When Should I File a Lawsuit Instead of Settling My Personal Injury Case?
One of the basic questions that my Mesa personal injury clients have here in Maricopa County, Arizona, is whether to file a lawsuit against the at-fault driver.
There may be a number of valid reasons to file a lawsuit but if you can avoid filing a lawsuit for your injuries, that is better. We will talk about that later.
Typically, lawsuits regarding injuries from an automobile accident are are filed in three different scenarios:
The first scenario is when the at-fault driver has insurance but the adjuster handling the claim decides that their insured, (the other driver) was not at fault in the accident and therefore they refuse to compensate you for your injuries. If they make this determination, then the decision to file a lawsuit is made for you. You must file a lawsuit and sue the at-fault driver. This puts the issue of fault squarely before a jury, judge or arbitration panel.
In Arizona there are three different decisions that a judge, jury or arbitration panel may issue regarding who was at fault. They may decide you were one hundred percent (100%) at fault for the accident and therefore you will not collect any money for your injuries.
They may decide that the other driver was one hundred percent (100%) at fault and you will then be awarded one hundred percent (100%) of the overall value of the injuries you suffered in the automobile accident.
Or, they can decide on a percentage of fault. This is called “Comparative Fault Analysis.” For example a judge, jury or arbitration panel may decide that the other driver in the accident was seventy-five per cent (75%) at fault and that you were twenty-five percent (25%) at fault. In this situation, the judge, jury or arbitration panel will go on to decide the value of your injuries, or how much money they think you should receive for your injuries and then they “apportion” that award by the percentage of comparative fault. So, in the last example, say, for example, that the judge, jury or arbitration panel decides that your injuries are worth One Hundred Thousand Dollars ($100,000.00). They will then subtract the amount of fault they assigned to you, in this case twenty-five percent (25%) and your total compensation for your personal injuries will be Seventy-five Thousand Dollars. ($75,000.00). This calculation is done no matter what the comparative fault determination is so, let’s say they think you were ninety per cent (90%) at fault for the Mesa automobile accident. Even in that case, you will still receive ten percent (10%) of the award or Ten Thousand Dollars. ($10,000.00).
The third situation where lawsuits are filed is where there is no issue as to who is at fault for the accident but the insurance company believes your injuries have a much lower value than you do. In that case, you must file a lawsuit. While fault is still determined by the judge, arbitration panel or jury so there is still risk of comparative fault, the point of the lawsuit will be to determine the money value of your injuries. Many times, it is best to file a lawsuit just to get a fresh pair of eyes on the file (an insurance lawyer) who may well see the value of you claim even though the insurance adjuster does not see any value.
Daniel Marco – Marco Injury Law
1166 E Warner Rd #101
Gilbert, AZ 85296
Email: [email protected]