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defamation claims

When people hear the term “personal injury lawyer,” they typically think of auto accidents. It’s common to see personal injury lawyers in TV commercials talking about how they can help victims of auto accidents.

Yet, personal injury law is so much broader than car accidents. Of course, personal injuries can be physical, such as whiplash or broken bones sustained in a car accident. Yet, they can also be emotional in nature — especially when there is damage to one’s reputation.

When a reputation-damaging remark meets a series of criteria, it may be worthwhile to consider filing what is called a defamation claim.

Types of Defamation: The Difference Between Libel and Slander

What is defamation? At its essence, defamation is an umbrella term for a remark that is harmful to one’s reputation. There are two types of defamation: libel and slander.

  • Libel is when someone writes something about you that is defamatory and, in turn, harms your reputation. A written defamatory remark can be published in traditional media — such as a newspaper, magazine, or book — as well as in digital media, such as a text message.
  • Slander is when someone says something about you that is defamatory and, in turn, harms your reputation.

How Do You Prove Defamation of Character?

If you are the victim or a defamatory action, how do you prove that you have been harmed? There are three key elements to proving defamation of character. You have to prove that the defamatory statement was published or told to somebody else; that the statement was false; and that you were injured in some way

First, you have to prove that the information was published. As mentioned above, a written remark can be published in a newspaper or book, while a spoken remark can be told to someone else, in the presence of another party.

The spoken remark can’t simply be between two people. For example, if someone were to call you a liar in private, with no one else present, then you’ve simply been called a liar. Yet, if a third person is present for the conversation and listening, and someone calls you a liar, then the remark can be considered defamatory.

Second, you have to actually prove that the statement was false. When it comes to defamation lawsuits, there’s a common saying, that “the ultimate defense is the truth.” If someone says something that is truthful, that is the defense to a defamation claim. The party that has been harmed must prove the statement false.

Third, you must prove that the written or spoken statement actually led to injury, and that there was some harm. Again, in the context of defamation, injury can span emotional or financial injury — a dented reputation or a loss of job opportunities, for example.

If the three elements for proving defamation are met, then the victim has what is called an “actionable” defamation claim.

Opinions and Defamation

You will see a lot of defamation suits involving Hollywood actors and actresses. Because of their status, and because their reputations mean everything to them, actors and actresses are more likely to pursue defamation claims when negative things are written about them, or said about them on TV or online.

Yet, defamation claims can be hard to pursue. For a claim to be worth pursuing — in terms of time, money, and effort — one must have a substantial reputation to begin with.

Further, just because someone voices or publishes a negative opinion, and it is truly just an opinion, they may not have made a defamatory statement.

If you believe that you have been the victim or a defamatory statement, and some sort of actionable claim can be made, give Negretti & Associates a call, 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. We’ll be happy to talk with you.

Granted, you may have to put your pride on the sidelines for a minute as we reflect upon the three key elements of defamation: Was the statement published or told to someone else? Was it false? What are the injuries that you suffered as a result of the statement, and did it stop you from getting a job, or cause you to lose your job?

diminished value claims california

If your vehicle was damaged in an accident, its value has decreased by more than just the repair cost. There are several reasons for this:

  • Replacement parts are usually never as good of quality as original equipment manufacturer (“OEM”) parts.
  • Repairs can structurally compromise and weaken your vehicle.
  • There might be undiscovered (and unrepaired) damage to your car.
  • In some cases, it’s impossible to return a vehicle to its pre-accident condition.
  • A serious collision may even void your factory warranty.
  • Dealerships will not be able to sell your vehicle in a “certified pre-owned” program.
  • Buyers are typically reluctant to purchase vehicles that have been in an auto accident.

Diminished Value in California: Diminution of Value

To account for this diminished value, here in California, you can file a “diminution of value” claim. After an accident, the at-fault driver’s insurance policy should compensate you for your vehicle’s diminished value. However, it is important to note that recent changes in California law have not yet caught up with the times. In other words, insurance companies are still denying claims when they have no legal basis for doing so.

In California, you must file your diminution of value claim within three years of the date of the accident. If you miss this deadline, you will lose your right to bring your claim.

How an Accident Attorney Can Help You

Insurance companies are machines that are narrowly concerned with maintaining profit margins rather than fulfilling the needs of those affected by unfortunate accidents. For this reason, your insurance adjuster may undervalue or deny your diminution of value claim. The insurance company will always try to reduce its costs and save money.

The experienced accident lawyers at Negretti & Associates regularly handle diminution of value claims and can help you successfully navigate this process. If you’d like to schedule a free consultation, we can discuss your situation and evaluate your case. Visit our Diminished Value Claims page to request a free case evaluation.

With roughly 210 million licensed drivers cruising around the United States, it is not surprising that over 15,000 of them are involved in vehicle accidents every day. Often, accidents may have devastating effects to drivers and passengers, however, even if nobody is physically injured in a vehicle accident, it is important to know that the participants may still have suffered a financial injury involving their vehicle, known as diminished value.

If you have been involved in a collision in which your vehicle has been damaged and then repaired, diminished value is the difference between a car’s pre-accident value and its value after the repairs.  Even if your vehicle is expertly repaired, with no signs of damage, the fact that it has a damage history or is considered a vehicle that has been in an accident, will make its resale value lower in the eyes of prospective buyer.

However, there is a way in which to recover the diminished value of your vehicle.  A diminished value claim is when you request an amount of money from an insurance company to compensate you for the difference between your car’s value before an accident and its value after an accident.  In some cases, this value may amount to thousands of dollars for newer vehicles.

Each state has their individual diminished value laws. California, Arizona and Colorado are all diminished value states, which means that you may be entitled to the diminished value of your vehicle following an accident. The time period in which you must file a claim in order to bring a diminished value claim, or be barred from doing so, in Arizona and Colorado is two years, while in California it is three years.

Steps in a Diminished Value Claim

In most states, if you are at fault for the accident, it is unlikely that you will be able to recover the diminished value of your vehicle.  However, if you are not at fault for the accident, the first thing that you should do when pursuing a diminished value claim is speak with an experienced attorney.

An experienced attorney, like the ones at Negretti & Associates, will work closely with dedicated vehicle appraisers who can help to determine the amount of loss you will incur and the amount of the claim against the insurance company.  Insurance companies do not like paying for diminished value claims and will do everything they can to make it difficult for you to recover.  Many insurance companies save millions of dollars each year because accident victims do not know that they have the option of filing a diminished value claim.

You typically do not have the right to recover for a diminished value loss through your own insurance company.  This applies even when they repair your vehicle.  Therefore, it is extremely important that you put your own insurance company on notice of your intent to pursue a diminished value claim against the at-fault party.  If you do not do this, you could lose out on the property limits that are available to cover your loss.

Consequently, you will be making a diminished value claim through the at-fault party’s insurance company.  Diminished value claims can be very difficult to establish, so a professional evaluation from an appraiser that specializes in diminished value insurance loss is essential.  When evaluating your vehicle, an appraiser may look at things such as: what type of damage did the vehicle sustain, the condition and mileage of the vehicle prior to the accident, was the vehicle repaired to industry standards and has the vehicle been involved in other accidents.

Additionally, a trade-in value in writing from the dealership that you purchased the vehicle from can also help support your diminished value claim.  It is important to know, that in order to establish your vehicles diminished value, you do not have to sell your vehicle; the loss to you occurs at the time of the accident.

It is also helpful to take photos of each angle of your vehicle after the accident.  These photos can be used as evidence to help establish the damage done to your vehicle. It is also important to take photos of your vehicle after the accident to establish that your vehicle has been restored to its original condition.

Once your attorney has the pertinent information, they will begin negotiations with the at-fault insurance company. As mentioned above, diminished value claims are insurance companies unchecked lottery tickets, saving them millions of dollars a year.  Consequently, it may be very difficult negotiating with an insurance company regarding your diminished value claim making it very important that you contact an experienced attorney. The experienced attorneys at Negretti & Associates work with top industry appraisers and will fight for you as we pursue your diminished value loss.

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!

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.

Teen-driver

Obtaining the honor and privilege of driving is a major milestone in the life of a teenager. Arizona has taken aggressive steps to ensure our teenage youth are prepared for the responsibility of driving.

Jonathan Negretti, Attorney at Law at Negretti & Associates, explains Arizona’s laws that affect teen drivers and their parents or guardians.

Learner’s Permit

The first step to becoming a prepared teen driver is receiving a learner’s permit. Teens are eligible for a learner’s permit at 15 years and 6 months.

Other requirements include:

  • Parent or guardian co-signer – A parent or legal guardian must co-sign on the license making the parent or guardian liable for any willful misconduct or negligence caused by the teen driver.
  • MVD Driver Course – the teen must complete a driver’s education course offered by the MVD.
  • Accompanied by a licensed driver – with a learner’s permit, a licensed driver, 21 years or older, must be seated next to the driver.
  • Expiration – these permits are only valid for 12 months from date issued. 

Graduated License (Class G License)

Once the teen driver has held a learner’s permit for a minimum of six months, he or she is now eligible to receive a Graduated License, also known as a Class G License.

In addition to holding a learner’s permit for a minimum of six months, the additional requirements include:

  • Age: The teen must be at least 16 years of age.
  • Driving experience: The teen must have a minimum 20 hours of daytime, supervised driving experience; a minimum 10 hours of nighttime, supervised driving experience for a total of 30 hours of supervised driving experience.
  • Time restrictions: For the first six months, the teen driver cannot drive between midnight and 5 a.m., unless one of these requirements are met:
    • A parent or guardian accompanies the teen driver
    • The reason for driving is for a work, school activity, religious activity or family emergency
    • Passenger restrictions: For the first six months the driver cannot have more than one passenger in the vehicle. The exception to this rule is if parents or siblings are in the vehicle.

To learn more about the requirements for Arizona teen drivers licenses, visit Arizona Department of Transportation’s website.

If you or your teen driver has experienced an accident or injury while operating a vehicle with a Learner’s Permit or Class G license or is the victim of a motor vehicle accident by a teen driver, contact Negretti & Associates to understand and protect your rights.

For more information on Arizona teen driving laws, call us at 602-531-3911.