Car Accidents Article

Legal Issues and Insurance

Negligence. In a case involving an accident the key legal issue is negligence. The law of negligence is complicated and full of nuance. Put simply, negligence simply means the failure to act as a reasonable person should under the unique circumstances of the case, and those actions lead to injury or damages. As you may have noticed, this is a vague standard and leaves a lot of room for insurance adjusters (and attorneys) to argue.

In the context of driving, everyone operating a motor vehicle has a legal duty to drive safely and follow the rules of the road. Even once you prove that someone acted negligently, you still have to prove that their negligent actions caused damage or injury. This is known as “causation.” Causation is more complicated than it sounds. For example, if you negligently crashed into someone who had a heart condition, your negligent act did not cause or give rise to that person’s heart condition. It may have made things worse, but you can’t be held responsible for the condition in the first place. Similarly, if the damage or injury was inevitable no matter what you did, your negligence may not be considered the true cause.

Damage and Injuries. Another difficult issue is damage and injuries and how to put a monetary value on them. The law entitles victims of negligence to be made whole or paid so that they are in the same position that they were before the accident. There are several types of damages and injuries. For example, most accidents cause physical damage to the vehicles involved. If your vehicle is stuck in a repair shop for weeks, you suffer from a type of damage called “loss of use,” which is the hassle and expense of obtaining a rental or otherwise being without your vehicle. If the vehicle gets repaired the owner will likely take a hit if he decides to sell it; this type of damage is known as “diminished value.” Many accidents involve damages in the form of medical injuries to drivers, passengers, or pedestrians. This type of damage is known as “bodily injury.” Bodily injury is often the most complicated issue in an accident case.

Bodily injury involves not just medical issues about the nature and severity of an injury, but also pain and suffering. How can you put a monetary value on pain and suffering? How much money will compensate you for a broken leg, a scar, low back pain, a broken figure, or a bruise? There is no precise answer, which is why figuring out the true value of your claim requires experience and training.

Settlement and Recovery. Sometimes an insurance company will offer you a settlement payment in exchange for you signing a release. Releases are often complicated, but they boil down to this: if you sign it you will have no right to any further recovery for the accident or your injuries. In other words, you give up the right to file a lawsuit or seek additional money if your injuries turn out to be more serious than they seemed. This is why it is important to seek legal advice if you have any questions or concerns about a release. Most people do not have sufficient experience with accidents or legal issues involved to accurately determine the value of their case or what it is really worth. Some insurance companies will try to get you to settle quickly, offering you prompt payment in order to end the case. Even if you think the amount is fair, your medical providers may have recorded a “healthcare provider lien” that entitles them to payment of some or all of the money you get from the insurance company. A reputable attorney should be willing to give you free advice on whether the settlement offer seems fair or not under the circumstances of your case. Often it is valuable to have a second opinion to know that you and your family are protected.

This article is intended for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice or establish an attorney/client relationship.

Contributing Attorney: Sam Saks. Sam is the founder of Legal Aid of Arizona and a partner at the law firm of Guidant Law




  • I was suppose to receive 25,000$ when I turned 18. Well when I turned 18 and tried to see if the money was in my bank account they had told me it was all spent. How would the bank let my parents withdraw my money? I'm the one who sufferd from my car crash, is it against the law for the bank to let my parents withdraw all of that money? Because I never seen a dime.
  • Car accident where both parties are found at fault, me 30%, them 70%. They are NOW (6 months later) suing for 28 grand of injury present and future costs. Their insurance paid me very little but did pay 5 grand for my totaled truck worth about 15 grand. I only had liability and their lawyers letter states they are suing me personally since my insurance wont help cover anything. He had no injuries at all at the accident, walked around waiting for police, talking on his cell. He went to the doctor 2 days later according to his lawyer. Can I really be liable for 28 grand? Do I need lawyer?
  • I was involved in an accident last year where the at-fault driver was uninsured. After receiving care my health insurance was billed and no liens were put on my auto insurance. I have since settled with auto insurance, but this week I received a collection notice from an attorney saying I owe the provider an amount above the agreed upon rate from my health insurance. When talking to the provider they said AZ law allows them to collect the remaining balance from me with personal injury. Can they hold me liable for the balance above the rate my health insurance has after they have billed them?
  • I was involved in a very minor collision resulting in minimal vehicle damage & no bodily harm. Accident occurred on a private parking lot which cops would not respond to so there is no reports or documentation of either parties accounts an recollection leading up to accident. Insurance information was exchanged and both parties drove away upon learning no police report would be taken. Months following were an unstable time for me and incident slipped my mind. Until this week even I received a collection letter which to the best of my knowledge is a subrogation notice. With my brief research on this, it's my understanding that I've been deemed at fault. And the insurer of other party has issued a payment covering their damage. Which they are now seeking reimbursement through me. Can I dispute or appeal an how is this done? I firmly believe that the fault is that of the other driver or at least not solely of my own, based on design and layout of parkway's as well as location of impact and damage indicated on both vehicles.
  • My dad was killed by a drunk driver 2 years ago and I heard that I can get $5000
  • Had a car pulled out in front of me and I hit him broadsided and totaled my motorcycle and have injuries. He was cited and I found out 3 weeks later he has no insurance. What can I do?
  • My ex wife was in a car accident in my vehicle and she was at fault. the car had no auto insurance during the accident, now the other parties insurance is suing us. I lend her my car while we where going through a divorce so she could drive our son around. her and i agreed verbal she would cover the insurance (she only did it for a few months apparently and let it laps), i was not aware she did not pay the insurance and was driving with a suspended licence. She is saying i am responsible for the fees is this true?
  • I was in a auto accident(rear ended)insured resides in Az. His Insurance company is located in Ca. I want to take his insurance co. to a Small Claims Court in Az. How do I serve summons to the Insurance Co. since Insurance is located in CA. but it does business in Az.(out of venue)
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  • My 16 year old son was taken in a fatal car crash. My ex wife and I have been divorced for years and I had sole custody of my son. She is trying to claim the insurance from the wreck after I had filed my claim. What are the laws on this certain situation?




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