People have an average of one car accident every 18 years or between three and four accidents during their lives, according to a report in Fox Business. When you are involved in a collision caused by someone else, you should call a Phoenix auto accident lawyer who is capable of recovering maximal compensation for your losses. When you retain the right auto crash lawyer, he or she can work to protect your rights to recover full, fair compensation for your injuries and damages. The Lamber Goodnow injury attorneys at Fennemore always work to provide the best possible representation to their clients. If someone else crashes into your car and injures you, retaining an attorney who will fight for your rights is important. If you try to handle your claim on your own or hire an inexperienced attorney, you might not receive the compensation you deserve.
Leading Injury Lawyers Phoenix
The Lamber Goodnow Injury Lawyers are based in Phoenix and are comprised of experienced personal injury attorneys, paralegals, and legal assistants who commit themselves to help the victims of negligence anywhere in Arizona, including Phoenix, Chandler, Mesa, Tempe, Scottsdale, and more. We aggressively fight for our clients because they matter to us. Each member of our legal team believes in helping others, and this motivation drives us in our work.
We are proactive in our approach to our clients’ cases. We conduct in-depth investigations to find all of the contributing factors that led to our clients’ accidents. We also are proactive in how we pursue justice for our clients under the law and do what we can to prevent similar accidents from happening in the future. Our efforts might include seeking legislative changes to keep people from suffering similar types of harm in the future.
Phoenix-based Law Firm with National Recognition
While we are based in Phoenix, our successes have received national attention. Our attorneys and cases have been covered by Fox News, ABC News, CBS News, MSNBC, NBC News, the Today Show, and many others. Lamber Goodnow Injury Lawyers has been named as a “Best Law Firm” by Best Lawyers®, and Avvo® has given Marc Lamber perfect 10 out of 10 ratings. The greater Phoenix edition of Attorney at Law Magazine named our firm as the #1 law firm. We have also been named as among the top three law firms by the Arizona Republic. North Valley Magazine named us as the Arizona Law Firm of the Year and listed us as among the top five personal injury lawyers in Phoenix.
The Phoenix personal injury lawyers at Lamber Goodnow recognize the power of technology and routinely use it to enhance our clients’ cases. We use advanced technology, including virtual reality, iPad Pros, 3D printing, Apple watches, and Google Glass to seamlessly communicate with our clients and to present their stories effectively to opposing parties. We were the first law firm ever profiled by Apple on its website, and the American Bar Association named Marc Lamber as one of the “techiest” attorneys in the U.S.
Call our team of Phoenix injury lawyers at any time for a no-obligation, free consultation.
What to Do After an Accident
The hours and days that immediately follow an accident are crucial for accident claims. This period is when most of the relevant evidence needs to be collected, identified, and cataloged. Car accident claims that originate in Phoenix are typically filed in the Maricopa County Superior Court or the U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona. Both of these courts follow complex evidence rules that control what can ultimately be presented to a jury. While each piece of evidence should be examined individually, there are important steps that attorneys can take early in a case to ensure that all of the relevant evidence can be examined by a jury. Some of the various types of relevant evidence are discussed below.
Physical evidence left after an accident can help to show which party was at fault. Some common types of relevant physical evidence in a personal injury accident include the following:
- Vehicular damage to all involved vehicles
- Bloody or torn clothing
- Broken stairs or handrails that led to a fall
- Tire skid marks on a road
- Visual obstructions
Physical evidence should be recovered immediately after an accident. If it is not collected, photographed, and preserved within the first couple of days, it can be modified, destroyed, lost, damaged by the weather, or repaired. Your attorney will also catalog the location of the evidence once it is placed in storage to ensure its admissibility by establishing the chain of custody.
Plaintiffs must establish the chain of custody for physical and electronic evidence before it can be admitted at trial. This is done by chronologically documenting the seizure of the evidence, who has custody and control of it, when it is transferred, and when it is analyzed. Each step in the chain of custody must be established to show that it meets the legal standards and rules of the court. Establishing the chain of custody also helps to show that the evidence you collected at the scene has not been hidden, spoliated, or altered and that it accurately reflects what happened.
The preservation of evidence has become increasingly important in civil personal injury cases since the arrival of the digital age. In criminal cases, police officers typically seize evidence, seal it in evidence bags, label the evidence bags, and sign them into locked evidence rooms at the police station until trial. Evidence logs are kept to account for any time a piece of evidence is taken out of the evidence room.
Civil cases can include both digital and physical evidence. During the discovery phase of electronic evidence in civil cases, digital evidence will be identified, preserved, collected, processed, reviewed, analyzed, produced, and presented at trial. Some examples of non-digital evidence in personal injury claims might include pictures of the scene, photos of the damage to both vehicles, photos of the injuries, vehicle parts, natural factors such as visual obstructions, medical records, police reports, and personal documentation about what occurred.
Because of the importance of digital evidence, the Arizona Supreme Court created the Task Force On Court Management of Digital Evidence in Administrative Order 2016-129. This committee develops policies for courts for how digital evidence should be managed.
People who are involved in motor vehicle accidents in Arizona that result in death or injury are required to immediately notify the local police agency, the county sheriff, or the highway patrol under A.R.S. § 28-666.
Once the police arrive, they will investigate what happened and write a police report. The police report can help determine the likely cause of an accident, but it is generally inadmissible in court. This is because police reports contain inadmissible hearsay statements. In the police report, you will find other relevant data, including the date of the accident, the weather conditions, the location, and the time when it happened. Police reports also include the names of people who were involved, their phone numbers, and any statements they made about the accident. The police report might also include the names and contact information of people who witnessed the accident, which can be invaluable for helping to prove liability. The police officer’s initial assessment of fault will also be included through a written narrative and diagram.
After your accident, you can get a copy of the police report by submitting a request to the police agency that responded. You can go to the local law enforcement agency that came to your accident scene to get a copy of the police report. You might also be able to submit a request online, depending on where your accident occurred.
While the police report can’t be admitted as evidence in court, your injury attorney in Phoenix can use it when he or she engages in settlement negotiations. Police reports that indicate the defendant was at fault can be useful settlement tools. The Phoenix injury attorneys at Lamber Goodnow and their partner firms corroborate any information contained in police reports and use that information, the medical records, statements showing wage losses, and other relevant documents to properly value claims and draft demand letters. Demand letters are sent to the at-fault driver’s insurance company to demand compensation to make clients whole. In the demand letter, your attorney will summarize what happened, describe the severity and extent of your injuries, provide evidence of your losses, and demand fair compensation.
Hearsay in police reports makes them inadmissible. These are statements made outside of court that are presented to prove that information made in the statements is true. Inadmissible hearsay can include gestures, oral statements, or written statements. The reason that hearsay statements are inadmissible is that they were not made under oath. This means that a jury or judge could not observe the person’s demeanor who made the statement, and the opposing party cannot cross-examine him or her.
Some out-of-court statements are not considered to be hearsay. For example, any statements made by the involved parties are admissible. Both the Federal Rules of Evidence and the Arizona Rules of Evidence list different types of statements that meet an exclusion or exception to the hearsay rule. These types of statements can be admitted into evidence and considered by a jury or judge.
Certain facts in police reports might be admissible at trial under Arizona Rules of Evidence Rule 803(8), which is the public records exception. Certain types of information included in police reports might be admissible under this rule.
In accident cases, medical records are a critical type of evidence to help establish the severity of a person’s injuries and his or her likelihood of recovering from them. The medical records related to your accident injuries help your attorney calculate the amount of compensation that should be demanded. If you sustain injuries in a personal injury accident, you should seek immediate medical attention. Getting immediate medical care can help you to recover from your injuries while also showing a causal link between your accident and your injuries. Make sure to keep all of your appointments and keep copies of the treatment reports. Some of the documents you should collect and preserve include the following:
- Admission charts from the emergency department
- Paramedic reports
- Notes of doctors, nurses, and therapists
- Diagnostic information
- Medical exam results
- Laboratory exam results
You can find more information about the steps to take after an accident here.
Read more about what to do following an accident here.
People located in cities in the 928 area code can call Lamber Goodnow at 928-291-4465.
Arizona Personal Injury Laws
Statute of Limitations for Different Types of Personal Injury Claims
Personal injury claims are filed when people are injured in different types of accidents because of the negligent or wrongful actions of other people or entities. While many personal injury claims are resolved outside of court through negotiations and settlements, some must be filed as civil lawsuits in court. The laws that apply to personal injury claims depend on their types. Some of the laws that the Phoenix personal injury attorneys at Lamber Goodnow commonly use include the following:
- A.R.S. § 12-542 – Statute of limitations for bodily injury of two years
- Art. 2, Sect. 31 of the Arizona State Constitution – Caps on damages prohibited
- A.R.S. § 12-2501 – Right to contribution
- A.R.S. § 28-666 – Requirement to provide notice of an accident
- A.R.S. § 28-4009 – Mandatory liability automobile insurance
- A.R.S. § 12-2505 – Pure comparative negligence
- A.R.S. § 12-611 – Wrongful death liability
- A.R.S. § 12-511 – Right to file a civil action arising from criminal conduct
- RAJI Instruction No. 1 – Premises liability
The statute of limitations sets a deadline for filing a lawsuit. In general, people must file personal injury lawsuits no later than two years after their injuries occurred. However, this limitation period can be longer in certain situations. To learn about how the statute of limitations applies to your claim, talk to an attorney at Lamber Goodnow.
Minimum Insurance Requirements in Arizona
For auto accidents, Arizona is a fault state. People who are involved in motor vehicle accidents have a few different options for recovering damages, including filing claims with their own insurance companies, filing claims with the at-fault drivers’ insurance companies, or filing personal injury lawsuits against the negligent drivers.
Auto insurance coverage protects insureds against financial losses caused by accidents. Under A.R.S. § 28-4009, all motorists in Arizona are required to carry liability insurance with at least the following minimum coverage amounts:
For a policy that is issued or renewed before June 30, 2020 or for a policy that that is issued to a person that has a valid certificate of self-insurance or partial self-insurance pursuant to section 28-4007
- $15,000 because of bodily injury to or death of one person in any one accident
- Subject to the limit for one person, $30,000 because of bodily injury or death of two or more persons in any one accident
- $10,000 because of injury to or destruction of property of others in any one accident
For a policy that is issued or renewed beginning on July 1, 2020, except for a policy that is issued to a person that has a valid certificate of self-insurance or partial self-insurance pursuant to section 28-4007
The bodily injury coverage amounts on your insurance policy pay for the costs if someone else is injured in an accident that you cause. Property damage coverage pays for someone else’s property damage when you are at fault in an accident.
People in Arizona are not required to carry uninsured and underinsured liability coverage. However, insurers who write auto liability insurance policies must offer UM/UIM coverage to you in writing under A.R.S. § 20-259.01. Purchasing this type of coverage is a good idea since many people in Arizona are either uninsured or have insufficient auto liability coverage to pay for all of the losses incurred by others in accidents. If you are injured in an accident caused by an uninsured or underinsured driver, you can file a claim with your insurance company to recover compensation under your UM/UIM policy.
Health Care Liens and Insurance Reimbursements in Arizona Injury Cases
Many people in Arizona do not understand how health care liens and health insurance reimbursements work in personal injury claims. Health care providers are allowed to file liens with the recorder’s office when people are injured in accidents. These liens are payable out of any eventual settlement.
Health care providers typically file these liens at their full rates even when the victims’ care has been covered by health insurance. Hospitals and other health care providers are legally allowed to file health care liens under A.R.S. § 33-931 – A.R.S. § 33-936. However, the ability of health care providers to recover money from settlement is limited. The injured victim must have outstanding obligations owed to health care providers for the care they received for their injuries. If an insurance company has already satisfied the liability, the health care provider must release the lien.
Health care liens only attach to any compensation you might recover in your personal injury claim. They do not attach to your real or personal property. These liens cannot exceed the amount you recover and can only secure what a provider customarily charges for its services. The customary charges of a health care provider serve as a cap and prevent liens from being for more money than what is typically charged to other patients for the same services.
In many cases, an attorney can negotiate with the health care provider to reduce the lien amount or waive it. Some of the equitable and legal arguments that can be raised for health care liens include the following:
- The lien was not perfected by timely recording it.
- The provider failed to include a statement about whether the treatment has finished or will continue.
- The lien cannot extend to UM/UIM coverage or health insurance coverage.
- The amount of the lien exceeds what the provider customarily charges for the provided services.
- The provider’s lien was for medically unnecessary treatment or care.
- The treatment or care provided was not related to the event that gave rise to the injury claim.
Health insurance companies also have a right to ask for reimbursements from personal injury settlements. They can be reimbursed for the amounts paid for your care after you are injured in a motor vehicle accident. However, Arizona also follows a rule providing that personal injury claims cannot be subrogated. This prohibits entities from stepping in and taking over another person’s legal remedies and rights. Plans that are covered by ERISA, which includes employer-provided health care plans, fall under federal law, however. Federal law preempts Arizona’s law for those plans, and health insurance companies are allowed to seek reimbursement in accident and injury claims when the victims recover compensation under federal law. Your attorney can investigate whether your health insurance plan is self-funded under the guidelines of ERISA or not.
Where Are Personal Injury Cases Filed in Arizona?
Most personal injury cases in Arizona do not go to trial. The attorneys at Lamber Goodnow conduct extensive investigations up front to try to resolve them fairly without having to take them to trial. However, when an insurance company refuses to fairly settle a claim, it might be necessary to litigate the matter in court. In the Phoenix area, plaintiffs might file lawsuits in either state or federal court.
Most accident claims arising in Phoenix are filed in the Maricopa County Superior Court. It is a statewide court of general jurisdiction. The Superior Court of Arizona has locations in each county. Some counties have multiple superior court judges who work in different divisions. The Superior Court also serves as an appeals court for municipal and justice courts. The Superior Court handles a broad variety of cases and maintains permanent records of judicial proceedings.
The Arizona Court of Appeals reviews trials and decisions that have been appealed from the Superior Court. The Arizona Court of Appeals is the intermediate appellate court while the Supreme Court of Arizona is the final appellate court in the state. Division one of the Arizona Court of Appeals is located in Phoenix and includes 16 judges. Division two is located in Tucson and has six judges. Appeals are heard and decided by three-judge panels. The Court of Appeals has jurisdiction over matters that have been appealed to it from the Superior Court. After a verdict is reached, the losing party might file an appeal with the Arizona Court of Appeals.
The Supreme Court of Arizona is the court of last resort. It does not accept every case that is appealed to it. Parties that want to appeal a decision from the Arizona Court of Appeals can file petitions for review requesting the Supreme Court to review the decision. While the Supreme Court of Arizona does not have to hear every case appealed to it, it frequently accepts wrongful death and personal injury claims involving novel legal issues.
Filing Lawsuits in State Court
To initiate a personal injury lawsuit in state court, the plaintiff’s attorney must do the following things:
- Draft and file a civil complaint with the court that states the causes of action on which the claim is based and the damages the plaintiff is seeking.
- Include a statement about whether the case is eligible for arbitration under the court’s rules.
- Serve the defendant with a copy of the complaint and a summons to respond.
Once the defendant is properly served, the defendant will be given time to respond to the complaint. Defendants respond to complaints by filing written answers in which they deny or admit the different statements contained in the complaints. Once the complaint and answer have been filed, the case will enter the discovery phase. During this period, both sides must exchange evidence and information related to the personal injury claim.
Settlement negotiations will be ongoing even after a formal lawsuit is filed, and many will be resolved before trial. However, if the case is not resolved, the case will go to trial before a judge or jury. Once both sides have rested at trial, the jury or judge will issue a verdict based on the evidence that has been presented at trial. Under A.R.S. § 21-102, civil juries include eight people. To issue a verdict, six out of eight must agree. Once a verdict has been reached, the losing party can file an appeal.
Some personal injury plaintiffs choose to file their lawsuits in federal court. These cases are filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona, which is a part of the Ninth Circuit. This is the only federal district court in Arizona, and it has locations in Phoenix, Yuma, Tucson and Flagstaff. Cases that are filed with the U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona are heard by federal district court judges. Federal juries can range from six to 12 jurors and must reach unanimous verdicts unless the parties agree otherwise.
Decisions that are appealed from the U.S. District Court in Arizona are heard by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. Cases that are appealed are heard by a three-judge panel. Decisions from the Ninth Circuit can be appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court by filing a writ of certiorari. The Supreme Court of the United States only grants writs of certiorari in rare cases.
Filing Cases in Federal Court
Before a case can be filed in federal court, the court has to have jurisdiction. Federal courts have jurisdiction when the matters involve a federal question or when a diversity of citizenship exists. Under 28 U.S. Code § 1331, a federal question exists when the matter arises under the U.S. Constitution, a treaty, or federal law. Under 28 U.S. Code § 1332, diversity of citizenship exists when the amount in controversy exceeds $75,000, and the parties reside in different states. The citizenship of a party is determined by where the party is located and intends to reside permanently.
Your personal injury attorney in Phoenix at Lamber Goodnow will review all of the aspects of your case to determine whether your claim should be filed in federal or state court. In most cases, our injury lawyers Phoenix file personal injury cases in state court so that they do not need to have a jury reach a unanimous verdict.
 A.R.S. § 28-666.  A.R.S. § 28-4009.  A.R.S. § 20-259.01.  A.R.S. § 33-931 et seq.  Abbott v. Banner Health Network, 236 Ariz. 436, 444 ¶ 23 (2016).  Midwest Neurosurgery, P.C. v. State Farm Ins. Cos., 686 N.W.2d 572, 579 (Neb. 2004).  A.R.S. § 33-932(A).  A.R.S. § 33-932(B).  A.R.S. § 33-931(A).  A.R.S. § 33-934(B).  Allstate Ins. Co. v. Druke, 576 P.2d 489 (Ariz. 1978).  A.R.S. § 21-102.  Fed. R. Civ. P. 48(a)-(b).  28 U.S. Code § 1331.  28 U.S. Code § 1332.