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lyft driver accident claims

Driving for Lyft can be a fun and financially rewarding experience. But what happens if you are involved in an accident while driving for Lyft?

Negretti & Associates has prepared this guide to Lyft driver accident claims as a means of outlining potential issues that may arise when filing a Lyft car accident claim, as a driver.

If I get into accident when driving for Lyft, how do I file a claim with Lyft insurance? Should I report the accident to Lyft, even if the accident isn’t my fault?

Depending on your driver status at the time of the accident, you may have a requirement — pursuant to your agreement with Lyft — to report any accident to Lyft and cooperate with Lyft in their investigation of your accident.

The best way to report a claim is either through the Lyft website or through the Lyft app. However, you should be careful about what you write, because your statement could be used against you. For example, it is normal to understate injuries right after an accident. Often, it takes a few weeks under medical supervision to fully understand that scope of your injuries. If you were to tell Lyft claims that you don’t think you were hurt, and later make a claim for your injuries, they could use your statement against you to challenge the legitimacy of your damages.

That said, Negretti & Associates urges you to contact us before making a Lyft driver accident claim. We understand the ins-and-outs of rideshare contracts. A 15-minute phone call with us could save you thousands of dollars in losses.

Does Lyft cover drivers in an accident?

Yes and no. It depends on your status as a driver when the accident occurs.

  • Coverage when driver mode is off: your personal insurance policy applies.
  • Coverage when driver mode is on, but no ride accepted: 50/100/25 coverage, through Lyft ($50,000 per-person bodily injury liability coverage / $100,000 maximum bodily injury liability coverage / $25,000 property damage liability coverage).
  • Coverage from when ride accepted, through the time when the ride ends: $1,000,000 coverage per accident.

Who handles Lyft driver accident claims? What role does Lyft customer service claims play in the accident process?

Lyft typically employs a claims handling company to process all accident claims. These claims handling companies are not in business to help you. This may be surprising, considering you were driving for Lyft at the time of your accident!

Lyft and their claims handling company will be particularly critical of your claim. Do not make the mistake of thinking that Lyft is there to help you in the event of an accident.

How long will Lyft take to settle my injury case? What is the processing time for Lyft driver accident claims?

This really depends on you and how quickly you recover. At Negretti & Associates, your recovery is our primary concern. Once you get better, our focus becomes making sure you can resolve your Lyft claim fairly. It may take you months or even years to recover from your injuries. We want to ensure that you do everything you can to get yourself better before we attempt to resolve your Lyft claim.

What role does York Risk Services serve in Lyft claims? What does Indian Harbor Insurance Company do with Lyft claims?

The companies are hired by Lyft to process your claim. They have incentives to keep settlements low and avoid paying fair value, unless compelled to do so. These companies have been known to misrepresent their role in the claims handling process by stating that they have been hired by Lyft to take care of you. Do not be fooled by these statements.

What can I do if Lyft’s insurance company isn’t acting fairly or not responding to me?

Contact us. Not only are we familiar with Lyft and their claims handling process, but we can also use our skills to convince Lyft to respond in a timely fashion and resolve your claim for a fair amount.

If you have been involved in a Lyft car accident as a driver, it is important to contact an attorney at Negretti & Associates for a free consultation. 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 Get in Touch form.

lyft passenger accident claims

Have you been in an accident involving Lyft? Were you the passenger? Do you need to make a claim?

As millions of people use rideshare companies to get around, there is a lack of understanding of what happens when being injured in a Lyft accident as a passenger.

Negretti & Associates has prepared this list of frequently asked questions, as a way of helping riders understand the potential issues that may arise when filing Lyft passenger accident claims.

Should I report my accident to Lyft?

The answer is yes — but with the help of a personal injury attorney. Reporting a claim to Lyft is no different from reporting a claim to an insurance company. Yet, you should be careful about what you say, so that your answers are not used against you later. The same thing goes when reporting the accident claim through the Lyft app. Be careful about what you write.

A personal injury attorney can provide you with valuable advice before reporting your Lyft passenger accident.

How does Lyft handle accidents? What role does Lyft customer service claims play in the accident process?

Lyft typically employs a claims handling company to process all accident claims. These claims handling companies are not in business to help you, the passenger. They are in business to save Lyft money! If they can trap you into saying or doing something that is contrary to your interests, they will.
Be wary of the claims department, no matter how nice they may seem on the phone. For example, a claims adjuster may ask for a recorded statement. This may seem harmless. But that recorded statement can come back to bite you later.

Other common tricks include asking you to sign a medical authorization and failing to educate you on health insurance reimbursement rights.

How does insurance work with Lyft? If you are a passenger in a Lyft accident, even if another car caused the accident, whose insurance covers you?

This gets a little tricky. If another vehicle caused your accident, that vehicle’s insurance provider would be the primary payor of any losses you suffered.

Next in line might be your insurance company, if you have underinsured coverage (“UIM”). We call this the secondary payor.

Your medical payment provision may also apply, regardless of who is primary or secondary. If you do not have UIM insurance coverage, or your policy limits are not enough to fully cover your losses, Lyft has insurance that may cover you. Coverage applicability and limits typically depend on the status of the Lyft driver at the time of your accident.

How do you file a claim with Lyft insurance?

You have multiple options to file a claim. You can do so through the Lyft app, or you can contact Lyft through their website. Again, at Negretti & Associates, we wouldn’t recommend initiating a Lyft claim until you have consulted with a personal injury attorney, to better understand how to navigate the claims handling process.

What are average Lyft accident settlement amounts?

It depends. Settlement amounts or judgments (if a case ends up in a courtroom) can vary greatly. This is because no one claim looks exactly like another claim. Your pain and suffering will be different from someone else’s pain and suffering. Your specific medical needs are unique to you and effect your case’s total value.

Keep this in mind: Lyft will ask you for a confidentiality agreement if they settle your claim with you. We believe you should be compensated for keeping things confidential and have been successful in securing additional compensation if you are asked to sign this type of agreement.

What is the Lyft car accident statute of limitations?

The statute of limitations — the deadline to file your claim — is set by the state law, where the accident occurred. For example, in Arizona and California, the statute of limitations is 2 years from the date of the accident. In Colorado, it is 3 years from the date of the accident.

Lyft does not accelerate these deadlines. If you make a claim within the applicable time limit, and/or file a lawsuit to preserve your right to do so, you will be fine.

What can I do if Lyft’s insurance company isn’t acting unfairly or not responding to me?

Contact Negretti & Associates. Not only are we familiar with Lyft and the handling process for Lyft claims, but we can also use our skills to convince Lyft to respond in a timely fashion and resolve your claim for a fair amount.

Bottom line, if you feel that it’s necessary to file a Lyft passenger accident claim, contact Negretti & Associates for a free consultation first. 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 Get in Touch form.

phoenix pedestrian accident attorneys

Just as Phoenix has become a bustling metropolitan city — with new commercial developments, roadways, and residential communities debuting with each day — accidents involving pedestrians and motorists have been on the rise. Since 2010, the number of pedestrians killed by cars in Phoenix has more than doubled.

Tragically, many accidents commonly occur in places where people and vehicles are forced to share limited space — at crosswalks, intersections, light-rail crossings, and parking lots. Far too often, drivers are simply not paying attention to their surroundings.

If you’ve been injured in a pedestrian accident in Phoenix, the outcome of your accident can hinge on whether or not you have an experienced personal injury lawyer on your side.

Pedestrians have the same right to recover monetary damages as drivers do in auto accidents. Unfortunately, many injured pedestrians are unaware of this, and never receive the compensation that they are entitled to. Without an attorney, they risk being stuck with expensive medical bills and, even worse, life-changing injuries.

The experienced Phoenix pedestrian accident attorneys at Negretti & Associates will vigilantly defend your rights and pursue any rightful claims for damages, medical expenses, and compensation for the pain and suffering you have endured.

What To Do If You Have Been Hit by a Motorist in Phoenix

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 numbers 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 Phoenix pedestrian accident attorney.

How a Phoenix Pedestrian Accident Attorney Can Help Seek Compensation for Injuries

In Arizona, motorists are responsible for yielding to pedestrians and paying attention to their surroundings. If a driver fails to do either of these two things and causes injury, the injured person will likely be able to bring a claim and collect compensation.

If you have been in a pedestrian accident and can show that the driver was at fault, the at-fault driver’s insurance can cover your medical expenses related to the accident in most cases.

Arizona law requires that all motorists carry auto insurance. The minimum amount of coverage includes the following.

  • $15,000 per person for bodily injury or death
  • $30,000 per accident if more than two people are involved
  • $10,000 for property damage or destruction

These are the minimum requirements laid out by Arizona Revised Statute 28-4009. However, if the driver is not insured, you may could either file a lawsuit or look to your own insurance carrier for compensation.

If you are 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 Phoenix pedestrian accident attorney to help you navigate the process. The personal injury attorneys at Negretti & Associates are ready to assess the circumstances of your accident and convey options that are available to you.

When an Accident Occurs Outside of a Crosswalk or While Jaywalking

Like all roadway users, pedestrians have a duty to observe and obey traffic laws and control signals. This means, for example, that a pedestrian may not walk alongside highways or step from a sidewalk into traffic without assuming legal responsibility for any subsequent accidents his or her conduct causes.

Pedestrians may typically only cross at marked crosswalks when they receive the go-ahead from the control device. Arizona Revised Statute 28-793 prohibits pedestrians from “jaywalking,” or crossing the roadway where there is not a marked crosswalk or intersection. A pedestrian must yield the right-of-way to vehicles in the roadway, and wait until traffic clears to safely cross.

Should a pedestrian decide to step into traffic without allowing enough time and room for oncoming vehicles to stop, he or she will likely be held responsible for an accident that follows.

Why You Should Choose the Phoenix Pedestrian Accident Attorneys at Negretti & Associates

At Negretti & Associates, we will vigilantly defend your rights and pursue any rightful claims for damages, medical expenses, and compensation for the pain and suffering you have endured in your accident. 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.

There is no reason for you and your family to go this alone. The experienced accident attorneys at Negretti & Associates are ready to fight for you. If you’d like to schedule a free consultation, please call us at 602-531-3911 or click here to write to us.

self-driving car accidents

According to the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration (NHTSA), approximately 94% of car accidents are due to human error. Innovators have imagined a world where our faults would no longer endanger each other on the road.

Today, self-driving cars seem to be a permanent reality, especially in Arizona where Uber had been testing its autonomous vehicles. While many passengers arrived unharmed, one self-driving car hit and killed a pedestrian on March 18, 2018.

As self-driving vehicles enter our roads, the chances of self-driving car accidents will inevitably increase.

Potential Claims for Self-Driving Car Accident Victims

Although the law surrounding self-driving vehicles is widely unsettled, Nevada and California have determined that the operator of the car (the person who “causes the technology to engage”) is responsible if there is an accident.

How An Accident Attorney Can Help You

If you have been injured in a self-driving car accident, do not hesitate to give us a call. Your recovery can hinge on whether or not you have an experienced accident lawyer on your side.

An insurance company will try to minimize your injuries to save themselves as much money as possible. Do not go it alone. At Negretti & Associates, we will negotiate with the insurance company on your behalf to get you the maximum compensation you deserve for your current and future medical treatment, property damage, and lost wages.

We will 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. We will also help you collect compensation for the time you have to take off from work to deal with your injuries. Learn more about auto accident cases.

Our team of accident attorneys knows what it takes to win. We promise to fully investigate your claim and make sure you get the recovery you deserve. If you’d like to schedule a free consultation, please call us at 602-531-3911 or click here to email us.

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.

diminished value claim arizona - arizona diminished value law
Arizona is a diminished value state, which means you could be entitled to bring a diminished value claim after an auto accident. A diminished value claim provides a way for you to recover the lost resale value of your vehicle had it never been subjected to the accident. However, you cannot submit a diminished value claim if you were the at-fault party in an accident.

Why File a Diminished Value Claim?

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.

Specifics About Arizona Diminished Value Law

Here are some things to remember about diminished value claims in Arizona:

  • The statute of limitation for a diminished value claim is 2 years.
  • Diminished value claims require evidence describing the extent of the loss.
  • A diminished value claim can be handled as part of a personal injury claim or as a stand-alone property damage claim.
  • Your personal auto insurance almost never covers diminished value.

The experienced auto accident lawyers at Negretti & Associates regularly handle diminished value claims for our Arizona clients. Schedule a free consultation for your diminished value claim, so that we can discuss your situation and evaluate your case.

california distracted driving law

It is no secret that distracted driving continues to be on the rise. According to the California Office of Traffic Safety, 80% of vehicle collisions involve some aspect of driver inattention.

According to California distracted driving law, anything that takes your full attention off the road is considered distracted driving.

Texting and Phone Use

Using a handheld device while driving is illegal in California. Judges and juries often award huge recoveries to those who are injured by a driver who was using his cell phone at the time of the incident.

Fast Food

Although eating while driving isn’t prohibited, it is still a major cause of distracted driving accidents. Foods that may require special attention, like the ones that you dip into sauces, are common culprits for distracted driving accidents.

Personal Grooming

Whether its touching up your mascara or shaving before an important meeting, any form of personal grooming while behind the wheel is considered to be distracted driving. Although countless drivers engage in this hazardous form of multitasking, it can also be a massive problem if it results in a car crash.

Rowdy Passengers, Children in the Backseat, Bending Down to Reach the Floor

As mentioned before, anything that takes your full attention off the road is considered distracted driving. Be wary of distracted drivers not looking or paying attention to the road and their surroundings.

Your Potential Distracted Driving Claim

No matter what state you are in, if you have been injured in an auto accident caused by a distracted driver, that person is at fault.

In these cases, the distracted driver and their insurance company are responsible for paying for your damaged vehicle, medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering.

If you know if the other driver was texting, eating, meddling with passengers, or distracted for any other reason, it’s important to mention it the police officer writing up the report. Your truthful statement will help build up your future claim.

How An Accident Attorney Can Help You

Your recovery can hinge on whether or not you have an experienced accident lawyer on your side.

An insurance company will try to minimize your injuries to save themselves as much money as possible. Do not go it alone. At Negretti & Associates, we will negotiate with the insurance company on your behalf to get you the maximum compensation you deserve for your current and future medical treatment, property damage, and lost wages.

Our team of accident attorneys knows what it takes to win. We promise to fully investigate your claim and make sure you get the recovery you deserve. If you have been involved in an accident with a distracted driver in California, we invite you to schedule a free consultation with our firm by calling 619-777-3370 or contacting us online.

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.

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.

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.