Car Accident Lawyer Phoenix, AZ
Can I Still File a Lawsuit if I Wasn’t Wearing My Seat Belt?
If you’ve been injured in a car accident due to someone else’s negligence, seek out a car accident lawyer in Phoenix, AZ for legal intervention right away. You probably have an abundance of questions only an experienced lawyer can help you answer. For example, you might be wondering, “Can I still file a lawsuit if I wasn’t wearing my seat belt?” Well, the short answer is yes. Read on to learn how you can file a personal injury lawsuit with help from a lawyer at Kamper & Estrada PLLC, even if you weren’t wearing a seat belt (and how that might affect your chances at compensation!).
Accidents are often the result of one driver’s negligence, such as the case of drunk driving. In other accidents, both drivers share fault. Maybe one driver ran a stoplight, while the other driver was distracted. The insurance company may determine that the driver who wasn’t paying enough attention to the road holds some responsibility for the accident. If you were the distracted driver and injured in the accident, you may wonder how that may impact getting compensation for your medical bills.
The legal practice of personal injury cases often falls under the tort law area of negligence. In Phoenix, AZ a car accident lawyer should be well versed in the area of negligence. Negligence is the failure to behave with the level of care that someone of ordinary prudence would have exercised under the same circumstances.
For example, Car A runs a red light and hits Car B. As a result, Car B is totaled, and the driver suffers a broken arm among other injuries. To recover for damages, Car B will need to show that Car A was negligent. Negligence has four elements that must be met for it to be an effective legal strategy:
- Duty: The driver of Car A owed Car B a duty to drive responsibly.
- Breach of Duty: The driver of Car A breached duty by running the red light.
- Causation: Car A’s breach of duty caused the auto accident.
- Damages: driver of Car B suffered property damage and injury as a result.
But, what if the driver of Car B wasn’t wearing a seat belt? Did they somehow contribute to their injuries?
Fault and No-Fault Accidents
In personal injury cases, fault is a complex legal term that determines who is liable for the injuries. Generally, the at-fault driver will have the responsibility to pay for the damages after an accident. However, fault is not always clear. Some states have rules that outline how fault works after an accident. If you are concerned about how fault will be decided, a car accident lawyer Phoenix, AZ can offer strategy.
In four states and Washington D.C., a driver can only receive compensation if they were 0% responsible for the accident. It’s called “pure contributory negligence.” If the insurance company determines that your actions were even 10% responsible for the accident, you won’t see any money for your damages or injuries.
Twelve states have a type of negligence called “pure comparative negligence.” If you were driving in one of these states and got into a collision, fault would be determined. If you were 75% responsible for the accident, you could still file a claim with the other driver’s insurance for 25% of the damages and costs.
“Modified pure comparative negligence” is a middle ground between the two. In this type of negligence, you could only recoup from the other driver if your fault is less than 50% or 51%, depending on where the accident occurred. If you were more than 50% responsible, you cannot collect from the other driver.
How It Affects a Lawsuit
Car B can still file a negligence lawsuit against Car A, though Car A’s attorneys may argue that the Car B was “Contributorily” or “Comparatively” Negligent. Ultimately, how much you’ll be able to recover will depend on the negligence laws in your state. A Phoenix, AZ car accident lawyer may recommend using certain types of defenses based on the circumstances of the collision. Many states allow for contributory and comparative negligence defenses.
Contributory Negligence Defense : This defense allows for a plaintiff to be barred from recovery if the plaintiff is found to have at all acted negligently and contributed to the accident or their own injuries, even if they are just 1% at fault.
Comparative Negligence Defense: This defense allows a plaintiff to recover their damages but reduces them by the plaintiff’s percentage of fault. There are three types of comparative negligence:
Pure Comparative: The plaintiff will receive their total damages, minus their percentage of fault. For example, if Car B is found to be 25% at fault and the damages total $100,000, Car B will only receive $75,000.
50% Modified Comparative: The plaintiff will not recover if they are found to be as equally responsible for the accident as the defendant.
51% Modified Comparative: The plaintiff will not recover if they are found to be 51% or more responsible for the accident.
Fault Laws Can Be Complicated
Comparative fault laws favor the defense. The other driver’s insurance company will want to convince the court that you were partially at fault for the accident. You should consider talking to car accident lawyer based in Phoenix, AZ to help you show that the accident wasn’t your fault or at least lower the percentage of your fault.
If you are determined to be at fault, even partially, what you recover will depend on where the accident occurred and the insurance policy of the other driver and possibly even your own insurance policy. In many places, you can still receive partial compensation for your medical bills.
Follow the State Law
An experienced lawyer at Kamper Estrada, LLC can help you present your case and show evidence that will make your claim more successful. Every state has its own definition of fault. The law is complex. Don’t make assumptions about your case without talking to an experienced legal advocate.
As a car accident lawyer in Phoenix, AZ is likely to suggest just wearing your seat belt whenever you get behind the wheel. Every state has different laws regarding seat belt use. You, whether as a driver or as a passenger in someone else’s car, have a responsibility to follow a state’s seat belt laws.
Arizona law states that all front seat passengers must wear a seat belt, and any passenger 16 years old or younger must wear a seat belt, regardless of where they are sitting. By omission, it appears that adults in the backseat aren’t legally obligated to wear a seat belt, but that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t.
Also, it’s your life! According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “seat belt use is the most effective way to save lives and reduce injuries in crashes.” So, why not buckle up? It can only help.
What to Do Next
If you were injured in an auto accident, regardless of whether you were wearing your seat belt, contact the law offices of Kamper & Estrada, PLLC for a free initial consultation in Phoenix, AZ from a car accident lawyer. Our personal injury attorneys have over 40 years of experience in helping eligible plaintiff’s receive compensation.
Our knowledgeable staff can help guide you every step of the way. If you’re in need of legal assistance, contact Kamper & Estrada, PLLC today for a free initial consultation with a car accident lawyer in Phoenix, AZ.
Car Accident Statutes of Limitations – What You Need To Know
If you want to bring a lawsuit in relation to a car accident case, you need to speak with an experienced Phoenix, Arizona car accident lawyer as soon as you can so that you can act relatively quickly. Civil actions come with a built-in “expiration date” called a statute of limitations. A statute of limitations gives you a certain amount of time in which to file your lawsuit. However, once this allotted time passes, taking legal action in regard to the matter is generally no longer an option for you.
Statutes of limitations can be confusing, but it is essential that you understand them if you plan to sue the responsible party in a car accident. Speaking with an experienced Phoenix, AZ car accident lawyer from Kamper & Estrada, PLLC as soon as you can after a collision has occurred will help you to preserve your options and protect your rights. A primary benefit of acting quickly is that you’ll have as much time as you can to weigh your options before you’re compelled to make an informed decision about your situation before the relevant statute of limitations runs out on your ability to make a claim.
- Different Statutes of Limitations May Apply in a Car Accident Case: Most states have one statute of limitations for personal injury cases and another for property damage. Even if a car accident involves both property damage and personal injury, separate statutes of limitations will generally apply. However, as long as you file a lawsuit before the shorter statute of limitations expires, you should not have any difficulty.
- Statutes of Limitations Vary by State: Each state has the right to set its own statutes of limitations. Therefore, the time you have to file a lawsuit depends on not only when the accident took place but where. In most states, the statute of limitations for a personal injury case is between two to four years. However, the statute of limitations can range from one to six years. Again, if there is property damage in your case, a different statute of limitations applies to those claims. An experienced Phoenix, AZ car accident lawyer can clarify the time-related limitations you’ll need to keep in mind as you weigh the options surrounding your particular case.
- There May Be Exceptions to the Statute of Limitations: Sometimes circumstances beyond your control may prevent you from filing a lawsuit within the statute of limitations. Depending on the laws of your state, the courts may be able to extend the filing date beyond the statutory period. This is also called tolling the statute of limitations.
If either you or the defendant were a minor at the time of the accident, that may warrant tolling the statute of limitations until both of you are of age. If you were mentally incapacitated at the time of the accident, or the defendant is mentally unfit to stand trial, the statute of limitations could potentially be tolled. It may also be possible to toll the statute of limitations if the defendant is not available for a lawsuit to be served. For example, he or she may be incarcerated or have moved out of the state.
Prompt legal action following a car accident may prevent issues with statutes of limitations. Please don’t wait. Contact a Phoenix, AZ car accident lawyer today. You don’t have to make a decision about your options right now, but you do need access to sound guidance so that you can make an informed decision soon.
Common Myths About Car Accident Lawsuits
If you’ve been hurt in a car accident, you have the right to pursue a lawsuit against the negligent party. However, you may have heard certain myths about these lawsuits that are making you reluctant to file a claim. Here are a few common misconceptions a car accident lawyer in Phoenix, AZ doesn’t want you to believe:
- Hiring a Lawyer After a Car Accident Isn’t Necessary: Some people falsely believe that they don’t have to hire a lawyer after they’ve been hurt in a car accident. They may assume that the negligent party’s insurance company will look out for their best interests. However, it’s important to remember that the insurance company isn’t on your side. They are in the business of making money and won’t likely offer you a fair settlement without a fight. That’s why it’s crucial to have a skilled lawyer on your side. He or she will negotiate with the insurance company and won’t let them take advantage of you.
- You Don’t Need to Go to a Doctor If You Don’t Have Pain: If you don’t experience discomfort immediately after a car accident, you may think you’re fine and don’t need medical attention. However, it’s important to understand that some injuries, like whiplash and concussions, don’t always present symptoms in the beginning. If you delay medical attention, your injury could worsen over time. The defendant’s insurance company could also argue that you aren’t truly hurt if you didn’t see a doctor right away.
- You Have to Give a Recorded Statement: After a car accident, the other driver’s insurance company will likely contact you to ask you questions about the accident. They may also pressure you to provide a recorded statement. You don’t have to give a recorded statement and shouldn’t. The insurance company may use what you say against you in court. You shouldn’t talk to insurance adjusters without your car accident lawyer in Phoenix, AZ present.
- It’s Too Expensive to Hire a Lawyer: One reason why some car accident victims are reluctant to hire a lawyer is because they don’t think they can afford the services. However, most car accident lawyers work on a contingency basis. This means they will only charge for their services if you win your case. If you happen to lose your case, you won’t have to worry about owing your car accident lawyer in Phoenix, AZ any money.