Personal Injury Attorney in Phoenix, Arizona

Personal injury relates to products liability (failure to warn, design flaw, or manufacturing defect), exposure to carcinogens (toxic tort), women’s health issues, birth injury, fracture(s) necessitating surgical intervention, traumatic brain injury, infection and sepsis, automobile accidents (including rideshare such as Uber or Lyft), trucking accidents, premises liability (slip and fall, trip and fall), dog bites, and collisions involving a pedestrian, motorcycle, or all-terrain vehicle. Injuries arising from construction site accidents, falls from height, issues with safety equipment, and OSHA violations may also fall under the category of personal injury. Catastrophic personal injury often involves neurologic impairment, severe fractures, and /or disfigurement/amputation resulting in an inability to work or even death. The following is an overview of some tort principles that may apply to personal injury claims.

Arizona Wrongful Death Act: The Arizona Wrongful Death Act, codified as A.R.S. §§ 12-611 et seq., provides the mechanism to assert a claim that death was caused by a negligent act, where it would have otherwise expired with the passing of a tort victim.  There are two distinct proceedings under Arizona’s wrongful-death statutes. One is for damages to the survivors, the other is for damages to the estate. An action for wrongful death may only be brought by a proper party on behalf of the following: 1) surviving spouse; 2) children; 3) parents; or if none of the above survive, 4) the estate of the decedent.

Arizona’s Survival Statute: Arizona’s survival statute, A.R.S. § 14-3110, applies in an action for personal injury against a tortfeasor that did not cause a decedent’s death. The survival statute provides that every cause of action, except a cause of action for damages for breach of promise to marry, seduction, libel, slander, separate maintenance, alimony, loss of consortium or invasion of the right of privacy, shall survive the death of the person, and may be asserted by or against the personal representative of such person.

Negligence: In general, every person is under a duty to exercise reasonable care under the circumstances and avoid creating situations which pose an unreasonable risk of harm to others. Where a special relationship exists, duties traditionally have been expanded to require avoidance of harm from risks created by the individual at risk as well as those created by a third party’s conduct.

Negligence Per Se: A person who violates a statute enacted for the protection and safety of the public may be liable under a theory of negligence per se.

Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress: To establish a claim for intentional infliction of emotional distress, a plaintiff must show that: (1) conduct by the defendant was extreme and outrageous; (2) the defendant either intended to cause emotional distress or recklessly disregarded the near certainty that such distress would result from his conduct; and (3) severe emotional distress did indeed occur as a result.

Comparative Fault: Arizona is a pure comparative fault state where defendants are entitled to the application of comparative negligence principles in accordance with the Arizona Uniform Contribution Among Joint Tortfeasors Act (“UCATA”), A.R.S. §§ 12-2501 et seq. With the adoption of A.R.S. § 12-2506, Arizona elected a system of several liability making each tortfeasor responsible for paying for their percentage of fault and no more.

Vicarious Liability: Under the doctrine of respondeat superior, an employer is vicariously liable for the negligent acts of an employee causing injury to third persons when that employee’s negligence occurs while acting within the course and scope of employment.  An employer might be vicariously liable if, at the time of the negligence causing injury, the employee is subject to the employer’s control or right of control and the employee is acting in furtherance of the employer’s business.

Aiding and Abetting and Civil Conspiracy: Tort claims of aiding and abetting tortious conduct require proof of three elements: (1) the primary tortfeasor must commit a tort that causes injury to the plaintiff; (2) the defendant knows that the primary tortfeasor’s conduct constitutes a breach of duty; and (3) the defendant substantially assists or encourages the primary tortfeasor to achieve the breach.  On the other hand, the tort claim of civil conspiracy requires that two or more people agree to accomplish an unlawful purpose or to accomplish a lawful object by unlawful means, causing damage thereby.

Punitive Damages: In Arizona, punitive damages are available as a remedy in only those rare cases that involve the most seriously wrongful behavior.  Because punitive damages are such an “extraordinary civil remedy,” the Arizona Supreme Court requires a plaintiff to establish their entitlement by clear and convincing evidence.  Punitive damages cannot be imposed for “gross negligence” or even “reckless disregard of the circumstances,” but must be limited to cases involving “conscious action of a reprehensible character.”  Thus, a plaintiff must show an “evil mind” or “evil motives” in order to gain an award of punitive damages.

The content of this website does not constitute legal advice, and will not create an attorney-client or attorney-prospective client relationship. Laws are always subject to change through the passage of new legislation, rulings in the higher courts, and other means. Please consult an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state of the law and evaluate potential application to the facts of your matter.

Dunne Law PLLC is located in the Esplanade at E. Camelback Rd. and N. 24th St. in the Biltmore area of Phoenix, Arizona.

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