state-minimum car insurance is not enough

This article on state-minimum car insurance is the first of a three-part series on car insurance. Other articles in this series are Full-Coverage Car Insurance Is a Myth and Should I Call My Insurance Company After an Accident?

Every time we get into our cars and drive somewhere, we’re exposing ourselves to the risk of getting into in a car accident. This is true whether we think we’re exemplary drivers or our driving record has room for improvement. Getting behind the wheel involves some degree of risk — of either causing an accident or being hit by another driver.

And this is why car insurance exists. We buy insurance to protect ourselves and others in the event of an accident — potentially an unimaginably severe accident, whether it’s our fault or not.

So, if we think about car insurance in its proper context — as protection against risk — how do we know that we have enough to cover ourselves and other motorists when it’s needed?

At Negretti & Associates, our legal staff works with the insurance industry every day. We’ve seen all types of insurance coverage.

Here, we’d like to offer our perspective on one approach to car insurance shared by many drivers: buying just the absolute minimum level of car insurance that states require drivers to carry. We’ll outline why this approach has many drawbacks.

We hope that anyone who reads this will carefully reflect on whether they’re properly protected in the event of an accident.

Topics that we cover in this article include:

Types of State-Minimum Car Insurance

Nearly every state in the U.S. has laws that require motorists to carry a minimum level of car insurance. However, state laws only require two types of car insurance coverage: bodily injury protection and property damage.

Bodily Injury Protection: More commonly called liability coverage, bodily injury protection covers injuries to the other driver and his or her passengers. However, these amounts do not cover your own injuries.

Property Damage: Property coverage covers the damages that you cause to another driver’s vehicle. You can purchase collision coverage to protect your own vehicle in the event of an accident, regardless of fault.

Virtually every state mandates coverage amounts that drivers must carry for bodily injuries caused to other drivers and their passengers, as well as damages to other drivers’ vehicles and property.

Elements of State-Minimum Liability Insurance

Let’s take a more careful look at the types of liability protection that nearly every state requires: bodily injury and property damage.

Think of state-minimum car insurance as the maximum amount of liability coverage that drivers are required by law to purchase.

At Negretti & Associates, we are licensed to practice law California, Arizona, and Colorado. We’ll therefore use those three states as examples.

State-minimum car insurance in California is $15,000 / $30,000 / $5,000.

  • The first figure ($15,000) defines minimum per-person bodily injury liability coverage. In effect, California drivers must have policies that pay up to $15,000 for one person’s injuries in an accident. If you have California state-minimum coverage and cause an accident, the most that the other driver or any individual passenger could receive as compensation for medical bills would be $15,000.
  • The second figure ($30,000) specifies per-accident bodily injury liability coverage per accident. California drivers must purchase at least $30,000 in per-accident bodily injury liability coverage. If you have California state-minimum car insurance and were to cause an accident, $30,000 is the maximum amount that the other driver and his passengers could share as compensation for their injuries.
  • The third figure ($5,000) covers property damage liability per accident. In California, drivers must purchase at least $5,000 in property damage liability coverage. This would be used to repair damages incurred to the other driver’s car, or someone’s nearby property.

In Arizona, liability coverage amounts were raised — for the first time in decades — on July 1, 2020. Currently, Arizona drivers must carry at least:

  • $25,000 in per-person bodily injury coverage per accident.
  • $50,000 in per-accident bodily injury coverage.
  • $15,000 in property damage liability coverage.

Colorado mirrors what Arizona has in coverage: $25,000 bodily injury coverage per person, per accident; $50,0000 bodily injury coverage per accident; and $15,000 for property damage liability coverage.

What Does Liability Coverage Actually Cover?

Let’s look further at property liability coverage, which has numerous applications.

For example, the at-fault driver’s liability coverage can be used as a source of compensation for damages for any of the following:

  • Repairs made to the other driver’s vehicle.
  • Loss of use: the other driver’s car rental while his or her vehicle is being fixed.
  • A potential diminished value claim: the difference between what the other driver’s vehicle was worth before the accident and what the vehicle is worth after the accident.
  • Other losses that may occur related to the property claim.

Also, when a vehicle is declared a total loss — in other words, not repairable — the other driver must be compensated for fair market value of the vehicle prior to the accident.

How State Minimums Leave Drivers Barely Protected

When you list the possible uses of liability coverage, you quickly find that California’s minimum requirement of $5,000 for property damage coverage is extremely low.

It’s hard to find a fully functioning replacement vehicle for less than $5,000. Considering the ways in which vehicles are built today, as well as the labor needed to restore vehicles to pre-accident condition, just a small fender-bender can cost far more than $5,000 to repair.

Even in neighboring Arizona, where the cost of living is lower, the required $15,000 state-minimum property damage liability coverage does not stretch far. The average selling price of a used car is $21,000. Many cars on the road have values surpassing $15,000. State-minimum insurance often does not account for loss of use and diminished value.

It doesn’t take much math to conclude that purchasing state-minimum car insurance leaves drivers barely protected. Drivers who buy state-minimum insurance are merely complying with law. They are not even protecting themselves. This is an incredibly dangerous position to put oneself in.

If you have state-minimum car insurance and are deemed at fault in an accident, you may be liable for all expenses not covered by your policy. You may be expected to pay out of your own pocket to cover the difference between your insurance and the other driver’s actual expenses.

An attorney or a person injured in the accident could look to you personally to contribute to resolve a claim. The other driver can sue you, seize your assets, and have your wages garnished.

The Risks of Not Having Underinsured and Uninsured Coverage

Despite all of the insurance requirements written into states’ laws, the national average for uninsured motorists remains somewhere around 13%, according to a 2017 report from the Insurance Research Council (IRC). This means that one in eight drivers has no car insurance at all.

Remarkably, many people simply risk paying for insurance and hope that they don’t cause an accident. Either they don’t want insurance or can’t afford it. Some states have much higher rates of uninsured motorists. In Florida, 26.7% of drivers lacked insurance in 2015.

California, Arizona, and Colorado have uninsured motorist rates that mirror the national average. However, these three states do not have laws on the books that require drivers to purchase uninsured motorist coverage (UM) or underinsured motorist coverage (UIM), which cover damages to your own car or injuries you suffer because you’re hit by another driver.

Underinsured/uninsured coverage: In addition to liability coverage, approximately 20 states go a step further with laws that define minimum insurance amounts that drivers must purchase to protect themselves against uninsured or underinsured drivers. This covers expenses related to vehicle damage and injuries when at-fault drivers have no insurance or do not have enough insurance.

Medical Payment coverage: This insurance covers your own and your passengers’ injuries, regardless of who is at fault in an accident. MedPay can cover medical bill, transportation to appointments, and physical therapy and rehabilitation.

Some states mandate what is called Personal Injury Protection (PIP) instead; this covers the driver’s own injuries, regardless of accident fault, and can include a loss of wages.

With MedPay or PIP, you have to be mindful of how much coverage you’re buying. Some states limit how much coverage can be used in an accident. Some insurance companies will require that they are paid back in full if you collect from another coverage under the at-fault driver’s policy.

If you were hit by an uninsured motorist and you don’t have UM coverage, then you are out of luck in terms of getting help from insurance to pay for your own damages and injuries. You might still be able to file a personal injury suit against the uninsured motorist, but you would not be able to collect from insurance.

By comparison, UIM exists to protect you when you are not at fault in an accident, and your damages and injuries exceed the other driver’s liability insurance amounts.

Imagine that you are in an accident in California, the at-fault driver had merely the state-minimum bodily injury liability coverage of $15,000, yet your injuries totaled $100,000 in medical expenses. Without UIM coverage, you would have to find a way to pay the difference of $85,000. You could attempt to go after the other party personally with the help of a lawyer, and you may be successful in obtaining a personal contribution from the at-fault driver. However, it’s unlikely that the other driver would have enough assets to cover that difference.

A few years ago, Negretti & Associates represented a young woman who was seriously injured when hit by an intoxicated driver. The at-fault party only carried the state-minimum insurance of $15,000. However, our client’s injuries — including surgeries and rehabilitation — were in the hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Our client was fortunate to have UIM, but only purchased $15,000 in coverage. The maximum amount of insurance money that we were able to collect for our client was $30,000. She deserved so much more. She told us that she wished that someone would have talked to her about how much UIM coverage to have before her accident.

What to Consider When Shopping for Car Insurance

When considering how much car insurance to purchase, start your analysis by asking yourself how much insurance you would want to carry so that you wouldn’t have to write a check from your personal bank account to pay for damages.

Do you own a home? Do you have a business? Do you have prized possessions? All might be in jeopardy if you were to cause an accident and were underinsured.

It might be uncomfortable to do so, but you have to think about worst-case scenarios — unthinkable situations, such as causing an accident that resulted in killing someone. Regardless of the policy you have, there’s really no way in which we can purchase enough insurance that would be sufficient for such an outcome. It’s difficult to put a dollar amount on a person’s life.

This considered, rather than choose state-minimum coverage, price-out a much larger plan — perhaps 10 times the state minimum — and then compare the two policies. Quite often, the difference in price may not be that much.

To illustrate, if you’re in Arizona, where the minimum liability coverage is $25,000, try to find out how much $250,000 in per-person bodily injury coverage would cost. On a per-month basis, the difference may not be significant. But coverage you get in return would be drastically different.

With quotes for the two policies in hand, you can go back to the original question: How much coverage do I want to protect myself and my family, along with my assets and belongings, to ensure that I’m not in jeopardy of losing what I have?

Even if you don’t have many assets to protect, you would still want to put yourself in a position where you are looking out for others.

As you shop around, remember that you can always reach out to an insurance broker, who can be great resource for recommendations on available policies. A broker can help you compare insurance from several companies all at once, so that you don’t have to solicit quotes from the insurers yourself.

You can also change coverage at any time. You don’t have to wait until your policy is up for renewal. You could contact your present insurance company today, even, and ask about different coverage. You can make changes immediately, if you are so inclined.

Uninsured Motorist Coverage and Umbrella Coverage

Do not overlook the importance of uninsured motorist coverage (UM). It can be a good idea to buy the same amount in UM as what you have in liability insurance.

For example, if you are going to purchase $100,000 per person, per accident in bodily injury coverage, try to purchase that same amount in UM for yourself. In effect, you’d be protecting another driver for up to $100,000 if you hit them and covering yourself for that same amount.

Umbrella insurance is another coverage type to consider as you shop for quotes. An umbrella policy is an extra layer of liability coverage that kicks in when your limits are met on the liability policy. Injuries can get into the seven figures. It possible to have anything from $1 million to $5 million in umbrella coverage.

It’s possible to have UIM and UM with added umbrella coverage. For example, you can have $250,000 in UM and UIM coverage, and then $1 million on top of that in umbrella coverage. In a scenario where the other party that caused the accident didn’t have enough insurance, an umbrella policy can ensure that you’re protected and that’s there is enough coverage for your own injuries and damages.

Adequate Insurance Is Necessary for All

The next time you shop for car insurance, explore your options. Think about what kind of coverages you would want in the event that you had to tap into your liability coverage. Try to find ways of covering yourself well above state-minimum limits, which leave drivers barely protected.

Don’t wait for a bad outcome to happen and wish later that you had an adequate amount of coverage.

Regardless of your financial position, having car insurance is the law in virtually every state. Why not take the extra step and have a good amount of insurance, to protect yourself and others if you were to cause an accident?

This is truly a matter of personal responsibility and civic duty. Please consider purchasing more insurance than your state’s minimum — for your own benefit and other drivers’.

And let’s work toward reducing the number of uninsured drivers on the road from 1 out of 8 to 0 out of 100. Let’s make sure that everyone has insurance. Driving without insurance, or having too little insurance, is quite simply an extremely risky thing to do.

arizona state-minimum car insurance requirements raised july 1, 2020

On July 1, 2020, something rather momentous happened in the state of Arizona. For the first time in nearly five decades, Arizona state-minimum car insurance requirements were raised.

The new law is codified in the Arizona Revised Statutes under Section 28-4009. Auto insurance policies issued or renewed after July 1, 2020 must pay at least:

(i) $25,000 because of bodily injury to, or death of, one person in any one accident.
(ii) Subject to the limit for one person, $50,000 because of bodily injury to, or death of, two or more persons in any one accident.
(iii) $15,000 because of injury to, or destruction of property of, others in any one accident.

These three numbers — $25,000/$50,000/$15,000 — represent new limits that are paid out to another person if a motorist is at fault in an accident. You cannot purchase insurance for less than these limits.

The Arizona Legislature passed the state bill that put these new limits into effect — State Bill 1087 — in May 2019. The bill was signed into law by Arizona Governor Doug Ducey on Friday, June 7.

Previous Coverage Limits Had Become Outdated

When you receive your renewal notice for auto insurance — or if you are currently shopping for new insurance — the quotes you receive may look a little different. This is simply because Arizona state-minimum car insurance requirements have been raised.

The previous coverage amounts for motor vehicle accidents were $15,000 per person, per accident; $30,000 total accident; and $10,000 for property damage.

The problem with the old limits is that they were based on cost-of-living equations that were established in June 1972, when a McDonald’s Quarter-Pounder with cheese cost just 70 cents. These days, the same burger costs $3.79. Only the number of calories has remained the same!

Due to inflation, limits that seemed quite adequate nearly five decades ago had grown completely inadequate over time. Medical expenses and the cost of vehicles were much lower in 1972. Today, you can no longer step foot in an ER for less than a few thousand dollars.

Bill’s Passage Overcame Insurance Industry Resistance

The insurance industry was adamantly opposed to this move. Time and time again, this bill had been brought to the Arizona Legislature in one form or another by various organizations, including one that I belong to — the Arizona Association for Justice. Time and time again, it did not pass.

Why did insurance companies want to keep Arizona car insurance minimums so low? Frankly, under old amounts, they could pay out less, should someone be in an accident.

Because payout limits were so low, insurance coverage was not protecting people injured in automobile accidents. That’s why the Arizona Association for Justice and like-minded organizations fought so hard to increase these limits.

Accident Victims Have More Protections from Out-of-Pocket Costs

Assume that you’re in an auto accident. You go to the emergency room and get a normal workup. You may not have any broken bones, but you’re given some imaging, as a precaution. Later, you go through physical therapy, and start to feel better.

The cost of medical care just for these simple procedures and therapies could well exceed $15,000 — and possibly total $25,000.

  • Under the old limits, if someone only carried Arizona state-minimum car insurance, the most you could receive per accident was $15,000. If the person who caused the accident did not have any additional money to contribute to this claim, to help you pay off all your medical bills, you would be forced to pay the $10,000 out-of-pocket for an accident that was not your fault.
  • Under the new limits, insurance coverage would reimburse you for that $10,000 differential — up to the new $25,000 limit.

Keep in mind that this analysis does not account for pain and suffering or lost wages.

Of course, there are people who carry much more than the minimum limits. I encourage you to do the same, if your economic situation allows.

Vehicle Damage and Arizona State-Minimum Car Insurance

Today’s vehicles have more features than ever, which is reflected in higher sticker prices. Yet, this also means that vehicles’ values can suffer quite a bit more damage. Frame damage or deployed airbags can result in a total loss.

Unless you’re looking for an older model or a used vehicle, it’s very difficult to find a vehicle under $10,000 these days. Anything new costs far more than $10,000.

Now that property damage limits have been raised to $15,000 — from $10,000 — it’s more likely that Arizona state-minimum car insurance will more fully cover damage to newer vehicles.

Higher limits make it more possible to recover what’s called a “loss of use claim.” These are the expenses related to renting a vehicle while your vehicle is either being repaired or declared a total loss, as well as time needed to find a new vehicle.

Higher limits also allow more accident victims to be compensated for their diminished value claims. A vehicle loses value because of the simple fact that it was damaged in an accident. Even though it’s repaired, it’s still worth less.

Arizona law states that you do not have to wait until you sell your car to collect for that difference in value.

To illustrate how diminished value works, imagine the following scenario:

  • Let’s say that your vehicle was worth $20,000 before an accident.
  • After an accident, it receives $8,000 of repairs. The insurance company chooses to repair it and not declare it a total loss.
  • However, your vehicle is now worth less, because it was in an accident.
  • You order an appraisal from an auto expert, who tells you that your vehicle lost $6,000 of value due to the accident. Therefore, not only should the vehicle receive $8,000 in repairs, but you should also be compensated for $6,000 in diminished value.

In sum, the old $10,000 limit did not provide enough coverage to repair vehicles, compensate owners for their loss of use, or account for diminished value.

Kudos to the Arizona Association for Justice

Higher Arizona car insurance minimums reflect values the Arizona Association for Justice emphasizes: to serve the community, to protect the rights of the public, and to make sure that injured victims are protected in the event that they get hurt due to someone’s negligence.

With that said, a big thank you goes to Jeff Trachtenberg of the Arizona Association for Justice. Jeff is a stalwart in our community and absolutely pushed hard to increase the limits in Arizona, so that they caught up with other states’ limits. He created a better environment for those who are injured in accidents, and those that need to take advantage of these new insurance limits.

If you have more questions about new Arizona state-minimum car insurance, or if you’re just curious about what kind of coverage you should have, give Negretti & Associates a call. We can help make sure you’re protected. Contact us online, call us at 602-531-3911, or text us with questions.

pain and suffering settlements

If you’ve ever been in an accident, you already may be familiar with “pain and suffering” as a legal term. Pain and suffering is the physical and emotional stress caused by an accident. Attorneys sometimes refer to this as the “hassle” factor for having to deal with the aftermath of an accident. It can include everyday aches and pains, as well as emotional distress that few may be aware of.

Ultimately, pain and suffering is a catch-all term used for classifying general damages. In Arizona, California and Colorado, for example, there are jury instructions that explain what specific types of damages a claimant is entitled to. In Arizona, juries are asked to consider “the pain, discomfort, suffering, disability, disfigurement, and anxiety already experienced, and reasonably probable to be experienced in the future as a result of your injury.”

When determining the value of a case, pain and suffering is just one aspect the overall damage calculation. Beyond property damage, a client’s medical bills and lost wages — and other factors, such as physical impairment and emotional distress, as well as the physical location of the accident — also need to be considered.

By evaluating the totality of a situation, an experienced lawyer can place a value on a claim, and educate the client on what a fair settlement might be.

Average Pain and Suffering Settlements

Unfortunately, there are many myths surrounding pain and suffering settlements. Perhaps the greatest myth of all is that it’s possible to find an “average” pain and suffering settlement.

After all, numerous websites offer pain and suffering calculators. If you are an accident victim who is trying to determine what your case is worth, you may have already encountered a variety of articles offering guidance on settlement averages.

Regrettably, in reality, there is no such thing as an average pain and suffering settlement. This is especially the case for car accidents, because no two car accidents are exactly same. In fact, at Negretti & Associates, we sometimes represent multiple people involved in the same car accident, and each person’s injuries are different. Each person’s pain and suffering damages settlement will vary depending on his or her injuries.
Rather than trying to figure out an average settlement, accident victims really should be trying to determine whether their settlement seems fair, based on their individual circumstances.

Measuring Pain and Suffering

A measure of pain and suffering often comes by way of an impairment rating. At Negretti & Associates, when clients are injured to the point of being permanently impaired, we have them evaluated for an impairment rating. This rating typically comes in the form of a percentage.

For example, a client may have a 6 percent impairment in her wrist. This impairment is really a form of pain and suffering. Using our knowledge of impairment ratings, we are able to capture compensation that reflects the pain and suffering that the client would experience due to the impairment.

Pain and Suffering Due to Emotional Distress

Emotional distress is a recognized claim that can be made within the aspect of pain and suffering. Emotional distress is almost always felt and rarely seen. Sometimes the outward manifestation of an emotional reaction can be detected, but most of the time people suffer in silence.

One of the biggest emotional distresses that we see from our clients is anxiety after an auto accident. Our clients often tell us that they get really anxious driving after an auto accident and feel an overwhelmed and fearful that everyone is going to hit them. In some cases, this emotional distress becomes so debilitating that clients have to seek treatment from a medical professional for possible diagnoses, such as post-traumatic stress disorder.

Emotional distress is an important part of your pain and suffering claim. At Negretti and Associates we usually ask each client to write a victim impact statement, so that we can help the insurance company better understand the emotional distress that our client suffered.

In one pain and suffering case, Negretti & Associates represented a young girl who was traumatized from being locked inside of a store and not allowed to leave. We were able to work with our client to understand the root of her trauma. Through the medical professionals who treated her, we were able to better grasp the night terrors that she suffered from. Armed with this information, we negotiated a settlement that included the pain and suffering that this young girl experienced — and was expected to continue to experience.

Get the Help You Need

At Negretti & Associates, our team of experienced lawyers works to negotiate on behalf of our clients, to ensure that we reach the target value that we place on a case.

If you have a pain and suffering settlement question, call us at 602-531-3911 in Arizona, 619-777-3370 in California, or 720-636-3444 in Colorado. Or, you can contact us with our online form. We’ll be happy to talk with you.

car accident out of state while on vacation

Have you ever had the terribly unfortunate experience of having a car accident out of state, while on vacation? An otherwise perfect trip can be completely ruined in an instant.

You could be California resident who has had a car accident while on vacation to the Grand Canyon, or an Arizona resident on who has had an accident outside of Disneyland. Because you reside in one state and have an accident in another, you may face a series of highly important, but very common, questions regarding finding the right lawyer for your accident claim.

Watch Negretti & Associates’ Jonathan Negretti on AZTV 7’s Daily Mix show, discussing what you should do if you have a car accident out of state, while on vacation.

Negretti & Associates is a personal injury firm that is licensed to practice law in Arizona, California, and Colorado. We’re familiar with the laws of those three states, and we have handled many claims in each. We have helped many Arizona residents who have had accidents in California and receive treatment for injuries while at home in Arizona.

Experience has taught us this: If you have been involved in a car accident out of state, you will want to work with an attorney who is licensed both in the state where the accident occurred, as well as the state in which you live and are receiving post-accident treatment.

This is because there are different laws in all 50 states of the United States. What’s more, there be conflicts between state laws, and some states have little-known laws that can directly impact what you are entitled to, in terms of damages and recovery. It can be tremendously helpful to work with a lawyer who knows and understands the differences of “local” state laws.

Example: A Disneyland Trip Gone Wrong

Imagine that you and your family drive from Arizona to Anaheim, to take the children to Disneyland. You’re nearing the entrance to the Disneyland parking lot and suddenly you get rear ended.

You take the kids the hospital, to have them checked out. You quickly realize that it’s best to return home early. Vacation is over.

Once at home, you start looking for a personal injury attorney to help you with your accident claim. The accident happened in California, and the person who rear-ended you is a California resident. Yet, you are an Arizona resident who will be receiving medical treatment in Arizona.

Some questions start to bubble to the surface:

  • Should I hire an attorney in California, or an attorney in Arizona?
  • Does it matter whether the attorney in Arizona is licensed to practice law in California?
  • Does it matter whether the California attorney is licensed to practice law in Arizona?

These are normal, common questions to be thinking about in this situation. As the following legal cases show, a lawyer who knows and understands the differences in state laws can have an important impact on your accident claim.

Differences in California and Arizona Accident Laws

In the event that you are on that trip to Disneyland, and you don’t have auto insurance at the time of your accident, you may be limited on what you can recover as a claimant in that auto accident claim, because of a less-well-known law called Proposition 213.

Prop 213 says is that if you are in an auto accident and you are not at fault, but you did not have auto insurance at the time of the accident, you are not entitled to recover for your pain and suffering. That drastically changes what you can recover for your injuries in an auto accident claim.

California attorneys would be very familiar with Prop 213. Yet an Arizona attorney who has never practiced in California may not aware of this law, because there is no equivalent to Proposition 213 law in Arizona. In effect, you could work with an Arizona attorney to pursue your claim, and all of the sudden you realize that you’re only able to be paid back for your medical bills — not additional pain and suffering.

In addition, there is also a California Supreme Court decision, called Howell v. Hamilton Meats & Provisions, Inc., of 2011.

The Howell case decided that, in California, the auto insurance company only has to pay you for paid hospital or medical charges, not billed hospital or medical charges.

To illustrate, assume that you get into an accident in Arizona. You go to the hospital, and the bill for medical treatment is $1,000. Your health insurance pays $250. You submit the $1,000 bill and you get compensated $1,000 by the auto insurance company that insured the driver who caused the accident. They may argue about the reasonableness of that bill, but essentially, the argument would be that you should get paid for the $1,000.

In California, according to Howell, there are key differences. You would go to the hospital and be billed $1,000, and your health insurance pays $250. Yet, the other driver’s auto insurance company is only required to pay $250. This causes a number of problems:

  • Your health insurance company may have a right to be reimbursed for anything they paid on your behalf, which means your net result there is zero.
  • The hospital, itself, may record a lien, stating that it wants to recover the difference between what your health insurance paid ($250) and what the billed charges were ($1,000). As a result, you would owe the hospital $750.

Scenarios such as these frequently come into play when dealing with out-of-state car accidents. That’s why having an attorney who is familiar with local state laws can be helpful when you are in an accident in a different state.

Compensation for Unused Tickets and Reservations

Let us return to the Disneyland accident example for one moment. If you were unable to enjoy your theme park visit because of the accident, you should be compensated for the unused tickets, in addition to car damages and medical bills. The unused tickets are considered to be among your damages, which is a legal word for your losses that occurred as a result of that accident.

Yet, if you were in an accident and went into Disneyland anyway, and it wasn’t any fun for you, because you had a sore back, a claim of damages would be a tough argument to make. There would be no way to verify whether you didn’t enjoy yourself, or didn’t enjoy the park as much as you would have, had you not been involved in an accident.

Other forms of loss that you may have experienced — such as unused, nonrefundable hotel reservations, or having to purchase plane tickets to fly back home early, because you could not drive — may also qualify as damages. All sorts of out-of-the-ordinary things can happen with accidents while on vacation.

That said, if you are an Arizona, California, or Colorado resident, and you have a question about damages related to your out-of-state car accident — while on vacation in Arizona, California, or Colorado — contact Negretti & Associates. We’ll talk you through what compensation you may be entitled to.

Having Trouble Finding an Out-of-State Lawyer? Contact Negretti & Associates

If you get into an accident in a different state than where you live, and you are trying to find an attorney who is licensed in both those states, and it may not be easy.

If you cannot find a lawyer that is licensed in two specific states, give Negretti & Associates a call. We have access to a database of attorneys who practice all over the US. We will do our best to find you someone who is licensed where your accident occurred and licensed where you live.

We would rather have you put in the right hands — a law firm who understands local laws and can help you properly resolve your accident claim. You should achieve a recovery that’s commensurate with everything you endured with regards to your accident.

Please call us at 602-531-3911 in Arizona, 619-777-3370 in California, or 720-636-3444 in Colorado. Or, you can click here to contact us with our online form.

partial fault in an arizona auto accident

Receiving compensation after an auto accident largely depends on who was at fault. As a result, determining who gets compensation can be complicated when one or more drivers are partially at fault.

An experienced accident lawyer can help you navigate this process and begin the process of determining responsibility. Ultimately, your recovery will depend on what type of fault law the state of the accident has adopted.

Arizona Partial Fault Law Explained

Arizona is a pure comparative fault state. This means that fault can be apportioned to multiple people. Anyone found partially at fault is responsible for paying the relative percentage of damages.

For example, if Driver A is found to be 20% at fault for a car accident, the total compensation available to him will be reduced by 20%.

Now, imagine that Driver A were found to be 80% at fault for a car accident, and the jury awarded Driver A $100,000 in damages. Even though a majority of the fault is placed on Driver A, he may still recover. The $100,0000 award would be reduced by 80%, due to Driver A’s comparative fault. As a result, Driver A would only receive $20,000 of the $100,000 total award.

Recoverable Damages

Due to Arizona’s Partial Fault Law, don’t assume that you won’t be able to recover damages until you speak to an attorney!

If you’ve been injured in an auto accident in Arizona, you can recover compensatory damages. This includes property damage, pain and suffering, medical bills, lost wages, and emotional distress that results from your auto accident.

How A Personal Injury Lawyer Can Help You

The outcome of your case can hinge on whether or not you have an experienced Arizona personal injury lawyer on your side.

Unfortunately, insurance companies rarely provide fair compensation to accident victims. Insurance adjusters use partial fault to intimidate accident victims into either accepting unfair settlements or not filing a claim at all. Remember, insurance companies will always try to reduce its costs and save money.

Don’t let an insurance company take advantage of you. There is no reason for you and your family to go this alone. The experienced accident lawyers at Negretti & Associates regularly handle partial fault accidents in Arizona and can help you successfully navigate this process. Learn more about auto accident cases.

If you were injured in an accident and you were held partially at fault, you may still have a claim to recover just compensation. To learn more about your rights and options moving forward give us a call. If you’d like to schedule a free consultation, please call us at 602-531-3911 or click here to email us.

how pain and suffering damages are calculated

Within the field of personal injury law, pain and suffering is a general term that refers to classifying damages. It is the physical and emotional stress caused by an accident — the “hassle factor” for having to deal with the aftermath of an accident. It can include those everyday aches and pains, as well as emotional distress that others may not notice.

After an accident, a victim cannot “sue” for pain and suffering. However, one can file a lawsuit for the negligence caused by another party — and damages resulting from that negligence.

Factors Influencing How Pain and Suffering Damages Are Calculated

Unfortunately, there is no magic formula for calculating what one should be paid for pain and suffering damages. That’s because pain and suffering is specific to each individual claimant. As individuals, we have different daily activities and we experience pain differently.

Many pain and suffering calculators are available online, but their calculations can be way off the mark. This is because online pain and suffering calculators often take a one-size-fits-all approach to valuing claims. They commonly do not take into account the state or county in which accidents occur.

The location of an accident is an important factor when calculating pain and suffering damages. A state or county with a more conservative population could award less in damages than a state or county with a more liberal population. By diving deeper into where an accident occurred and gaining a better understanding of the jury pool in a state or county, we can produce more accurate case valuations.

Additionally, online calculators don’t have a way to enter data related to pain and suffering. If a client requires treatment for more than one year before they are well again, that factor is vital to determining his or her pain and suffering.

Online calculators simply don’t have a way to capture that information and provide an accurate assessment of case value. Online calculators often give false expectations and, as a result, tend to leave clients disappointed and confused.

How Much Is the Average Settlement for a Car Accident?

There is no such thing as an average settlement for a car accident. That is because no two car accidents are exactly same. In fact, at Negretti & Associates we sometimes represent multiple people involved in the same car accident, and each person’s injuries are different. In other words, each person’s settlement will vary depending on his or her injuries.

Rather than trying to figure out an average settlement, you really should be trying to determine whether your settlement is fair to you, based on your specific set of circumstances.

How Much Do Insurance Companies Pay for Pain and Suffering?

The amount insurance companies pay for pain and suffering depends greatly on the type of injury suffered and the specific facts of a case. For example, someone who has neck pain would be compensated differently from someone who breaks a leg. Additionally, someone who goes to urgent care and doesn’t follow up with any other treatment would be paid differently from someone who goes to the ER and then follows up with 8 weeks of physical therapy.

The Pain and Suffering Multiplier

Decades ago, it was customary for insurance companies to pay a so-called pain-and-suffering “multiplier” to accident claimants. Insurance companies would “multiply” medical bills to determine pain and suffering.

Insurance companies stopped valuing claims with a pain and suffering multiplier after realizing that they were losing too much money. Instead, they developed sophisticated software programs that analyze data and compute case values. Software completely removed the human element from the process and has dramatically changed the way cases are valued.

If someone has told you that you should “look into collecting on a pain and suffering multiplier” for your accident claim, you will be disappointed to learn that insurance companies no longer do this.

Currently, you will be compensated based on factors such as the severity of the injury, the length of treatment, and the pain and suffering experienced. This will not equate to a multiplier of your pain and suffering.

Can You File a Pain and Suffering Claim Without a Lawyer?

You can certainly file a claim to recover for pain and suffering without a lawyer. However, without a lawyer, you will most likely collect much, much less. This is not because a lawyer has a magic set of skills. It is because a good lawyer will take the time to work with you, to understand all of the damages suffered, and how to properly present those to the insurance company.

Additionally, a great lawyer will work on the back-end of the settlement, to reduce the money that the client may owe to third-parties — for example, medical providers — and to ensure the client nets the best possible result.

At Negretti & Associates, we pride ourselves on our honest approach to your case value. Through experience we have developed a case valuation tool that helps us arrive at a settlement range for each case, based on specific facts.

Please give us a call to discuss your settlement and we will do our best to give you valuable feedback, so that you can make an educated decision on whether or not to settle your claim.

Call us in Arizona at 602-531-3911, in California at 619-777-3370, and 720-636-3444 in Colorado. Or, you can click here to contact us with our online form. We’ll be happy to talk with you.

arizona pedestrian accident lawyers

Arizona has the highest rate of pedestrian deaths in the nation. In 2017 alone, 226 pedestrians were killed in Arizona vehicle crashes, while more than 1,500 pedestrians were injured, according to the Arizona Department of Transportation.

Pedestrian accidents are common in places where people and vehicles are forced to share space — at crosswalks, intersections, streets, and parking lots for example. Other times, drivers are simply not paying attention to their surroundings.

Unfortunately, many pedestrians who are injured never receive the compensation that they were entitled to. They get stuck with expensive medical bills and even worse life changing injuries.

If you’ve been injured in a pedestrian accident, you have the same right to recover money damages as drivers that have been in auto accidents.

There is no reason for you and your family to go this alone. The experienced Arizona pedestrian accident lawyers at Negretti & Associates are ready to fight for you.

Hit by a Motorist in Arizona?

In Arizona, motorists are responsible for yielding to pedestrians and paying attention to their surroundings. If the driver failed to do either of these two things and has caused you some injury, you will likely be able to bring a claim and collect compensation.

Here are some steps to take after you’ve been involved in a pedestrian accident:

  1. Record the names, addresses, insurance information, and license plate number of all the vehicles involved.
  2. Be sure to get the contact information of all witnesses present.
  3. Photograph and document the scene of the accident and your subsequent injuries.
  4. Seek immediate medical attention for all of your injuries.
  5. Do not speak with insurance companies or sign any documents regarding the accident until you have discussed your case with an experienced Arizona accident attorney.

A Pedestrian Can Still Recover from An Uninsured Motorist

If you were a pedestrian injured by an uninsured motorist, you may be eligible for compensation through your own insurance provider and your insurance policy. You will want to contact an experienced Arizona pedestrian accident lawyer to help you navigate the process. Our accident attorneys are ready to assess the circumstances of your accident and convey options that are available to you. Learn how our firm can assist with motor vehicle accidents, in addition to pedestrian accidents in Phoenix.

How A Personal Injury Lawyer Can Help You

The outcome of your pedestrian accident can hinge on whether or not you have an experienced Arizona personal injury lawyer on your side.

There is no reason for you and your family to go this alone. At Negretti & Associates, we vigilantly defend your rights and pursue any rightful claims for damages, medical expenses, and compensation for the pain and suffering you have endured. We also understand the importance of securing compensation for future medical treatment and for the time you have to take off from work to deal with your injuries. We will work diligently to maximize your recovery and help you achieve the best possible settlement.  

rideshare accidents

Have you been in an accident involving a rideshare company such as Uber or Lyft?  Were you the passenger? Were you in the other vehicle? What if the driver was on his way to pickup a passenger? Is there insurance coverage in these situations? It depends.

As millions of people use rideshare companies to get around, there is a lack of understanding of what happens and the potential issues arise when being injured due to a rideshare accident involving a driver from a rideshare company. Rideshare companies such as Uber and Lyft have transformed the public transportation industry.  Riders love the low cost, the convenience, the choices (luxury vehicle, SUV, fuel efficient vehicle), the overall friendly service and ability to rate their drivers.

When ridesharing companies first started about ten years ago, it was common practice for their drivers to use the driver’s own personal insurance policies for accident coverage. The problem with this practice was that most personal insurance policies did not cover the driver or their passenger(s) if the driver was operating the vehicle for commercial use. This left the victims of these accidents without a source of recovery.

As more serious accident began to occur, such as the death of a California woman while riding in a Lyft vehicle outside of Sacramento in 2014; rideshare companies and their drivers began to be more closely scrutinized by the public. The conversation about who was ultimately responsible for coverage (the driver or the rideshare company) forced changes in the industry.

Ridesharing companies such as Uber and Lyft now provide their drivers with a $1 million dollar liability policy in the event of an accident. This means that the driver and their passenger(s) may be covered for damages. However, it is not that black and white. The coverage still depends on a variety of factors.

Both Uber and Lyft cover their drivers with a three-part insurance plan, which states:

  1. Driver Mode Off: If the rideshare driver is not driving for Uber or Lyft at the time of the accident, their personal insurance policy will provide liability coverage for accidents caused by the driver. This means the $1 million dollar policy does not apply.

Many insurance companies now offer specific coverage for rideshare. However, it is up to the rideshare driver to look into their personal insurance and add rideshare coverage to their  policy. If the driver fails to do so, they could be personally liable if they are involved in an accident.

  1. Driver Mode On Without a Passenger: If the rideshare driver has the driver mode on and is waiting for a ride request when they are involved in an accident, the driver is covered under both Uber and Lyft’s contingent liability coverage. The contingent liability coverage is used in the event the driver’s personal insurance does not provide coverage or does not provide enough coverage. Lyft’s contingent liability coverage is $50,000.00 per person or $100,000.00 maximum per accident and $30,000.00 for property damage.

However, some states, including California, have created legislation (Assembly Bill 2293) to mandate a higher excess liability coverage when accidents occur during this phase of a rideshare driver’s employment. In 2015, California mandated that third-party liability insurance covering the costs of injury, death, and property damage must be at least $200,000.000.

Additionally, the law clarifies that driver’s personal insurance can no longer cover this time period. It must be covered by the rideshare company.  The new regulations have been put into place to prevent ridesharing companies from claiming their insurance policies should not kick in because drivers have personal coverage.

  1. Driver Mode On With a Passenger: If the rideshare driver has the driver mode on and is driving a passenger at the time of the accident, the driver and the passenger are generally covered by the ridesharing company’s liability coverage. Both Uber and Lyft have $1 million dollar liability coverage policies as well as $1million dollars in uninsured and underinsured coverage.

Rideshare accidents may be complicated, involve multiple insurance companies and need expert investigators.

If you have been involved in an accident involving a rideshare company it is important to contact an attorney at Negretti & Associates for a free consultation.

Negretti & Associates had another incredible turn out for our second Fill-A-Bag party for the Phoenix Rescue Mission on Wednesday, November 15, 2017.

A huge thank you goes out to our incredible clients who have shown nothing but love and support donating to our endeavor to help make this world a better place.

We were able to donate 104 bags (1,012 lbs.) of food along with 25 bags (63 lbs.) of dog food to the mission this time.

We also want to thank Kneaders Cafe and Bakery in Scottsdale for letting us come and take over half of their restaurant to fill all of the bags.

From all of us at Negretti & Associates, we thank you!

day of giving 2017 day of giving 2017 day of giving 2017

Although swimming pools are a great source of entertainment and exercise, it is important for both parents and children to be educated about water safety and pool requirements in order to avoid unnecessary tragedy.

One of the countless benefits of living in Arizona is the many days of clear skies and sunshine.  Phoenix ranks fourth in the United States for annual days of sunshine, boasting 211 days of sunshine a year (Yuma, Arizona ranks number one).  With the amount of sunny days, it’s no wonder why the indoor-outdoor lifestyle is so common to Phoenicians.  Residents are accustomed to flip-flops year-round, daily applications of sunscreen, collections of sunglasses and swimming pools.

In most states, a swimming pool is a luxury, however, in Phoenix it is staple.  In fact, Phoenix ranks number one in the United States in residential pool ownership.

Two new reports from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (“USCPSC”) cited that 390 children drown each year in the United States, with the majority of this number occurring in the summer. Inez Tenenbaum, chairman of the USCPSC, puts that number into perspective explaining, “We are talking about 15 preschool classes lost in a pool or spa every year.”

In 2016 in Arizona alone, there were 157 water related incidents, 90 of which involved toddlers and infants, resulting in 16 deaths. In 2017 there have already been 44 deaths.  Subsequently, drowning is the leading cause of death in 1-4 year olds in Arizona.

Some of the common causes of drowning include:

  • Lack of swimming ability
  • No barriers surrounding the pool
  • Parents lack of supervision in the bathtub
  • Panic when in the water
  • Boating accidents
  • Fatigue
  • Concussion, heart attack or seizure while in the water
  • Alcohol use
  • Nonuse of lifejackets

Lori Schmidt, president of the Drowning Prevention Coalition of Arizona, says the “ABCs” of preventing drowning remain the first and best line of defense when working at eliminating child drowning tragedies.  Schmidt states, “The No. 1 thing people need to understand is we can prevent drowning so we need to make sure we take those steps to lower our chances. Drowning prevention is a three-pronged approach with the key being adult supervision.” The three prongs (ABC) include: adult supervision, barriers to water access and life vests and coast guard approved CPR classes for adults.

Additional ways to prevent drowning include:

  • Educating your child about pool safety, including, but not limited to: where they can swim, what activities are appropriate, if they may dive into a pool, what to do if they are struggling in any way, where the pool ladders or steps are located, what to do if another child is struggling in a pool and how to deal with pool or spa drains.
  • Instructing your children on what drowning means.
  • Installing pool barriers (it is the law). It is not enough to lock the house doors, children of all ages can think of crafty ways to open a locked door, go through a window or out a doggy door.
  • Parents must educate themselves, including CPR, proper supervision, and correct installation of pool drains and covers.
  • Appreciating and knowing the environment, including water depth, water current and terrain.
  • Enrolling your child in swimming lessons, children are able to begin swimming as young as six months of age. Both Hubbard Family Swim School and Aqua-Tots offer classes to children as young as four months of age through advanced swimmers.  Additionally, both companies offer classes for special needs children.
  • Never consuming alcohol while operating a boat or any type of watercraft.
  • Knowing, and being honest, about you, or your child’s swimming level.
  • Understanding how to choose and fit a life jacket.
  • Recognizing the risk of a “dry,” or delayed drowning.

The Arizona State Legislature has recognized the importance of pool safety and passed A.R.S. § 36-1681 to prevent children from gaining unsupervised access to residential swimming pools.  The statute includes requirements such as: pool enclosure height (must be at least five feet high), door and gate measurements, when a wall or barrier is necessary and enclosure distance from the water’s edge.

In part, A.R.S. § 36-1681 states:

“A. A swimming pool, or other contained body of water that contains water eighteen inches or more in depth at any point and that is wider than eight feet at any point and is intended for swimming, shall be protected by an enclosure surrounding the pool area, as provided in this section.

  1. A swimming pool or other contained body of water required to be enclosed by subsection A whether a belowground or aboveground pool shall meet the following requirements:
  2. Be entirely enclosed by at least a five-foot wall, fence or other barrier as measured on the exterior side of the wall, fence or barrier.
  3. Have no openings in the wall, fence or barrier through which a spherical object four inches in diameter can pass. The horizontal components of any wall, fence or barrier shall be spaced not less than forty-five inches apart measured vertically or shall be placed on the pool side of a wall, fence or barrier which shall not have any opening greater than one and three-quarter inches measured horizontally. Wire mesh or chain link fences shall have a maximum mesh size of one and three-quarter inches measured horizontally.
  4. Gates for the enclosure shall:

(a) Be self-closing and self-latching with the latch located at least fifty-four inches above the underlying ground or on the pool side of the gate with a release mechanism at least five inches below the top of the gate and no opening greater than one-half inch within twenty-four inches of the release mechanism or be secured by a padlock or similar device which requires a key, electric opener or integral combination which can have the latch at any height.

(b) Open outward from the pool.

  1. The wall, fence or barrier shall not contain openings, handholds or footholds accessible from the exterior side of the enclosure that can be used to climb the wall, fence or barrier.
  2. The wall, fence or barrier shall be at least twenty inches from the water’s edge.”

Additionally, public swimming pools in Arizona must be in compliance with the Virginia Graeme Baker Federal Pool and Spa Safety Act.  The Act was signed by President Bush on December 2007, to prevent public swimming pool and spa accidents.

It only takes seconds for tragedy to occur.  Make sure that you have educated your household about the crucial elements of pool safety, so that your family may continue to enjoy Arizona’s sunny days and all the benefits a pool has to offer.   Should you need any assistance with a pool related injury, please contact Negretti & Associates for a free consultation.