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4 Differences in a Minor’s Personal Injury Claim

February 26, 2015

Children PlayingFor a child, the inevitable will happen—injuries. But, there is a stark difference between the scrape and bruise received from horse playing in the backyard, and the traumatic experience of a car accident. Additionally, children are unique, insofar that, oftentimes, the extent of the injuries sustained—physically or emotionally—don’t become apparent until much further down the road. Therefore, below are four main differences to bear in mind when bringing a personal injury claim with a minor involved:

Statute of Limitations
In law, the statute of limitations refers to the timeline in which you must bring a lawsuit. If the effected party does not bring suit within the statute of limitations, the party forfeits their right to recovery. Here in Arizona, the typical personal injury case has just two years from the date of injury to bring a lawsuit.

Minors, however, are more protected under law. Thus, the law has carved out special rules to protect minors and children from the standard statute of limitations timeline. To that end, Arizona has something called “tolling” of the statute of limitations. Here, the statute of limitations for minors does not begin until the minor or child has reached 18 years old, or emancipated. Therefore, tolling of the statute of limitations usually extends the two-year timeline; however, don’t take this extended timeline as an opportunity to wait to bring your child’s personal injury claim. All claims should be brought in a timely manner to avoid facts from getting stale, and injuries developing further.

Probate Court Approval Required
In seeking the best interest of the minor, often times, parents are not permitted to bind their child(ren) to a settlement agreement. Moreover, Arizona law actively inserts courts to protect the minor in two ways: 1) personal injury claims exceeding $10,000 requires the court’s approval, and; 2) where the personal injury claim is less than $10,000 the adverse parties retain the right to require court approval of the minor’s settlement. Therefore, no matter the dollar amount of a minor’s personal injury claim, it is likely the court will be involved.

Restricted Bank Account
A common misconception is that when a settlement is reached in a minor’s personal injury claim, the parents will be able to retrieve the funds. The exact opposite is true. Instead, settlement funds resulting from a minor’s personal injury claim go into restricted bank accounts. Here, to ensure the resulting benefit reaches the child, settlement funds are deposited into a restricted bank account, which prevents the funds from being withdrawn until the minor reaches 18 years old, or is emancipated. In instances that require the funds prior to the minor reaching 18 years old, a Probate Court must be petitioned for approval of withdrawal of the funds. Only then, when the Probate Court has given approval to withdraw funds from the restricted bank account, funds will be released prior to the minor reaching 18 years old.

Structured Settlement
Kids in CarA unique alternative to restricted bank accounts is a structured settlement. Generally, restricted bank accounts come with extremely low interest rates, with the conditions set forth as indicated above. Oppositely, structured settlements parallel an investment for the child allowing for: 1) higher rate of returns, and; 2) court approved predetermined payout intervals. In the former, most structured settlements come with a higher interest rate given the account is slightly different than a regular restricted banking account. In the latter, court approved predetermined payout intervals, such as 18, 22, and 25 years of age as examples, can be used to support a minor as they progress through milestones in their adulthood, like college. Additionally, as a consequential benefit, court approved predetermined payout intervals also avoid dumping the proceeds of a settlement in a lump sum to an 18 year old. In the end, the decision on whether a restricted bank account or a structured settlement is more beneficial to your specific case, usually turns on the age of the minor and the amount of the settlement, as there are no additional costs to do so.

The Law Offices of Michael Cordova can help you, or a loved one, get through the traumatic experience a minor’s personal injury claim brings. The experienced personal injury attorneys at the Law Offices of Michael Cordova handles a variety of injury and accident cases, while providing a service to the client that is professional, personal, and unparalleled in the legal industry. To learn more about the cases we handle, visit our main site here. If you, or a loved one, have been injured by another party, or because of a faulty product, contact us for a free case evaluation.

By: Jonathan Cianfaglione, Law Clerk

Microbrews Survive the Cut–For Now

February 11, 2015

This week at the Arizona Congress, hundreds of Arizonans banded together to support their favorite local brew vis-à-vis bill SB 1030. What’s at stake? The current law caps production microbreweries at 40,000 barrels. Additionally, once this cap is met, microbreweries would be forced to apply for a producers license, and shutter their local tasting rooms and restaurants. The proposed changes in SB 1030 would still force microbreweries to apply for a producers license, but allows them to keep up to seven restaurants and tasting rooms.

Arizona Capitol Building

Arizona Capitol Building

It Effects Everyone

The Brewers: With fierce competition to get started in the beer business, microbrewers usually start as your backyard brewer. In addition, microbrewers utilize tasting rooms and local restaurants to bring the community together, while penetrating the market. Microbrewers, like FourPeaks, have used this grassroots style marketing to build their brand, build community, and develop a sense of what the customer wants through the use of brew pubs—a pub attached to the brewery. Indeed, even former-microbrewer turned highly sought after national brand DogFish Head utilized their attached brew pub to research customers’ palettes. Success ensued.

The Drinkers: With the late 2000s came a new style of beer. Attached to it was a new way to drink it—at your local tavern with the local community. But, the current law—if unchanged—has the ability to destroy this new found “togetherness.” Drinkers choose brew pubs, because they represent their community.  Not only that, the grassroots marketing system employed doesn’t just seek the drinker’s input; it implements it. Because of this, the drinker feels like there is a place “where everybody knows your name” with a common goal—community. With the current punitive law looming, it might have the effect of uprooting the local drinker from their seat, while possibly riding the community of more than just a local brew-pub—its identity.

The Economy: Arizona brew pubs are abound with 57 microbreweries in the state. FourPeaks has three locations, while SanTan has one. Those numbers don’t seem alarming, but in SanTan’s one brew pub, in accordance with the current law, they would have to lay-off 120 employees. Thus, assuming similar numbers for FourPeaks, the two brewers would have to lay-off nearly 500 local employees. Not only that, given microbrews’ success is largely dependent on the local communities, the ripple effect of beer_flightlaying-off local employees could be catastrophic to the brewers. Additionally, and independently, craft brewers have seen double digit gains for over 10 straight years. These gains have attracted cities and businesses alike seeking to increase their cache, consequently increasing tourist activity, and happiness amongst locals. Curbing this sort of economic boom, again, seems to frustrate the exact purpose of a free and capitalist market.

The Story Goes On

In an odd paradox, successful microbrewers are finding that current law can actually be punitive for being too successful. Moreover, microbreweries may be forced to shutter their doors to the community with whom a relationship has been built. In so doing, the backlash from local communities may destroy the brewery all together. In the end, Arizona’s legislature will make a final decision on SB 1030. The legislature’s decision encompasses every element of the craft beer making process from brewer to community to economy. Most concerning, though, are the effects of not passing SB 1030 may have on the local communities: loss of jobs, and identity. In a positive sign, the bill passed the Senate Commerce Committee with a 6-2 vote late Tuesday.

Authored By: Jonathan Cianfaglione, Law Clerk

Law Offices of Michael Cordova: 2015-2016 Scholarship

February 6, 2015

The 2014-2015 winner of the Law Offices of Michael Cordova Scholarship

The 2014-2015 winner of the Law Offices of Michael Cordova Scholarship

In the last three decades, the cost to obtaining a college degree has spiraled. Indeed, tuition for in-state public, four-year institutions has increased 200 percent, and 150 percent for community colleges. Additionally, the demand for people entering the working class to have a college degree has increased exponentially, with economists predicting that nearly two-thirds of jobs in just five years will require education above high school. That is why the Law Offices of Michael Cordova is pleased to announce its annual Scholarship for 2015-2016.

The Scholarship provided by the Law Offices of Michael Cordova aims to reward a high-performing high school senior who has the determination and aspiration to succeed at an Arizona community college, or university. Moreover, the scholarship will help reduce the exceeding cost of tuition, or pay for other items not included in tuition like books. Michael Cordova—a scholarship recipient himself—knows first-hand how important a scholarship can be in providing opportunity to those who have an interest and desire to achieve academic accomplishment, to those who may otherwise not be able to pursue their academic ambitions: “For me, scholarships enabled me to attend college, and, ultimately, were a significant factor in assisting me to obtain my law degree” recounts Michael Cordova. Remembering what it was like to be awarded a scholarship, Michael Cordova “was very appreciative” of his benefactors for allowing him to pursue his dreams, and now takes “pride in being in a position to help others strive for their dreams.”

More information on the scholarship, including eligibility requirements and the application, can be found here. The scholarship comes with a May 1, 2015 deadline, and all eligible interested applicants must submit an application with required materials prior to the deadline to be considered. The winner of the 2015-2016 Scholarship by the Law Offices of Michael Cordova will be announced on June 15, 2015.

About the Law Offices of Michael Cordova:

Since the inception of the Law Offices of Michael Cordova in 1994, we have been committed to providing the highest quality of legal representation to our clients. This level of quality is demonstrated through the outcomes we work hard to attain for our clients, and through the service we strive to provide. We have decades of experience and have represented thousands of clients over the years. We represent clients in the Phoenix metropolitan area and throughout the state of Arizona and are ready to assist them through their difficult time. Our experienced attorneys handle various types of cases including: personal injury, dog bites, wrongful death, car accidents, motorcycle accidents, and product and premises liability. Visit our website for a more comprehensive list of cases we handle.

Authored by: Jonathan Cianfaglione, Law Clerk

Personal Injury Claims against a Government Entity

February 4, 2015

arizona-43744_1280Getting injured in an accident is difficult: emotionally, physically, and legally; getting into an accident with a government entity frustrates all of these. A government entity encompasses municipal, county, State, and Federal to include employees and officials. Generally, be it municipal or state government, each has erected a set of statutes to either create immunity or accept liability. Thus, government entities are allowed to set their own rules in how to pursue them in a law suit, which is usually different than if suing a private party. Additionally, this applies even if the government entity is only partially involved or responsible for the injury. Here’s what you need to know about Arizona law when making a personal injury claim against a government entity.

Special Procedures
In Arizona, you can pursue a private entity on an injury claim without any particular procedures that must be followed; however, in contrast, when a government entity is part of the cause for the injury, Arizona has erected statutes that provide for special procedures when the government entity is the defendant. Specifically, Title 12 Chapter 7 mandates specific actions and procedures when naming the State as a party. In Backus v. State, a wrongful death claim was brought against the state; but, the court instead focused on whether the plaintiff complied with the statutory requirements of Notice of Claim when naming the state as a party. What ensued was over two years of costly litigation, and the Arizona Supreme Court handing down the decision. Backus v. State, 220 Ariz. 101 (2009). Thus, knowledge of special procedures keeps your personal injury claim against a government entity on track. Lack of knowledge regarding special procedures, on the other hand, could be costly, force your claim into prolonged litigation, or result in your claim being barred.

Special Timelines
In addition to special procedures when pursuing a personal injury claim against a government entity, there are unique timelines to be aware of, as well. For example, a Notice of Claim—which serves the purpose of indicating your intent to bring a law suit against the government—must be filed within 180 days from date of injury. Furthermore, time restraints on the Statute of Limitations become narrower. Here, Arizona statutes restrict claims against a government entity to one-year from date of injury to bring a law suit, compared to the usual two-year period granted when the claim is against a private entity. Therefore, Arizona uses timelines as a restraint to bring a claim against a government entity. If any timeline is blown, the claim may be barred.

Getting More Information and Help18062567_BG1

Bringing a personal injury claim against a government entity can be confusing. With Arizona statutes creating different procedures and timelines, you can easily fall in the trap of getting your claim against a government entity barred. Thus, when dealing with a personal injury claim against a government entity, use an experienced attorney who specializes in both personal injury and governmental claims to avoid unnecessary costs, force your claim into prolonged litigation, or result in your claim being barred. For more information on claims against a government entity, see our section on Accidents Caused by Government Agencies or Public Entities.

The Law Offices of Michael Cordova can help you, or a loved one, navigate a claim brought against a government entity. The experienced personal injury attorneys at the Law Offices of Michael Cordova handles a variety of injury and accident cases, while providing a service to the client that is professional, personal, and unparalleled in the legal industry. To learn more about the cases we handle, visit our main site here. If you, or a loved one, think you may have a claim against a government entity contact us for a free case evaluation.

By: Jonathan Cianfaglione, Law Clerk

Extreme Adventure Races: Liability, Waivers, and Law

January 26, 2015

An extreme adventure race participant wads through the mud. Credit: dailyrecord.co.uk

An extreme adventure race participant wades through the mud. Credit: dailyrecord.co.uk

In recent years, extreme adventure races have been all the trend. What previously could only be found in select areas, extreme adventure races are popping up in all major cities and even overseas. Extreme adventure races—namely in the form of the Tough Mudder or the Spartan Race—combines a lengthy course and circus-like obstacles to test endurance and mental fortitude. But, before playing in the mud like a kid, they’ll need you to do one thing: sign a waiver.

With the inclination toward pushing the limits, these extreme adventure races pose a serious threat of injury and possibly death. Indeed, just recently, a participant died while attempting to complete an extreme adventure race. However, race hosts like Tough Mudder tout their so-called death waiver. To participate in a Tough Mudder, willing participants are forced to sign a death waiver (PDF), which includes, but is not limited to: death, injury, negligence, indemnity, and arbitration. In addition, Tough Mudder has gone so far as to force spectators to sign a spectator waiver (PDF), which includes: assumption of risk, burned by fire, and inadequate first aid to name a few.

Many legal questions arise in these waivers, which attempt to limit liability. In a law suit against Tough Mudder, their death waiver is currently being tested in court by the mother of the participant who died. With the outcome to remain uncertain, the court may address whether gross negligence was present on the part of the race host, and if it is enough to defeat a waiver built like a straitjacket. Normally, simple negligence can be defeated in waivers similar to that of the Tough Mudder’s death waiver; however, generally, gross negligence becomes a state-by-state question, requiring in-depth review of substantive state law and cases.

As for forcing spectators to sign a waiver, this is a new approach. Generally, spectator waivers exist on ticket-stubs or on a sign at a stadium. These sort of spectator waivers have the intent of informing the person of the assumed risk—like a flying baseball—and absolving the host of liability. But, to actively have spectators sign a waiver, like that of the Tough Mudder, which is just as long as the participant waiver, automatically becomes suspicious. Extreme adventure race hosts who attempt to have spectators sign a waiver may be trying to not only warn of the assumed risk, but may also be trying to circumvent their duty to maintain a safe event environment. This is even more advanced than the law suit testing the death waiver; however, given that there are no pending law suits on the issue, it is unlikely to have an answer in the near future.

In summary, many of the extreme adventure races are enticing and have drawn flocks of people of varying degrees of athleticism. In a race poised to test your endurance and mental fortitude, expect an extreme challenge, which may be accompanied by injury and possibly death. In the case of injury or wrongful death, your legal choices may be restrained due to the waiver. Extreme adventure race hosts have employed the use of waivers to both participants and spectators alike, absolving themselves of liability. Additionally, the complexity of these waivers may further restrict an injured victim’s legal choices, like forcing them into arbitration and contracting away their right to recovery.

Getting Help:
To best assess a personal injury or wrongful death case that arises out of an extreme adventure race, contact a personal injury attorney to review your legal options. Additionally, given the demands of an extreme adventure race, a list of common personal injuries will help determine whether or not the attorney of choice is competent in the area.

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