What Are the Steps to Filing a Personal Injury Lawsuit in Arizona?

If someone causes an accident or injury, Arizona tort laws provide a legal path for victims to obtain compensation for their damages. Generally, the victim begins by filing a claim with the at-fault party’s liability insurance company. If the claim cannot be settled, the injured party may file a personal injury lawsuit. 

The Steps Involved in Filing an Arizona Personal Injury Lawsuit

The Steps Involved in Filing an Arizona Personal Injury Lawsuit

Most personal injury cases are resolved without the injured party filing a lawsuit, and many lawsuits settle before they reach a jury trial. Each case is unique, meaning yours may involve a different timeline. 

However, the general steps involved in filing a personal injury lawsuit in Arizona include:

Report the Accident or Incident That Resulted in Your Injuries

How you report the accident or injury depends on the circumstances. For a traffic accident, the easiest way is to call 911 for help. If you are injured at work, report the accident to your employer. Accidents and injuries on someone else’s premises should be reported to the property owner or the party in charge.

You might not be able to report all incidents right away. However, keep in mind that some injuries and accidents have reporting deadlines. Call an Arizona personal injury lawyer to ask about your specific situation.

Seek Immediate Medical Treatment for Your Injuries

Prompt medical attention is important regardless of the severity of your injuries. Your medical chart will document your injuries, which will be helpful when you file a claim. Timely treatment can also reduce the risk of complications, impairments, and life-threatening conditions. You cannot win a personal injury case without a record to establish that your injuries occurred because of the accident.

Hire an Arizona Personal Injury Attorney

Contact a Phoenix personal injury attorney for a free consultation as soon as possible. They will review your case and advise you of your legal options. 

If you hire a personal injury lawyer in Arizona, they will handle all aspects of your case; they will:

  • Determine how your injuries occurred
  • Identify all parties with potential liability
  • Hire expert witnesses to work on your case as necessary
  • File insurance claims and handle all matters with the insurance company
  • Evaluate settlement offers to determine if they are in your best interest
  • Defend you against affirmative offenses, including failure to mitigate damages and comparative fault

The sooner you contact an attorney after an accident or personal injury, the better for your case. The insurance company and at-fault party will search for evidence to disprove your claim and limit their liability. You need a legal team on your side to level the playing field.

Gather Evidence Proving Your Claim

Your attorney will continue to gather evidence supporting your case. Most personal injury claims are based on negligence. 

You must have sufficient evidence to prove the following four legal elements to establish negligence:

  • The party who caused your injuries owed you a legal duty of care
  • The party breached that duty by failing to meet a standard of care or failing to use reasonable care
  • The breach of duty was the direct and proximate cause of your injuries
  • You sustained damages because of the party’s actions

The evidence must convince a jury by a preponderance of the evidence. That means the jurors must believe there is a greater chance than not that the evidence proves your case.

Evidence could include, but is not limited to:

  • Photographs and videos of the accident scene
  • Videos of the accident occurring, such as dash cam, surveillance, and traffic light video
  • Medical records and opinions from medical specialists
  • Testimony from eyewitnesses and expert witnesses
  • Physical and documentary evidence
  • Statements from the parties involved in the case

The evidence needed depends on the circumstances and the type of case. Experienced personal injury lawyers understand how to prove a claim and uncover evidence.

Document Your Damages 

Your attorney will work with you, your medical providers, and experts to document and evaluate your losses. In Arizona, injured victims can recover economic damages for their financial losses, including medical bills, property damage, lost wages, and out-of-pocket expenses.

Victims can also receive non-economic damages for their pain and suffering. These damages include emotional distress, physical pain, and mental anguish. It can also include compensation for diminished quality of life, impairments, and disfigurements.

You could also recover compensation for future damages, which are more difficult to calculate. It typically requires the assistance of experts.

Send a Settlement Demand Letter

Once you reach maximum medical improvement, your attorney will prepare a settlement demand letter. 

The settlement demand letter includes the following:

  • The details of how your injury occurred
  • A legal analysis of liability for the claim
  • An explanation of your injuries, including the severity of any impairments
  • The amount you are willing to accept to settle the claim

Your attorney will send the demand letter to the insurance company or the at-fault party. The insurer will review the claim in light of the evidence it has collected to decide whether the insured is liable for causing your injuries.

The insurance company can accept your settlement demand and pay your claim in full. However, it will most likely issue a counteroffer for a lower amount, which begins the process of negotiation between the parties. Negotiating a settlement could take a few weeks or a few months.

File a Personal Injury Lawsuit

If the parties in a personal injury case cannot agree to a fair settlement amount, the injured party may proceed to file a lawsuit. The Arizona statute of limitations sets deadlines for filing lawsuits.

The injured party is the plaintiff in a personal injury lawsuit. The lawsuit begins when the plaintiff files a complaint with the civil court.

The complaint is served on the defendant, who is the party being accused of causing harm to the plaintiff. The defendant has a specific number of days to file an answer or response to the complaint. If the defendant has liability insurance coverage, the insurance company usually hires an attorney to defend the lawsuit.

After the lawsuit is filed, the direction depends on the case. However, the steps in most personal injury lawsuits are:

  • Filing pleadings
  • Discovery
  • Negotiation and mediation
  • Pre-trial motions
  • Selection of a jury
  • Opening arguments by the attorneys
  • The parties present their evidence
  • Closing arguments
  • Jury deliberation and verdict

If the jury agrees with the plaintiff’s case, they can award damages in an amount they believe compensates the victim for their losses, pain, and suffering. The jury could rule in favor of the defendant if they don’t think the plaintiff proved their case.

Going to trial always has risks. Jurors are unpredictable. An experienced personal injury lawyer will discuss the potential risks of taking your case to trial versus accepting a settlement. The decision on how to proceed is ultimately yours.

Contact a Phoenix Personal Injury Lawyer for More Information About the Steps Involved in Your Case

Personal injury cases are complicated legal matters that have high stakes. You deserve to be compensated for injuries and damages caused by another party, but you might have to fight for fair compensation. If you would like more information, please contact the lawyers at Curiel & Runion Car Accident and Personal Injury Lawyers to schedule a free consultation, you can reach us at (602) 595-5559.