Tucson Personal Injury Lawyers
Types of Personal Injury Claims That We Handle
The experienced lawyers at Lamber Goodnow are here to help you if you have been injured in an accident in Tucson or anywhere in Arizona. Our team of highly innovative and dedicated personal injury lawyers is focused on helping accident victims with their rights to the recovery of damages. We are proactive and aggressive in our representation of our clients. We take the time to complete the necessary legal research as we seek justice for our clients. In our effort to help to prevent similar accidents from happening to others, we sometimes advocate for new legislation in order to protect people. We represent our clients in a broad variety of different types of personal injury matters, including the following:
- Automobile accidents
- Aviation accidents
- Bicycle accidents
- Bus accidents
- Catastrophic injuries
- Dog bite cases
- Drowning cases and swimming pool accidents
- Fires, explosions and electrical accidents
- Motorcycle accidents
- Pedestrian accidents
- Premises liability cases
- Products liability cases
- Trucking accidents
- Workplace accidents and injuries
- Wrongful death cases
To learn about the rights that you might have in your case, contact our Tucson personal injury law firm to schedule a consultation.
What should you do after an accident?
It is important for you to understand what should happen after an accident in order to preserve the evidence in your case. After you have been involved in an accident in which someone has been injured or killed, you must notify the authorities and remain at the scene until they arrive under ARS § 28-666. Under ARS § 28-663, the involved drivers are also supposed to exchange information and render aid to anyone who is injured until help arrives.
It is also important for you to take steps to preserve evidence in your case. If you are able to do so, take photographs of the vehicles involved and the scene, and write down information about the other involved vehicle, including the license plate number and its make and model. If there are witnesses, try to get their names and contact information. When the officer arrives, give your statement about what happened. Do not say that you were not injured even if you initially believe that you aren’t. Many serious injuries do not exhibit symptoms for hours or days after an accident. You should instead simply tell the officers that you want to get examined by a doctor and then go to get a thorough medical examination.
Different types of evidence
Personal injury cases that happen in Tucson will normally be heard in Pima County Superior Court or in the U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona. Both the state and federal systems have their own rules of evidence, which must be followed in order to admit evidence in your case. It is important to take the proper steps following your accident to make certain that the evidence in your case will be admissible so that the jury will be able to examine it. Here are some examples of evidence that might be relevant in your case.
Physical evidence may be used to help prove fault in an accident. This might include the damage to a vehicle, a broken stair railing, bloodied clothing or others. It is very important to collect the physical evidence in an accident case as soon as possible. If it is not photographed or preserved, it may be destroyed, lost, repaired or altered by weather. When you work with an experienced lawyer, he or she will document its storage location to make certain that you will be able to establish the chain of custody so that it will be admissible.
The chain of custody for evidence is the chronological documentation showing the custody, transfer, control and seizure of evidence. Both the federal and state court systems require that litigants are able to establish the chain of custody for purposes of admissibility. Establishing the chain of custody is required so that you can show that the evidence has not been hidden, destroyed or altered since the accident.
Today, many attorneys use an electronic discovery process, which includes identification of the evidence, preservation of it, collection, processing of the evidence, review, analysis of the evidence, production to the other side and presentation of it at trial. The Task Force on Court Management of Digital Evidence was created by the Arizona Judicial Branch’s Administrative Order 2016-129 in order to create policies for managing electronic evidence.
When the police respond to an injury accident, they document what happened and what they find through their investigation in police reports. The reports are strong pieces of evidence in helping to determine fault even though they might not be admissible. The reports are useful because they may document the weather conditions, date, time and location along with the contact information, names and statements of those who are involved and witnesses. You can request a copy of your police report from the law enforcement agency that responded to the scene of your accident. Your lawyer may use it in negotiations with the insurance company in order to try to secure a reasonable settlement for you.
While the police reports may be very helpful in negotiations, they are generally inadmissible because they are considered to be hearsay. Hearsay is an out-of-court statement that is used in court to try to prove the truth of an asserted matter. Since these statements are not made while the people making them are under oath, the people making the statements are not subject to cross-examination and cannot be observed by the court.
Admissible out-of-court statements
The Arizona Rules of Evidence and the Federal Rules of Evidence both list exceptions to the hearsay rule, allowing some types of out-of-court statements to be admitted into evidence and considered by the jury or judge. Under Arizona Rule of Evidence 803(8), certain facts that are contained in a police report may be admissible. There are other exceptions to the hearsay rule that your lawyer at Lamber Goodnow can explain to you.
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When you go to the hospital or to your doctor after an accident, medical records documenting your injuries and their severity will be created along with all of the treatment that you receive. Your medical records are extremely important in your personal injury claim and play a large role in determining how much compensation you should demand. There are multiple types of medical records that you should request, including the paramedic reports, your emergency room records, doctors', nurses', and therapists' notes, all test and exam results and the diagnosis and prognosis given by your doctor.
Personal injury laws in Arizona
There are multiple laws in Arizona that affect personal injury cases. It is important for you to understand these laws so that you can protect your rights following your injury accident.
Some of the laws that may be applicable in your case may include the following:
Arizona is one of the tort states for automobile accidents. If you are injured in an accident, you will have several options through which to recover compensation. You can file claims with either your own insurance company or that of the at-fault driver, or you can file a civil lawsuit against the driver who caused your accident and resulting injuries.
In Arizona, all drivers are mandated to carry liability insurance under ARS § 28-4009 of at least $15,000 bodily injury or death coverage, $30,000 per accident if two or more people are injured or killed and $10,000 for damages to property. If you suffer serious injuries in an accident in which the other driver only has these minimal amounts of coverage, it may be insufficient to compensate you fully for your losses. You are allowed to choose uninsured and underinsured motorists coverage in Arizona, and ARS § 20-259.01 mandates that insurers advise consumers in writing about underinsured and uninsured motorists coverage. This additional coverage may offer you another source of recovery if the at-fault driver was uninsured or did not have sufficient coverage.
Health care liens
When you are injured and require treatment for your injuries, the health care providers may file liens against any settlement or award that you might receive so that they can be reimbursed for the cost of your care. In Tucson, the hospitals and other health care providers routinely file liens with the Pima County Recorder's Office. The health care providers may file these liens even if you have insurance to obtain the difference between what your insurance covers and what they charge as their full rates.
ARS §§ 33-931 - 33-936 govern health care liens and provide a way for the providers to place liens against personal injury claims. The injured victims must have outstanding balances owed to the service providers. If your insurance company has already satisfied it, the lien has to be released. If you do not prevail on your claim, the liens will not affect any of your property or your wages. The liens are also limited to the customary charges of the provider for the services, and the injured victims may not be charged more than others who receive similar care. Your attorney may be able to negotiate the lien's amount or secure a waiver of it.
Health insurance companies may also file liens against personal injury settlements or awards. Many companies contain clauses in their insurance policies allowing for them to seek reimbursement for the cost of care when you are injured in an accident. Arizona prohibits the subrogation of personal injury claims. For cases that are filed in state court, insurance companies will not be able to step into the case and take over your remedies. In cases involving self-funded ERISA plans, federal law allows these reimbursements and will preempt the state's law. Your attorney will make certain that your health insurance plan is self-funded under ERISA if your company claims that it is owed money out of your settlement or award.
Most personal injury cases in Tucson and elsewhere do not end up going to trial. The personal injury attorneys at Lamber Goodnow work to get personal injury claims resolved before filing lawsuits in court. However, filing lawsuits may be unavoidable in some cases.
Before filing a lawsuit, your lawyer will first gather the necessary evidence to properly value your claim. You will then be provided with a range of values within which a settlement should fall. After advising you of the range of values, your lawyer will draft a demand letter in which he or she will request a settlement that falls within the upper end of the range. The insurance company may accept the demand, make a counteroffer or deny it outright. Your attorney may continue negotiating with the company until he or she secures a reasonable amount. If the insurance company does not make a reasonable offer or disputes liability, it may be necessary for your lawyer to file a formal lawsuit in court. Personal injury cases that happen in Tucson may be filed in state or federal court.
State court process
In the state court system, most Tucson injury cases begin in the Pima County Superior Court, which is part of the Superior Court of Arizona trial system. Every Arizona county has a minimum of one superior court judge, and some counties have more. Superior court judges must be admitted to practice law in Arizona, reside in Arizona for a minimum of five years before taking office and be at least 30 years old and of good moral character.
If a case goes to trial, either side may appeal the verdict. Appeals of Tucson personal injury cases go to the Arizona Court of Appeals, Division 2 in Tucson. A panel of three judges decides appellate matters. Appellate judges must have the same qualifications that are required of superior court judges.
Either the defendant or the plaintiff may file an appeal of a decision made by the Arizona Court of Appeals to the Arizona Supreme Court. The Supreme Court does not have to hear every case, however.
To start your lawsuit, your lawyer will draft and file a civil complaint that outlines your legal claims with the clerk of the court. This document explains why you are suing the defendant and what outcome you are seeking. If your case is eligible for arbitration, the complaint will state so. After the complaint is filed, your lawyer will then effectuate service of the complaint and a summons on the defendant. The defendant will then be given time by the court to file a written answer in which he or she will either admit or deny the statements that are contained in your complaint.
The case will then enter a period called discovery in which both sides must exchange the evidence that they have. During discovery, you may have to answer written interrogatories and submit to depositions. Many cases are still resolved before trial after formal lawsuits are filed. If your case is not resolved, it will be tried before a jury or a judge at trial, and either the judge will rule or the jury will issue a verdict. Under ARS § 21-102 and the Arizona Constitution, civil juries are made up of eight people. In order to reach a verdict, at least six of the jurors must agree. Finally, once a verdict is reached, either party may appeal as explained above.
Federal court process
Some cases are filed in federal court with the U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona. It is the only federal judicial district in the state and is part of the Ninth Circuit. If your case is filed in federal court, it will be heard by a district judge and a jury. In federal cases, the jury may consist of between six to 12 jurors. Verdicts in federal court must be unanimous unless the parties agree otherwise.
Either party may appeal the verdict that is received in the federal district court to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. The parties may also appeal decisions from the Court of Appeals to the Supreme Court of the United States. The Supreme Court accepts very few cases to hear, however.
Cases may only be filed in federal court if the court has jurisdiction to hear the matters. It is important that you make sure to find a Tucson personal injury lawyer who understands the requirements for filing claims in federal court. Under 28 US Code § 1331, federal courts may hear matters that arise under federal law, a federal treaty or the Constitution. It may also hear matters if it has diversity jurisdiction, which involves controversies between citizens of different states. Under 28 US Code § 1332, federal diversity jurisdiction exists when the parties are citizens of different states and the amount in controversy is more than $75,000.
The Tucson personal injury lawyers at Lamber Goodnow will analyze your claim in order to determine the most appropriate jurisdiction in which to file it. There are many complexities involved with asserting personal injury claims, making it important that you seek legal help from experienced attorneys. Contact our firm today to learn more about your rights and to schedule your free consultation.
 Abbott v. Banner Health Network, 236 Ariz. 436, 444 ¶ 23, 341 P.3d 478, 486 (App. 2014), reversed on other grounds.
 Midwest Neurosurgery, P.C. v. State Farm Ins. Cos., 686 N.W.2d 572, 579 (Neb. 2004).
 Allstate Ins. Co. v. Druke, 576 P.2d 489 (Ariz. 1978).
 Fed. R. Civ. P. 48(a)-(b).