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Tucson Car Accident Lawyers

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Tucson Car Accident Lawyers

Arizonans rely on cars and other motor vehicles for transportation to their jobs, recreational outings and sightseeing. As the economy has improved, so has the number of vehicles on the roads across the state as well as in the Tucson metropolitan area. The increased congestion on the highways and streets has led to an increased number of motor vehicle accidents. Most of these accidents happen because of preventable causes such as driver recklessness and negligence.

If you are injured in an accident that was caused by another driver or entity, it is important for you to get help from the experienced Tucson car accident lawyers at Lamber Goodnow. We have years of experience in handling all types of motor vehicle accident claims and have recovered millions of dollars on behalf of our clients. We might help you by handling all of the aspects of your accident claim so that you can concentrate on recovering from your injuries.

Tucson Car Accident Lawyers

Arizona car accident statistics

According to the Arizona Department of Transportation, there were 126,845 car accidents in the state in 2016. Of those, 865 were fatal crashes that resulted in the deaths of 962 people. There were 38,544 injury accidents that caused injuries to 56,636 people. There was a 7.25 percent increase in the number of fatalities in 2016 over 2015 along with an 8.62 percent increase in the total number of crashes. The number of people who were injured increased by 5.51 percent. In Pima County, there were 11,637 motor vehicle crashes that injured 6,641 people and killed 113.[1]

Common causes of Tucson car accidents

There are many different factors that can contribute to or lead to accidents. The leading causes of accidents in Tucson and in Arizona include the following:

  • Driving while impaired by alcohol or drus
  • Speeding in excess of the posted speed limits
  • Failing to obey stop signs and other traffic control devices
  • Driving while fatigued
  • Driving while distracted
  • Following too closely
  • Driving too fast for conditions
  • Improper turns
  • Unsafe or faulty equipment
  • Unsafe lane changes
  • Passing in no-passing zones [2]

A common thread in most car accidents is that they are largely preventable. Many accidents happen because of the negligence of drivers while some happen because of defective components in the cars. Accidents may also occur when the roads are poorly maintained.

Types of injuries in car accidents

People may sustain many different types of injuries in car accidents, and some of these may not show symptoms for hours or days. It is important for people who are involved in accidents to see their doctors immediately so that they can determine whether or not they have been injured and get the appropriate treatment. Some of the types of injuries that can happen in motor vehicle accidents include the following:

  • Whiplash
  • Head and facial injuries
  • Skull fractures
  • Traumatic brain injuries
  • Rib fractures
  • Thoracic injuries
  • Spinal injuries
  • Paralysis
  • Extremity fractures
  • Pelvic fractures
  • Abdominal injuries
  • Injuries to the internal organs
  • Internal bleeding
  • Lacerations and contusions

In serious accidents, some people may suffer multiple injuries or be killed.

Liability in car accident cases

A majority of motor vehicle accident claims in Tucson will rest on principles of negligence. In order to prove the liability of a driver, Tucson car accident attorneys must present evidence that shows the following elements:

  • The driver owed a duty of care to the plaintiff;
  • The driver breached his or her duty;
  • The breach proximately or directly caused the accident;
  • The plaintiff was injured; and
  • The plaintiff suffered financial harm as a result.

When the driver violates a statute that was enacted to protect the public and the violation causes an accident, the driver will be guilty of negligence per se.[3] In addition to proving the negligence of the driver, the lawyers will also need to prove causation.

Proving causation is often the most difficult part of a car accident claim. The Tucson car accident attorneys at Lamber Goodnow may present evidence showing that there is a causal link between the defendant’s breach and the resulting harm. In some cases, causation may be fairly straightforward. In others, however, it may be more difficult to prove. For example, if a victim had a preexisting back condition and suffered additional back injuries in an accident, the lawyers may have to call medical experts who can testify about the exacerbation of the prior injuries that were caused by the accident.

When the plaintiff also shares some fault with the defendant in causing the accident, he or she may still recover damages. Arizona follows the doctrine of comparative negligence. Under A.R.S. §12-2505, when more than one party shares liability, the jury or the court determines the percentage of fault that each party holds. Any award will be reduced by the percentage that is allocated to the plaintiff.[4] For example, if jury issues a gross award of $1 million but allocates 30 percent of the fault to the plaintiff, the plaintiff will recover a net award of $700,000.

Arizona also applies the right to contribution under A.R.S. §12-2501. When two or more people cause an accident that injures another person, all of those who are responsible will be liable to pay for the victim’s damages.[5]

Insurance considerations in Tucson car accidents

In Arizona, drivers must carry a minimum amount of insurance. According to the Arizona Department of Insurance, drivers must carry minimum coverage of $15,000 per person in bodily injury coverage or $30,000 per accident. They must also have $10,000 in property damage coverage.[6] In catastrophic injury accidents, these amounts may be much less than the losses that are suffered by the victims. In other cases, the negligent drivers may be uninsured. It is a good idea for Arizona drivers to purchase uninsured and underinsured motorists coverage when they purchase their insurance policies. This can offer some protection to them when they are involved in accidents with drivers who are either uninsured or underinsured. There are specific claims filing requirements when people file for their underinsured or uninsured coverage claims under A.R.S. § 12-555.[7] Your car accident lawyer can assist you with filing your claim so that you might recover the money that you are owed.

What you do after a car accident is important

After a car accident, it is important for you to do several things. You should first notify law enforcement by calling 911. Make sure to remain at the accident scene. You should check yourself and others for any injuries and administer First Aid if it is needed. If you can, document the accident scene by taking photographs of the road, intersection, traffic lights and the vehicles. Note the make and model of the other car, and exchange information with the driver. If there are other witnesses, try to get their names and contact information. Gathering this evidence early can help to preserve your claim.

When the officers arrive, tell them what happened, but do not accept blame. If you are asked if you are injured, simply tell them that you want to get a medical examination. Some injuries such as whiplash and internal bleeding may not show symptoms for hours or days, and they could be serious.

FAQs: Car Accidents Tucson

Being involved in an accident in Tucson can change your life. A motor vehicle accident might leave you with serious injuries or cause the loss of your loved one. When another driver or entity causes your car accident, you may be entitled to recover damages for your losses. However, accident victims commonly find the process to be confusing and have many questions. Here are some common questions that the Tucson car accident lawyers at Lamber Goodnow frequently receive about car accidents and their aftermath.

Q: Do I always need a lawyer after a car accident in Tucson?

A: Some car accidents do not require the help of car accident lawyers in Tucson, but others should prompt you to see an attorney as soon as possible. It is essential to understand when you need to retain a lawyer for help to recover maximum compensation.

If you are in a minor car accident that did not cause any injuries, you can likely handle the insurance claims process without an attorney. If you are injured, it is not a good idea to try to deal with the insurance company without help. Injury accidents involve more than just your medical bills and income losses. In most cases, non-economic losses will also be involved, including pain and suffering. It is very difficult for people to recover damages for their non-economic losses without legal help. The Tucson car accident lawyers at Lamber Goodnow offer free case evaluations and can help you to understand your claim and legal options.

Q: What do I do if I cannot afford to hire a lawyer?

A: Some people think that they can’t get help from an experienced car accident attorney because they do not have money to pay a retainer. You might be contending with high medical bills and income losses because of your accident and have little money to work with. When you retain a lawyer at Lamber Goodnow, we offer contingent-fee representation. You will not be asked to pay an upfront retainer or ongoing attorney’s fees.

Instead, you will not have to pay your attorney’s fees and legal costs until and unless we can successfully recover compensation for your losses through a settlement or jury verdict. This means that you will have little risk when you retain an attorney to help you with your car accident injury claim. Since we will not be paid unless we win your case, this also means that we are careful when we evaluate claims. You can feel confident that you will receive a fair and honest assessment of your case and its winnability.

Q: What types of damages can I recover in my car accident case?

A: In a personal injury lawsuit, damages refer to a monetary award that may be given to an injured plaintiff to compensate him or her for his or her losses. Several types of damages may be recoverable in a Tucson auto accident claim. The main categories of compensatory damages include special and general damages. Special damages are monetary awards for your quantifiable losses, including medical expenses, lost wages, property damage, and others. General damages are monetary awards for your non-economic losses and include the following types:

  • Physical pain and suffering
  • Emotional distress
  • Disfigurement and scarring
  • Disability
  • Reduced ability to enjoy life
  • Grief
  • Loss of consortium and guidance for spouses or children in wrongful death claims

Your attorney can help you to understand the types of compensatory damages that might be available in your case.

In addition to compensatory damages, punitive damages may be available in some cases. Punitive damages are ordered to punish defendants when they have behaved in especially egregious ways. In most cases, punitive damages will not be available. However, if they are, they will be on top of any compensatory damages that you might receive.

Q: What is my car accident injury claim worth?

A: Many people think that they can call an attorney to ask for a dollar figure for their car accident cases. However, the amount of compensation that might be available varies from case to case. An attorney can’t give you an accurate estimate of the value of your claim over the telephone.

Instead, how much your claim might be worth will depend on the unique facts and circumstances of what occurred. It will also depend on the nature of your injuries and whether you shared any fault for the accident. When you meet with your attorney, he or she will carefully analyze all of the facts and circumstances so that he or she can make a liability determination and provide you with an estimated range of values within which you might expect a reasonable settlement to fall.

Q: If I was partially at fault for my accident, does that mean that I can't recover anything?

A: While some states bar plaintiffs from recovering damages when they are partially at fault for their accidents, Arizona is not one of them. Arizona follows a legal rule known as pure comparative fault under A.R.S. § 12-2505. Under this rule, you are not barred from recovering compensation simply because you were partially at fault for your accident’s cause. Instead, the gross amount of your recovery will be reduced by the percentage of fault that the jury or judge attributes to you. For example, if you are found to have been 40% at fault and receive a gross award of $100,000, your award will be reduced by 40% for a net recovery of $60,000.

Some states follow a modified comparative fault rule. Under this approach, a plaintiff who is found to be 50% or 51% at fault will not be able to recover anything. Arizona’s pure comparative negligence rule does not set a limit on your ability to recover damages. It is possible for you to recover compensation even if you were 99% at fault. However, in that situation, you would only be able to recover 1% of your damages award, making it unlikely that an attorney would agree to accept your claim.

Q: The insurance company asked me to give a statement and sign some documents. Do I need to do this?

A: Whether you need to tell the insurance company about what happened in your accident will depend on whether the company asking for the information is your company or that of the at-fault driver. If you file a claim with your own company, most insurance providers include language in their insurance contracts that mandates their insureds to provide information. This means that you will be contractually obligated to cooperate with your company for your claim.

However, you are not contractually obligated to speak to the at-fault driver’s insurance company. When the other driver’s insurance company contacts you, the insurance adjuster may ask you to give a recorded statement. You should never agree to talk about what happened to the at-fault driver’s insurance company without first speaking to our car accident lawyers in Tucson. Insurance companies use recorded statements to try to get accident victims on record stating things that could harm their claims.

Similarly, the at-fault driver’s insurance company may send you a medical authorization. You might be told that the insurance company needs access to your medical records to verify your injuries. In reality, insurance companies use medical authorizations to pore over accident victims’ entire medical histories so that they can try to blame their injuries on earlier incidents. Do not agree to give statements or sign any documents you are sent by an insurance company after your accident without talking to a lawyer first.

Q: I received a fast settlement offer. Should I take it?

A: After your accident, you might receive an early settlement offer from the at-fault driver’s insurance company. When you receive the offer, it might use language that suggests that it cannot be negotiated. Receiving an early offer might make you believe that if you turn it down, you could be left without anything.

Insurance companies commonly extend early settlement offers to victims in cases when the liability of their insureds is relatively clear. In most cases, these early offers are made in amounts that are far less than the values of the claims.

You should never accept an early settlement offer without asking a car accident attorney to review it. An experienced lawyer can analyze the offer and help you to understand whether it is reasonable. If you do accept an early offer, you will not be able to ask for more money later if you discover your losses are much more extensive than you initially realized.

Q: How long after my car accident can I file a lawsuit?

A: Every state, including Arizona, has a statute of limitations for personal injury and wrongful death matters. The statute of limitations sets a time limit for filing lawsuits. Under A.R.S. § 12-542, you must file a lawsuit no later than two years after your injury accident. In a wrongful death claim, the two-year limitations period starts to run from the date of your loved one’s death. This might not be the same date as the accident if your loved one succumbed to his or her injuries later.

While you generally have two years to file a claim, it is best to talk to an experienced personal injury lawyer much sooner. When you retain a lawyer relatively soon after your accident, it will be much easier for your attorney to find and preserve evidence that might otherwise be lost with time. Getting help from a lawyer early can also help to prevent you from making errors that could harm your claim.

Q: When should I see a doctor after my car accident?

A: While some injuries are apparent and will need immediate medical attention at a hospital, others may not show symptoms for days after your accident. Soft-tissue injuries commonly may not cause symptoms for hours or days, but they can result in chronic pain.

When you are talking to the police after your accident, you should not make statements that you are fine or are uninjured. If you subsequently develop symptoms, the insurance company might try to use these types of statements against you. Even if you are unsure that you are injured, you should tell the officer that you want to see your doctor.

Make sure to follow through and get a thorough medical examination as soon as possible. Your doctor may identify injuries that you might not have immediately noticed and help you to enjoy a better prognosis. Getting prompt medical attention can also help you to demonstrate a link between your injuries and your car accident.

Q: How can I strengthen my claim?

A: Taking specific steps immediately after your accident can help to strengthen your claim. If you can, take pictures of the accident scene. You can use your smartphone to do this. Make sure to photograph the damage to all involved vehicles, the broader accident scene, and relevant details like the weather and road conditions, tire skid marks, nearby intersections, and any traffic control devices or speed limit signs.

You should also ask witnesses to remain at the scene to give statements to the police. Ask for their names, addresses, phone numbers, and emails. Your attorney can use this information to help to show the other driver’s liability for your accident.

Remain at the scene and wait for the police to arrive. After giving your statement, go to the hospital or your doctor’s office for a medical evaluation. Schedule an appointment with an experienced car accident lawyer at Lamber Goodnow, and avoid signing documents or giving statements to the at-fault driver’s insurance company.

Schedule a consultation with Lamber Goodnow

The Tucson car accident lawyers at Lamber Goodnow are dedicated to helping accident victims to recover full compensation for their losses. To learn more about your claim, contact our office at 520.477.7777.


 

Contact experienced Tucson car accident lawyers

After you have sought medical treatment, it is important for you to seek legal advice from the Tucson car accident law firm of Lamber Goodnow. We can help by handling your claim and negotiating with the insurance company so that you can concentrate on recovering. Call us today to schedule your free consultation.

Sources

1. https://www.azdot.gov/docs/default-source/mvd-services/2016-crash-facts.pdf?sfvrsn=4
2. https://www.azdot.gov/docs/default-source/mvd-services/2016-crash-facts.pdf?sfvrsn=4
3. Good v. City of Glendale, 150 Ariz. 218 (Ariz. Ct. App. 1986); https://casetext.com/case/good-v-city-of-glendale.
4. https://www.azleg.gov/ars/12/02505.htm
5. https://www.azleg.gov/ars/12/02501.htm
6. https://insurance.az.gov/consumers/help-auto-insurance

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