We know you have questions. We have your answers.
*These responses cover most but not every scenario. If you have additional questions or want to discuss your individual case, feel free to contact Curry, Pearson & Wooten P.L.C. We are here to help you.
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Can I still receive compensation for my injuries after an accident if I was partially at fault?
While personal injury law typically talks about accidents being someone else’s fault entirely, in reality, many accidents are caused by a number of factors. Maybe one driver was going a bit too fast, and another driver turned left when they should have stayed put—crash! While the accident was mostly the fault of the left turner, the speed racer would have either lessened the impact or avoided it altogether if he or she was going the speed limit.
In this situation, how would damages pay out? Both drivers played a part in the accident, so it hardly makes sense to award the full amount to either one.
Arizona’s Pure Comparative Negligence Laws Say YES, You Can Receive Compensation
Arizona is one of the few states in the country that follows the pure comparative negligence system. This means that a judge will assign a percentage of the fault to each party involved in an accident, and the damages will be awarded according to the percentage of fault. In the above situation, let’s say that it was determined that the speeder was 30% responsible for the accident, while the left turner was 70%. A judge rules that the damages total $100,000, so the speeder will receive $70,000 in damages.
Most states follow modified comparative negligence laws have rules that say if you contributed more than 49% or 50% to your accident (12 states have a 50% cap and 21 states follow a 51% cap) you cannot collect damages, otherwise damages are awarded similarly. Only a small handful of states practice what is called contributory negligence law, which does not allow an injured party to collect damages if they contributed to the accident in any way.
If you were injured in an accident and were partially at fault, a personal injury attorney can help ensure that you are awarded a fair amount. For more information, feel free to contact us today to schedule a free consultation with an attorney.
What damages can I recover after my Phoenix car accident?
After an auto accident, your life takes a sharp 180 degree turn. Suddenly, every day becomes dedicated to making a recovery from your injuries, repairing property damage, and paying medical bills. If your injury takes you out of work for a time, you may also begin feeling the effects of lost wages, which only makes everything more difficult.
Fortunately, Arizona’s legal system allows you to collect damages for your injuries even if you were partially to blame for your accident. Damages in personal injury cases like yours are typically broken into two categories, compensatory damages and punitive damages.
Compensatory Damages After an Arizona Auto Accident
Compensatory damages are meant to compensate you for what the accident has cost you, both financially and otherwise. Most commonly, people will recover compensatory damages to cover their medical bills and car repairs, but damages can be recovered for nearly everything that a monetary value can be attached to, including:
- Medical Bills that you have already incurred as well as the projected cost of future medical treatment for your injuries.
- Property damage repair and replacement costs.
- Lost wages from work that you missed or will miss, as well as any money you could have made in the future had you not been injured.
- Pain and suffering, as well as emotional distress such as PTSD, can be difficult to assign a specific monetary value, but you can be compensated for enduring pain and psychological effects of the accident.
Punitive Damages After a Car Wreck
Unlike compensatory damages that are meant to compensate the victim, punitive damages are meant to punish the negligent party. Though not as common in car accident injury claims, if the defendant’s actions were intentional or exceedingly reckless, punitive damages may be pursued. These damages have a “make them pay” intent to them, in order to deter the defendant—as well as anyone else—from acting in such a manner.
If you are looking to secure more than just the bare minimum compensation for your injuries, hiring an attorney can help you ensure that your case is presented in the best possible manner. The Arizona personal injury attorneys at Curry, Pearson & Wooten can help you get the compensation that you deserve—just call today at 602-258-1000 to schedule a free consultation.
Why is the insurance company so reluctant to accept my claim after my whiplash injury in Phoenix?
Whiplash is a tricky injury to deal with after a car accident, which is ironic since it is an extraordinarily common injury. Typically caused by rapid acceleration and deceleration of your head when a car is impacted from the side or rear, most people walk away from an accident without even knowing that they are injured.
Here is where a whiplash injury gets complicated. Because it is not immediately apparent, many people go days or even weeks before the pain gets bad enough to seek help. As is the case with most injury claims, the more time that passes between an accident and a claim, the more suspicious the insurance company gets.
One would think that since insurance companies handle seemingly endless whiplash claims that it would be a fairly easy claim to make. The problem is that it is also one of the most common injuries cited in fraudulent claims. This, along with the standard lapse of time between the accident and the claim, can put insurers on edge when they get a claim for a whiplash injury.
This does not mean that you are out of luck should you have a whiplash injury. One of the best things to do is see a doctor as soon as you notice symptoms. This establishes a paper trail that links your injury to your accident, and it also puts you on the mend as soon as possible. When it comes to Arizona auto accident injuries, your health comes first, and being proactive about your claim is a close second.
If you have suffered from a whiplash injury in a Phoenix car accident, our Phoenix personal injury attorneys can help you get the care you need and the compensation that you deserve. Call us today at 602-258-1000 to schedule your complimentary consultation.
Can I plead down to a wet reckless after my Phoenix DUI arrest?
After being arrested for a DUI in Arizona, arguably the strictest state when it comes to drunk driving, it is easy to feel intimidated and overwhelmed by the charges against you. No matter how much responsibility you assume for what happened, the first instinct many people have when facing the aftermath of an Arizona DUI arrest is searching for a way to lessen the blow of the charges.
Part of Arizona’s very strict laws on driving intoxicated is heavy restrictions on plea bargains in DUI cases. A “wet reckless” is the more common term for a reckless driving charge that involves alcohol (hence the “wet”), and therefore attempting to plea wet reckless is not likely to get you far.
A much more common and effective way to fight your DUI charges is to enlist the help of an attorney to get your charges dismissed altogether. From fighting the manner in which you were arrested to the test that you were given, an experienced attorney will be able to scour your case for any loose ends that the state may have left hanging.
Remember, you have been arrested, but you are not yet convicted. The burden is in the state’s hands to prove that you are guilty, but without a solid legal defense your case may not hold up to the tough prosecutors that do this on a daily basis. Invest in your future by investing in an experienced, trial-ready lawyer that will defend your case thoroughly and work to reduce your punishment or eliminate it altogether.
A DUI conviction can haunt you for the rest of your life. Be proactive and call the Arizona DUI defense attorneys at Curry, Pearson & Wooten now by dialing 602-258-1000, and schedule a free case consultation with our firm.
My partner and I are seeking to have our marriage annulled; how will custody of our daughter play out?
When a marriage is annulled, it brings about several complications due to the fact that the marriage was never seen as legally valid. One of the primary concerns many parents face is that any children they share may be at the center of tricky custody battles at the result of being born to parents who were never legally wed.
Fortunately, Arizona has some rather forward-thinking laws when it comes to children born outside a legal marriage. Children born to parents of any relationship status are protected by the same guidelines, and if a child has been born out of wedlock, parents will have equal custody of the child once paternity has been determined.
The “presumption of paternity” clause is what can confuse many couples, but it is much simpler than the tricky legalese makes it seem. All you need for paternity to be established outside of marriage is one of the following:
- A birth certificate signed by both the mother and father (the most common method)
- A notarized statement acknowledging paternity signed by the mother and father
- A genetics test showing 95% or greater probability of paternity
- The child was born no more than 10 months after the annulment of the marriage.
Generally speaking, it is easier to prove paternity following annulment than deny it; the burden will lie with the presumed father to prove otherwise.
You may even be able to hammer out the details of child support and custody during your annulment hearing, which can help make an already overwhelming process just a bit easier. If you are seeking to annul your marriage in Arizona but are concerned about what may happen to your children, you do not need to navigate the process alone. The Arizona family law attorneys at Curry, Pearson & Wooten are here to help you; call us today at 602-258-1000 to receive the support and guidance that you need.
My son is not married to the mother of his child, and they are no longer together—how can I guarantee that my grandchild will be able to visit me?
Grandparents’ visitation rights are commonly overlooked, but often a very important topic to discuss. Grandparents that live locally often contribute a great deal of time and money to raising their grandchildren, and develop very strong relationships.
As a grandparent, it can be very difficult when your grandchild’s parents separate. You may fear that you have no legal rights to visit the child since you are not one of his parents, but fortunately, the law recognizes the important role that a grandparent can play in a child’s life.
If you are met with resistance when you discuss visitation with your grandchild, you may be able to request court-ordered visitation. Courts allow this when the child’s parents have been divorced for three months, one of the parents has been missing for three months, or if the child was born to parents who were not married.
The court is primarily interested in the wellbeing of the child, so many things will be considered in your bid for visitation rights. Your existing relationship with the child is the primary concern, followed by how visitation will affect the child’s quality of life in the short and long term. If one of the parents is denying you visitation rights, the court will also consider their side of the story.
In order to request court-ordered visitation, you will need to petition in the child’s county of residence. If you have questions about how to file this petition, or further questions on your rights as a grandparent in Arizona, call our Phoenix family law attorneys today at 602-258-1000. Our experienced child custody lawyers are here to help you navigate the tricky waters of divorce and child custody—call us now to get the answers that you are looking for!
Last year, I had to defend myself in front of the NTSB because of some unfounded enforcement action from the FAA—can I recover my attorney’s fees?
Like most people who are forced to go to court to defend themselves, you are probably out a lot of time and money thanks to attorney’s fees and other time lost. When you are defending yourself from unsubstantiated claims, however, it can be even more frustrating. Thankfully, you may have some relief, depending on how your hearing went.
Thanks to the Equal Access to Justice Act, or EAJA, certificate holders that prevail against unsubstantiated claims by the Federal Aviation Administration in front of the National Transportation Safety Board may be able to recover attorney’s fees and other expenses. Here is how you can tell if you could be eligible for EAJA fees:
- Have you appealed an FAA order? You can only collect expenses and attorney’s fees incurred from the point that you appealed an order from the FAA.
Were some or all of the charges brought against you by the FAA dismissed or settled? If you successfully defended all or some of the claims brought against you, you are considered the prevailing party.
Were the claims made by the FAA substantially justified? The claims made by the FAA must be based on solid evidence and legal reasoning.
Did you incur attorney’s fees as a result of the enforcement and appeals process? Your attorney’s fees are your own responsibility, and not that of your union or employer.
If you were able to answer “yes” to all four questions above, you may be eligible to receive an EAJA award. This award can cover attorney’s fees, expert witness fees, and other costs associated with defending the FAA’s enforcement action.
In order to receive an EAJA award, you must file an application within 30 days of the enforcement action’s final disposition. If you miss this deadline, the NTSB will not consider your application for an EAJA award.
If you have questions about your eligibility or how to file, contact the Arizona aviation accident attorneys at Curry, Pearson & Wooten today at 602-258-1000.
I have heard that the FAA is forcing overweight pilots to undergo extensive sleep apnea testing before receiving their medical certificates—is that true?
It is true that in late 2013, the Federal Aviation Administration proposed a very invasive policy that would require all pilots with a BMI over 40 to undergo expensive sleep apnea testing with a sleep specialist. Until the pilot completed the testing, he or she would be denied a medical certificate.
Thankfully, after much backlash from pilots and the flying community, the FAA revisited the policy in April and made some small changes that do not blatantly discriminate based on BMI numbers alone. The changes still require aviation medical examiners to ask questions about sleep apnea; pilots who are referred for further sleep apnea evaluation will still be issued a medical certificate if they are otherwise qualified and will have 90 days to get an assessment, during which the pilot will still be allowed to fly.
The new policy draft allows pilots who are referred for sleep apnea testing to see any physician for the assessment, not just a sleep specialist. If the doctor does not think a sleep test is necessary, it is not a required part of the assessment.
The FAA maintains its stance that untreated obstructed sleep apnea (OSA) is a disqualifying medical condition, as it can interfere with restorative sleep. If a pilot is diagnosed, the AME will have to submit all sleep test results medical information, treatments, and other information to the FAA. Luckily, simple treatment methods are available, including commonly-used continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machines, which are worn only at night.
If you feel as though you are being unfairly discriminated against in your quest for a medical certificate, your instincts may be right. Call the Phoenix aviation attorneys at Curry, Pearson & Wooten today at 602-258-1000 to discuss your concerns with a lawyer.
I’m filing for bankruptcy because I am having serious money problems. How am I supposed to afford the filing fees? Help!
It really does seem like a cruel joke. You struggle for months or even years to stay financially afloat, and you finally admit to yourself that bankruptcy may be the best option for you. You work up the courage to file for bankruptcy and get some much-needed relief, when you are suddenly looking at an impossible choice—pay a huge fee, or give up on bankruptcy.
Currently, filing fees for both Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcies are over $300, a seemingly insurmountable amount when you are facing bankruptcy. Fortunately, there are some options that may relieve your wallet and your mind.
For most people that are unable to pay the fee in full outright, there is an installment plan you can apply for that allows you to split your payments into up to four separate payments that are due in full within 120 days of your initial filing (this can occasionally be extended to 180 days if the court determine that you have a good reason for the extension). Do not be late with these payments, however—the court could dismiss your bankruptcy case entirely if you are not entirely paid up within 180 days of filing.
There is also a chance that you will be eligible to have the fee waived entirely. If you are filing for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, you may apply for a waiver if you are unable to pay the fee up front or in installments. This option is not available to those filing for a Chapter 13 bankruptcy, however, so plan accordingly.
If you have more questions about how to apply for fee waivers or installment plans, Curry, Pearson & Wooten’s Arizona bankruptcy attorneys are here to answer them—call us today at 602-258-1000 to learn more!
I am already in debt, and now I am facing wage garnishments—can bankruptcy stop this?
It is a particularly nasty catch-22 to have a wage garnishment slapped on you when you are already financially strapped. Having less money at your disposal to pay bills is never a good sign, but your wages are being garnished to pay some of those bills—it certainly seems like a lose-lose situation any way you look at it.
Filing for bankruptcy may offer you some relief as far as your wage garnishment goes. If the court has ordered the garnishment to pay off a nonpriority debt, bankruptcy’s automatic stay will go into effect immediately, stopping any wage garnishments in their tracks for the duration of your case. If the debt that got you that pesky garnishment in the first place will be eliminated in your bankruptcy case—such as credit card debt in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy—then when your bankruptcy is over, you garnishment will be permanently banished, too.
Just as bankruptcy is not omnipotent in eliminating debt, it also has its limits with garnishments. If a wage garnishment was applied to address debt related to student loans, taxes, or child support, the news is not all good. The automatic stay will keep wage garnishment for back taxes and student loan debt at bay, but once your bankruptcy is over, collection can start up once again. For alimony or child support debt, not only will you still need to pay that debt for the entirety of your bankruptcy, you will also be saddled with any wage garnishments associated with that debt throughout your case.
At Curry, Pearson & Wooten, our Phoenix bankruptcy attorneys are happy to answer any questions you may have about wage garnishments or other bankruptcy matters—simply call us at 602-258-1000 to speak with us today!