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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.

Post-Accident: 3 Things to Know When Looking for an Attorney

January 22, 2015

When an accident occurs, most people are understandably flustered.  With over 107,000 accidents per year in Arizona, but only 777 being fatal, the type of accident and injury could vary greatly. Indeed, the accident could be as serious as going to the hospital, or it could be just merely finding out which friend has the backyard mechanic.  Despite the broad variance of possible injuries that could occur in an accident, however, an attorney could be needed no matter how serious the accident is.  Thus, choosing an attorney becomes extremely important and will possibly be the determining factor in the outcome of your case.

Attorney

But how do you choose? Between all the ads, friends of friends who know attorneys, your cousin who is in law school, or that friend who suggests they’ve acquired a law degree through binge watching “Law and Order: SVU” on Netflix, sifting through the mud to find the right attorney may be harder than one realizes.  The right attorney will always have one focus: you, the client and injured victim.  Additionally, it is not what is said, but what is in the contract between you and the attorney.  We outline three things to identify that not only protect you, but help you find the right attorney.

  1. Fees—The Attorney Shouldn’t Receive More than the Client: In recent years, the advertising coming out of law firms has increased, but there seems to be one consistent message: fees.  Fees can vary from firm to firm, and, further, from attorney to attorney within the same firm.  However, the focus should not be on the attorney’s fees; instead, your focus shoAttorney Feesuld be on “net equality.”  Net equality is a concept that the attorney will charge fees at their designated rate, but vows not to take more than the client (you).  This seems like a fair deal, right?  Well, sometimes, cases go so far that the attorney’s fees actually outweigh what the client is to receive in a settlement.  Thus, without a “net equality” clause the client will literally turn over their entire settlement to the attorney.  To avoid situations such as that, make sure there is a “net equality” clause in the contract you sign.  And, given its importance, it should be in the beginning pages of the attorney-client representation agreement, not buried somewhere for you to never see. The Law Offices of Michael Cordova go as far as putting it on the main page of their website.  Additionally, the language should be fairly simple for you to understand with straight forward verbiage: “attorney’s fees shall not exceed the net amount that client will receive.” (1st page of our own attorney-client representation agreement).  Not only will a “net equality” clause provide you a guarantee of a fair and equal outcome between yourself and your attorney, but it also speaks volumes of the attorney’s character.
  2. Attorney Facetime: This, again, seems like a pretty reasonable request; however, frequently, clients go into a firm, get assigned an attorney, but never meet.  Instead, the client’s entire interaction is with the secretary, and paralegal.  This is personally objectionable to me, and it should be for you, as well.  A personal injury is just that—personal.  Thus, when you are injured, you most certainly should have some facetime with the attorney who is going to make you whole.  Moreover, looking someone in the eye while they tell you the terms of the contract will build a sense of trust, and build the relationship needed for such a personal subject.  This is, yet again, just another personal guarantee from the attorney that they are there for you.
  3. Due Diligence: Never rush when choosing your attorney, though recognize that time is against you in how far down the road you can bring suit.  The importance of this is even more so when dealing with a personal injury.  The very nature of a personal injury makes someone susceptible to making a quick, and possibly wrong, decision due to nervousness, concern, or confusion arising out of the accident.  Therefore, pumping the brakes (no pun intended) to make the right decision pays huge dividends in the end.  Using due diligence can tAttorney Agreementake many forms, but some of the best places are: reviews, and attorneys’ bios.  In looking for reviews, check your favorite downtime activity—social media wondering. Businesses use social media to get their message out there, but clients and customers use social media to either praise, or criticize their interaction with businesses. Twitter enables you to speak your mind instantaneously, while Facebook and Google+ come with the more traditional “review” system consumers have come to know.  But, don’t write Twitter off!  Instead, use it for something that can be fixed immediately, like: “I haven’t heard from my attorney in 35 days.”  If this doesn’t get a response, you might want to reconsider your options.  Thus, social media is a great tool to find candid reviews of what people think about the law firm.  To get a closer look into the law firm, gander on over to their website and find the attorneys’ bios.  Here, you can get a unique sense of the attorney’s character, their experience, commitment, and even other activities in which they are involved.  If you didn’t walk away with a sense of trust when you met the attorney, as indicated above, check out the attorney’s LinkedIn profile.  LinkedIn is unique, in that it amalgamates consumer reviews and peer reviews providing the top-rated qualities of the attorney.

Getting into an accident is a horrible experience; teaming up with the wrong attorney could be an accident waiting to happen. To avoid finding yourself with the wrong attorney, and possibly prolonging your process of getting back to your everyday schedule, there are three simple things to bear in mind post-accident: checking for a “net equality” clause; meeting your attorney and being informed of their availability, and; committing yourself to performing some due diligence. Combining these three simple notes, along with partly trusting your gut, anyone can find the right attorney with the right focus—you.

Fighting Poverty in Phoenix

November 23, 2014

The Law Offices of Michael Cordova is proud to announce our sponsorship of Phoenix Children’s Project, a non-profit organization providing assistance to families and children living in poverty. In addition to providing the essentials, such as food boxes, toiletries, diapers, household products, and so much more, Phoenix Children’s Project has also established ongoing programs that include the Birthday Club, Summer Camp, Back to School, Halloween Parties, and Christmas Program.

Phoenix Children's Project copy
During this time of giving, please consider donating your time and talents or sponsor a child or family!! Every gift, no matter how small, is truly appreciated! For more information on how to support this amazing program, please visit www.phoenixchildren.org or check out their Facebook Page at @PhoenixChildrensProject!

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Komen – Phoenix Race for the Cure

September 8, 2014

Did you know that 1 in 8 women will develop invasive breast cancer over the course of her lifetime?  That’s just above 12% of women!  Approximately 85% of breast cancers occur in women with no family history of breast cancer; however, the risk almost doubles if a woman has a first-degree relative (mother, sister, daughter) diagnosed with breast cancer.

The Law Offices of Michael Cordova is pleased to announce our participation in the upcoming Komen Phoenix Race for the Cure in Downtown Phoenix on Sunday, October 12th.  Join our official team by signing up under the team name Law Offices of Michael Cordova.  Please join us, and we will fight breast cancer together!
JOIN OUR TEAM-8(Reference: breastcancer.org)

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