Arizona Car Accidents
What You Need To Know
Motor vehicle collisions can produce an assortment of problems that are more serious, more complicated, and more emotional than you might have expected. Sometimes I see insurance companies refer to motor vehicle collisions as “fender benders,” and I know perfectly well why they do this. They do it to trivialize the human costs of these crashes, but if you’ve been injured in a motor vehicle collision, then you already know that they cause some very real problems for their victims, including:
- Health Problems
- Financial Problems
- Legal Problems
- Practical Problems
- Emotional Problems
But there is another type of problem that is perhaps more scary than any of the types of problems listed above. It is the Hidden Problem. You simply don’t know what you don’t know.
When you make a personal injury claim, you are surrounded by traps for the unwary. On the page below (and throughout this website), you will find information that will educate you as to some of the issues that you are likely to face in your personal injury claim. It is valuable information, but it is no substitute for a lawyer. If you want the best possible outcome on your personal injury claim, then you need to be represented by an experienced aggressive attorney.
We have been fighting for victims of Motor Vehicle Accidents for more than 25 years.
Were you injured in a Phoenix area car accident? You’re not alone!
Arizona has some of the deadliest roads in our nation. Drivers in the Phoenix metro area face one of the most hazardous commutes our country has to offer.
A new national traffic safety survey places Phoenix in the top 10 list of America’s least safe cities to drive. At Cluff Injury Lawyers, we “Get Tuff” on negligent drivers. Whether you’ve been rammed from behind by a speeding truck or T-boned by a distracted driver, we’ve seen it all. We have a crack team of car accident professionals prepared to build a winning case and make sure you get every penny you deserve from the careless driver’s insurance company.
What should I do right after the car accident?
You need to follow several important steps. You have certain duties under Arizona law. Call us right away. We can help guide you.
- First and foremost do a self assessment. If you’ve been seriously injured, don’t do anything that might cause you further injury. If you are able, you are required to check the injury status of other people in your car and any people in other vehicles involved in the accident.
- Call 911 and request that police be sent to the scene.
- If no one involved in the accident has a serious injury that is “apparent” and if no one involved in the accident has died, you have a duty to move the motor vehicles involved in the accident off the main traveled portion of the roadway.
- This duty to move vehicles applies only if any vehicle can be moved safely and under its own power (you don’t have to push a vehicle out of the way).
- You have a duty under the law to render reasonable assistance to any person injured in the accident. This includes a duty to call and arrange for the transport of the injured person(s) to a doctor or hospital for treatment if the need for treatment is “apparent” or if the injured person requests transport.
- You have a duty to give your name address and registration number of the vehicle you were driving.
- You have a duty to show your driver’s license to the driver or occupants or any person attending any other vehicle involved in the accident.
- When police arrive, you will need to present your driver’s license, registration and proof of insurance to the investigating officer.
- When talking to the police about the accident, remain calm. Do not be confrontational. Be polite, clear and accurate as possible when answering any questions from the police about how the collision occurred. Do not guess or speculate.
- Ask the police for a document containing the officer’s name, the police report number and the names, contact and insurance information of the other drivers involved in the crash.
- If you have a camera or cell phone take photos of any damage to the vehicles involved in the accident. Also take photos of the area to capture road and weather conditions as well as any important traffic signs or signals.
- Seek immediate medical treatment for your injuries from the nearest hospital or treatment facility. Even if you’re just sore or tense, make sure you receive a careful evaluation. Very serious injuries can be ignored or veiled by the adrenaline, shock and confusion caused by a car crash.
- Even if you believe you were not at fault, you probably have a duty under your policy to report the accident to your insurance company. You are not required to give a statement containing a detailed explanation as to how the accident occurred. To avoid making any costly mistakes let Cluff Injury Lawyers take care of notifying your insurance company.
Proving Fault in a Motor Vehicle Collision
The plaintiff has the burden of proof for every element of his or her personal injury claim, and that includes fault. In the context of a motor vehicle collision that generally means that the plaintiff must prove that the defendant negligently caused the collision. The defendant may be the driver of another vehicle, of if the plaintiff was a passenger in another person’s vehicle then the driver of plaintiff’s vehicle could be the defendant.
In some motor vehicle collision cases, it is obvious who was at fault, and in those cases the defendant’s insurance company will sometimes accept liability without the plaintiff having to formally prove it. But in many cases, and for various reasons, liability is disputed by the insurance company. Sometimes an insurance company will dispute liability because it is not clear who should bear the fault, or because it has some tactical reason refusing to accept liability. And sometimes there is no rational reason for an insurance company’s refusal to accept liability. Whatever the insurance company’s reasons may be for disputing liability, plaintiff’s personal injury lawyers often must prove liability as an element of their client’s case.
Motor vehicle collision occur in all manner of ways, but there are two types of motor vehicle collisions that occur in the United States with much greater frequency than others. They are rear-end collisions and left-turn collisions. Below, I will briefly examine the liability issues that most often present themselves in those types of collisions.
Liability is not usually disputed in rear-end collisions. The “bullet vehicle” is almost always found to be at fault in these types of collisions. Some people mistakenly believe that the bullet vehicle in a rear-end collision is always at fault as a matter of law; however, that is not the case. The non-bullet vehicle might bear some fault if it stopped unreasonably suddenly or if it suddenly pulled out in front of the bullet vehicle.
In Arizona (as well as the rest of the United States) left turns are inherently dangerous because we drive on the right side of the road. As a result, left turns often require us execute our turn across lanes of oncoming traffic. When left-turn collisions occur, it quite common for both drivers to claim that they had the right of way. In left turn collisions, liability is often in dispute. The driver executing the left turn may accuse the other driver of running a red light or speeding.
In these kinds of liability disputes, the non-left-turning driver has a decided advantage for two reasons:
- A driver executing a left turn has a duty to yield to oncoming traffic; and,
- If the left-turning vehicle wants to shift fault onto the other driver, then he (or she) bears the burden of proving the other driver’s negligence. But it is likely to be difficult (or impossible) for the left-turning driver to prove that the non-left-turning driver ran the red light or sped, etc.
When a left-turn collision occurs, it is a virtually inescapable conclusion that the left-turning-driver failed to yield to oncoming traffic. Whatever the other driver may have done wrong, the left-turner failed to yield to oncoming traffic. That conclusion alone provides a sufficient basis to allocate at least some portion of the fault for the collision on the driver of the left-turning vehicle.
That does not mean the oncoming driver is necessarily blameless. If the left-turner can prove that the driver of the oncoming vehicle ran a red light, or was negligent in some other manner, then a portion (but only a portion) of the fault could be allocated the non-left-turning vehicle. But in the absence of proof that would shift a portion of the fault off of the driver of the left-turning vehicle, then all of the fault should remain on the left turner.
Will my case go to trial?
It is not likely that your case will have to go to trial because the vast majority of personal injury cases settle. But our cases tend to settle for higher values because we prepare them the right way. Insurance companies are not stupid. They know if a case is strong or weak. They can tell if your lawyer is prepared to fight for you. Being well-prepared allows our cases to settle for maximum value