07 Apr2016From Arizona to Florida, there is a growing problem of drivers going the wrong direction on major highways. Some believe this may be due to poor engineering and increasingly complicated roadways. However, a recent accident in Tucson underscores the underlying DUI problem in America. Two people were killed in the early morning hours of March 19, 2016, when Stephanie Perez was travelling the wrong way down I-10 and collided with another vehicle. Police have not ruled out intoxication as a cause of the accident. Perez and the other driver were killed in the accident. As with many of these crashes, two more accidents were caused when other drivers could not avoid the crash scene. Five more drivers were injured in subsequent impacts, but none have died from their injuries. Wrong-way Driving a National Problem Wrong-way driving accidents are upwards of 30 times more likely to cause a fatality than other accidents, according to a report by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) in 2012. That same report identified that nationally, although accounting for just 3% of all automobile accidents, wrong-way driving accounts for a disproportionate number of fatalities, mostly due to head-on collisions on high-speed roadways, such as interstates and major highways. Alcohol the Leading Cause It should come as no surprise that alcohol was by and large the greatest factor contributing to wrong-way driving accidents, with seven out of nine individuals investigated by the NTSB research study had BAC levels of 0.15 or higher at the time of their accidents. Of the 1,566 wrong-way driving accidents recorded between 2004 and 2009, 60% of them were classified as “drinking” and driving accidents. Compare this to only 22% of all accidents recorded nationally. When you add drugs, the number grows only slightly. Therefore, alcohol, more than drugs or any other contributing factor, is the biggest reason for these terrible crashes. Age a Contributing Factor While impaired driving is certainly the biggest reason for wrong-way collisions, states have reported that age also plays a significant role in risk. In North Carolina, approximately 17% of wrong-way drivers were over 65, while in Texas the number was closer to 13%. The NTSB reports that in the same period (2004-2009), roughly 15% of all wrong-way driving accidents were caused by drivers 70 or older. Wrong-way Driving Injuries When a driver goes against traffic at high rates of speed, it is very likely the person is either impaired or otherwise not thinking clearly. This act is highly reckless and puts the general public at great risk of injury and death. Arizona law allows you to be compensated when someone else carelessly and negligently causes you injuries. In some instances, serious and reckless conduct like wrong-way driving can create a presumption in your favor. If a wrong-way driver in Arizona has seriously injured you or someone you care about, you deserve the best legal team you can get. Know your rights. Contact the Hofmann Law Offices, PLLC for a free consultation today.
29 Mar2016When someone is seriously injured in a car accident or due to medical malpractice, the effects can be devastating. It can mean the loss of a job, loss of mobility, or worse. So it is no wonder many people find it difficult to rebuild their lives after suffering from someone else’s negligence. Many attorneys sell their services as a promise of riches or hope of large recoveries that will make everything better again. This simply adds insult to injury when, after years of waiting, the injured person still has not seen a dollar. A good personal injury attorney should explain the process thoroughly from the start so that you can make informed choices and budget for a long fight. Here are some of the most important reasons that lawsuits take so long. A Good Lawyer Never Picks a Fight he or she Can Not Win There are attorneys out there who will take every case that comes in the door. You do not want those attorneys. A good attorney knows what to look for. Plenty of people are injured in car accidents, but not all of them are due to true negligence. Likewise, doctors make mistakes in providing care, but not every injured patient is a victim of medical malpractice. A law firm that routinely takes “bad cases” that have no merit will lose credibility with the courts and will only hurt its clients in the long run. Good lawyers often take a long time to analyze the facts of a case. It can take as much as a year or more, depending on the complexity of your case. Your Lawyer Will Consult the Experts While a lawyer may be an expert on the law, it is unlikely he or she is also a skilled medical professional. Instead, your lawyer will hire and consult with numerous experts, from physicians and nurses to accident reconstruction experts, depending on your case. These experts can take a long time to review your file before reaching a conclusion. Half of Your Case Involves a Defendant All too many plaintiffs forget that the court knows nothing about their case yet. The plaintiff knows the defendant caused the injuries. But does the insurance company? No. Does the court? No. Therefore, the justice system affords the defendant and its insurance company plenty of time to respond to your allegations. For every document your lawyer files, the defendant will have time to respond. This may at times mean extensions of time. Sometimes there are multiple defendants, each of which needs time to respond. Motions Take Time Most large lawsuits involve key procedural issues that have little to do with whether the defendant actually caused your injuries. Defendants routinely file motions seeking early dismissal based on time limits, language of the complaint, or a number of other technicalities. Much of this is strategy, but it takes time for even the most talented lawyer to navigate these motions and move your case forward. What to Ask a Lawyer Before Filing a Lawsuit If you or someone you love has been injured by someone else’s negligence, you need aggressive and skilled representation from the very start. Will he or she receive more money than you? Will he or she keep you informed? Can he or she provide you with examples of recent verdicts and settlements? Hofmann Law Offices, PLLC provides top-quality personal injury representation to injured verdicts throughout Arizona and southern California. Call for a free consultation today, and ask to see the Client’s Bill of Rights Hofmann Law Offices provides.
25 Feb2016For years the nonprofit public education site www.dogsbite.org has monitored statistics regarding dog bites nationwide. According to their research, between 2005 and 2014 there have been 203 deaths attributed to pit bull attacks. This number accounts for 62% of the total recorded deaths (326). Dog bite attorneys in the Tucson area are very familiar with the growing number of vicious and sometimes fatal attacks caused by careless owners. While pit bulls are responsible for the lion’s share of fatalities, dogs of all breeds and sizes can cause serious injuries when they attack. Which States are the Worst? According to DogBites.org, the five worst states for pit bull attacks are, in order of the number of reported attacks, are Texas, California, Georgia, Florida, and Illinois. The site has now added Arizona to the list of states on a “watch list” for having an increased rate of pit bull attacks over the past ten years. Who is Responsible for a Dog Bite in Arizona? The owner. Under state law, the relevant statute states the following: “The owner of a dog which bites a person when the person is in or on a public place or lawfully in or on a private place, including the property of the owner of the dog, is liable for damages suffered by the person bitten, regardless of the former viciousness of the dog or the owner’s knowledge of its viciousness.” Notice the law makes no allowance for prior knowledge. Some states allow a loophole for owners where there was no prior knowledge of vicious behavior or prior attacks. Not in Arizona. Under Section 11-1020 of the Arizona Consolidated Statutes, it does not matter if the owner has a reason to know about prior violent tendencies. The liability is strict and unequivocal. What if the Victim Provoked the Dog? This is a slightly different story. Arizona law does have a provision that allows for provocation as a defense to a lawsuit brought for a dog bite. Under a related statute, Section 11-1027, the law states the following: “Proof of provocation of the attack by the person injured shall be a defense to the action for damages. The issue of provocation shall be determined by whether a reasonable person would expect that the conduct or circumstances would be likely to provoke a dog.” As you can see, the issue is not as simple as the law might initially appear. Sometimes a person can provoke a dog to bite without even realizing it. But how does a court decide whether the provocation is “reasonably expected” to cause a dog to bite? What is Reasonable Provocation? The easiest way to explain provocation is through two examples. Example 1: No Provocation Say John is visiting his neighbor at a barbecue. He is petting his neighbor’s dog while they enjoy a nice Saturday afternoon. John gets up quickly to use the bathroom and accidently knocks over his chair making a slight banging sound. The dog reacts by viciously biting John on the arm, severing arteries and resulting in multiple surgeries and permanent injuries. In this example, a jury would be asked if it is reasonable to expect a dog to react that way in that situation. With the assistance of a good lawyer, John would have a good chance of recovering damages because most people would not expect a dog to react that way. Example 2: Provocation Take the same situation; however, let us assume John is eating a hotdog. The hotdog slips and falls to the ground. The dog naturally jumps at the opportunity for a free snack. As the dog is enjoying the hotdog, John begins the grasp the hotdog and swats the dog on the head repeatedly in an attempt to get him to free his grasp on it. As John is smacking the dog and tugging at the hotdog in its mouth, the dog snaps and bites John’s arm, causing serious injuries. In this scenario, you can see where a jury might find that it could be expected that a dog would naturally respond with violence when someone attempts to take food out of its mouth while hitting the dog. What to Do if You are Bitten First, seek medical treatment for your injuries. Next, contact a Tucson dog bite lawyer who will review the facts of your case and offer practical and realistic options for recovering compensation for your injuries. Do not delay because you only have a short period of time to file your lawsuit, should you choose to do so. Contact Hofmann Law Offices today to receive a free case review and consultation.
22 Feb2016When a loved one dies due to neglect, malpractice, or in a motor vehicle accident, families are often torn between coping with the grief and financial devastation and finding justice for the deceased. It can be a real challenge to know what is right. However, if someone you love dies because of someone else’s careless or reckless behavior, it is simply not your responsibility to pay for it. The law says the responsible party must compensate you and your family for the loss. There are different ways to do this, and sometimes they are at odds with each other. Here, we will briefly discuss the Arizona Survival Act and Wrongful Death Act, each of which provides a different type of relief when the victim is deceased. What Happens When Someone Dies Due to Negligence? When a loved one dies from negligence, a statute of limitations begins to run. You can think of this as a clock that begins ticking. Once the clock stops, time has run out, and you can never sue for the negligence. This is why it is important to hire a skilled Arizona personal injury lawyer right away, even if you are still grieving and do not know whether you will want to proceed with a suit or not. Just having the legal advice can help you put the situation in perspective and know your rights. What is the Difference Between “Wrongful Death” and “Survival?” These two legal terms have different implications in Arizona. Like most states, the law allows family members to be compensated for the death of a loved one. Wrongful Death Under Arizona law, this type of legal action can only be brought by the spouse, parent, children, or other close relative of the deceased. The law provides a sort of “pecking order” of individuals who are authorized to bring such a claim. Only if none of these are available can the person’s estate bring such an action. The key difference between this and a survival claim is that this type of action actually belongs to the next of kin. It is used to compensate the close relatives for the pain and loss caused by the death of a loved one. Therefore, these individuals are the plaintiffs who are suing for an injury. Survival Actions This type of lawsuit, however, is a bit different. Instead of being brought by family members, it is brought solely by the victim’s estate. When a potential right to sue occurs before death, that right is treated like an asset because it actually survives death. In other words, when you die, any right you have to sue someone – with the exception of certain types of lawsuits mentioned in the statute – that right survives you and passes to your estate. This means the representative of your estate can pursue the action to obtain money that will then pass through your estate to your heirs. For these reasons, a survival claim generally requires that the victim suffered some injuries during life, such as pain and suffering, but it also implies that the decedent would have had a right to sue had he or she not died. Can Different People Be Entitled to the Money? Absolutely. When the surviving heirs are the same as the individuals listed in the victim’s will, there is usually no difference. However, sometimes a victim might name a close friend as the executor of the will and leave a large portion of the estate to a person who is not a spouse or close relative. When this happens, the people who are entitled to recover under the Survival Action will be different from the people who are entitled to recover under the Wrongful Death Act. If someone you love has died due to negligence, you need a compassionate and knowledgeable attorney who can explain your rights and help you make an educated decision about how to proceed. The experienced attorneys of Hofmann Law Offices, PLLC are ready and willing to help you when you need it most. Call for a free consultation today.
18 Feb2016When someone is injured in an auto accident in Arizona, one of the first things he or she must do is seek medical attention. Often, this means a trip to the emergency room or an urgent care clinic. What about the treatment plan? Especially in smaller accidents, people sometimes make the mistake of thinking they do not need to follow-up on prescriptions and other treatment instructions. Once they go home, they may not return to the doctor who treated them ever again. Even once a victim does get to see his or her primary care doctor, records from the first treating doctor may not be requested. Perhaps the injuries seem minor or feel as though they are going away. Whatever the reasons, people sometimes just fail to follow up on their treatment plans. Nevertheless, it is absolutely imperative to follow medical instructions closely. Here are a few considerations. Why did you stop taking your medication without asking your doctor? If your physician orders medication to be taken, you should continue taking it until instructed otherwise. If you have negative side effects or do not feel you need it anymore, consult your physician. Remember, you do not have to do everything a doctor says. It is your body, and you have a right to make those decisions. If you do not like your doctor or want a second opinion, it is always a good idea to go elsewhere. However, if you just stop taking prescribed medications without discussing it with your doctor, you make it look as though the injuries are not serious. You would be better if not for your failure to follow doctor’s orders. If your case is tried in court, a jury must determine whether your injuries were directly caused by the negligence of the other party. If someone causes your injury, but you make it worse due to ignoring helpful medical advice, it might be difficult for a jury to separate how much your actual injury should be compensated, as opposed to your current condition. A Prime Example Consider a patient who has knee surgery following an auto accident. After the surgery, the doctor instructs him to stay off his leg for at least two weeks and not attempt to walk on it until after he is seen for a follow-up appointment. The patient ignores the instructions and tries to put weight on the leg two days after the operation, causing him to stumble. Although the fall re-injures his knee, he also suffers a hip fracture, several torn ligaments, and permanent nerve damage. Although he should be compensated for the original injury, a jury may have a difficult time awarding significant compensation for his injuries, especially since it is difficult to separate how much of his pain and suffering is due to the original injury as opposed to the newly incurred complications. How a Lawyer Can Help Many injury victims fear the unknown. They worry that if they follow a doctor’s instructions, they may improve and no longer be eligible for compensation. On the other hand, some people worry that they will not be able to pay for extended medical treatment following an accident. Finally, some people simply have no health insurance and fear that they will be required to pay all of their bills with cash. The best way to understand your rights and make sure you get the compensation you deserve is to speak with an experienced Arizona injury lawyer. Licensed in California and Arizona, Hofmann Law Offices represents injury victims throughout Tucson and the surrounding areas. Call today for a free consultation.