Month: March 2013

Flagstaff Car Accident Lawyers Discuss Insurance

In recent days, we are saddened to report that there have been two fatal accidents on the interstates near Flagstaff, Arizona. Interstate 40 saw the loss of life of a Flagstaff mother who was only 27 years old.* Interstate 17 was the scene of an accident in which a man was pronounced dead by authorities just south of Munds Park, which is in Coconino County.** These horrific accidents are shocking and upsetting. And they are a powerful reminder of the dangers of high speed travel and the various road and weather conditions in Northern Arizona.

At the Griffen & Stevens Law Firm, PLLC, we remind everyone to be alert and drive safely. As the weather gets nicer, we see more car accidents and serious injuries on our roadways. Yes, winter weather is the cause of many wrecks. But we all know Flagstaff is one of the nicest places to spend those beautiful summer days. Nearly 5 million people visit the Grand Canyon each year. Flagstaff is the gateway to the Grand Canyon. We have tourists, athletes, students, workers, Phoenix residents escaping the heat, and all kinds of additional traffic in the warm spring and summer months near Flagstaff. We are at the heart of the I-17 and I-40 intersection. We want to take a moment to talk about insurance policies as they relate to car accidents. As Flagstaff’s car accident law firm, the Griffen & Stevens Law Firm, PLLC litigates all aspects of car insurance policies. There are often misconceptions about insurance policies, so we want to share some insight.

In order to keep my costs down, is it okay to purchase minimum coverage?

We understand the difficult economy of today. Times are tough, and we know that. That said, insurance policies are not always the best way to save money. We all hope we are never going to be in an injury-involved car accident. So why pay more for insurance? Well, it comes down to this. The required coverages in Arizona are called “Bodily Injury” and “Property Damage.” Under Arizona personal injury law, the minimum required limits are as follows:

  • For bodily injury: $15,000 per person and $30,000 per accident.
  • For property damage: $10,000 per accident. If a person is injured in a car accident, and medical bills are $50,000, the $15,000 limit for bodily injury will not be enough.

It won’t even be close. And that can force people in debt, collections, and ultimately bankruptcy. Therefore, to avoid the horrible circumstance of not being able to afford necessary medical care, it is important to work with your insurance company to come up with an affordable rate that provides more than the minimum coverages required in Arizona.

If I am a passenger in a single-car accident, can I recover damages for my injuries?

Yes, it is possible. It depends on the circumstances of the case, but you do not have to be driving to recover damages from an insurance company, including your own.

If I am a pedestrian, or bicyclist, and I am hit by a car, can I recover damages?

Yes, it is possible. As always, it depends on the facts of the case. But most people don’t know that they can recover damages from their own car insurance policy, even if they were not inside a vehicle at all when they were injured. At the Griffen & Stevens Law Firm, PLLC, we recently obtained a $75,000 settlement for a pedestrian who was struck by a vehicle, and some of that recovery came from the pedestrian’s car insurance policy.

If the driver at fault is uninsured or underinsured, am I out of luck?

Not necessarily. We will search for every insurance policy that could help you. We check for collateral sources of recovery. And most importantly, we will look at your policy for uninsured motorists and underinsured motorists. It is very important that you purchase an uninsured and underinsured policy. That way, if you are injured in an accident, we can push to get the maximum recovery for you.

If I take on the insurance companies by myself, will I get more money than if I hire a lawyer?

Generally, no. What we do is maximize your recovery and negotiate down your bills and liens, so that the large majority of our personal injury clients actually recover more money than if they accepted what the insurance company offered to them. Usually, the insurance companies offer very low settlements. Don’t let them trick you into giving up your legal rights. Insurance policies are complicated and adjustors never want to give you the money that you deserve.

*According to the Arizona Daily Sun article found here.
** According to the Arizona Daily Sun article found here.

Arizona Criminal vs. Forfeiture Proceedings

Have you ever seen an Arizona felony prosecutor driving around in a drug dealer’s tricked out ride? We have. Felony prosecutors all across Arizona, particularly in Flagstaff, Coconino County, can use forfeited or seized vehicles to drive to court to prosecute other people. But how is that legal? Why is the County Attorney driving around in an alleged drug dealer’s car?

Should the police and government be permitted to take your car, your money, your house, your computer, and your cell phone? Should the police and government be permitted to keep your stuff, sell it off at auction, or sell it to the county prosecutors at a reduced cost? Should you have to see a prosecutor driving a “work vehicle” with sweet gold rims that were once yours?

Here’s how it all works. Let’s say you’re driving on I-40 through Northern Arizona and you are pulled over by the Arizona Department of Public Safety (DPS) for going 77 mph in a 75 mph zone. (This is called a “pretext stop” that is often the result of racial or drug courier profiling by the Arizona state police.) Sure enough, the police claim they smell marijuana, citing to their olfactory prowess. You’re arrested and your car is searched. The police claim to locate some packaged marijuana in the trunk. You’re taken to jail, and your vehicle is impounded.

Days later, you’re served with a civil legal pleading called a Notice of Pending Forfeiture, in which the State of Arizona declares that they are not going to give back your vehicle, cell phone, cash, or anything else in the car they want. Without a forfeiture lawyer, which you are not entitled to free of charge, you wouldn’t know that if you fail to respond within the right time frame, your property is gone forever.

A forfeiture case is actually civil, not criminal, in nature. It is a lawsuit. It is not a criminal charge, even though it is extremely related to felony allegations (i.e., the felony charge of transportation of marijuana for sale). So while you’re thinking, “Am I going to prison for 3 to 7.5 years?” the State of Arizona is thinking, “Can we make money while we send this person to prison?”

At the Griffen & Stevens Law Firm, PLLC, we not only fight hard to keep you out of prison. We fight hard to keep your stuff, to protect your property, to fend off those greedy officers and prosecutors. We defend against forfeiture seizures. We don’t want cops and prosecutors to drive around in your car, use your MacBook Pro, talk on your cell phone, and use your cash to investigate and imprison other people.

Forfeiture proceedings come with a unique set of rules, particularly the Arizona Rules of Civil Procedure and other forfeiture statutes contained in the Arizona Revised Statutes. At the Griffen & Stevens Law Firm, PLLC, we are experts at criminal defense and forfeiture claims. Let us handle your civil forfeiture defense along with your felony criminal defense.

We offer free legal consultations on all Arizona felony drug transportation and money laundering cases in Flagstaff, Prescott, Camp Verde, Holbrook, Kingman and all over Northern Arizona – and all related forfeiture matters.

For a free consultation, call us by using the number at the top right of the screen. Or use our free contact form on the right side of the page.

Don’t let the government take your stuff. Don’t let prosecutors steal your ride.