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pain and suffering settlements

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

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

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

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

Average Pain and Suffering Settlements

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

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

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

Measuring Pain and Suffering

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

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

Pain and Suffering Due to Emotional Distress

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

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

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

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

Get the Help You Need

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

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

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?

how pain and suffering damages are calculated

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

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

Factors Influencing How Pain and Suffering Damages Are Calculated

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

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

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

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

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

How Much Is the Average Settlement for a Car Accident?

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

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

How Much Do Insurance Companies Pay for Pain and Suffering?

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

The Pain and Suffering Multiplier

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

arizona bicycle laws and safety tips

Cycling can be a great way to stay fit, have fun and benefit the environment. However, it can also be a dangerous hobby if cyclists, and drivers, do not follow certain safety protocols.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported that in 2015, 45,000 cyclists were injured and 818 cyclists were killed in crashes with motor vehicles. As injury and fatality rates continue to rise each year, it is important for cyclists to be informed of local laws and ways to stay safe.

Examples of Arizona bicycle laws include:

  • Stop for stop signs and red lights (ARS 28-644).
  • Always use a white headlight and a red rear reflector when you cycle before sunrise or after sunset (ARS 28-817).
  • Yield to pedestrians at crosswalks (ARS 28-792).

Bicycle Accident Liability

Most crashes between motorists and cyclists happen at intersections. Generally, when the accident is the fault of the motorist, it is because they failed to yield the right-of-way to the cyclist. Oftentimes, this occurs when the motorist turns in front of a cyclist, or pulls out from a stop sign, or driveway, into a cyclist’s path.

Many times, a cyclist is severely injured when they have been in an accident with a motor vehicle due to the drastic size difference and the cyclist’s lack of protection. If the accident is the fault of the driver, many times a civil suit will be brought against the at-fault driver based on negligence. Other possible claims include: hit-and-run, bike lane violations, tailgating, wrongful death, bicycle manufacturer defects, dangerous road conditions and drivers running stop signs or red lights.

Bicycle injury claims are generally regarded as personal injury claims and must be filed within two years from the date of the accident. Barring certain circumstances, Arizona has a two-year personal injury statute of limitations. However, this time limit can be shortened to as little as six months if a claim is brought against a governmental entity.

Bicycle Safety Tips

According to most states’ laws, cyclists have the very same rights and responsibilities as motorists. Therefore, it is important for a cyclist to understand that although vehicles should be on the lookout for them, they also have the same responsibility to look for vehicles and follow traffic laws. Other safety tips that cyclists should consider include:

  • Wear a helmet. Almost seventy five percent of fatal bicycle crashes involve a head injury. California’s vehicle code 21200(a) requires any person under 18 that is operating a bicycle on a street, bikeway or bicycle path or trail to wear a helmet. Although Arizona (some local municipalities have enacted their own laws) and Colorado do not have laws requiring helmets, it is a simple and effective way to help ensure safety.
  • Before each ride, make sure that your bicycle is ready to ride. Inspect your bike to make sure all parts are secure and working properly.
  • Check your tire pressure and inflate tires properly.
  • Always wear a visible piece of bright or reflective clothing when riding during the day.
  • When riding at night, always wear something that reflects light. Make sure that you have reflectors on the front and rear of your bike (lights are required).
  • Remember that a bicycle is considered a vehicle and must obey all traffic laws. Make sure to stop at stop signs, follow traffic signals, and stay within lane markings.
  • Bicycles do not have turn signals so it is important to signal your moves to others.
  • Before entering an intersection be proactive and look both ways to observe the traffic.
  • Stay alert at all times, watching for potholes, cracks, wet leaves, storm grates, railroad tracks, or anything that could make you lose control of your bike.
  • Although vehicles should be looking for cyclists, just as cyclists should be looking for vehicles, it is important to try and stay out of a driver’s blind spot.
  • Many cyclists get injured when a parked vehicle opens their door and hits the cyclists (getting “doored”). Make sure that you ride far enough from the curb to avoid unexpected parked cars. However, if you must ride close to the curb, look ahead at parked cars to anticipate if a driver or passenger may open their door.

Cyclists are not the only ones that need to be aware and proactive. Drivers also need to be aware of cyclists and follow certain safety protocols, including:

  • Understand that cyclists have the same rights on the road as vehicles.
  • Accept that cycling is a great transportation option, which is only gaining in popularity. Drivers need to adjust their attitude that cyclists are, “in their way.”
  • Cyclists and drivers have the same laws and share the roadways equally.
  • At intersections make sure that you have looked in your blind spots before making right or left turns.
  • Give cyclists at least three feet of clearance. Of course, cyclists cannot go as fast as a vehicle, respect their speed and do not tailgate them.
  • Be proactive when you drive and look around. Do not be on your phone.
  • Look before you exit your vehicle to eliminate the possibility of a cyclist getting “doored.”

Cycling has endless social, physical and financial benefits. Whether you are commuting to work, adventuring in the mountains, or cruising down the boardwalk, be proactive about your safety in order to keep you, and your family, from becoming a bicycle collision statistic.

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.