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Tucson Personal Injury Law Blog

Roadside inspections sideline thousands of trucks and drivers

The Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA) routinely performs roadside inspections on trucks and other large vehicles as they go through Arizona and other states. The most recent round of inspections resulted in more than 10,000 trucks and buses being taken out of service by inspectors because of various violations. During the multi-day spree, nearly 70,000 roadside inspections were conducted. The results personally affected more than 2,500 vehicle drivers. However, this equals less than 2 percent of the total drivers.

While the inspections covered all types of violations that could apply to commercial vehicles, the main focus for the latest CVSA vehicle assessments was hours of service. This is an especially serious issue since drivers remaining on the job beyond the hours permitted by industry regulations are more likely to be less alert and aware of potential risks. Coincidentally, it was driver hours-of-service violations that accounted for more than 40 percent of driver-related issues.

The causes of distracted driving

According to a study from The Harris Poll and Volvo, most drivers believe that they perform better behind the wheel than others on the road. However, the truth is that most drivers in Arizona and throughout the country are distracted while operating a motor vehicle. The study found that this is generally true regardless of how old a driver is despite stereotypes about the driving habits of millennials and Generation Z.

Anyone born between the middle of the 1990s and the middle of the 2000s typically qualifies as a member of Generation Z. According to the study, 51 percent of respondents in that age group said it was harder to focus on a single task compared to 5 years ago. Among all respondents, 43 percent said that using a phone was the single biggest distraction while driving. This topped a list that included other passengers, children and changing a GPS.

How can I protect myself during a road rage attack?

You are just sitting at a red light in heavy traffic, minding your own business, when it happens. The driver of the vehicle behind you begins laying on his horn and gunning his engine. A glance at his angry gestures in the rearview mirror confirms that you are the target of the other driver, but you have no idea why he is so upset. Did you accidentally cut him off? Is he angry that traffic isn’t moving fast enough and taking it out on you? Whatever the cause, being the target of an angry driver can be terrifying for Arizonans.

Road rage is becoming a more serious problem in Arizona, as well. According to ABC 15 Arizona, authorities say there has been an increase in road rage cases across the state. As you may presume, this could be due to the rapidly rising population and increasingly congested traffic. It can be easy for many drivers to lose their patience behind the wheel and, in some cases, to completely snap.

Brake Safety Week scheduled for September

The Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance has announced that this year's Brake Safety Week will be held from Sept. 16 to 22. Therefore, all commercial truckers in Arizona should be prepared for possible inspections. This annual inspection spree is meant to enforce brake safety guidelines by putting those who commit a vehicle- or driver-related violation out of service. Without properly installed and maintained brakes, CMV drivers are more likely to get into crashes.

Last year's event lasted one day, yet it resulted in 14 percent of CMV inspections leading to out-of-service penalties. Brake issues were involved in most of the violations during last year's International Roadcheck, also hosted by the CVSA. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration published a Large Truck Crash Causation study that shows how widespread the issue is; nearly a third of large trucks with pre-accident violations are found to have brake problems.

How to prevent drowsy driving

If Arizona motorists are like most Americans, they've struggled to stay awake while driving at some point in their lives. In fact, a survey by the National Sleep Foundation found that 60 percent of adult drivers say they have felt drowsy behind the wheel and 37 percent say they have actually fallen asleep while driving. Meanwhile, a 2018 AAA report said that the number of motor vehicle accidents related to drowsy driving is nearly eight times higher than federal statistics suggest.

According to traffic safety experts, drowsy driving can be just as dangerous as drunk driving. For example, the legal blood alcohol limit is .08. However, the National Sleep Foundation reported that going without sleep for 18 consecutive hours can make drivers behave as if they have a blood alcohol level of .05, and staying awake for 24 straight hours can have the same impact as a .10 blood alcohol level.

Arizona’s new cellphone restrictions on teen drivers

Unlike most states, Arizona does not have a statewide ban on texting while driving. However, the state did just add a new cellphone-related prohibition for a certain class of drivers: Teen drivers.

Under this new ban, certain individuals under 18 are prohibited from using a handheld communication device while driving. The ban went into effect at the start of this month.

Why older drivers who switch to walking are still at risk

Many older drivers hang up the car keys because they are at higher risk of getting seriously injured in car accidents or causing accidents themselves. For instance, their bones are more fragile, and they take longer to recover from injuries. At the same time, delayed reaction times and limited movement can mean that an older driver might be an increased danger. Thus, many senior citizens switch to walking, public transportation, ride shares and other methods to get around.

These are great alternatives. Walking provides exercise, stress relief and an opportunity to socialize. It also helps with independence. At the same time, many of the risks that older drivers have do not magically go away when they walk.

Should I accept the insurance company’s offered settlement?

Should I accept the insurance company’s offered settlement?

It is likely that the insurance companies will contact you if you are involved in a car accident with no fault of your own. You are injured and you have been discharged from the hospital just now. As soon as the insurance company learns this, they will jump quickly to offer you a settlement amount. They will be very soft-spoken and will offer you a very low amount to pay the present medical bills, or less. They will force you to accept the amount and assure you that the whole process will be easier once you sign the release of liability document.Often people think that the decision has to be taken quickly and the insurance companies are expecting just that. But be careful and don’t fall into the trap because they never think of your personal interests and will try to pay the least amount compared to what you are really entitled to get. When they are trying to settle the matter very quickly by offering least amount, it is likely that they are liable for a lot more than that. There are numerous factors that you should consider if you are thinking about accepting the company’s settlement offer.

Know Your Personal Claim’s Value

After a car accident, you have already suffered too much because of another person’s mistake. It would be a mistake to represent yourself and accepting the settlement offer given by the insurance company. Before accepting their offer, consult with an attorney at the Lara Law Firm.  Our consultations are free and risk free.When you are still recovering from your injuries, you might not know the cost of future medical bills as you might need therapy and rehabilitation. So, if you do accept an offer at the beginning of your claim, you cannot turn back and request more money from them in the future for more future bills.Most people are not aware how much money they can actually collect in a personal injury lawsuit. When you think you can handle the case without any legal help, you are at a loss because the insurance companies have a lot of experience in handling such cases and they know how to secure low settlements. Hence, it is crucial that you hire an attorney for the handling of your claim in a comprehensive manner.

Factors to Look For

Whenever you receive the settlement offer, it will be much lower than the real amount that the carrier is willing to offer. You have to show them that you have significant injuries and losses with hard evidence on paper.To know the value of your claim, you must consider the following factors:
  • Damage to your personal possessions
  • Disability or chronic disease due to the accident
  • Lost income
  • Lost opportunities at work like promotion
  • Medical bills
  • Counselling and rehabilitation
  • Transportation costs
  • Other expenses because of a car accident
When you get an idea of the amount of these losses, you can negotiate confidently with the insurance company. So, be certain about the damages before you accept the settlement offer.

Negotiate better

You have every right to negotiate the compensation amount when the insurance companies want to settle. But it is worthless if you are negotiating without fully understanding the damages you have suffered in the accident. You can hire an attorney to help you determine the value of your claim.  Further, an attorney can help you in negotiating the settlement amount that you are offered by the insurance company.Most of claims are settled before the trial begins or without filing any lawsuit. But, if that doesn’t happen, then you have to put your faith in the jury to get a substantial amount of compensation for your damages.  Be ready and hire a dedicated lawyer for your jury trial.

What is my personal injury case worth?

What is my personal injury case worth?

Unfortunately, you were rear ended or t-boned by another vehicle as you were driving down the road, and now you have to pay medical bills.  You may even be sent to collections after you incurred a $45,000.00 bill from emergency services. You will also think about what amount is necessary to pay your doctors and to pay yourself.  There is no true formula for knowing the value of your personal injury, but you can use several factors to compute the total losses in your case.  The losses should equal the compensation.After an accident, you can file a lawsuit against the person responsible for your damages. The damages are paid by the person or the company that is responsible for causing the personal injury. The personal injury claim can be settled among the parties, insurers and their attorneys after negotiation or it can be done by the judge after a court trial.The value of your claim can also be affected by factors such as medical care and ongoing rehabilitation. Moreover, if you were not the at-fault party, then the at-fault party's insurance should be required to pay the full cost of your initial medical treatments as well as any necessary rehabilitative or follow-up treatments. If the nature of the driving offense was drunk driving, then the court may also require the at-fault party to pay the victim punitive damages . The total value of your claim could also include compensation for non-economic damages such as pain and suffering which is a type of emotional damage not easily quantifiable by dollar amount. 

Medical Treatment and Damages (Past and Future)

Most personal injury cases with permanent damages have heavy medical bills and therefore the claim amount includes the expenses of medical care that were incurred and that will be incurred in the future.  You will need a Life Care Plan and an Earning Capacity Evaluation.  Everything has to be included in the medical expenses including treatment, medicines and drugs, hospitalization, etc. The damages include the amount that you have already spent on treatment in addition to the estimated costs of treatment in future. 

Loss of Property

In the accident, there will be damages including your personal property like phones, clothes, etc. Even these things add to your claim and hence, you are entitled to receive compensation from the person responsible for the accident. If it was a car accident and you were hit by some other driver, you can claim the costs of vehicle repairs from the insurance company of the driver at fault. You should be compensated according to the market value of the property lost. Add all of your losses on paper, or on an email, 

Pain and Suffering

You have suffered a lot of pain during the accident and also, you have gone through serious discomfort after the accident. It can also leave a psychological effect on your mind. These are nothing but non-tangible ways of suffering due to an accident. You can claim compensation for these types of damages too as the other driver is responsible for such damages.  To know the value of all of these losses, you have to determine the injuries you suffered after the accident and into the future. 

Loss of Consortium

After a serious accident, you often you have to be away from your spouse or your time with your spouse is affected tremendously. This heavily impacts your relationship with your spouse as you also have to suffer from loss of companionship, compassion and often a sexual relationship. Some jurisdictions also consider the impact of personal injury on the parent-child relationship. While calculating all of these losses and life changing experiences, you should think about how all of this information will be presented to a jury. 

Loss of Income

Loss of income is part of the “specials” that are added to your medical bills to compute your personal injury compensation along with any future damages or loss of earning capacity.  Loss of income includes the income that you have lost but also the money that you could have made in the future if there was no accident. The lost opportunities in your career, incentives, and promotions are also considered in awarding the compensation amount.You can consider these points so that you can get the maximum claimed amount after your car accident. Because of injuries, you will also lose out on enjoying your hobbies, sports, meditation, etc. Even these things should be considered when calculating your offer and settlement with the insurance company.  But before filing a lawsuit, make sure that you have all of this information in writing so that your case is stronger and you achieve the desired compensation.  

What questions will be asked in a deposition?

What questions will be asked in a deposition?

When you have filed a lawsuit in an accident case, you have to develop your case by discovering facts. One of the ways to conduct discovery is through a deposition, which is a recorded interview with the opposing attorney.  The deposition can be taken at the courthouse, but it is usually taken at the other attorney’s office, your lawyer’s office, or at a court reporter’s office. The person, who is giving the testimony to the attorney, is referred to as deponent and it is testimony given under an oath. Depositions form a vital part of discovery in car accident lawsuits. The main purpose of the deposition is to let the parties learn more about the facts and the persons before the actual trial begins.The witness can be anyone, ranging from an eyewitness to an accident, drivers of the cars involved in the crash, or a passenger of those cars. The deposition provides an opportunity to the victim to understand the case better so that he or she can prepare a winning strategy before the trial begins.The questions in a deposition vary from case to case but the introductory and background questions are common in all the cases.  The questions for deposition preparation are standard across different kinds of cases. Here are sample questions and issues that will be discussed by the attorney in a deposition.

Background Questions

Personal Identification

  • Name, nickname, date of birth, age, phone number
  • Residential address and the duration of residing, addresses of the past residences
  • Work and schedule

Family Background

  • Marital status
  • Spouse name, his or her occupation
  • Number of children, if any
  • Activities with the family both before and after the accident

Educational Background

  • Name of the school where you studied
  • Level of education
  • Degrees
  • Educational training

Medical Background

  • Health issues before the accident
  • Health issues since you have met with the accident
  • Disability or chronic health problems
  • Treatment you have taken in the last few years

Legal and Criminal Background

  • Any conviction for the crime
  • Type of crime you committed and its penalty
  • Ever made any claims or lawsuits previously

Questions Related To The Accident

The common questions by the attorneys regarding the accident can touch on the following topics:
  • Time and date of the accident
  • Place you were coming from and you were headed to
  • Traffic and weather condition on the accident day
  • Any traffic lights or signs involved
  • Location of the accident
  • Many specific questions about speeds and distances
  • The speed of both the cars
  • Part of the vehicles collided
  • Injuries and Its Treatment
  • Now, the attorney will question about the injuries you got and treatment
  • Injuries caused due to the accident
  • Doctors you consulted
  • Symptoms you suffered during the accident
  • Time and duration of medical care
  • Cost of medical care
  • Income lost and claimed amount
  • Loss of income and opportunities in future
  • Loss of consortium and sex
  • How injuries affected personal relationships
These are some of the questions that can be asked by the attorney in a deposition. If you don’t know the answer to any of the questions, don’t answer because these answers will be used as a testimony during the trial in the court. You can also give estimates when appropriate.  Even you can depose the defendant and get the information about the events leading to the accident.  You also have the right to depose any witness you think will make your case stronger.Remember the session can be really aggravating due to irrelevant and intrusive questions that are asked. Be calm and answer the questions politely. If you refuse to answer the questions, it can place you on a bad light and it can have a negative effect by having a judge impose sanctions. However, if they ask you harassing questions, you have the right to object and refuse to answer.  
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