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Recently, a state appellate court issued an opinion in an Arizona wrongful death lawsuit brought on behalf of a nursing home resident who died after falling out of a wheelchair. According to the court’s opinion, the plaintiff’s mother was admitted to the nursing home in 2013. At admission, the plaintiff, acting as the “responsible party,” signed the forms for his mother because she was suffering from various cognitive and physical impairments. Included in the admissions agreement was an arbitration clause for “any dispute as to medical malpractice.” The issue on appeal was whether the plaintiff’s cause of action falls under medical malpractice and if the arbitration clause bound him.

The incident giving rise to the action occurred when the woman was returning to her room after breakfast. A certified nursing assistant was pushing the woman’s wheelchair when the woman’s foot got caught in a loose cord. The entanglement caused the woman to go flying out of her wheelchair head-first onto the floor, breaking her neck upon impact. The woman died from her injuries several days later. The plaintiff filed a lawsuit against the nursing home, alleging that they were negligent and liable for his mother’s wrongful death. The nursing home moved to compel arbitration, arguing that although on its face the claim seemed like a negligence action, it was actually a medical malpractice claim.

Arizona law provides that the primary prerequisite to compelling arbitration is an actual agreement to do so. When there is a disagreement about whether the parties agreed to arbitrate, the courts will look to the parties’ intent by evaluating the language of the agreement. In this case, the arbitration clause defines “medical malpractice” as a dispute related to medical services. Further, the legislature defines “medical services” as actions that relate to medical care and are performed at the direction of healthcare professionals.

An early-morning New Mexico truck accident that occurred last month on Interstate 40 between the border of Arizona and New Mexico resulted in a single fatality and several serious injuries. According to a local news report covering the tragic accident, the collision was caused when a truck driver, heading from Arizona toward Albuquerque on I-40, crossed the center line into oncoming traffic.

As the truck entered oncoming traffic, the vehicle rolled. The initial accident caused a chain-reaction, ultimately involving at least three other vehicles.

Truck Accidents Can Cause Serious Injuries

Recently, a news report provided an update on a devastating Phoenix car accident between a truck and a sedan carrying a couple and their daughter. The couple was waiting to make a left turn after picking up their daughter from a relative’s home. The child was in a child-safety seat in between the parents in the front seat. When the light turned yellow, and traffic began to wane, the man started to make his turn. The man’s girlfriend screamed when she looked up from her phone and noticed a truck barreling towards them. The driver did not have time to stop, and the truck collided into their vehicle.

The couple and their child were all taken to a local hospital, and the woman and her daughter remained unconscious for several days. After the woman awoke from her coma, she discovered that her daughter was at a different hospital and remained in a medically induced coma. Fortunately, tests revealed that the daughter did not suffer any permanent brain damage; however, she remained in a sedative state as her cerebral cortex healed. Despite support from their family and the community, the family is facing a long road of psychological and physical therapy. The woman revealed that although she is grateful for the medical benefits her employer provides, the family is facing astronomical medical bills.

Many accident victims rely on medical insurance and car insurance coverage to help them pay the significant medical costs often associated with serious car accidents. Car accident victims may face payments related to emergency treatment, vehicle storage or repair, surgeries, hospital stays, physical rehabilitation, prescription and copays, psychological treatment, and lost wages.

Being involved in an accident with a semi-truck or other large vehicle can feel like a nightmare to accident victims and their families. Not only are Arizona truck accidents more likely to cause serious injury or death than other auto accidents, but navigating the complex web of parties and companies who may be responsible for damages can be a daunting task, especially when the truck driver does not admit fault for the crash. A recently published local news article helps explain what is necessary for victims of an Arizona truck accident to compile to help pursue their case.

As noted in the report, there are at least ten pieces of information that should be gathered after an accident to help an accident victim pursue an Arizona semi-truck accident lawsuit. Because of the complexities of the trucking and insurance industries, there could be four or more parties that must be dealt with in the aftermath of an accident, including the truck driver, the trucking company, the shipping company, and any insurance companies offering coverage on the truck or other vehicles involved in a crash.

Immediately after an accident involving a semi-truck, the important information to gather includes the names and identities of all parties and companies with vehicles involved in the crash as well as the insurance information for any vehicles involved. Law enforcement should be called to document the crash and create a case number that can be used in a later claim. Additionally, accident victims should obtain a photograph of the license plate of the truck involved, as well as photos or videos of any damage to all vehicles, any skid marks or debris, as well as documentation of other hazards or factors that could have contributed to the crash. Any eyewitness accounts of the crash should be taken, along with the names and contact information of the witnesses, should their testimony be required at a later time.

A Phoenix man has been charged with aggravated assault and endangerment for his role in a multi-vehicle Arizona car accident that left a pregnant woman seriously injured. According to a local news source, the man admitted to using multiple different types of drugs in the hours leading up to the crash, but claims he was distracted from trying to retrieve his cell phone that had fallen in between the seats when he ran a red light and collided with another vehicle. Both the man and his passenger, a woman who was nine months pregnant, were ejected from the vehicle and suffered injuries resulting from the crash, but no other drivers or passengers were injured, according to the article.

The man’s admitted drug use may have played a role in law enforcement’s decision to charge him with felony assault for his passenger’s injuries, although intoxication is not a prerequisite for serious criminal charges to be pursued against reckless parties involved in an accident. Intoxication from drugs and alcohol contributes to thousands of Arizona car accidents that result in needless injuries and deaths each year. Intoxicated drivers are more likely to cause accidents for many reasons, including delayed reaction time, poor judgment, and the inability to remain conscious while under the influence. Drivers who are under the influence of alcohol or drugs put the public at risk, and can be held liable in criminal as well as civil courts for their behavior. Distracted driving can also be charged as a crime, especially when an accident is caused by a driver being distracted by texting or using a cellphone while on the road.

In addition to criminal charges that drivers can face for causing an accident while intoxicated or distracted, they may also be held civilly liable for the injuries and damages related to a crash. With the help of an experienced attorney, injured parties can pursue an Arizona personal injury lawsuit to recover a settlement or jury verdict to compensate them for the medical bills, temporary and permanent disabilities, lost work, as well as pain and suffering and other damages. Personal injury lawsuits can be used to recover damages resulting from criminal conduct, as well as recklessness, or simple negligence.

Maricopa county roads are never completely safe, as drivers and pedestrians cannot anticipate when the another’s negligence might put them in jeopardy. According to a local news source, roads in recent weeks have been especially dangerous to the public. At least three people were killed and several more seriously injured in a minimum of eight serious accidents that occurred over one weekend this past August.

Many motorcyclists choose to brave the summer Phoenix heat and take to the road on two wheels for both commuting and pleasure riding. Arizona motorcyclists should always wear a helmet and be especially careful on Phoenix-area roads because negligent drivers commonly cause accidents that can seriously injure or kill motorcyclists. According to the report, three motorcyclists were seriously injured in accidents. In one accident, a woman who was suspected of driving while impaired failed to yield at a stop sign and struck a motorcyclist in a Phoenix intersection, critically injuring the motorcyclist and resulting in the woman’s arrest for aggravated assault and DUI.

Alcohol or drug use may have played a factor in several of the accidents, as noted in the article. Indeed, impaired driving is the cause of many injuries and deaths from Arizona car accidents every year. Alcohol and drugs negatively affect drivers’ reaction time and decision making, increasing the risk of a deadly accident. In another recent accident mentioned in the above-linked article, a woman and her child were struck by an allegedly impaired driver while crossing at a crosswalk in Glendale. The accident victim later died from her injuries. Drunk drivers who cause an accident resulting in injuries or deaths can be charged with crimes and also face civil liability for their actions through the filing of a personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit on the victims’ behalf.

Semi-trucks are some of the largest vehicles on the road. Thus, it should come as no surprise that Arizona truck crashes are among the deadliest type of traffic accidents. Indeed, semi-truck accidents are responsible for a disproportionate number of Arizona traffic deaths. According to the most recent government data, while crashes involving tractor-trailers represent less than one percent of the total number of accidents, they are responsible for nearly five percent of the total number of fatalities.

There are several common causes of Arizona 18-wheeler accidents, including:

  • Distracted driving – Truck drivers all have radios, and many who spend countless hours on the road will frequently install televisions in the cab. While this may help pass the time, it also increases the risk of a distracted driving accident.
  • Intoxicated driving – In an effort to fight off fatigue or boredom, some truck drivers take illegal, prescription, or over-the-counter medications, any of which can adversely affect their judgment and ability to operate the truck safely.
  • Drowsy driving – Truck drivers spend long hours on the road, and often find themselves fighting off fatigue. Rather than pull over and rest, truckers too often push their bodies and minds past the limit of what is considered safe.
  • Equipment failure – Whether it be a blown tire, faulty brakes, or a burnt-out headlight, equipment failures are a common cause of Arizona truck accidents.

Like all motorists, truck drivers owe a duty of care to those with whom they share the road. This duty requires truckers to obey all traffic laws and posted traffic signs. While there is generally no legal duty to do so, drivers should take the necessary precautions when driving around semi-truck to avoid an accident. A few tips to keep in mind when sharing the road with large commercial vehicles are:

  • Stay out of the blind spot – Large trucks have blind spots on all sides of the vehicle, but most notably on both sides. Motorists should assume that a truck driver cannot see them unless the motorist can see the truck’s side-view mirrors.
  • Use care when passing – When passing a semi-truck, motorists should signal well in advance and give the truck ample room when returning to the lane.
  • Leave room – Large trucks can take up to several football fields to come to a complete stop, and a truck driver may need to make an evasive maneuver to avoid an accident.

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In recent years, there have been a large number of car accidents caused by wrong way drivers in the greater Phoenix area. Wrong way collisions are particularly dangerous as they often result in vehicles colliding head-on causing substantial damage to the front of each vehicle and often resulting in injuries to the drivers and passengers involved.

A wrong way accident occurs when a vehicle is traveling in a direction against the legal flow of traffic and strikes another vehicle or a fixed object. According to the Federal Highway Traffic Administration, wrong way crashes result in 300 to 400 fatalities every year across the nation.

Many of these accidents occur on highways, expressways, and their associated exit and entrance ramps. Thus, the vehicles involved in these collisions are often traveling at high speeds resulting in potentially deadly impacts. If the accident occurs during peak travel times, there is potential for a significant number of vehicles being involved in the crash.

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By the end of 2016, the analysis of accident data from 2015 revealed a scary statistic. Pedestrian deaths had increased by almost ten percent from 2014 to 2015 across the country. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reported that 2015 saw the greatest number of pedestrians killed since 1996, with 5,376 deaths nationwide. So, while travel appears to be getting safer for most road users, pedestrians were one of the few categories to see an increase in fatalities.

In 2015, according to the Arizona Department of Transportation, there were 1,399 pedestrian crashes in the state, resulting in 161 pedestrian deaths and 1,169 injuries.

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Spring break is a wonderful time for students – a week long reprieve from classes to rest up or have some fun.

While spring break should be a joyful time, the months of March and April see an uptick in accident rates. In 2015, the Arizona Department of Transportation reported 10,521 accidents occurred in March putting the month fourth highest for crashes.

While many students may leave town for break, just as many stick around to soak in the Arizona sunshine. As students are not in class it is likely campuses will be filled with more pedestrians. Drivers should use extra caution around campus and be alert for students during times when the area is not typically busy.

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