Injured in a Peoria Car Accident?Driving gets us where we need to go, whether it’s work, school, home, or any place in between. It is a part of our daily lives in one way or another; however, it is the most dangerous activity most of us will face daily. Each day we get into a car, we increase the chance of an accident. According to the Arizona Department of Transportation crash statistics, there were a total of 85,269 car accidents reported in 2015 in Maricopa County, and of that number, 2,214 Peoria car accident incidents happened. Twelve persons were killed and 952 others were personally injured. Alcohol was cause of 94 of those accidents, which was responsible for more than half the number fatalities and 44 of the injured.
As drivers, we owe each other a duty on the road to pay attention, follow the rules, drive defensively and drive according to the weather and road conditions. That duty is both more and legal, and if breached and a subsequent accident occurs, you are liable for your share in that accident. If you have been in a Peoria car accident, you may need a car accident attorney, especially if injuries have been sustained. When accidents happen, regardless how little, it can be a scary time. You may not be thinking correctly and follow through on the simplest of tasks. An attorney is your advocate who thinks with a clear head to aggressively represent you and your rights.
What kind of injuries can I sustain in a Peoria car accident?
Property damage is most common when accidents occur. Of the 85,269 accidents in Maricopa County, 58,955 of those accidents resulted in property damage alone. In Peoria, of the 2,214 car accidents that happened, 1,533 resulted in property damage only; that’s almost 70 percent of all car accidents in Peoria ending up with property damage only. To estimate the property damage and the actual costs of the same in most cases is straight forward. But in nearly 44 percent of the cases, personal injury or death occurred. The stakes are that much higher, and you have rights to recover compensation.
Common personal injuries that result from automobile collisions in Peoria, Arizona, are injuries to:
- the neck (e.g., whiplash);
- head (e.g., concussion);
- spinal cord;
In some more serious cases, however, there can be permanent bodily injures, including disfigurement, amputations, traumatic brain injury, to name a few. Along with the pain and is the mental and emotional suffering that emanates from that injury. For instance, disfigurement could lead to serious depression. It’s not fair that you should suffer and not be compensated.
Who is liable for my pain and suffering from a Peoria car accident?
Liability is the legal term for fault. The person or entity at fault is responsible for (1) causing the accident and/or your injuries; and (2) paying for the damages through their insurance, or alternatively, through their own pocket (e.g., wages can be garnished if ordered by the court). Liability is an important component to a successful accident and injury claim. When liability is straightforward and the accident involves only property damage, an insurance company is more likely to cover damages without the need for an attorney; the matter is often taken care of between your insurance company and the other insurance company.
When liability is less clear and injuries were sustained, the case becomes more complicated and both your insurance company and the other insurance company are going to be more interested in protecting themselves than you. Recovering damages on your own will be more difficult and you may end up with a much smaller settlement than what you deserve. Hiring an attorney to persistently advocate on your behalf will increase the probability of attaining a settlement that is just and fair by law.
Who are the possible parties to my auto accident claim in Peoria AZ?
Generally, the parties are you (the victim) and the other party (the at-fault driver who caused the accident). In other cases, there could be multiple parties. You will want to know who all the parties are, their liability, and if they have insurance or not.
Parties can include:
- the driver/car owner;
- car owner’s insurance company;
- non-owner (e.g., friend or family member of the car owner);
- an uninsured car owner;
- government official or entity;
- commercial vehicle driver;
- commercial vehicle driver’s employers
- commercial vehicle driver’s employer’s insurance company;
- manufacturer of the vehicle.
If it was a friend or family member who was driving the car of another person and caused the accident, then he or she is responsible for the auto collision, but the owner’s insurance will still be responsible to pay the settlement. If the at-fault driver does not have insurance, then you may have to sue, if it’s reasonable given the driver’s financial status and she or he has a job. If the accident was caused by a defect in the manufacturing the car, then the manufacturer is responsible.
Things can get complicated, depending on who the parties are that are relevant to the auto accident in Peoria. An experience car accident attorney will be able to (1) identify the party or parties involved; and (2) link the party’s liability to the proximate cause of the accident and your subsequent damages. Therefore, you must know the cause of the accident before you can identify who is liable.
What are some common causes of automobile accidents?
Almost all accidents are caused by driver error, some will be caused by manufacturer defect or environmental conditions. You need to determine the cause to establish who is liable. There are a wide range of potential causes of auto accidents. Some of the more common ones include:
- traffic law violations;
- texting while driving;
- drowsy while driving;
- drinking while driving;
- poor road quality and conditions;
- poor weather conditions.
Sometimes when the attorney does an investigation, the investigation will reveal that the cause(s) of the accident were multiple, and that you were in part the cause of your own accident and subsequent injuries. This possibility will factor into your compensation.
What is pure comparative negligence?
Arizona is a pure comparative negligence state. This means that if you are at fault at all for the accident, your compensation will be reduced accordingly. If, for instance, you have $20,000 worth of damages, but the insurance company finds you were responsible for 15% of the accident, instead of receiving $20,000, you will receive $17,000 (a 15% decrease from the full amount).
Claims adjusters are trained to look for this. Your attorney should be able to counter such an accusation.
Is there anything I can do to ensure I get all compensation owed to me?
Immediately after an accident happens, there are things you can do to protect your rights and preserve evidence. The following is a basic summary.
At the scene of the collision in Peoria, you may or may not be seriously injured. Depending on your injuries, you will be able to conduct the following. If you are not able to do anything because of your injuries, your attorney will request police reports and ambulance transport notes.
If you are conscious, then try to do as much as you can of the following actions:
- Call 911 and report the accident. It is important to report the accident, and it if Arizona law to do so if there were any injuries, regardless how minimal those injuries are. This step memorializes the accident and gets the police to the scene to officially investigate.
- Exchange Information. Get the name, address, phone number, insurance information and license and plate numbers from the other party or parties involved in the accident.
- Collect evidence. Take photographs of the scene, surround area, look for any road conditions that may have factored into the accident, make small talk to see if the other party exposes anything (e.g., maybe he was texting when he hit you), and look to see if there were any witnesses and take their contact information.
- Go to the ER. If you were not transported to the hospital, then you should get yourself to the emergency room after an accident. Many times, an injury is not initially realized. But going to the ER also starts a paper trail linking your injury to the auto accident; the ER physician will note in the patient chart that you sought medical attention due to a motor vehicle accident.
- Follow doctor’s orders. After you seek medical attention, follow-up exactly as the medical practitioner suggests. A claims adjuster will look to see if you did not follow instructions and will use that to reduce any pain and suffering compensation.
- Maintain all medical billing and medical records. Maintain all records and billing statements; these will be used as support in the demand letter.
- Hire an attorney. Before or after contacting your auto insurance, you want to hire an attorney if injuries are involved. As mentioned above, an auto insurance company’s priority is its own interests; they are under no obligation to protect you and your rights. An attorney, on the other hand, if hired, is obligated to protect you and your rights. Hiring an experienced car accident lawyer in Peoria will benefit you in more than just the obvious ways, but you will be able to focus on healing and not worry about what’s going to happen tomorrow.
Report to Your Auto Insurance. After the auto collision, usually within a 24-hour time limit requirement, you should report the accident to your insurance company. This act starts the claims process.
What is a demand letter?
A demand letter is used in the claims process, particularly when you are making a third-party claim. Your attorney will draft the letter after a full investigation and collection of the evidence. The demand letter will include:
- A statement of facts;
- A review of the governing law;
- A breakdown of all expenses;
- A description of any pain and suffering; and
- The demand amount you want to recover.
The demand letter is the most important tool you have in the claims process apart from your attorney’s negotiation skills. In the demand letter needs to be:
- Legally accurate; and
- Absolutely convincing.
If you don’t get the demand letter right, then, at best, you will receive a counter-offer, or, at worst, it will be rejected altogether. If the former, you can start negotiations. If the latter, your attorney will discuss the pros and cons of a lawsuit.
You should also consider that proving negligence in a demand letter is much easier than the legal burden of proof if your case goes to trial. During settlement negotiations, you only need to convince the adjuster, but before a judge and jury, you will have to prove it. You need to decide if you want to risk going through the claim process alone, or if you want to find an experienced attorney to do it with you.
Do I need to hire a car accident attorney in Peoria AZ?
It is up to you if you want to hire an attorney. Some insurance claims are simple and are dealt with rather quickly, especially if there is minimal property damage and the liable party is straight forward. In other cases, however, it is highly recommended to hire an attorney if you want to receive the compensation you deserve. Insurance companies are out to protect their bottom line. Claims adjusters are trained to be aggressive; they do not care about your damaged or that it was their insured who caused them.
The sooner you hire an attorney in Peoria, the sooner you can be represented by a qualified and experienced individual to get you on your way to a settlement.
When you hire an attorney, you can expect the following:
- Knowledge of the insurance industry;
- Knowledge of the claims process;
- Effective negotiation skills;
- Excellent and persuasive writing skills;
- Investigative skills;
- Trial experience;
- Legal research and analysis; and, among other things,
When you hire an experienced car accident lawyer, you can let go of your worries over the financial and legal part of your case and focus solely on healing your body, mind and spirit. In other words, hiring an attorney acts as a stress reliever your doctor ordered.
Who do I contact if I need a lawyer for a Peoria car accident?
Nathaniel Preston is a compassionate car accident and personal injury attorney in Peoria, AZ. He understands how traumatic a car accident and subsequent personal injuries can be. If you have been in a car accident and have possibly been injured due to the negligence or carelessness of another person or entity, contact Nathaniel Preston today to discuss your case. He is aggressive. He is compassionate. He knows the law. He gets results. He offers legal services in Peoria, Arizona, and for the greater Phoenix area community.