Whenever there’s been a car accident, someone is to blame for the injuries and vehicle damage that occurs. Either one of the drivers wasn’t paying attention to the road and the cars around them, or they were distracted with doing something they shouldn’t have been doing while driving. At any rate, because of what was done – or what wasn’t done – an accident occurred resulting in injuries and property damage. The person at fault for the accident is the driver who took the unreasonable action, and they are responsible for the damages that result.
Negligence is simply the legal way to express fault. The failure to utilize reasonable care that results in a personal injury is negligence. There are four things that must be established to prove someone has been negligent:
The duty of care simply means the duty to act reasonably in order to avoid injuring someone else. In terms of driving, it points to things like being attentive and paying attention to the road and drivers around you, not driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol, and obeying the traffic laws.
The breach of duty of care simply means not acting reasonably under current circumstances. If you breached the duty of care while you were driving, it would mean things like driving over the posted speed limit, driving while distracted, or driving under the influence.
Causation is the concept that the breach of the duty of care resulted in the injuries that occurred from the breach. The “but for” test is the normal method of establishing causation. Basically, that the injuries would not have occurred if the action (or inaction) of the person at fault did not occur.
Finally, damages are the pain and personal injury that you suffer as a result of a crash. It also includes the damage to the car and whatever might have been in the car at the time of the crash, as well. The most important element in a car accident claim are the damages, because if you don’t have damages, you can’t recover any. In other words, even if you can establish duty, breach, and causation, if there are no damages, there will be no money changing hands.
If negligence of another driver is at fault for the loss of someone’s life in a car crash, the victim’s immediate family has two different ways to legally recover damages. A wrongful death claim, and a survival claim are both used to recover damages after the loss of a loved one. Here is the distinction between the two:
A wrongful death action is allowed to be brought anytime there is a fatality that results from the car accident. A wrongful death action is allowed to be brought only if the victim lived, even it is only for a brief period of time before ultimately dying.
A wrongful death action does not need to be brought with a survival action and vice versa. Either, or both, can be brought by the surviving immediate family if the circumstances warrant it.
It occasionally happens that the injuries suffered in a car accident occurred because of a defect in the design or the manufacture of the vehicle being driven. In this case, the injured parties may file suit against the car manufacturer using what is called the theory of strict products liability.
In Arizona, there are three things that need to be established prior to a party bringing a strict product liability:
Legally, there are three kinds of defects:
Anyone bringing a strict products liability claim in Arizona has the potential for a successful claim when they prove that damages occurred by a product that was designed, manufactured or sold by the defendant, and that product had a design defect, manufacturing defect or inadequate warnings.
In most cases, expert testimony is required to prove that these elements were present at the time of the accident.
In some cases, the road is the cause for the car accident. If a road is not constructed properly, it can be a hazard to an unwary driver. Barriers that are improperly placed, improperly placed signage, traffic control devices that are defective, and road services that are sub-par are all things that can cause loss of control of a vehicle. And a car accident with personal injuries is usually the result.
Arizona roadways are owned and maintained by government entities such as the State of Arizona, or counties or cities and towns in Arizona. Cases of car accident claims because of road construction or design are then brought against the government agency that owns the road that caused the accident. This differs from other car accidents in that most other accidents cases are brought upon private persons, not governmental entities. Because of this, these cases are governed by the Government Tort Claims Act, an Arizona law that was designed to protect the government from liability from people bringing false, or frivolous, claims.
Any claim that is based on the Government Tort Claims act has to be brought within six months of the date of the car accident in which the injuries in question were caused. This is much shorter than the two-year statute of limitations for any other type of car accident claim.
Also, whether the acts were committed by independent contractors hired by the government, the Tort Claims Act still applies equally. This provides coverage for any negligent act committed by nearly anyone performing any work in the name of the state, county, or city in question.