed by the personal representative or executive of the estate, the proceeds from any settlement or award will be for the benefit of the estate’s beneficiaries or the decedent’s heirs.
Q: What damages are available in a wrongful death lawsuit?
A: The particular amounts that might be recoverable in a wrongful death lawsuit will depend on the facts and circumstances of what occurred. Similar to injury claims, the potential damages can be divided into categories of damages called general damages and special damages. Special damages are monetary amounts to compensate the family members for their actual economic losses from the loss of their loved one. These might include the following types of damages:
- Medical expenses incurred for caring for your loved one until he or she succumbed to his or her injuries
- Your loved one’s past lost income and future income losses based on a life expectancy chart, your loved one’s education and career, and his or her future earnings potential
- Loss of the value of the contributions through services that a non-working spouse made to the home and family
- Your loved one’s lost rights to an inheritance
- Property losses
General damages are damages that are more intangible. In a wrongful death case, these might include the following:
- Pain and suffering that your loved one experienced after his or her injury up until he or she died
- Your emotional trauma experienced from seeing your loved one die
- Your grief
- Loss of consortium for spouses
- Loss of guidance for children
Punitive damages are generally not recoverable in wrongful death cases.
Q: Will the damages that I receive in a wrongful death lawsuit be subject to the debts of my loved one?
A: Whether the proceeds from a wrongful death lawsuit may be reached by the creditors of your loved one will depend on the party who brings it. Under A.R.S. § 12-613, proceeds from wrongful death claims cannot be used to pay the debts of a decedent when the lawsuits are brought by and for the immediate family members of the decedent. However, when the claim is brought by the personal representative for the estate, the proceeds will go to the estate. The creditors are then allowed to file claims against the estate to recover the money that they are owed.
Q: My child was injured. Can he or she sue?
A: Under Arizona law, minors do not have the legal capacity to file lawsuits on their own. However, a parent or legal guardian of an injured minor can file a lawsuit on behalf of him or her under A.R.S. § 12-541. If a parent or guardian does not file a lawsuit on the minor’s behalf within the normal statute of limitations, the statute of limitations will be tolled until the minor reaches the age of majority. He or she will then be able to file a lawsuit within the prescribed statutory time period after he or she turns 18 years old. If the parents or guardians fail to file a lawsuit on behalf of the minor, and the minor fails to file a lawsuit on his or her own behalf after he or she turns 18, the potential claim will be time-barred. This means that the child will lose the ability to recover compensation for his or her injuries and losses that resulted from the accident.
Q: What are punitive damages? Can I get them?
A: Punitive damages are not compensatory damages. This means that they are not damages that are meant to compensate you for your economic and noneconomic losses. Instead, punitive damages are monetary amounts that the defendant must pay in addition to your compensatory damages. These types of damages are meant to punish defendants for their wrongful actions in order to deter both them and others from engaging in similar behavior in the future.
Because of the unique nature of punitive damages, they are rarely awarded. These types of damages are reserved for cases in which the defendants’ actions were very egregious or outrageous. Types of accidents in which they might be available might include drunk driving accidents that result in severe and catastrophic injuries or cases involving homicide by vehicle with a DUI, for example. Unless the defendant’s conduct was very outrageous, intentional, or reckless, it is unlikely that punitive damages will be available in your case. Your auto accident attorney in Phoenix at Lamber Goodnow can review your potential claim and advise you about whether they might be an option for you.
Q: How are settlements for minors handled?
A: Because of the unique position that minors have, the courts of Arizona treat proposed settlements differently for minors. The courts want to make certain that the settlements are fair to the minors and that the money that is received will not be wasted by the minor’s parents, guardian, or by the minor himself or herself. Under 17B A.R.S. Rules Prob. Proc. Rule 37, when a settlement offer is proposed for a minor that the minor and his or her parents or guardian think is fair, the proposed settlement must be submitted to the probate court for a review. The probate judge will review the settlement and the evidence in the case to make a determination of whether or not the settlement should be approved. If the court does not approve of the proposed settlement, the parties will need to continue negotiating in an effort to reach a better settlement agreement that will be approved.
After a minor’s settlement offer is approved or after a verdict is awarded in favor of a minor by a jury, the money is not paid directly to the parents. Instead, a guardian will be appointed by the probate court to manage the money for the minor. The money will be held in a trust account, and each expenditure that is paid from the account will have to be requested and will have to be used to pay for approved expenses. Once the minor reaches the age of majority, he or she will receive access to the money in the account.
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