Following an accident in Phoenix, most victims will use the legal theory of negligence to prove that another person was responsible for their harm and losses. However, for many, the concept of negligence is a foreign topic, and those injured in an accident are often left struggling to figure out what it is and what they need to do to establish it.
That is why we have prepared the below guide to not only help clear up some of the confusion surrounding this legal theory but to provide you with further information regarding what negligence is, how to prove it after an accident, and how an experienced Phoenix personal injury attorney can help you with this legal process and assist you as you go after the maximum financial damages you need.
What Is Negligence?
Negligence is a failure to provide a level of care to another party that another reasonable or prudent individual would have under the same or similar circumstances.
However, while this behavior usually consists of actions, it can also result from omissions where an individual has some duty to act.
The Four Elements of Negligence
The court has broken down negligence into four different elements. For an individual to succeed in their injury case following an accident due to negligence, these elements must be established to hold the wrongful party liable for their losses and injuries.
These elements include the following:
Duty of Care
The first element refers to a duty of care. More specifically, the plaintiff needs to show that the defendant owed them a duty of care or some obligation to act with a degree of reasonable caution.
Some examples of a duty of care include:
- Property owners have a duty to ensure their property is safe for visitors and warn them of any dangers on the property.
- A company has a legal obligation to keep its employees safe while at the workplace.
- Individuals have a duty to refrain from acting in a reckless way that can hurt another individual.
- Motorists have a duty to obey the rules of the road, focus on the act of driving, and pay attention to others.
Breach of Duty
After it is established that the wrongful party owed the plaintiff a legal duty of care, it next needs to be demonstrated that the wrongful party breached this duty by failing to act with reasonable care.
If these first two elements can be proven, or rather that the wrongful party had a duty of care and breached this duty, liability can be established, and it can be shown that the wrongful party is legally responsible for the outcome of their actions.
This third element shows that the wrongful party’s actions led to the plaintiff’s injuries and losses. The connection between these actions and injuries is also known as causation.
Typically, to prove causation, an attorney uses experts such as medical professionals and accident specialists to testify that the plaintiff endured injuries that occurred because of the wrongful party’s acts or omissions and not because of something else.
Finally, in the last step, a plaintiff must show that they suffered some type of injury, which can be translated into a monetary amount. Usually, these injuries can include bodily harm or damage to personal or real property.
While bodily injury can include various traumas, these injuries are some of the more common damages in personal injury claims:
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Spinal cord damage and paralysis
- Soft tissues injuries
- Broken bones
- Neck injuries
- Back injuries
- Significant burns
- Internal damages and bleeding
- Post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Wrongful Death
In addition, to prove this final step and the extent of these injuries, a lawyer may need to use medical bills, lost wage reports, and other expert testimony to show these monetary losses and how the injuries impacted the victim’s job, career opportunities, and future.
Proving Negligence Following a Phoenix Accident
Proving these elements can become a challenging venture, primarily when the other side tries to do everything in their power for you not to meet each of these elements. Fortunately, when you work with an experienced Phoenix personal injury attorney, you will not have to take on this complex legal undertaking alone. Instead, your legal team can take on the job of proving each of these elements for you, going after the wrongful parties, and trying to secure you maximum compensation.
What Are Common Types of Phoenix Accidents Resulting From Negligence?
Following an accident caused by another person’s wrongful actions, you can pursue legal action against those at fault for the harm and losses you suffered.
Yet, while numerous accidents can result from negligence, some of the more common ones that tend to occur in Phoenix include:
If you believe your accident resulted from another person’s negligence, reach out to a knowledgeable Phoenix personal injury attorney as soon as possible. A lawyer can review your case, determine whether you have a viable legal claim, and help you determine the legal options you can pursue.
Different Types of Negligence
Although the theory of negligence appears to be relatively straightforward, the concept itself can be broken down into a few different types of negligence:
Under Arizona’s comparative negligence regulations, an individual harmed in an accident is allowed to recover for their harm and losses even if they are 99 percent at fault for the incident. However, their damages will be reduced by the amount they were at fault for. Yet, the state will block any recovery by the plaintiff if they intentionally caused or contributed to the injury or death.
Gross negligence refers to a more serious form of negligence. This type of negligence is usually defined as recklessness, extreme indifference, or willful behavior that takes no regard for the safety of others.
For example, when a motorist runs a stop sign because they are not paying attention, thus causing a crash, their actions will be considered negligent. In comparison, if a motorist intentionally speeds through an area with heavy pedestrian traffic, they can be found grossly negligent for the collision.
Vicarious negligence, also called imputed negligence, means that an individual will be held responsible for the negligent actions of another party they are responsible for. For instance, a common example of vicarious negligence in personal injury cases is a dog bite. This is because even though the dog’s owner did not personally bite another individual, their dog did, and as a result, the owner is answerable for the damages that resulted.
Negligence Per Se Following a Phoenix Accident
Negligence per se is often compared to automatic negligence. In a standard negligence case, the plaintiff must establish all the elements of negligence to find that the wrongful party was liable for their harm and losses. However, with negligence per se, the wrongful party actions serve as automatic proof of negligence.
Yet, to establish negligence per se in Arizona, the law must be related to public safety and explicitly indicate what type of behavior is prohibited. That is why traffic violations tend to fall under the types of law that qualify for negligence per se.
For instance, according to Arizona’s statute, drivers may not travel more than 15 miles per hour in a school zone while school is in session. This law was enacted for the public’s safety and is specific in its terms. As a result, if a motorist travels faster than 15 miles per hour and hits and injures a student, the motorist can be found negligent per se.
Types of Compensation Available Following an Accident Due to Negligence
If you suffered harm in an accident because of another person’s negligent actions, you might be able to pursue certain types of financial damages, including compensation for:
- Medical fees for treatments as a result of the accident, such as hospital stay, doctor visits, surgeries, prescription medications, and other types of medical services
- Future medical treatments
- Lost wages and reduced earning capacity
- Current and future medical rehabilitation
- Domestic replacement services
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Loss of enjoyment of life
Yet, because these damages include both hard-to-prove and easy-to-quantify losses, it may be in your best interest to reach out to an experienced personal injury accident attorney as soon as possible. These lawyers can determine which of these damages may apply to your case and help you pursue the maximum compensation you deserve.
The Time Limitations That Can Affect Your Negligence Case
Another issue that can impact your claim if you are trying to pursue legal action following an accident due to negligence is the statute of limitations. These regulations dictate how long individuals have to pursue a lawsuit following an accident. If they do not file their suit within this allotted time, they can lose the right to pursue the compensation they are entitled to.
In Arizona, the statute of limitations to file a lawsuit following an accident in Phoenix is two years from the action alleging negligence. However, this period can also change if exceptions apply to this rule. For these reasons, it is usually best to discuss your case with a skilled and knowledgeable Phoenix personal injury accident attorney as soon as possible.
These lawyers can help you determine the maximum amount of time you have to file your lawsuit following an accident due to another person’s negligence, as well as ensure that your legal files, documents, and motions are prepared correctly and submitted to the proper court before this time expires.
Plus, the longer you wait to pursue legal action after an accident, the harder it may be to prove your case. Over time, the likelihood of evidence disappearing becomes higher, witnesses may no longer be available to testify on your behalf, and memories of the incident begin to fade. These factors can ultimately hurt your case and impact the amount of compensation you can recover.
Get Legal Help Following an Accident and Go After the Monetary Damages You Deserve
Finding evidence to help establish negligence after an accident and preparing arguments to prove your case is likely the last thing you want to stress about following a Phoenix accident.
Fortunately, when you retain an experienced Phoenix personal injury attorney, you will not have to take on this complicated legal ordeal alone. Instead, with this legal team on your side, you can get legal help to go after the justice and damages you deserve.
Once hired, you lawyers can:
- Review the facts of your accident, figure out whether you have a valid legal claim, and determine the legal options you should pursue.
- Analyze what happened, investigate the incident, and secure the evidence required to show fault and damages.
- Go over your questions and concerns and provide the legal support you require.
- Hire experts to validate your legal claim.
- Manage all the settlement negotiations with the insurer and the other side and go after a just settlement offer.
- Proceed to trial if the other side is unwilling to provide you with a fair settlement and fight tirelessly for the damages you are entitled to.
Do not wait to reach out to an experienced personal injury attorney if you sustained injuries in an accident because of the negligent actions of another. Instead, contact a skilled lawyer from Hutzler Law for a free case evaluation and learn how these legal professionals can help you.