Company Vehicle Accident in Arizona
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Auto accidents between individuals driving “ordinary” vehicles for their personal use can be disorienting and stressful. This remains true in accidents involving company vehicles, as well. However, the first thing victims of company vehicle accidents should understand from the outset is that these cases are not ordinary. If you were involved in a company vehicle accident in Arizona, you probably have a lot of questions about these cases.
They are often more factually and legally complex. Further, the stakes are generally higher than those in most other auto accidents and are therefore negotiated and litigated more intensely. Accordingly, it is highly recommended that victims have their case evaluated by an experienced company vehicle lawyer.
Our Arizona injury attorneys can evaluate your facts, navigate the law, and ultimately help you strategize a path toward maximum compensation. If you were in an accident and , or even while in one, call Zinda Law Group at (800) 863-5312 for a 100% free consultation with an experienced company vehicle accident attorney.
WHAT SHOULD I DO AFTER A company vehicle accident in Arizona?
Though the facts and law involved in company vehicle accident cases can be complex, the steps victims should take after being involved in such an accident are largely the same as when you they have been involved in ordinary, “normal” car or motor vehicle accidents.
Report the Accident
Always report the accident to the police. Even if the accident does not seem extremely serious and the police are not called to the scene, you should still file a police report. It will serve as the first source of evidence in your case.
Exchange Information, Identify Witnesses, and Collect Evidence
The more evidence available to argue your case, the better. Often, the best source of evidence in auto accidents is the scene of the accident itself; roadways are changeable environments and memory is fallible—neither are conducive to preservation of evidence. Therefore, when possible, collect notes and footage—photographs, video, and audio—of the scene; relevant facts that would need evidence to prove include:
- Weather conditions, such as high winds or heavy fog; even a screenshot of your weather app at the time and place of the accident could be useful.
- Road conditions, such as wet or icy roads.
- Driver impairment, such as footage of open alcoholic beverage containers, slurred speech, or stumbling, etc.
- Worker status; for example, footage of a driver wearing a work uniform could be used to show the worker was in the “course and scope” of their employment.
Get Medical Attention
Of course, your wellbeing is the foremost consideration in all cases. Therefore, evaluate your injuries and that of your passengers immediately after the accident. Seek immediate medical attention where necessary.
Do not underestimate the impact that comparatively less serious injuries might have on the value of your case. Also, bear in mind that many injuries stemming from the accident may only become apparent after you have left the scene. Whiplash commonly manifests in this way.
The bottom line is that all injuries should be evaluated, treated, and documented by medical professionals. Your medical treatment and records will be the primary source of evidence proving the extent of your injuries, pain, and suffering. Therefore, anything that is left out or not backed by documentation will be more difficult to prove.
Consult with a Lawyer
If you have been involved in a company vehicle accident, do not hesitate to consult with an attorney. In particular, be very careful what you reveal to insurance companies and potential litigation adversaries before speaking with a company vehicle accident lawyer.
Accident victims often turn to insurance companies first. However, insurance companies are not neutral third parties. They are likely to make settlement offers based on the legal minimum allowed by your policy and not based on the realities of your accident.
Having one of our Arizona injury attorneys evaluate your case first can ensure that you know your full rights and are being treated fairly. Remember, anything you say to an insurance company can be used against you in litigation. Therefore, never sign forms or waivers provided by an insurance company and never admit fault before consulting with an attorney.
Read More: How to Negotiate with Insurance Companies
How are accidents with company vehicles different?
Remember, each auto accident case is unique and requires case-by-case evaluation. This is especially true in company vehicle accidents. Among the more prominent considerations in this case type are the sizes of the vehicles involved and the higher number of potential at-fault parties.
Heavier Vehicles, Greater Damage
“Company vehicles” is a diverse category that includes 18-wheelers, oil-field service trucks, work vans, delivery trucks, buses, rideshare vehicles, and any vehicle driven in the “course and scope” of work.
A key factor in company vehicle cases is often the difference in size of the vehicles involved. The larger the differential in size between the vehicles, the larger the catastrophic potential of the accident. For example, the sheer size of an 18-wheeler insulates it from damage when crashing into a normal-sized passenger vehicle; conversely, passengers of the smaller vehicle are much more likely to suffer severe injuries and death.
According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMSCA), among the 273,602,100 total registered vehicles in the U.S. in 2018, 10,327,899 were single-unit trucks, 2,906,011 were tractor-trailers (18-wheelers), and 992,152 were buses. Further, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), in 2017 there were 4,761 people killed in crashes involving large trucks, a 9-percent increase from 2016. The NHTSA further reported that 72% of people killed in large-truck crashes in 2017 were occupants of other vehicles; interestingly, 78% of the fatal crashes involving large trucks in that same year occurred during workweeks (Mondays–Fridays).
Read more: FMSCA, 2020 Pocket Guide to Large Truck and Bus Statistics
More Potential At-fault Parties
Further distinguishing company vehicle accidents from other auto accidents are the potential sources of liability, which are typically more diverse than in ordinary auto accidents. This factor is largely based on the nature of the involved company’s business. For example, in a case involving shipping of goods, liability might flow from the shipper, the trucking company, the loader, brokers, and even truck manufacturers.
Relatedly, it is also worth emphasizing that in company vehicle cases, liability often begins much earlier than the date of the accident. For example, in the shipping hypothetical, liability may be based on the trucker’s negligence in the moments leading up to the accident; however, any negligence or recklessness by other potential defendants would likely have taken place hours, days, or months before. If bringing a products liability case against a manufacturer, months may even turn into years.
Legal highlights in commercial vehicle cases
In addition to evaluating the facts of your company vehicle case, a company vehicle accident lawyer can help you navigate the complexities of the law. This section will go over some legal highpoints likely to arise in a company vehicle case.
Negligence is the most common cause of action in personal injury cases, including in company vehicle-related accident cases. This cause of action is based on the theory that we each owe each other a duty of “reasonable care” in our actions to minimize the risk that we cause each other harm.
To prevail on a negligence cause of action, the plaintiff must prove four elements:
1. Duty. Defendant owed a legal duty to plaintiff—namely, the duty to use reasonable care.
2. Breach. The defendant breached the duty.
3. Harm. The plaintiff suffered an injury.
4. Causation. The plaintiff’s injury or injuries were caused by the defendant’s breach.
This theory of liability makes a great deal of sense on roadways because the collective safety of all drivers and passengers is based on each individual driver’s safe (or unsafe) driving practices. It is particularly sensible when dangerous commercial vehicles are involved. The more risk presented by a vehicle type (for example, 18-wheelers) and the nature of the business (for example, shipping of hazardous fluids), the more precaution a reasonable person would need to take.
Further, Arizona is a “comparative fault” state, which adds more complexity to the law. “Comparative fault” is exactly what it sounds like; since every driver owes others a duty of reasonable care, each driver’s relative departure from this duty is taken into account when determining liability. In the words of the relevant Arizona statute, “full damages shall be reduced in proportion to the relative degree of the [plaintiff’s] fault which is a proximate cause of the injury or death, if any.”
The doctrine of “vicarious liability” creates yet another layer of legal complexity. This doctrine allows employers to be responsible for the actions or misconduct of their subordinates. For example, if a delivery truck driver is an employee of a company and negligently causes an accident during the “course and scope” of employment, the company may be held liable for the employee’s negligence.
However, the company may be shielded from liability if the driver is shown to be an independent contractor and not an employee. Therefore, if the worker’s status is vague or contestable, the issue is likely to become central in your company vehicle accident case. Again, evaluating and arguing this issue in litigation often requires a close look at the facts and existing caselaw.
Statute of Limitations
Personal injury cases are governed by statutes of limitation. This concept is simple: A statute of limitations simply sets the maximum amount of time that may elapse after the accident before a plaintiff may file their case. Once the statute of limitations has passed, the victim’s case is time barred.
The statute of limitations for personal injury cases in Arizona is two years. That is, once two years have passed after the accident in question, accident victims may no longer bring their case.
Two years may seem like a long time. However, do not wait to have your case evaluated by an attorney. The more time that passes after the accident, the more likely evidence is to be compromised and the more room is created for adversaries to question the seriousness of your case or whether your injuries were even caused by the accident at all.
If you were injured in a company vehicle accident, call Zinda Law Group today for a 100% free consultation with one of our experienced company vehicle accident lawyers. Read more about Arizona’s statutes of limitations here: Ariz. Rev. Stat. § 12-542
Our company vehicle accident lawyers can help
Company vehicle accidents present unique challenges when it comes to compensation. Higher risk of injury often leads to higher liability, and the potential for higher damages often leads to highly contested litigation and negotiation. Victims of these accidents should always have their cases evaluated by experienced attorneys.
The experienced Arizona injury lawyers at Zinda Law Group are here to help. We believe that no victim of an auto accident—whether or not it involved a company vehicle—should have to worry about their ability to afford excellent legal representation. We pride ourselves in providing that representation.
You pay nothing unless we win your case; that is our No Win, No Fee Guarantee. So, call Zinda Law Group at (800) 863-5312 today for a 100% free case evaluation with our company vehicle accident lawyers. Tell us about your case, and we will tell you how we can help.
Meetings with attorneys are available by appointment only.