Preparing for Your Injury Claim Settlement Conference

Pima County Judge Pro Tem

Preparing and Attending Your Injury Claim Settlement Conference

You should meet with your attorney once or twice before the settlement conference.  If you cannot attend the meeting prior to the settlement conference, at least call your attorney to discuss your injuries at length before attending the settlement conference.  The settlement conference may be the last time that you may be able to express your point of view, present your medical billing, lost wages, and future damages.  Some of my clients are still in medical treatment at the time of the settlement conference and a future medical care report is presented to the Settlement Conference Judge (or Judge Pro Tem).

An Inexpensive Resolution of Your Injury Case

The settlement conference is a very inexpensive manner of resolving your personal injury case.  Unlike a mediator, a Settlement Conference Judge does not have to be paid.  Further, the Superior Court will make some courtrooms available for the litigants at no cost to you.  The Settlement Conference will take about 3 hours or less and the courthouse does not receive any payment.  In Pima County, the Position Statements submitted to the settlement conference judge is confidential and is not filed with the Court.  This means that there is no filing fee for submitting your memorandum and the exhibits to the Judge Pro Tem.

Understanding All of Your Damages and Your Case

Understanding of all your damages, the theories of liability, comparative negligence, and strengths and weaknesses of your case before attending the settlement conference is a must.  At the settlement conference, the Judge Pro Tem speaks with the parties in separate conference rooms and thus becomes the only person that can be a voice for your client.  The settlement conference judge needs to know everything about your claim and why it is better for the opposing party and attorney to settle the case rather than spending thousands of dollars on a trial.  This is especially important in a case with multiple parties or a wrongful death claim.

judicial officer pima county

Pursuing Other Parties After an Injury Claim Settlement Conference

In Arizona, you  may pursue a claim against all parties involved in the accident.  The adverse vehicle owner provides the primary auto insurance coverage for your losses.  The adverse vehicle driver provides the secondary excess coverage for your injuries.  Then, you may still pursue compensation through your own underinsured motorist policy or uninsured motorist policy that you purchased before the accident.  Hence, the Settlement Conference will most likely involve a written settlement that does not have to include the other parties or other insurances policies that can be used for your benefit.

Super Bowl Day DUI Citations and Accidents

DUI citations and accidents

Super Bowl Day DUIs

The local police departments in Arizona along with the Arizona Department of Public Safety have already begun to roll out their DUI vans for the big football day.  Super Bowl Sunday presents an unfortunate day for victims who are struck by drunk drivers. The DUI citations during the 2017 Super Bowl 51 are likely to increase, just like prior years. Super Bowl Sunday is one of the highest days for alcohol consumption, along with St. Patrick’s Day, New Year’s Eve and Cinco de Mayo.  Super Bowl Day DUI citations and DUI accidents will be at a high without a doubt.

 

Drive Safe and Early

Protect your family and yourself during Super Bowl Sunday by driving at a prudent time (keep in mind that most DUI citations take place from 11:00 p.m. to 2:00 a.m.).  Super Bowl Day DUI Citations are expected to yield over 200 DUI citations and arrests in Pima County. Unfortunately, fatal crashes also increase during this sports event and 1/5 of all fatal car accidents involve the use of alcohol.  We can all make a difference by moderating our intake of alcohol or deciding not to drink at all.

 

The Effects of Alcohol under the Legal BAC

The effects of alcohol can take place before a person reaches the legal blood alcohol content (“BAC”) of 0.08 percent.  Hence, even drinking a little can have an effect on your ability to drive. Further, you can be cited for being impaired even if your BAC is less than 0.08 percent.  If an accident occurs, the breathalizer test and the blood test can also be used against you when insurance companies and attorneys get involved. Choose to stay safe and choose not to drink instead.  Super Bowl Day DUI citations and DUI checkpoints will be commonplace especially at major intersections throughout Tucson, South Tucson, and Marana.

 

If you are hit by a drunk driver, call the local police and retain counsel.  You have the right to victim restitution and legal representation in the civil lawsuit against the defendant.

Automated Vehicle Laws and Safety

automated vehicles

Are Automated Vehicles Safe?

The first thing that comes to mind when automatic vehicles are discussed is their safety.  According to the studies conducted thus far, automated vehicles are in less accidents than the vehicles that we drive.  However, the thought of numerous automated vehicles traveling on our streets and highways is a shocking image for most of us.  A high count of these vehicles traveling alongside our vehicles, and malfunctioning street lights and sensors, may cause car accidents and injuries.  This new technology opens a new industry and a new wave of legal claims and lawsuits for defective products.  Also, the reaction to emergency situations is unknown at this point because it is likely that a human will react in a more reasonable manner to an emergency (robbery, storm, objects falling from other vehicles) than a computer.

Counties and cities will be responsible for maintaining sensors and street lights and signs that these vehicles will read.  One has to wonder if a personal injury claim and lawsuit against a government entity will be filed as a result of negligent maintenance of a street traffic light.

 

What Laws Apply to Automated Vehicles?

Liability

Some states have already begun to define what an automated vehicle is an how it can regulated.  The automated vehicle laws will have to be standardized at some point since the we typically cross city, county, and federal lands while driving to our jobs or to family members’ homes.  Google and other companies have made significant progress toward placing these vehicles on our roads.  If they are successful, the drivers will be liable for their actions while they are actually driving the vehicles.

The software companies and manufacturers may be liable for accidents caused by their vehicles while the driver is not engaged in driving.  Lastly, the drivers will have to report to the Motor Vehicle Department when they disengage their driving and the vehicle becomes self-operating.  The liability may be joint in some states between the driver and the software company and manufacturer, and the liability will be separate and severable in Arizona (between the driver/software company/manufacturer.  It will be interesting to see if a jury will place liability on a driver that “could have and should have” regained control over the automated vehicle before it caused an accident.

Insurance

The three States that have tackled insurance requirements for automated vehicles have required a $5 million insurance policy or a $5 million deposit for proof of financial responsibility.  This amount is meant to cover possible liabilities for damage to persons and/or property from the use of an automated vehicle.

 

When Will Completely Automated Vehicles be Accessible to Consumers?

Fully self-driving automated vehicles are not available at this time.  But, the constant improvements in technology will make semi-autonomous vehicles fully automatic in the near future.  The U.S. Department of Transportation should make these manufacturers report their test results and their failures before these vehicles are placed on the road.

 

Child Injury Auto Accident

Child Injury Auto Accident

Do You Need a Child Injury Auto Accident Lawyer?

No one wants to think of a child getting injured in an auto accident. The situation is even worse when an insurance company fails to pay the medical bills. Because minors cannot file a lawsuit, a parent must act on their behalf to help them receive compensation. Accident lawyers have experience with these matters and can get a settlement offer from the insurance company or pursue a case in court.

 

What should you do post-accident?

After an auto accident involving a child, it is important to get a copy of the police report and proof of the accident. An accident lawyer uses this information to establish fault and to help the adverse driver’s insurance company pay for the damages to the young passenger.  This also places all of the responsibility to pay the medical expenses on the other driver’s insurance. Unfortunately, an insurance company might refuse to pay these bills initially, or more compensation may be required.  At this point an attorney may need to file a personal injury lawsuit on behalf of the child.  The child’s guardian or parent(s) are named on the lawsuit as their legal representative.

 

How to sue on behalf of the child?

Personal injury cases can usually only be made by the person who suffered the injury through no fault of their own. Compensation in these cases is designed to cover pain and suffering, as well as medical costs and loss of future earnings. A child is unable to legally bring their own claim against a third party, although the law allows a parent or guardian to do so on the child’s behalf. This parent or guardian, or legal representative, must be of fault for the accident. An accident lawyer can help a parent learn about filing a lawsuit for the child after an auto accident.  Unlike adults, a minor has 2 years after becoming an adult (18 years of age) to file a lawsuit.

 

Should you accept a settlement after a child injury auto accident?

After a lawsuit is filed against a third party insurance provider, it is not uncommon for the company to offer a settlement. These settlements also release the company from any further liability. When an offer is received it is crucial to consult with an accident lawyer to make sure the amount offered is enough to cover all medical costs as well as other expenses to care for the injured child.

Although no parent wants to consider what will happen if their child is injured in an accident, it is necessary understand that the law has set up a way for parents to receive compensation on their child’s behalf. Accident attorneys often specialize in cases like this and help parents and guardians receive a settlement to take care of their child.
The funds of the child are left in a secure account 

After the settlement of a minor’s injury case, a conservatorship must be opened where a probate judge has to approve the settlement, attorney’s fees and costs.  The judge may reject the settlement and force the parties to go to trial.  Thus, the plaintiff’s representative (the minor’s parent or guardian) must be prepared to explain why this amount was accepted on behalf of a minor.  Once approved, the funds of the minor will go into a protected bank account.  The funds cannot be withdrawn before the minor is 18 years of age, but the minor’s parent or guardian may petition the court to release the funds before that time for the child’s benefit (school, medical needs).

Contact our office if you family has experienced a child injury auto accident.

 

Have you been injured in a Tucson Car Accident?

Tucson Car Accident

Injured in a Tucson Car Accident?

A Tucson car accident will occur without warning every day.  Accidents cannot be predicted, so the only thing you can do is to be prepared for such situations in advance.  God forbid you might never have to be in an accident, but it is better that you know what to do in the face of adversity.

 

What to do after a Tucson car accident

Remember these pointers after a car accident:

  • If your injuries are not serious and it is safe to do so, try and move your vehicle to the side of the road so that it is not damaged further. In case you can’t move your car, turn on your hazard lights so that other drivers are warned that your vehicle is going to be stationed there for a while.
  • Check to see if others have been injured – passengers, pedestrians, and other drivers. Even anyone has been noticeably hurt, it is better to get medical attention to them as soon as possible. Sometimes internal injuries are not visible and manifest later on, which is why victims (including you) should be checked out by a professional.
  • Shut off the ignition, shift into park mode or in the case of a manual, set the handbrake. Find out if you can get out safely by opening the door, and help others to climb out as well. Please don’t delay in requesting medical assistance for yourself, your family, or others injured.
  • The more information you gather about the accident, the more it can help you. Jot down the make and model and license plate numbers of all vehicles involved, names of drivers and passengers, location of accident, contact details of eyewitnesses, insurance information, and the names and contact information of responding police officers, so you can follow up.
  • It will be extremely beneficial if you can provide photos of the scene while filing insurance claims, so if you own a smartphone with a camera, snap some pictures. A few apps are available that allow you to directly upload photos from a scene when you file a claim.

 

Contacting the Tucson Police Department

Call the police because an official car accident report will be of great assistance when you file insurance claims. Cooperate with the police and let them do their job without undue interference.  Unfortunately, the police may not respond after a Tucson Car Accident if the caller does not state that the parties are not injured.  You may still want to call the police though because the call gets recorded and logged (and is proof that the accident occurred).

 

Contacting an Arizona Accident Lawyer

Don’t delay when it comes to contacting an auto accident lawyer. There is a certain window of time within which you can file a lawsuit, so if that time frame passes, your claim will no longer be considered eligible for processing.  Moreover, it takes a while for accident-related claims to be processed due to the legalities and other formalities involved, so it is best to submit all papers as fast you can.

Handling Postal Vehicle Accidents

handling a postal vehicle accidents

Handling Postal Vehicle Accidents

Have you been injured in a postal vehicle accident?  You have to be aware of the fact that there is a completely new set of laws and regulations for such cases.  Such accident cases are different because it is the federal government that is under the radar of a lawsuit.  You will completely demolish your case if you are not compliant with the requirements of the laws involving federal owned vehicles, especially the Federal Tort Claims Act.

Postal vehicle collision cases are complicated

When a car or a truck driver is involved in an auto collision, the driver is usually held personally responsible.  When the collision involves a postal vehicle, things are a lot more complicated.  It is mainly because sovereign immunity often restricts taking any action against a Federal government body, and thus the whole case becomes complex.

 

File your compensation immediately

In case you are a victim of a postal vehicle accident and have a claim against a government entity, you must ensure to file your claim of compensation immediately.  Hence, it is vital to get legal help quickly so that your case can be designed properly and the auto personal lawyer can look into the details of the accident case more precisely when handling postal vehicle accidents.

 

What is the response of the government?

Once you issue your claim, you will have to wait in order to receive a response from the government in respect to the case and the compensation amount agreed to provide for the injuries sustained.  In case the response is not in your favour, you need to file the lawsuit within six months of the incident and claim for the compensation of your damages.  Thus, a legal expert is needed so that he/she can build the case and establish the fault and the compensation you are entitled to.

 

People are scared to file a lawsuit against the government entity

When there are car accidents, the disputes get settled between the victims, the party at fault, and the insurance companies.  The entire process is quite simple and easy when you compare the same involving a government owned vehicle.  It has been found that the majority of the people are scared of making a claiming for compensation that involves a Federal entity.  Thus, it is best to contact a lawyer when handling postal vehicle accidents.

 

Rely on the legal experts

While dealing with a government entity, it is recommended that you rely on the expertise and the knowledge of a professional federal claims lawyer.  He/she will assist you in every single step of your case and aid you in securing the compensation that you are entitled to. The legal expert has the potential to help you to secure compensation for damages, the “No Fault Insurance” benefits that includes hospital bills, medicine expenses, treatment services, and lost wages.

 

Contact our Tucson Law Office

Handling Postal Vehicle Accidents is complicated and you will most likely need the help of an attorney at the outset of the case.

Bad Driving Habits on Arizona Roads

 clash of two cars at the crossroads

Bad Driving Habits and Consequences on Arizona Roads

 

Bad driving habits have severe consequences in Arizona. Cell phone use, distracted driving, drunk driving and driving while drinking have taken their toll on Arizona residents. Some drivers have even started driving while using the Pokemon Go game application. These accidents lead to injuries, deaths, and lawsuits for car accident related injuries. Those who have been injured in an accident due to another person’s bad driving habits often retain a lawyer so that their medical bills and pain and suffering can be paid by the other driver’s insurance company.

 

Bad Driving Habits of Arizona Drivers

 

It is unfortunate that many accidents and driving mistakes are due to bad driving habits such as driving while distracted, driving carelessly or recklessly, and driving aggressively.

  • Distracted Driving – Distracted driving is one of the leading causes of roadway injuries in Arizona roadways today. In 2013, distracted driving resulted in the death of 370 people in Arizona. Driving a motor vehicle requires a person’s complete attention without taking on other tasks. Yet many drivers are distracted by things such as using a radio, eating, talking or texting on cell phones, or talking to a passenger. People are less observant and make more driving mistakes when not completely focused on driving.
  • Carelessness Driving – Besides distraction, auto accidents can be caused by careless driving habits. These actions include poor observation, failure to obey traffic and safety laws, drinking while driving (open container), and basic driver inattention to changing road conditions. Some drivers race through yellow lights, fail to come to a complete stop at a stop sign, or do not yield the right of way especially when turning left.
  • Aggressive Driving – There are many different types of aggressive driving behavior that lead to accidents and injuries according to experienced accident lawyers. Some such behaviors include: following too closely or tailgating; weaving in and out of traffic lanes; speeding; and ignoring warning signs. Speeding-related accidents alone cost our society over $40 billion dollars every year.

 

Consequences of Bad Driving Habits in Arizona

 

Bad driving habits lead to accidents that can cause serious injury and death. Attorneys who are experienced in accident claims help their clients receive compensation for accident-related injuries. Drivers who exhibit the poor driving habits listed above are often found to be responsible for accidents and injuries resulting from those accidents. The consequences of such actions could result in traffic citations, loss of driver’s license, and fines. On the civil action side, there may be other consequences to face such as a lawsuit to compensate victims who were injured because of the accident in question.

 

Breaking Bad Habits for Better AZ Road Safety

 

The key to safe driving is to break bad driving habits and be safe while operating a motor vehicle. It requires paying attention to all driving regulations while avoiding careless or distracted behavior. Drivers who form bad habits can also form good ones.

 


Behavior modification such as staying focused and being attentive when driving can drastically reduce the risk of accidents.


 

Most drivers are honest citizens who try to drive safely and follow good driving habits. When mistakes do happen, there are experienced accident lawyers to help victims receive compensation for their injuries. If you have been involved in an accident resulting from another driver’s bad driving habits, seek the counsel of an attorney experienced in handling such cases. Most importantly, avoid developing any bad driving habits that can lead to car accidents.

 

Accidents Caused by Pokemon Go Players and Trespassing in Arizona

pokemon-go-accidents

Accidents Caused by Pokemon Go Players

Pokemon go has been linked to accidents, muggings, and even a fatal motor vehicle collision. In one case one motorist ran into a police car. In another case, a motorist crashed while collecting virtual Pokemons and suffered a single vehicle collision injury. Pokemon go has also been used to rob others or to lure others into unsafe places of cities.

 

Trespassing in Arizona While Playing Pokémon

 

Trespassing is common with this application in Arizona. Pokemon go players will go into private residences, or even government establishments, to collect these virtual animals.

 

Insurance Coverage for Pokemon Go Accidents

 

One Bank in Russia has offered insurance coverage for Pokemon go related incidents. This insurance covers any accidents that a Pokemon application user may have while he or she is walking and suffers an injury on another’s premise.

 

pokemon claims

Lawsuits for accidents caused by Pokemon Go Players

 

This application is inherently dangerous and lawsuits are expected to be filed against the corporation that owns Pokemon Go. Motorists will also be sued when they are using this application and they cause an accident. Cell phone use while driving is inherently dangerous and this new game will cause more accidents in a city that is already plaged with a staggering number of car accidents.  Keep others from using this game and remove it from your phone if you cannot stay away from playing cell phone games while using your car.

 

Potential lawsuits against Pokémon players will involve the request for cell phone records.  Subpoenas can be issued against the telephone companies that keep a log off all cell phone activity relating to the accidents caused by Pokemon Go players.  We of a cell phone will be deemed negligence per se in Tucson since we now have laws against the use of cellular phones while driving.

Three Major Dental Injuries as a Result of Auto Accidents

dental injuries

Three major dental injuries as a result of auto accidents

 

Injuries suffered in a motor vehicle accident can range from minor to fatal.  Dental injuries are common; and as a DC personal injury lawyer might attest, thousands of drivers and passengers suffer dental injuries from motor vehicle accidents every year.

 

Causes of dental injuries in motor vehicle accidents

In the short one or two seconds of a motor vehicle crash, both internal and external risks may cause direct dental injuries. Just some of those internal risks involve:

  • Seats
  • Dashboards
  • Air bags
  • Personal property within the vehicle
  • Glass fragments

 

Dental injuries might also result without any trauma to the mouth, known as indirect dental injuries.  Many whiplash victims seek treatment for dental injuries as a result of auto accidents; injuries may include:

  • Loss of teeth: When a tooth is knocked out because of trauma and is completely removed from its socket, it’s said to be avulsed.  Whether a tooth or teeth get avulsed largely depends on the nature and magnitude of the impact.  Higher speeds usually increase the risk of at least one avulsed tooth. A favorable prognosis might exist if the lost tooth is replanted within an hour.
  • Fractured teeth: For the most part, dental fractures will require treatment by a dentist.  Teeth are composed of three layers: enamel, dentin and pulp. The least serious fracture is an Ellis I fracture when the enamel is broken.  An Ellis II fracture extends beyond the enamel and into the dentin layer. With an Ellis III fracture, the tooth is broken all the way down to the pulp.  A serious fracture would likely require an extraction and implant. Less serious fractures like chips are usually treated with fillings or bonding.
  • Temporomandibular joint injuries: The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) attaches your lower jaw to your skull. It’s the most frequently used joint in the body. We use it to talk, chew, yawn and laugh.  When a TMJ injury occurs, the victim probably suffers jaw joint and facial pain.

 

Other symptoms of TMJ may include:

  • Headaches
  • Pain inside of one or both ears
  • Ringing in one or both of the ears
  • Grinding pain when chewing
  • Pain at the top of the neck

 

A dentist’s treatment of a TMJ disorder most likely involves a custom fitted temporary dental appliance to be worn around the house and while sleeping.  Surgery is only required in a small minority of TMJ cases.

 

People who have suffered dental injuries in motor vehicle accidents that were the fault of somebody else might be able to seek compensation.  Issues may arise with chipped teeth, as a liability insurer might believe dental treatment to be nothing more than cosmetic dentistry.  However, according to the American Association of Endodontists, chipped teeth are the most common dental injuries in motor vehicle accidents.  Insurers may also be skeptical about TMJ injuries, especially if there was no direct trauma to the mouth involved.

 

If there’s any indication of a dental injury after an accident, you may want to seek immediate dental treatment.  The longer that a person waits for treatment, it is likely easier for the other side’s insurer to argue that the dental injuries were caused by something other than a motor vehicle accident.

 

accident lawyers

Thanks to our friends and co-contributors from Cohen & Cohen, P.C. for their added insight into car accident and personal injury practice.

Severe Crash at North Silverbell Road

crash north silverbell

Severe Crash at North Silverbell Road, Marana

 

Three people were injured in a crash at North Silverbell Road near Coachline Boulevard when a Nissan SUV went past a red traffic signal striking a Honda sedan.  The SUV was driven by an elderly gentleman, and the Honda was occupied by a couple in their mid 20s.  The names of the drivers were not released, but the injuries that were sustained in the crash at North Silverbell Road were severe enough to report the incident in the local Tucson news.  All three persons involved in the incident were transported to the hospital.

 

Accident with severe injuries reported in Marana

 

The Northwest Fire District Department responded to the accident.   The three individuals were deemed to be in a stable condition once they arrived at the hospital.  The Marana Police Department responded to the scene and cleared the vehicles from the street.   The victims of the accident presented common injuries seen in a t-bone collision.

 

Commonly Sustained Injuries in T-Bone Accidents

 

T-bone accidents typically present major injuries including head trauma, head fractures, broken bones, TBI (traumatic brain injuries), or even amputation of a limb, or death.  The severe damage caused by these accidents can leave a permanent negative effect in the car accident victim’s life.  Further, occupant injury is more likely to be severe in this type of an accident, as compared to a rear-ended collision or a side swipe. The intensity of the collision depends on factors such as speed, and vehicle weight and construction. Both vehicles will frequently be turned from their original directions of travel as in this case.  The crash at North Silverbell Road is a typical example of a t-bone collision with severe injuries.

 

In any case involving serious injury, please call our office.  We have handled hundreds of cases such as the one described above.