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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.

Being involved in a motor vehicle accident can be a devastating and life changing event, not only for the people involved, but for their family, friends, co-workers and the community.  The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimated that in 2015 there were 2.44 million people injured in motor vehicle accidents with over ten million accidents that year.  Additionally, it is estimated that the average driver will file a claim for a vehicle collision every 17.9 years.

Although most drivers aim to be safe and defensive while driving, it is important to know what steps you should take if you have been involved in a vehicle collision.

Stop at the Accident Scene

The first step that you should take when you are involved in an automobile accident is to stay at the scene.  Many states, including Arizona, have laws that require a person involved in a vehicle accident to perform certain duties.  Arizona Revised Statute 28-663 requires a person that was involved in an accident to:

“1. Give the driver’s name and address and the registration number of the vehicle the driver is driving.

2. On request, exhibit the person’s driver license to the person struck or the driver or occupants of or person attending a vehicle collided with.

3. Render reasonable assistance to a person injured in the accident, including making arrangements for the carrying of the person to a physician, surgeon or hospital for medical or surgical treatment if it is apparent that treatment is necessary or if the carrying is requested by the injured person.”

Additionally, it is important to not leave the scene because criminal charges may be filed if you flee. Arizona Revised Statute 28-611 requires drivers that have been involved in an accident resulting in injury or death to stop and comply with Arizona Revised Statute 28-663, or they may be charged with a felony.

Check for Injuries

Once you are stopped at the scene it is imperative that you determine whether you, or any other person in the accident, has been injured.  If there is an injury to any person involved, call 911 immediately. If you are not injured and you can drive your car, and it is safe to do so, move your car to an area that will not be obstructing other traffic more than necessary.

It is also important to note that if you feel, at any point after the accident, that you have soreness or that you have a minor injury, you should visit a physician.  After an accident, the people involved may be confused and running on adrenaline, which may cause the body to ignore injuries that have been sustained due to the collision.  Additionally, you may have sustained injuries that cannot be detected by the naked eye, they may be internal.  It is important to visit a physician to get treatment for any injury, whether minor or major, as well as to rule out any internal injuries and to create documentation of your injuries that you may bring to your attorney and have for your insurance company.

Police and Accident Reports

Once you have taken the proper health precautions at the accident scene, you should call the police.  The police will arrive on the scene and file an accident report.

Each state has different laws pertaining to filing accident reports.  For example, in Colorado, each person involved in an automobile accident has a duty to report a traffic accident.  If the driver of the vehicle is physically unable to file a report, it is the duty of a capable passenger to do so.  If a person is involved in an automobile accident in which someone is injured and does not file an accident report, it is considered a class 2-misdemeanor traffic offense.

A traffic report may be important for many different reasons, however, especially if you file a claim because of injuries sustained in the vehicle accident.  Although the police report is generally not admissible in civil court, it is very persuasive and may assist in gaining leverage in informal settlement discussions with an insurance carrier or opposing counsel in your personal injury dispute.

The report may contain helpful information such as the date, time, weather conditions and location of the accident.  It will also contain the name, statements and telephone numbers of others involved in the accident, or any witnesses to the accident, which may prove invaluable when trying to prove fault.

Furthermore, the report will have the officer’s initial assessment of fault and if the officer has given a citation to the at-fault party.  This will include the officer’s written description of the details and causes of the accident, and usually includes a diagram. Causes of the accident may include negligence, violation of a vehicle code, or use of drugs or alcohol.

Once the police arrive on the scene they will ask pertinent questions about the accident; you should answer their questions.  However, stick to the facts.  The police will put their initial assessment of fault on a police report and many times during accidents people are confused and may admit things that they are not liable for.  Therefore, it is important to stick only to the facts, as liability will be investigated at a later time.

Collect Relevant Evidence

After you have answered the officer’s questions and cooperated fully, take time to collect the phone numbers and names of any persons involved in the accident or witnesses to the accident.  If you have the opportunity to speak with anyone at the scene make sure that make notes of their responses.  Additionally, try and document by writing, or photos (most people will be able to take photos using their phones), any injuries that you may have to your person, vehicle, or any other information that you believe is critical.

Shortly after the accident, take time to write down your own detailed account of what occurred.  It is important that this is done shortly after the accident so that every detail that you can remember is noted.  Many times, injury claims may take months, or even years, and people forget important details during that time.

Your description should include weather conditions, the time of day, a play-by-play description of how the accident occurred, any statements made by persons involved in the accident or witnesses, and any injuries that you sustained or emotions that you feel after being involved with the accident.

Contact a Personal Injury Attorney

If you are injured in an automobile accident you should speak with an experienced personal injury attorney as soon as possible.  An attorney will be able to evaluate your case,  guide you through the personal injury process, analyze the information you have gathered, and speak with insurance companies, which will allow you to focus on what’s most important, your health.  Contact the attorneys at Negretti & Associates for a free case evaluation.

dog bite laws arizona california colorado

Dogs are considered to be part of the family, offering a wide range of benefits — companionship, unconditional love, lower blood pressure, exercise, and opportunities for children to learn responsibility. Dogs are especially loved in Arizona, which has the highest percentage of dog owners in the United States. Approximately 1.7 million (43.3 percent) Arizona households include man’s best friend!

However, what happens if your beloved family dog bites another individual?

Common Law and Colorado’s “One Bite Rule”

Under the common law, a person that was injured by a dog could recover if they proved that the owner knew, or should have known, that the animal had a predisposition to cause harm. This was known as the “one bite rule.”

Under the Colorado “one bite rule,” an owner generally would not be held liable if his or her dog bit someone for the first time, because the owner would never have known that the dog had a predisposition to cause harm. However, once the dog had bitten someone (or growled and snapped), the owner would know that the dog had the ability to cause harm, and could be held liable if the dog bit a person in the future.

Colorado is included in a list of states that apply the “one bite rule.”

Arizona and California Dog Bite Law

Arizona and California, however, impose strict liability on the owner of a dog in dog bite cases. This means that in Arizona and California, dogs do not get “one free bite.” Owners will be held strictly liable for the injuries caused by their dogs without regard to an owner’s knowledge of the dog’s predisposition to cause harm.

Arizona Revised Statute 11-1025 and California Civil Code section 3342 govern dog bite cases. Arizona and California law explain that a dog’s owner is liable if his or her dog bites a person who is in a public place or lawfully in a private place when the bite occurs, “regardless of the former viciousness of the dog or the owner’s knowledge of its viciousness.”

Two common defenses that may be raised in an Arizona or California dog bite case include trespassing and provocation. Since both laws require the injured person to “lawfully” be in a public or private place when the injury occurs, a person who is trespassing would be on the premises unlawfully. Therefore, the trespasser would be unable to recover damages. Additionally, the statute states that an injured person cannot recover if the person “provoked” the dog. Although provocation was initially directed at military or police dogs, it is a common defense for household pets as well.

Damages

Although the dog owner is liable for any injuries caused by their dog, often their insurance company will ultimately pay for the damages. Additionally, rental, business and landlord insurance may also cover dog bite injuries. Some damages that may be recovered from a dog bite case include: lost wages, medical bills, future medical bills, therapy, pain and suffering and loss of quality of life.

Dogs add such a wonderful facet to life. Please take the time to review your state’s dog bite laws to keep your family, which includes your dog, and others safe.

Negretti & Associates Can Help

If you have been bitten by a dog, it’s important to get medical treatment right away. After that, you’ll need to begin collecting evidence as quickly as possible. Contact our team of dog bite lawyers so that we can evaluate your situation and help you determine if your case is worth pursuing.

On Thursday, June 15, the Negretti & Associates team, along with family and friends, came together to give back to those in our community who are less fortunate. Collectively, we packed 100 bags filled with food and other essential items — totaling more than 600 lbs. — for delivery to the Phoenix Rescue Mission.

Our firm is not only passionate about taking care of our clients, but also giving back. This is why we have teamed up with the Phoenix Rescue Mission to help make a change in our growing world.

Phoenix Rescue Mission began in 1952 and continues to serve the Valley of the Sun and its people to this day. Their vision is a “community mobilized to transform lives and end hunger and homelessness.”

Negretti & Associates didn’t want to stop at filling 100 bags. We have decided to offer clients the opportunity to get involved, as well. Each client will have the ability to “donate” a bag once his or her case has been settled. Negretti & Associates will match their donations.

We offer a huge thanks to Kneaders Bakery Café on Hayden Road, who opened their doors to our firm, allowing us to pack all of the bags and showing their support for the cause as well. We are a community UNITED!

child car seat guidelines

Many states require that passengers under the age of five be secured in an appropriate child restraint system. It is important for parents or legal guardians to always read and follow child car seat guidelines, as well as manufacturers’ installation instructions and weight and height guidelines.

Child Car Seat Guidelines – Newborns to 12 Months

Children weighing less than 20 pounds and under age 1 should ride in rear-facing infant car seats, or convertible seats used in a rear-facing position.

  • A rear-facing safety seat should never be installed in front of an active airbag.
  • A rear-facing safety seat should be installed to recline 30 to 45 degrees.
  • While in a rear-facing safety seat, a child’s head must be at least one inch below the top of the seat.
  • When using a seat in rear-facing position, use the harness straps and slots in the safety seat at or below shoulder level of the child.
  • Harness straps in the safety seat must be snug on the child. The harness clip — the clip on safety seat that goes across the child’s chest — should be at armpit level.

Child Car Seat Guidelines – Children Ages 1-5

A child should remain in a rear-facing safety seat until age 2, or until the upper weight or height limits of a seat have been met. When a child outgrows a rear-facing safety seat, he or she may transition to a forward-facing seat with a harness system.

  • Use the internal harness system of the safety seat until the upper weight or height limit has been reached.
  • Use harness straps and slots in the safety seat at or above shoulder level when forward-facing.
  • The safety seat’s harness straps should be snug on the child. The harness clip should be at armpit level.
  • When in a forward-facing safety seat, the top of the child’s ears should not be above the top of the seat.

Child Car Seat Guidelines for Children Ages 5-8

Children should be secured in a forward-facing safety seat, with the internal harness system of the safety seat, until they reach the upper weight or height limits allowed by the manufacturer.

When a child outgrows the forward-facing seat, he or she may transition to a belt-positioning booster seat. In Arizona, for example, state law requires any child who is less than 80 pounds and less than four feet, nine inches tall to be placed in a booster seat while riding in a vehicle.

  • Booster seats must be used with the vehicle’s shoulder and lap belt — not just a lap belt.
  • The lap belt needs to lie low across the upper thighs, not the stomach. The shoulder belt should rest snugly across the shoulder and chest, not across the neck or face.
  • If the booster seat has a back, the top of the child’s ears should not be above the top of the back seat.
  • If using a backless booster seat, the vehicle’s head restraint must be positioned properly.
  • When the booster seat is not in use, make sure that the seat is secured with the vehicle’s seat belt.

How To Get Assistance with Installing and Inspecting Your Car Seat

In Arizona:
View Raising Arizona Kids’ list of resources for help with car seat safety requirements, installations, and product recalls.

In Colorado:
Visit Carseats Colorado for information on stations that offer car seat inspections, to ensure that your car seat is fully operational and properly installed.

In California:
See the California Highway Patrol’s site for assistance with car seat safety requirements, installation, and product recalls.

Negretti & Associates encourages you to do your part in following your state’s seat belt laws and helping to save lives!

Despite the majority of people knowing the national, “Click It Or Ticket” enforcement campaign, and the staggering statistics showing that wearing a seat belt is the most effective way to save lives (The Center for Disease Control and Prevention states that seat belts reduce the risk of death by 45%) and reduce injuries, millions of people still do not buckle-up.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, thirteen percent of drivers still do not wear their seat belts.

Seat Belt Laws

The majority of seat belt laws in the United States are left to the states. However, the first seat belt law was a federal one. Title 49 of the United States Code, Chapter 301, requires all vehicles (except buses) to be fitted with seat belts in all designated seating positions. The law has now been modified to require three-point belts in all seating positions.

Although there is an over-arching federal law that involves seat belts, the states are free to create their own laws governing seat belt use. Laws requiring seat belt usage are either “primary” or “secondary” enforcement laws. Primary enforcement laws allow police officers to pull over drivers and issue a ticket just because the drivers, or their passengers, are not wearing their seat belts. However, secondary laws only allow police officers to issue tickets for seat belt violations once the driver has been pulled over for some other offense.

The age in which a driver or passenger is required to wear a seat belt varies from state to state. However, Arizona law requires that each front seat occupant must wear a lap and shoulder belt while the vehicle is in motions. A citation will be issued to the driver for each passenger under 16 years of age that is occupying the front seat and not wearing a seat belt. The exception to this rule is a child that is under five years old, which must be properly secured in a child restraint system.

Seat Belt Safety

The accurate way to wear a seat belt is to have the shoulder belt pulled over your shoulder (not under your arm or behind your back) and across your chest with the belt up close against the body.

Additionally, the lap belt should be close to the body and low on the hips. This positioning will allow the chest and the pelvis to take most of the force of a collision rather than other body parts, which may not be able to handle the impact.

Some of the common seat belt mistakes include:

• Not wearing a seat belt at all. Airbags are designed to work with seat belts, not to replace them. If you are not wearing your seat belt the impact could throw you forward while the airbag is being deployed and the impact may seriously injure or kill you.

• Wearing a seat belt that is too loose. If the seat belt is not close against your body, the impact of the accident could cause your body to slam against parts of the vehicle.

• Wearing the lap belt across your stomach instead of low on the hips. The stomach is not as equipped to sustain impact as the pelvis. If there is a collision, there is a good chance that there will be internal soft tissue injury if the seat belt is worn across the stomach. This is doubly important for pregnant women, who should not wear their seat belt across their stomach but should wear it lower toward their pelvis.

• Wearing the shoulder belt behind your back or under your arm. If there is an impact you are much more likely to slip through the seat belt and be thrown from the vehicle or slam into the inside of the vehicle.

• Making excuses to not wear a seat belt. Excuses such as: I’m not driving very far, the seat belt is uncomfortable to me or It’s not cool to wear a seat belt, may pose serious risks to the excuse maker and the other passengers in the vehicle. Studies show that 75 percent of accidents happen within 25 miles of the home. Furthermore, it is more important to be safe than a little uncomfortable and just because you are sitting in the back seat does not mean that you can’t be thrown through the windshield or hit other passengers.

wrongful death lawsuit arizona colorado california

Losing a loved one is devastating. In an instant, life as you know it — for you and for family members alike — can be changed forever. Although monetary awards will never get close to reversing the pain of your loss, a wrongful death lawsuit may help cover the financial burdens following the horrible event.

What Is a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?

A wrongful death lawsuit is a civil lawsuit that alleges that the deceased was killed as a result of negligence, a wrongful action of the defendant, or neglect, and the surviving dependents or beneficiaries are entitled to monetary damages as a result of the defendant’s conduct.

Under most states’ wrongful death laws, a wrongful death lawsuit may be brought by:

  • The spouse of the deceased;
  • The heir or heirs of the deceased;
  • The decedent’s designated beneficiary; or
  • The parent, or parents, of the deceased — if the decedent is unmarried and without descendants or a designated beneficiary.

Nevertheless, no matter who brings the action, such persons who are heirs of the deceased must share the judgment obtained.

Time Limits: Wrongful Death Statute of Limitations

In civil law there are deadlines in which a plaintiff must file a claim or be barred from doing so. These time limits are called statutes of limitations.

A plaintiff must suffer some damage before the statute of limitations will begin to run. And, as a general rule, a cause of action for personal injuries will accrue (arise) on the date that a party knows or should have known of the injury and its cause.

Wrongful death actions generally must be filed within two years after death. Barring certain circumstances, the wrongful death statute of limitations in Arizona, California and Colorado is two years.

What Is Recoverable: Wrongful Death Damages

Generally, a jury may award economic (financial) and non-economic (pain and suffering, loss of consortium) damages in a wrongful death case. Examples of wrongful death damages that may be awarded include:

  • The cost of your loved one’s medical care prior to passing.
  • The value of your loved one’s pain and suffering.
  • The value of the deceased’s financial contribution to the family, including loss of benefits and inheritance.
  • The cost of funeral and burial services.
  • Emotional distress.
  • Loss of Society: a child could recover damages based on the value of a deceased parent’s companionship, advice, guidance, love and affection.
  • Loss of Consortium: a spouse may recover damages based on the benefits that would have been received from the continued life of the decedent.

In some states, a jury may also award punitive damages. Punitive damages are awarded in cases of malicious wrongdoing to punish the wrongdoer and deter others from behaving similarly. However, the states which allow punitive damages have usually capped the amount of punitive damages that may be awarded, or have limited the types of cases where punitive damages may be awarded.

Establishing Fault in a Wrongful Death Lawsuit

In order to establish fault of the other party in a wrongful death lawsuit you must prove the party caused the underlying tort (the wrongful act). In most wrongful death cases the underlying tort is negligence.

Negligence is the failure to do something a reasonably careful person would do; or doing something a reasonably careful person would not do. In order to prove negligence the plaintiff must prove:

(1) The defendant owed a duty of care;

(2) That the defendant breached that duty; and

(3) That the breach caused the plaintiff’s harm.

Often, the death of a loved one may be the worst time in your life. It is important to know that you have rights, and the ability to pursue those rights through a wrongful death lawsuit.

uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage

What is the difference between uninsured motorist coverage and underinsured motorist coverage?

  • Uninsured motorist coverage (“UM”) is designed to protect drivers and passengers if the at-fault driver in an accident does not carry automobile liability insurance coverage.
  • Underinsured motorist coverage (“UIM”) is designed to protect drivers and passengers if the at-fault driver has insufficient automobile liability insurance coverage to pay for your injuries.

For example, if you are in a vehicle accident and sustain $50,000 in damages due to injuries, but the at-fault driver only has the minimum $15,000 bodily injury coverage, UIM may help bridge the financial gap.

Twenty-one states and the District of Columbia require UM. Just fourteen states require UIM. In Arizona, Colorado and California, however, UM and UIM are not mandatory. Nevertheless, each state has its requirements with regard to UM and UIM.

Arizona law states that every insurer writing a motor vehicle liability policy must offer, in writing, UM and UIM to their insureds in an amount equal to the insured’s liability coverage. If the insureds reject this coverage, insurers must prove compliance with the statute by having their insureds sign a Department of Insurance-approved form that indicates selection or rejection of such coverage.

Colorado law states it is mandatory that the insurance provider offer collision, medical-payments, and uninsured-motorist coverage. Such coverage may only be rejected by the insured in writing.

California law requires insurers to include UM and UIM in automobile policies, unless the insurer and insured execute a written waiver in a specific format that is laid out in California law. If the insured does not sign the three-page waiver, UM and UIM are made part of the insurance policy.

Automobile accidents occur every day. In fact, more than 75,000 people are injured each day due to vehicle accidents in the US. So, whether you are heading out for a hike, going to relax by the ocean, or taking your family to a Spring Training baseball game, make sure that you understand and have implemented your state’s automobile insurance requirements.

It is estimated that in the United States alone, over 2.35 million people are injured and approximately 37,000 people are killed in vehicle crashes each year. With popular and growing states such as Arizona, Colorado and California seeing above average crash statistics, it becomes even more imperative for drivers to understand their state’s automobile insurance laws.

Minimum Insurance Requirements

Arizona, Colorado and California all function under a traditional “tort” or “fault” automobile insurance model. This means that drivers who are involved in a vehicle accident in which they sustained injuries, or property damage, may: file a claim with their own automobile insurance company, file a claim with the at-fault driver’s automobile insurance company, or file a personal injury lawsuit in court seeking damages from the at-fault driver.

Although automobile drivers from each state must legally carry automobile insurance on their vehicles at all times, it becomes even more important if they have been involved in an accident. Automobile insurance is extremely important because it protects a person from extreme financial loss due to an accident.

Arizona

Under Arizona law, drivers must carry liability insurance with at least the following amounts of coverage:

• $15,000 per person for bodily injury or death
• $30,000 per accident for two or more persons’ injuries or death, and
• $10,000 for property damage

Colorado

For motor vehicles, Colorado law requires the following minimum amount of liability insurance:

• $25,000 per person for bodily injury
• $50,000 per accident for two or more persons’ injuries or death, and
• $15,000 per accident for property damage

California

Under California law, the minimum liability insurance requirements for private passenger vehicles are:

• $15,000 per person for bodily injury or death
• $30,000 per accident for two or more persons’ injuries or death, and
• $5,000 for property damage

Using California as an example, the three amounts are known as split limits, and are generally broken down in the following fashion: 15/30/5. These numbers indicate the maximum amount that your carrier will pay out for each category. The first amount for bodily injury or death liability covers costs if you are involved in an accident in which you are considered at fault and must pay an individual victim’s medical bills, lost wages and pain and suffering damages. The second amount for bodily injury or death liability is to cover the costs for all people involved in the accident, and the third amount is for the damage that you have caused to someone’s property.

Our attorneys understand this is a common fear and have structured our business to alleviate this problem. Negretti & Associates offers a no-fee assurance to our clients, operating on a contingency fee basis. This means that we are not paid unless and until we obtain a favorable settlement or verdict on your behalf.

The events following an accident may often feel like a painful blur, as doctors, police officers and insurance agents are all jostling for your time and attention. Many people feel overwhelmed and unsure of how to navigate the murky waters toward recovery. The last thing a person wants to worry about is if they can afford the assistance of an attorney.

A contingency fee agreement is a written agreement between the client and the attorney in which the client may hire the attorney without putting down an initial payment. Furthermore, if the case is ongoing, the client will not have to pay monthly payments and the attorney collects their payment from a percentage of the judgment or settlement once the lawsuit is complete. Contingency fee agreements are valid only in civil cases and are only valid if they are reasonable and equitable to the client.

A contingency fee agreement must state how the fee will be determined, including the percentage in which the attorney will be paid whether the case goes to litigation or is settled. Additionally, it is important that the fee agreement be in writing prior to the client hiring the attorney in order for the client to review the fee agreement breakdown.

A contingency fee arrangement has many benefits. The most common benefit is that a contingency fee agreement allows clients that do not have the money at the outset to pay an attorney’s hourly rate to obtain representation. Additionally, the same clients that do not have the financial ability to pay an attorney on the front end will not owe the attorney any fees on the back end, unless the fee agreement specifically states the client must pay named expenses. A contingency fee agreement also benefits clients indirectly, as their attorney will be more likely to keep on top of their case and work diligently to obtain a favorable outcome so the attorney will get paid.

Ultimately, if you have been injured, it is imperative to understand that you have options; a contingency fee agreement may provide an important vehicle for you to pursue the financial justice that you deserve.