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Arizona Supreme Court Considers Meaning of State Recreational Use Statute in Recent Premises Liability Case

The state law of Arizona allows someone injured on someone else’s property to file a civil negligence suit against the owner to recover for their injuries. These suits are referred to as premises liability suits. However, some individuals are granted immunity from these suits through Arizona’s recreational use statute, A.R.S. section 33-1551. This statute provides that “a public or private owner, easement holder, lessee, tenant, manager or occupant of premises is not liable to a recreational or educational user except on a showing that [they were] guilty of wilful, malicious or grossly negligent conduct that was a direct cause of the injury to the recreational or educational user.” This statute has been used by defendants in premises liability suits to get the suit against them dismissed. However, it is not totally clear who the statute applies to, and sometimes courts must determine whether a defendant falls into one of the groups granted immunity.

The Arizona Supreme Court recently considered the meaning of the term “manager” under the statute in a case brought against an amusement park operator. According to the court’s written opinion, the defendant had an agreement with the City of Phoenix to operate an amusement park known as Enchanted Island. Under this agreement, they also were allowed to use an unfenced area adjacent to Enchanted Island known as the “piñata area,” which they were responsible for maintaining. The plaintiff paid the defendant to host her child’s birthday party at Enchanted Island and brought a piñata to said party. The defendant directed her to the piñata area, but while walking through it, the plaintiff fell, breaking her ankle and injuring her arm. According to her, she fell because she stepped on a covered sprinkler-head divot, and the plaintiff then sued the defendant for premises liability. The defendant moved for summary judgment, claiming that A.R.S. section 33-1551 granted them recreational immunity. Both the trial court and the appellate court agreed, but the plaintiff appealed all the way to the Arizona Supreme Court.

In front of the Arizona Supreme Court, the case came down to whether or not the defendant was a “manager” of the piñata area at the time the plaintiff fell. The defendant asserted that because they maintained the area they were indeed a manager, but the court disagreed. Instead, the court found that in order to be a manager of an area, one has to be able to control the public’s access to the land. Because the defendant could not do so, but was only allowed to use it and in charge of maintaining it, they could not be considered a manager. As such, the court reversed the grant of summary judgment, allowing the plaintiff to move forward in her suit against the defendant.

Do You Need An Arizona Premises Liability Attorney?

If you’ve been searching for a dedicated and experienced Arizona attorney to handle your personal injury case, look no further than Abels & Annes, P.C. Our Phoenix law firm has handled many cases for clients like you, and if we take your case, we will work hard to earn you the monetary compensation you deserve. With millions successfully recovered already for injury victims, you can trust that your case is in good hands with us. We handle Arizona premises liability cases, car accident claims, and more. To learn more, call us today to schedule a free consultation 602-819-5191.

Court Finds Plaintiff Is Not Bound by Arbitration Agreement in Arizona Personal Injury Lawsuit

Recently, a state appellate court issued an opinion in an Arizona wrongful death lawsuit brought on behalf of a nursing home resident who died after falling out of a wheelchair. According to the court’s opinion, the plaintiff’s mother was admitted to the nursing home in 2013. At admission, the plaintiff, acting as the “responsible party,” signed the forms for his mother because she was suffering from various cognitive and physical impairments. Included in the admissions agreement was an arbitration clause for “any dispute as to medical malpractice.” The issue on appeal was whether the plaintiff’s cause of action falls under medical malpractice and if the arbitration clause bound him.

The incident giving rise to the action occurred when the woman was returning to her room after breakfast. A certified nursing assistant was pushing the woman’s wheelchair when the woman’s foot got caught in a loose cord. The entanglement caused the woman to go flying out of her wheelchair head-first onto the floor, breaking her neck upon impact. The woman died from her injuries several days later. The plaintiff filed a lawsuit against the nursing home, alleging that they were negligent and liable for his mother’s wrongful death. The nursing home moved to compel arbitration, arguing that although on its face the claim seemed like a negligence action, it was actually a medical malpractice claim.

Arizona law provides that the primary prerequisite to compelling arbitration is an actual agreement to do so. When there is a disagreement about whether the parties agreed to arbitrate, the courts will look to the parties’ intent by evaluating the language of the agreement. In this case, the arbitration clause defines “medical malpractice” as a dispute related to medical services. Further, the legislature defines “medical services” as actions that relate to medical care and are performed at the direction of healthcare professionals.

The defendant argued that the court should look to other language in the agreement. Additionally, the defendant claimed that the plaintiff’s investigation into previous falls, inadequate supervision, and training issues heightened the case from ordinary negligence into medical malpractice. However, the court reasoned that claims do not amount to medical malpractice simply because they occur at a nursing home. Moreover, the plaintiff did not allege misconduct related to the practice of medicine, but rather the negligence of a staff member while merely transporting the woman from breakfast to her room. Ultimately, the appellate court found in favor of the plaintiff and declined to compel arbitration.

Have You or a Loved One Suffered Injuries at an Arizona Nursing Home?

If you or someone you know has suffered serious injuries at an Arizona nursing home, you may be entitled to monetary compensation. The dedicated Arizona personal injury attorneys at Abels & Annes, P.C., have collected millions on behalf of injury victims in Arizona. Our attorneys fiercely advocate on behalf of our clients while simultaneously providing them with the compassion and sensitivity that they deserve. Arizona nursing home abuse and neglect cases are rarely straight forward, and we possess the skills and experience to handle even the most challenging lawsuits. Contact our office at 855-749-5299 to schedule a free initial consultation with an attorney at our law firm.

Head-On Semi Truck Crash Near Arizona Border Kills One, Injures Five

An early-morning New Mexico truck accident that occurred last month on Interstate 40 between the border of Arizona and New Mexico resulted in a single fatality and several serious injuries. According to a local news report covering the tragic accident, the collision was caused when a truck driver, heading from Arizona toward Albuquerque on I-40, crossed the center line into oncoming traffic.

As the truck entered oncoming traffic, the vehicle rolled. The initial accident caused a chain-reaction, ultimately involving at least three other vehicles.

Truck Accidents Can Cause Serious Injuries

Certain stretches of roadway can be especially dangerous for drivers for a variety of reasons. One reason for the heightened danger is that many interstates have higher than average semi-truck traffic.

Truck drivers are specially licensed and trained to operate these large vehicles, and owe the public a duty of care to maintain and operate their vehicles in a safe manner. However, Arizona truck drivers routinely make errors in judgment or other mistakes.

For example, texting while driving, distracted driving, and drowsy driving are all common causes of Arizona truck accidents. Thus, it is no surprise that heavy truck traffic presents a danger to all drivers on the road.

According to the news report describing the recent accident, there was not a center median or cable divider in the roadway where the crash occurred. The article goes onto state that there have been two other head-on accidents involving semi-trucks in the last year on that same stretch of Interstate 40, suggesting that it is an especially dangerous area.

Who is Liable For Damages After a Truck Crash?

Drivers of passenger vehicles should be extra cautious when driving on some overly dangerous Arizona roads. However, the ultimate responsibility for truck accidents often lies with the truck driver who has failed to safely maintain control of their vehicle.

Arizona semi-truck accidents are unfortunately common on our state roads and interstates. Further, death or serious injury is more likely to result from an accident involving a large vehicle because of the destructive power that these trucks possess.

When a passenger vehicle collides with a semi-truck or large commercial or industrial vehicle, the difference in weight between the vehicles often results in the smaller passenger vehicle, and its occupants, suffering significantly more damage than the truck. Because of this, Arizona truck accident victims should seek qualified and experienced counsel to preserve their rights and seek fair compensation for their losses.

Are You a Truck Accident Victim?

If you or a loved one has been hurt or killed in an Arizona truck accident, it’s important to act quickly to increase the likelihood of receiving fair compensation from the accident. The Phoenix personal injury law firm, Abels & Annes, P.C., has experienced Arizona truck accident lawyers who represent injury victims and their family members in all types of injury cases, including truck and other accident cases claims.

Our dedicated and professional attorneys take pride in fighting for our clients’ interests and obtaining for them the compensation that they deserve. Contact our office for a free consultation to see if you have a case for damages. Call 602-819-5191 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation today.

Phoenix Family Faces Astronomical Medical Costs After Head-On Collision with Truck

Recently, a news report provided an update on a devastating Phoenix car accident between a truck and a sedan carrying a couple and their daughter. The couple was waiting to make a left turn after picking up their daughter from a relative’s home. The child was in a child-safety seat in between the parents in the front seat. When the light turned yellow, and traffic began to wane, the man started to make his turn. The man’s girlfriend screamed when she looked up from her phone and noticed a truck barreling towards them. The driver did not have time to stop, and the truck collided into their vehicle.

The couple and their child were all taken to a local hospital, and the woman and her daughter remained unconscious for several days. After the woman awoke from her coma, she discovered that her daughter was at a different hospital and remained in a medically induced coma. Fortunately, tests revealed that the daughter did not suffer any permanent brain damage; however, she remained in a sedative state as her cerebral cortex healed. Despite support from their family and the community, the family is facing a long road of psychological and physical therapy. The woman revealed that although she is grateful for the medical benefits her employer provides, the family is facing astronomical medical bills.

Many accident victims rely on medical insurance and car insurance coverage to help them pay the significant medical costs often associated with serious car accidents. Car accident victims may face payments related to emergency treatment, vehicle storage or repair, surgeries, hospital stays, physical rehabilitation, prescription and copays, psychological treatment, and lost wages.

Phoenix car accident victims regularly face substantial hurdles when trying to recover compensation from an at-fault driver or their insurance company. These difficulties can prolong recovery and cause innocent injury victims to suffer potentially long-term physical and financial repercussions. At-fault drivers will delay settling claims, arguing that they were not responsible for the accident or that they do not have the funds to cover the damages. Similarly, insurance companies may unduly delay or wrongfully deny claims. These delays result in accident victims worrying about how to survive while tending to their and their loved ones’ medical needs. To recover compensation, Arizona injury victims should consider filing a personal injury lawsuit against the liable party to recover for their losses.

Have You Suffered Injuries in a Phoenix Car Accident?

If you or a loved one has suffered injuries in a Phoenix car accident, you may be entitled to monetary compensation for your losses. The Phoenix car accident attorneys at Abels & Annes, P.C., have collected millions of dollars in compensation on behalf of Phoenix injury victims. The attorneys at our law firm understand the devastating financial toll that a car accident can have on an individual and their loved ones. The at-fault parties and insurance companies in these cases seldom offer enough compensation to cover even a small portion of the losses that injury victims face. Our attorneys can help you navigate these complex legal issues and ensure that your concerns are addressed. Contact our office for a free consultation at 602-819-5191.

Pursuing a Claim for Compensation Following an Arizona Truck Accident

Being involved in an accident with a semi-truck or other large vehicle can feel like a nightmare to accident victims and their families. Not only are Arizona truck accidents more likely to cause serious injury or death than other auto accidents, but navigating the complex web of parties and companies who may be responsible for damages can be a daunting task, especially when the truck driver does not admit fault for the crash. A recently published local news article helps explain what is necessary for victims of an Arizona truck accident to compile to help pursue their case.

As noted in the report, there are at least ten pieces of information that should be gathered after an accident to help an accident victim pursue an Arizona semi-truck accident lawsuit. Because of the complexities of the trucking and insurance industries, there could be four or more parties that must be dealt with in the aftermath of an accident, including the truck driver, the trucking company, the shipping company, and any insurance companies offering coverage on the truck or other vehicles involved in a crash.

Immediately after an accident involving a semi-truck, the important information to gather includes the names and identities of all parties and companies with vehicles involved in the crash as well as the insurance information for any vehicles involved. Law enforcement should be called to document the crash and create a case number that can be used in a later claim. Additionally, accident victims should obtain a photograph of the license plate of the truck involved, as well as photos or videos of any damage to all vehicles, any skid marks or debris, as well as documentation of other hazards or factors that could have contributed to the crash. Any eyewitness accounts of the crash should be taken, along with the names and contact information of the witnesses, should their testimony be required at a later time.

After seeking medical treatment and obtaining the required records, accident victims should obtain various other pieces of information to help their case. Because some of this information can be difficult to obtain, the help of a qualified Arizona truck accident attorney is suggested at this point. Driver logs, onboard sensor data, cargo logs, bills of lading, and vehicle maintenance records may all be relevant to a lawsuit, and should be obtained as quickly as possible after a crash when needed. Although all of this information may not be available, with the help of a skilled attorney, you’re much more likely to get the information that will most benefit your claim for compensation.

Finding the Right Lawyer to Assist with Your Claim

If you or a loved one has been injured or killed in an Arizona truck accident, you could be entitled to financial damages as compensation for the injuries you have suffered. An Arizona personal injury attorney at Abels & Annes, P.C. can assist you with your claim. At our Phoenix personal injury law firm, our experienced Arizona accident lawyers represent injury victims and their family members in all types of injury cases, including Arizona truck accident cases. Call us as soon as possible after an accident, and we can help ensure that all of the necessary information is collected and investigations pursued before it’s too late. Contact our offices for a free consultation. Call 602-819-5191 or contact us online to schedule a no-obligation case review today.

Man Charged with Aggravated Assault in Connection with Phoenix DUI Car Accident

A Phoenix man has been charged with aggravated assault and endangerment for his role in a multi-vehicle Arizona car accident that left a pregnant woman seriously injured. According to a local news source, the man admitted to using multiple different types of drugs in the hours leading up to the crash, but claims he was distracted from trying to retrieve his cell phone that had fallen in between the seats when he ran a red light and collided with another vehicle. Both the man and his passenger, a woman who was nine months pregnant, were ejected from the vehicle and suffered injuries resulting from the crash, but no other drivers or passengers were injured, according to the article.

The man’s admitted drug use may have played a role in law enforcement’s decision to charge him with felony assault for his passenger’s injuries, although intoxication is not a prerequisite for serious criminal charges to be pursued against reckless parties involved in an accident. Intoxication from drugs and alcohol contributes to thousands of Arizona car accidents that result in needless injuries and deaths each year. Intoxicated drivers are more likely to cause accidents for many reasons, including delayed reaction time, poor judgment, and the inability to remain conscious while under the influence. Drivers who are under the influence of alcohol or drugs put the public at risk, and can be held liable in criminal as well as civil courts for their behavior. Distracted driving can also be charged as a crime, especially when an accident is caused by a driver being distracted by texting or using a cellphone while on the road.

In addition to criminal charges that drivers can face for causing an accident while intoxicated or distracted, they may also be held civilly liable for the injuries and damages related to a crash. With the help of an experienced attorney, injured parties can pursue an Arizona personal injury lawsuit to recover a settlement or jury verdict to compensate them for the medical bills, temporary and permanent disabilities, lost work, as well as pain and suffering and other damages. Personal injury lawsuits can be used to recover damages resulting from criminal conduct, as well as recklessness, or simple negligence.

Who Can You Call if You’ve Been Hurt?

If you or someone close to you has suffered an injury or been killed as a result of an Arizona DUI accident, you could be entitled to compensation for the injuries you have suffered. Intoxicated or distracted drivers should be held accountable for the consequences of their behavior, and a qualified Arizona personal injury attorney can help you with your claim. At the Phoenix personal injury law firm, Abels & Annes, P.C., our experienced DUI accident lawyers represent injury victims and their family members in all types of injury cases, including Arizona car accident and distracted driver claims. Contact our offices for a no-obligation consultation to find out if you may have a case for damages. Call 602-819-5191 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation today.

A Dangerous Summer for Arizona Motorcyclists, Pedestrians, and Drivers

Maricopa county roads are never completely safe, as drivers and pedestrians cannot anticipate when the another’s negligence might put them in jeopardy. According to a local news source, roads in recent weeks have been especially dangerous to the public. At least three people were killed and several more seriously injured in a minimum of eight serious accidents that occurred over one weekend this past August.

Many motorcyclists choose to brave the summer Phoenix heat and take to the road on two wheels for both commuting and pleasure riding. Arizona motorcyclists should always wear a helmet and be especially careful on Phoenix-area roads because negligent drivers commonly cause accidents that can seriously injure or kill motorcyclists. According to the report, three motorcyclists were seriously injured in accidents. In one accident, a woman who was suspected of driving while impaired failed to yield at a stop sign and struck a motorcyclist in a Phoenix intersection, critically injuring the motorcyclist and resulting in the woman’s arrest for aggravated assault and DUI.

Alcohol or drug use may have played a factor in several of the accidents, as noted in the article. Indeed, impaired driving is the cause of many injuries and deaths from Arizona car accidents every year. Alcohol and drugs negatively affect drivers’ reaction time and decision making, increasing the risk of a deadly accident. In another recent accident mentioned in the above-linked article, a woman and her child were struck by an allegedly impaired driver while crossing at a crosswalk in Glendale. The accident victim later died from her injuries. Drunk drivers who cause an accident resulting in injuries or deaths can be charged with crimes and also face civil liability for their actions through the filing of a personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit on the victims’ behalf.

The article mentions another fatal crash in Phoenix involving a pedestrian who was hit by a driver in the middle of a road after dark. Pedestrians should always exercise care when walking along a road or crossing the street, but drivers still have a responsibility to maintain their speed under the posted limits and yield to pedestrians walking along a road or crossing the street.

Establishing financial responsibility for an accident victim’s damages is not always easy to determine, especially if there are multiple parties who may be partially to blame. Arizona motorists are required by state law to carry liability insurance to cover injuries resulting from accidents where they are at fault. Additionally, drivers also should obtain coverage for accidents that are no fault of their own. When the issue of fault is not black and white, obtaining full compensation from insurance companies for accident victims can be difficult without the assistance of a skilled Arizona car accident attorney.

Have You Been Injured in a Phoenix Car Accident?

If you or a loved one has been injured or died as a result of an Arizona car accident, you may be entitled to compensation for the injuries you have suffered. At the Phoenix personal injury law firm, Abels & Annes, P.C., our qualified attorneys represent injury victims and their family members in all types of injury cases, including Arizona motor vehicle accidents and wrongful death lawsuits. To find out whether you may have a claim for damages, call 602-819-5191 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation today.

Recovering after an Arizona Semi-Truck Accident

Semi-trucks are some of the largest vehicles on the road. Thus, it should come as no surprise that Arizona truck crashes are among the deadliest type of traffic accidents. Indeed, semi-truck accidents are responsible for a disproportionate number of Arizona traffic deaths. According to the most recent government data, while crashes involving tractor-trailers represent less than one percent of the total number of accidents, they are responsible for nearly five percent of the total number of fatalities.

There are several common causes of Arizona 18-wheeler accidents, including:

  • Distracted driving – Truck drivers all have radios, and many who spend countless hours on the road will frequently install televisions in the cab. While this may help pass the time, it also increases the risk of a distracted driving accident.
  • Intoxicated driving – In an effort to fight off fatigue or boredom, some truck drivers take illegal, prescription, or over-the-counter medications, any of which can adversely affect their judgment and ability to operate the truck safely.
  • Drowsy driving – Truck drivers spend long hours on the road, and often find themselves fighting off fatigue. Rather than pull over and rest, truckers too often push their bodies and minds past the limit of what is considered safe.
  • Equipment failure – Whether it be a blown tire, faulty brakes, or a burnt-out headlight, equipment failures are a common cause of Arizona truck accidents.

Like all motorists, truck drivers owe a duty of care to those with whom they share the road. This duty requires truckers to obey all traffic laws and posted traffic signs. While there is generally no legal duty to do so, drivers should take the necessary precautions when driving around semi-truck to avoid an accident. A few tips to keep in mind when sharing the road with large commercial vehicles are:

  • Stay out of the blind spot – Large trucks have blind spots on all sides of the vehicle, but most notably on both sides. Motorists should assume that a truck driver cannot see them unless the motorist can see the truck’s side-view mirrors.
  • Use care when passing – When passing a semi-truck, motorists should signal well in advance and give the truck ample room when returning to the lane.
  • Leave room – Large trucks can take up to several football fields to come to a complete stop, and a truck driver may need to make an evasive maneuver to avoid an accident.

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Wrong Way Drivers in Maricopa County Threaten Public Safety

In recent years, there have been a large number of car accidents caused by wrong way drivers in the greater Phoenix area. Wrong way collisions are particularly dangerous as they often result in vehicles colliding head-on causing substantial damage to the front of each vehicle and often resulting in injuries to the drivers and passengers involved.

A wrong way accident occurs when a vehicle is traveling in a direction against the legal flow of traffic and strikes another vehicle or a fixed object. According to the Federal Highway Traffic Administration, wrong way crashes result in 300 to 400 fatalities every year across the nation.

Many of these accidents occur on highways, expressways, and their associated exit and entrance ramps. Thus, the vehicles involved in these collisions are often traveling at high speeds resulting in potentially deadly impacts. If the accident occurs during peak travel times, there is potential for a significant number of vehicles being involved in the crash.

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Pedestrian Safety Remains Problematic in Phoenix

By the end of 2016, the analysis of accident data from 2015 revealed a scary statistic. Pedestrian deaths had increased by almost ten percent from 2014 to 2015 across the country. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reported that 2015 saw the greatest number of pedestrians killed since 1996, with 5,376 deaths nationwide. So, while travel appears to be getting safer for most road users, pedestrians were one of the few categories to see an increase in fatalities.

In 2015, according to the Arizona Department of Transportation, there were 1,399 pedestrian crashes in the state, resulting in 161 pedestrian deaths and 1,169 injuries.

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