How to Determine Liability in a Hit-and-Run

Hit-and-run car accidents are extremely frustrating for the participants of the remaining vehicle, as not only does a hit-and-run make it more difficult to determine liability, but also, it makes it more difficult for the other driver to file a personal injury claim and to collect damages. Without a liable party, insurance companies are hesitant to take the word of the driver that stuck around. That is why it is imperative that, if injured in a hit-and-run car accident, you take action immediately, and that you do so with caution. Tracking Down a Hit-and-Run Driver Sometimes the police are able to track down the other vehicle of a hit-and-run through witnesses, surveillance cameras, or even just a thorough description of the vehicle. If the police are able to find and identify the vehicle, they can run the plates and not only see to whom the car is registered, but also learn which insurance company insures the vehicle. Once you have this information, you can go ahead and file an insurance claim with the hit-and-run driver’s insurance company and continue with the suit as normal. In addition to a personal injury lawsuit, a hit-and-run driver may be charged with anywhere from a class two to a class five felony for fleeing the scene of the accident, in accordance with Arizona State Legislature 28-661. In the event that the police are unable to track down the hit-and-run driver and its vehicle, you may have to file a personal injury insurance claim with your own insurance company. If you have to resort to this, it may be in your best interest to work with a Tucson car accident lawyer who can assist you in recovering the damages you rightly deserve. Filing a Personal Injury Claim After a Hit-and-Run Accident In order to file a successful personal injury claim with your insurance company in the event of a hit-and-run car accident, you want to be sure to do the following immediately after the accident:
  • Record every detail of the car that hit you, as you remember it;
  • If you cannot remember key details such as make, model, color, and license plate number, try to jog your memory to at least remember how the driver was positioned (i.e. high, as if they were in an SUV, or low, as if they were in a sedan);
  • Take photos of the scene to support your version of events;
  • Seek medical attention ASAP, and have your physician give you a long-term diagnosis that projects what kind of ongoing treatment you are going to need to fully recuperate; and
  • Consult a Tucson personal injury lawyer right away.
Filing a personal injury claim is difficult, but filing a personal injury claim without knowing whom the reliable party is can prove to be even more so. A Tucson personal injury lawyer can help you sort out the specifics of your case and submit the proper evidence to your insurance company so that you may collect your compensation without hassle and as quickly as possible. Uninsured Motorist Coverage Most car insurance companies include uninsured motorist coverage in their policies for instances such as hit-and-runs. Should you be involved in a hit-and-run car accident, and should you sustain multiple or severe injuries as a result of that accident, the uninsured motorist coverage portion of your policy should kick in and protect you. Uninsured motorist coverage typically pays for medical treatment, rehabilitation, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other damages accrued in the accident. Consult a Tucson Personal Injury Attorney Unfortunately, if you were involved in a hit-and-run car accident, it may be difficult for you to recover any compensation from your own insurance company other than the cost of your basic medical bills. At Hofmann Law Offices, PLLC, we believe that you are entitled to everything from basic medical coverage to coverage for lost wages, which is why we use our knowledge and experience to help you recover the compensation you deserve. For a thorough assessment of your case, and to see what your chances are of recovering compensation for your injuries, contact our Tucson personal injury law firm at 520-797-1041 today.

Who Is Liable When Poor Road Conditions Cause a Car Accident?

When two or more vehicles are involved in a car accident in Tucson, it is fairly simple to determine liability and who is responsible for paying for damages. However, when a driver hits a pothole, pops a tire, swerves into oncoming traffic, and runs head first into an oncoming vehicle, is the accident really the driver’s fault, or is it the pothole’s fault? Poor road conditions can cause any number of accidents, ranging from popped tires to full-on collisions and pileups. Because of this, it is the job of the Arizona government to maintain roadways and keep them relatively safe (Tucson.com). But where does the State’s liability begin, and where does it end? Arizona’s Liability for Poor Road Conditions According to ARS 12-820.03, neither a public entity nor its employers shall be held liable for any injuries sustained as a result of a poor plan or design for road construction, maintenance, or improvement to highways, roads, streets, bridges, or rights-of-way if the plan was prepared in accordance with the most up-to-date engineering and design standards. However, the State may be liable if it fails to provide adequate warning to drivers of road construction or any other dangerous hazards that lay ahead. Poor road conditions, or “dangerous hazards,” may include:
  • Confusing, damaged, or missing signs;
  • Unsalted or unplowed roads during the winter time;
  • Blind curves and poorly banked roads;
  • Missing or poorly placed traffic signals;
  • Uneven shoulders or improperly graded curves;
  • Vision obstructions, such as poor landscaping;
  • Overly bright street lights;
  • Unclear or missing road markings;
  • Wrong road materials;
  • Low bridges or incorrect measurement markings; and
  • Broken guardrails.
It is important to note that while the state and city governments are responsible for maintaining safe road conditions, they can and do subcontract out a majority of the roadwork. In the event that they do, both the government agency and the agency that was hired to build or maintain the roads may be held liable. Bringing a Personal Injury Claim Against a Government Agency It can be extremely difficult to bring a claim against the government, which is why we recommend hiring a Tucson personal injury lawyer to help you. At Hofmann Law Offices, PLLC, our experienced attorneys understand the laws protecting government entities, and regularly help clients navigate those laws so that may file a claim and achieve a successful outcome despite any immunity that the government agency should have. When it comes to personal injuries sustained as a result of poor road conditions, most government agencies have immunity from lawsuits, meaning that they cannot be sued. However, those same agencies have exceptions to their immunity laws, and allow themselves to be sued if certain conditions are met. Most states and cities consider gross negligence to be an exception. In order to prove that your accident was the result of gross negligence, you must be able to submit evidence proving the following:
  • The roadway hazard was unreasonably dangerous and posed an unreasonable risk of harm;
  • It was obvious that the roadway hazard would lead to an accident;
  • The city or state government agency was informed of this hazard, or had prior knowledge of it and still failed to remedy it; and
  • The defect or hazard was the direct cause of the accident.
If you can prove each of the above following circumstances, you may have a successful personal injury claim on your hands. However, because you are dealing with a government agency, you must adhere to strict statutes of limitations, which, according to ARS 13.5.1.3, is 180 days after “the cause of action accrues.” Or in other words, “when the plaintiff discovers or by the exercise of reasonable diligence should have discovered that he or she has been injured by a particular defendant’s negligent conduct.” Additionally, filing a claim against a government entity requires much more diligence and jumping through hoops than filing a typical personal injury claim in Tucson. For instance, a notice-of-claim must be hand-delivered to the proper recipient, be it an employee, officer, group, or body (ARS 13.5.1.2). Consult a Tucson Personal Injury Attorney At Hofmann Law Offices, PLLC, we can help you file a successful claim against the state or government agency that was responsible for your car accident and personal injury. Our Tucson car accident attorneys can review your case and determine what evidence is necessary to prove gross negligence by the state, as well as adhere to the stringent guidelines for suing a government agency. If you have recently been involved in a car accident that was the direct result of poor road conditions, contact our Tucson personal injury law firm at 520-797-1041 to schedule a private consultation today.

Your Responsibility as a Tucson, Arizona Pool Owner

“Two-year old found in neighbor’s pool identified.” “Toddler wanders away, nearly drowns in neighbors pool.” “Virginia Beach man tears down pool after toddler neighbor is found in it.” “Dearborn toddler dies after drowning in neighbor’s pool.” “Five year old drowns in neighbor’s pool.” These are all headlines from the past two months of this year. Owning a swimming pool in Tucson, AZ in the dead of summer is a real luxury, but it is also one that comes with grave legal responsibility. As the headlines suggest, in-ground pools are a hazard to everyone, and there is no telling when a child could accidentally fall in and drown. Because of the unfortunate number of children who have been victims of swimming pool drowning, Arizona has cracked down on pool owners and increased their legal obligation to their neighbors, their neighbors’ children, and their own families. Arizona’s Pool Requirements According to A.R.S. § 36-1681, Arizona homeowners with one or more children below the age of 6 must have a pool enclosure of a wall, fence, or other barrier surrounding their entire pool. The fence must be at least five feet high, and at least 20 inches from the edge of the pool. The openings in the fence cannot be greater than four inches other than at the doors and gates. All gates in the pool’s enclosure must open outward from the pool and be self-latching. The latch must be no lower than 54 inches from the ground, but it cannot be less than five inches from the top of the gate. However, if the locking mechanism is a padlock or other device requiring a key or code, the latch may be located at any height on the gate. While not specifically stated in the new code, the state of Arizona strongly recommends against leaving a pool gate propped open for people to come and go as they please, nor should they leave items around the gate which children can use to climb over it. What is the Pool Owner Liable For? It is the responsibility of the pool owner to act with reasonable care, and to do what any reasonable individual would do who owns a pool. Failure to act with reasonable care could result in a negligence suit should one of the neighbors, or even a guest, hurt him or herself as a result of improper security surrounding the pool or a failure to keep the pool area safe and free from hazards. A homeowner can keep their pool and the surrounding area safe and free from hazards by:
  • Ensuring that all slippery surfaces surrounding the pool are covered in a non-slip material;
  • Cleaning up puddles as soon as they are brought to their attention;
  • Ensuring that the gate is closed and locked at all times when the pool is not in use;
  • Ensuring that no scalable objects are near or against the fence when they are not around; and
  • Covering the pool with a hard cover when not in use.
Unfortunately, the homeowner is still liable should an uninvited guest – such as a neighbor’s child or toddler – wander onto their property and into their pool without their knowledge, even if they took all of the proper safety measures. This is thanks to the attractive nuisance loophole, which basically states that a homeowner can be liable for the injuries or death of a young trespasser if there is an object on the property that attracts children. Common examples of an attractive nuisance are playgrounds and pools. Additionally, if a pool owner fails to adhere to Arizona’s pool requirements as laid out in A.R.S. § 36-1681, the victim and/or the victim’s family would not need to prove negligence, as failure to comply with a protective law would make them strictly liable for any injuries sustained in or around their pool. When to Consult a Personal Injury Attorney At Hofmann Law Offices, PLLC, our personal injury attorneys are experienced in determining negligence in a personal injury suit or wrongful death case. If you or a loved one were injured or killed as a result of your neighbor’s failure to adhere to pool safety rules and guidelines, our legal team can help you successfully navigate personal injury law and achieve the damages you rightly deserve. To schedule a consultation with our personal injury team today, call us at 1-520-797-1041 or 520-797-5674, or contact us online today.

Understanding Your Rights as the Passenger of the At-Fault Vehicle

Everyone understands what they need to do when they are the driver of a vehicle that was either hit by or that hit someone else, but not many people are sure where they stand as the passenger of a vehicle—especially if they are the passenger of the at-fault vehicle. Does being in the car with the at-fault driver automatically put them in a position of liability? If they suffered injuries from the accident as well, do they just have to live with them, or can they receive just compensation too? If they seek damages, against whom should they file a personal injury claim? If you were the passenger of the at-fault vehicle, understanding your rights can be difficult. At Hofmann Law Offices, PLLC, we can help you navigate these murky waters, and determine if and how you should file a personal injury claim. The Driver Has a Duty of Care to His or Her Passenger The driver of any motor vehicle, watercraft, or aircraft assumes an automatic obligation to drive carefully and safely, to prevent hitting other vehicles and obstacles in the road, and to prevent harm from happening to his or her passengers. This obligation is known as the duty of care, and should the driver fail to use due care, and should one of his or her passengers be injured or killed as a result, the passenger or the passenger’s survivors have a right to payment from the driver for injuries and losses sustained. A Passenger Cannot Be Negligent or At-Fault Additionally, the passenger of a motor vehicle is almost never at fault, and as a result, has the right to file a personal injury claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance company—even if the driver happens to be his or her friend, family member, or acquaintance.   If you were recently in an accident in which your friend was the at-fault driver, and if you sustained serious injuries from that accident, it may be in your best interests to seek compensation for your injuries—especially if medical care is needed to heal. However, we understand how difficult it can be to file an insurance claim against your friend for your injuries. After all, your friend may misread the situation and assume that you are attacking them. However, the fact of the matter is that are not suing your friend, but rather, you are suing the insurance company. Your friend has insurance not only to protect him or herself, but also to provide for the injuries, deaths, and damages he or she causes, including injuries or deaths to his or her passengers. Before filing a personal injury claim, explain this to them – as well as your desire to be properly compensated for medical costs, lost wages, and pain and suffering – and hopefully they will understand. Hire a Tucson Personal Injury Attorney At Hofmann Law Offices, PLLC, our personal injury attorneys can help you understand your rights as the passenger of the at-fault vehicle, file a personal injury claim, and hopefully arm you with enough knowledge of personal injury law to thaw your friend in the event that they are upset with your decision to file a personal injury claim. To speak with a Tucson personal injury lawyer today about the steps you need to take to file a successful claim, call us at 1-520-797-1041 or 520-797-5674, or contact us online today.

Social Media Can Hurt Your Chances of a Personal Injury Lawsuit Victory

If you are like most Americans, you document nearly every single major event in your life on social media. From graduations to birthdays, and from all life’s wins to life’s unfortunate losses, social media has become a way for individuals to share, vent, celebrate, and grieve. All that sharing has the potential to be damaging—especially in personal injury lawsuits. If you have been involved in a car accident or other serious accident, it may seem like a good idea to inform your close friends and family members via social media that you are okay. You may even be tempted to use social media to keep them updated on your health status, the status of your pending lawsuit, and any bumps you hit on the road to recovery—but do not do this. Sharing any details about your injuries and the accident on social media can seriously hurt your chances of winning your case and of receiving the compensation and care you need and deserve. Social Media Accounts are Not Private Nothing on the Internet is private, despite all the passwords and protective measures we take to make sure that our information is safeguarded. Social media is one of the least private places on the Internet, and accessing information via social media is as simple as typing in a name. Insurance providers are not above using social media to gather evidence against an individual and using it to dispute their claim. If you have one or more social media accounts, be sure that the privacy settings are set as high as they can go, which means only allowing direct friends to view your profiles. Make sure that “friends of friends” cannot view your profiles, and that your profiles are blocked entirely from public view. Do not befriend anyone new that you do not personally know. Even with your account privacy settings set to high, you still want to be careful about what you post to social media. While it is human nature to put on a brave face for friends and family members, do not downplay the severity of your injuries. Even a post as innocent as informing your followers that you are doing fine could raise a red flag to insurance adjusters, making them believe that you are, in fact, fine.  If you claim to have a back injury from the recent accident, do not post pictures of you rock climbing with your friends. If you claim to have an injured shoulder, do not post pictures of you splashing around in a pool or performing a triathlon. Insurance companies will look for any information that suggests you were exaggerating or flat-out lying about your claim, so do not give them any ammo by carelessly posting information about your health status or accident to social media. The best way to ensure a personal injury lawsuit victory, though, is to tell the truth. Be honest about how badly you were injured, and do not over-exaggerate or lie. Not only is lying morally wrong, but you can get into a lot of trouble for filing a fraudulent claim. Hire a Personal Injury Lawyer At Hofmann Law Offices, PLLC, our Tucson personal injury attorneys advise our clients on every aspect of their entire personal injury suit, including where, when, and with whom to share information about their case. If you have been involved in a personal injury accident in the Tucson, Arizona area, contact Hofmann Law Offices, PLLC at 520-797-1041 or online to schedule your consultation today.

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