If you have been recently injured in a car accident, you are not alone. In Arizona, more than 50,000 people are injured in car crashes each year. Living in a state with some of the busiest roads in the world makes car accidents inevitable. Many people wonder whether they should call an Arizona Car Accident Lawyer to see if they have a case and whether they should pursue a claim. Here are some factors that will help you in making that decision:
Understanding State Laws In Arizona
The eligibility of your case depends on varying state laws. There is a system that categorizes states under “fault” and “no-fault” classifications. Arizona is a “fault” state, which is a good thing for accident victims.
As of this writing, the states that fall under the “no-fault” designations are:
- New Jersey
- New York
- North Dakota
If your state is not included in the list above, then you are under a “fault” state.
In a “fault” state like Arizona, the driver who is at fault will be the one required to pay for the damages incurred. An experienced Arizona car accident lawyer can help you prove that the other party was at fault.
In a “no-fault” state, regardless of who caused the accident, their personal insurance will cover the damages.
Simply put, if your car accident happened in a “fault” state, you may file a case. If your car accident happened in a “no-fault” state, you may only file a case if your injury goes beyond the provisions of the state law.
How Much Time Do You Have To File Your Injury Case?
In Arizona, you have a maximum of two years to file a lawsuit after a car accident, unless the claim is against a public entity like the city or state. In that case, you have 180 days from the date of the car accident to file a notice of claim, and one year from the date of the car accident to file a lawsuit. If you do not file a lawsuit within these time periods, you will waive your right to file a claim. Thus, you must consult with an Arizona Accident Attorney as soon as possible.
Knowing Who Caused The Accident
Before filing a legal claim, you must know who caused the accident and your injury. For example, you should try to analyze the following to help you determine who is at fault:
- Did the driver ignore the stoplight?
- Was the driver speeding?
- Was the driver under the influence of alcohol or other substances?
- Did the driver fall asleep behind the wheel?
- Was the driver using a cellphone before the collision?
- Was the driver distracted, like applying makeup while on the road?
- Did you even see the driver before the collision? He/she might be reaching for something under the seats, losing control of the vehicle.
Once you have identified the possible cause of your accident, then you can take the necessary steps to file your legal claim.
It is important to note that Arizona still follows the comparative fault system. For example, the driver that hit you may have been speeding through the intersection, but you may have failed to stop at the red light. Thus, the percentages of fault may be divided between both you and the other party. This may affect the amount of compensation that you recover.
You may have already taken photos and videos of your accident. If you were not able to do so, getting the police report will be crucial to your case.
Here are a few ways to gather evidence after a car accident:
- Revisit the place of the incident. Try to interview witnesses if possible.
- If there is are cameras at local businesses or residences around the area, you may ask the owner to see if there was a recorded footage of your car accident.
- Prepare proof of treatment that you have received, including x-rays and diagnosis. If you are currently unfit for work due to your injury, you may need to ask for medical certification.
- You may have missed work after the accident, which means you are entitled to be compensated for the loss of income. Ask your supervisor or HR department for documentation of absences due to your injury.
- If you are unable to use your vehicle due to the accident, you need to prepare documents showing the extent of damage and the cost of repairs.
Assessing The Types Of Damages
The damages that result in car accidents may either be economic or non-economic. It is easier to compute the economic damages such as:
- Cost of car repairs or replacement
- Loss of income due to absence from work
- Medical expenses and further treatments
The difficult part is assessing the value of non-economic damages. If you are injured, these are the things that you must prove:
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional trauma and mental distress
- Disability and impairment
As mentioned earlier, laws differ from state to state. Some areas may impose limits on the amount of legal compensation that you may receive. Fortunately, Arizona law does not place a limit on the damages incurred for seriously injured accident victims.
Determining The Extent Of Injury
After a car accident, people usually try to move on as quickly as possible. Sure, you may have a thousand other things to do, but after an accident, your health must come first.
Whether the signs of injury are there or not, you must always see a doctor as soon as possible. The extent of your injury will be crucial in determining the value of your claim.
Typically, two kinds of injuries are caused by car accidents:
Hard Injuries – these are serious physical damages that are easily detected by medical examinations. Hard injuries are commonly awarded higher compensation because of their severity and possible long-term effects. Examples of hard injuries include:
- Broken limbs or bones
- Head injuries/concussion
- Joint dislocation/ torn cartilage or ligaments
- Large wounds, cuts, or skin tear
- Displacement in the neck, back, or spinal column
Soft Injuries – while these injuries are much harder to prove, any form of physical injury still earns you the right for compensation. Therefore, you must seek medical attention right after a car accident so that any soft tissue injuries will be included in your medical report, namely:
- Sprained ankle/ sprained elbow
- Knee strain
- Muscle tear
- Nerve damage
- Deep and sore bruises
Establishing your Claim
Hiring an Arizona car accident lawyer will help you prove the damages and evidence you have are reasonable and valid. Do the factors mentioned in this article match your current situation? If the answer is yes, you have a car accident injury case. Our reliable team of Arizona car accident injury lawyers is here to help you.