Phoenix Car Accident Attorneys Explain How to Know if Your Injury Claim is Legit
“If you’re considering filing a claim, you should first discuss comparative fault with a car accident lawyer.”
Although car accident specialists are receiving more injury claims, not all claims will give clients the recovery they’re looking for. The attorneys at Goodnow McKay, a boutique personal injury firm in Phoenix, caution that although some claims may look simple, it’s not always the case.
The best way to determine whether you have a legitimate claim is to contact a car accident lawyer and schedule a consultation. If you’re not ready to contact a lawyer yet, below are some basic things that our resident Phoenix car accident attorneys say can help you determine if your injury claim is legitimate.
Calculate the Statute of Limitations for your Claim
The first thing any claimant should consider is the timing of their claim. Every car accident claim in Arizona has a deadline by when you need to either settle your claim with the insurance company or file a lawsuit in court. These deadlines are called statutes of limitation. If you do not file a lawsuit by the time the statute of limitations runs, you lose your right to any recovery for your injuries and the damage to your car.
To make sure you still have a claim, first, calculate what your statute of limitations is. If you prefer to have a professional look into it, a Phoenix car accident attorney can help you calculate your deadline.
Determine Who Is at Fault
States have different rules for how to determine fault in a car accident. Some states are “no-fault” states, where regardless of whose fault it was, all parties have to file a claim with their own car insurance to pay for damages. Other states are “at-fault” states, where whoever is at fault has to pay for the other driver’s damages using their insurance.
Arizona auto accident laws do assign fault, meaning that Arizona is an “at-fault” state. So, if you have been in an accident in Phoenix, you will have to determine who is at fault. In some cases, this is very easy. For example, if you were stopped at a red light and someone rear-ended you, it’s almost always the other driver’s fault. This kind of claim is appropriately called a “clear” liability claim.
Still, according to the Phoenix car accident attorneys at Goodnow McKay, determining who is at fault is not always that easy. To understand how insurance companies and courts determine fault, it’s important to understand what comparative fault is.
Understanding the “Comparative Fault” Rule
Arizona applies the “comparative fault” rule when determining who is at fault. Under Arizona’s “comparative fault” rule, who is at fault is calculated in percentages.
For example, let’s say two cars collided while one of the cars was changing lanes. If the car changing lanes didn’t look before they changed lanes, then they’re at fault. But what if the other car was speeding?
If the other car was speeding, they may share some of the fault if speeding contributed to causing the accident. The car changing lanes might be 60% at fault and the other car 40%. In this case, the person who was 40% at fault would be able to recover 60% of the damages.
Unlike rear ending cases, many car wrecks in Phoenix, AZ are similar to the one above. If you’re considering filing a claim, you should first discuss comparative fault with a car accident lawyer.
Make Sure Fines Don’t Exceed Your Potential Recovery
“If you were speeding or violated some other traffic law at the time of the accident, and that violation contributed to the accident, not only will that make you at least partially responsible for the accident, but it can result in additional fines.”
Justin McKay, one of the founding partners of Goodnow McKay, says drivers sometimes don’t consider potential fines that can result from the accident. He notes that this doesn’t have to do with the claim itself, but it’s something that personal injury claimants should consider when trying to determine what their overall recovery will be.
Some laws that might be violated in Phoenix auto accidents include Arizona’s mandatory insurance law and traffic laws. First, under Arizona law, all drivers must carry auto insurance. If you’re cited for not having auto insurance, you’ll have to pay a standard fee and fines, which can range from $500-$1000.
If you were speeding or violated some other traffic law at the time of the accident, and that violation contributed to the accident, not only will that make you at least partially responsible for the accident, but it can result in additional fines.
Contact a Phoenix Car Accident Attorney to See if You Have a Case
Whether you have a legitimate claim is often a complicated question, and it’s a question that should ultimately be answered by a personal injury attorney after a thorough consultation. After all, every claim varies depending on the facts and the jurisdiction. For example, for many reasons, claims in Maricopa County can’t be handled the same way as claims in Yavapai County.
If you’ve been in an accident, the best way to determine whether you have a claim is to contact a Phoenix car accident attorney. A car accident attorney will be able work through some of the more nuanced legal issues that most attorneys will miss. They’ll also be able to help you think about the value and the risks associated with your claim.
In sum, if you’ve been in a car accident in Phoenix, you’ll want to consider the timing, Arizona’s “at-fault” rules, and other traffic and car related laws. But above all, you’ll want to consider talking to a car accident attorney.