How Safe is Your Home? Take the Homeowners’ Safety Check

With so much media attention on drunk driving and other controversial accidents, it can be easy to forget that many dangers are right in your own home. According to WebMD, household accidents kill twenty thousand Americans every year. Another seven million people are injured in household accidents and require twenty million hospital trips annually. Many homeowners fail to realize the scope of the safety problem, simply because commonplace household accidents receive little – if any – media coverage. Nonetheless, these common accidents devastate thousands of American families every year.

The good news is that homeowners can take control of dangers hidden throughout the house and improve household safety dramatically. With effective preventative measures, the risk of sustaining a household accident can be reduced. And when household accidents do occur, injury victims have the right to be compensated by a homeowner’s insurance carrier. An experienced Arizona personal injury attorney can help ensure that you, your family, and any injured guests receive the compensation you deserve.

How You Can Perform a Safety Check of Your Home

Carol Runyan, the director of injury prevention research at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, has identified the most common household accidents found by UNC researchers:

  • Falls were the most common type of household accident. Homeowners can improve safety and reduce the risk of falls by keeping heavily-trafficked areas of the home free of debris. Perform regular inspections of walkways, and pay particular attention to rugs, which tend to bunch and skid. Elderly homeowners should also ensure that grab bars and other support structures are installed by toilets, showers, tubs, and other areas with a high potential for falls.
  • Poisonings were the next most common risk. Surprisingly, the research found that these were not just accidental ingestion of poisons by small children, but also many instances of adults mixing prescription and/or illegal drugs. Homeowners should ensure that all medication is inaccessible to children and teens. Old medications should be disposed of appropriately. Be alert to any warning signs of a substance abuse problem from adult family members, so that medications can be restricted appropriately.
  • Fires are also a major factor in household accidents. Homeowners should regularly inspect their smoke detectors, carbon monoxide detectors, and heating systems. All heating elements should be free of debris – especially flammable lint and dust. Open flames should never be left unattended. Set candles on a sturdy surface away from curtains and other fabric. Ensure that pets and children cannot accidentally knock them over. Take particular caution with Halloween jack-o-lanterns. Use safer alternatives – such as flashlights, glow-sticks, or battery powered LED candles – whenever possible.

The Right Representation  for Your Family’s Legal Rights

Consult an experienced Arizona personal injury attorney as soon as possible after any household accident. You and your family have the legal right to be compensated for household injuries through your homeowners’ insurance policy, and sometimes, it takes an aggressive attorney to enforce this right. Schedule your free consultation with the Fite Law Group by calling (602) 368-1869, or sending an email to [email protected]. Our experienced attorneys will ensure that you receive full and fair compensation for your injuries.

Keeping Teen Drivers Safe as they Head Back to School

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an average of six teenagers died every day in 2015 from motor vehicle injuries. And AAA reports that new teen drivers aged sixteen to seventeen are three times more likely to be involved in a fatal traffic accident than adults. Back to school season can be a particularly dangerous time for high school students, as high concentrations of young, inexperienced drivers increase the frequency of traffic accidents in and around school zones.

These studies corroborate decades of previous data which has established just how dangerous teen drivers can be. But what, specifically, are the factors that cause this danger? And how can parents address these factors in order to reduce their teen driver’s risk of having a car accident?

Specific Problems With Specific Solutions

Passengers are a critical problem for teen drivers. The New York Times reports that adding one non-family passenger to a teen’s vehicle increased the odds of having an accident by forty-four percent. Interestingly, distraction was found to be highest when male teen drivers had male teen passengers in the car. Male drivers with female teen passengers drove more safely.

Distracted driving is another serious problem which has spread rapidly across America with the prevalence of smartphones. Teens are not immune to this trend: Forbes reports on a Governors Highway Safety Association study which found teens to be the largest age group of drivers who were distracted at the time of an accident. While distraction is dangerous for any driver, is is particularly problematic for young, inexperienced drivers who are not always prepared to deal with obstacles in the road. Surprisingly, this study also found that teens were the second least likely age group to use a cell phone while driving. This suggests that, despite teens’ awareness of the risks of distracted driving, they are nonetheless still likely to crash on the relatively rare occasions when they do use a phone while driving.

The Research on Teen Drivers with ADHD

Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (“ADHD”) is a condition which many American children, teens, and adolescents suffer from. Among other symptoms. ADHD makes it difficult for the teen to concentrate on a single task. This lead a group of researchers to examine whether ADHD was correlated with higher rates of teen driver accidents. The findings, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, were that:

(1) The crash hazard among new teen drivers with ADHD was 36% higher than the crash risk for teens who had not been diagnosed with ADHD.

(2) The risk for ADHD drivers remained elevated regardless of licensure type, gender, age, and medication.

Parents of teen drivers who have been diagnosed with ADHD should be particularly mindful of their teen’s driving habits. Extra training and supervision can help parents ensure that their teen’s ADHD symptoms are not interfering with safe driving behaviors.

Medication also slashes the risk of crashes for teens diagnosed with ADHD by an average of 40% according to the JAMA study.

Aggressive Defense of Your Family’s Legal Rights

If you or your teen has been involved in an auto accident, it is important to seek advice from an experienced personal injury attorney as soon as possible. Schedule your free consultation with the Fite Law Group by calling (602) 368-1869, or sending an email to [email protected]. Our friendly staff, experienced attorneys, and thorough review of your case will ensure that you receive the full and fair compensation you deserve.

Be Safe on Your Motorcycle Trip!

Summer is the season of road trips. For motorcyclists, good weather means good opportunities to ride – especially outside of the Arizona heat! But increased traffic also increases your chances of being involved in a motorcycle accident. If you or a loved one is involved in a motorcycle accident, it is important to consult with an experienced motorcycle accident attorney who understands the unique needs of riders.

Summer is a dangerous time for motorcyclists in Arizona:

 What Can I Do to Stay Safe?

  • Always wear a helmet! Research consistently shows that helmets save lives, and that states with mandatory helmet laws consistently have fewer motorcycle fatalities that states without such laws. Wear a helmet, even when riding through states that do not require it.
  • Stay visible. Motorcycles are smaller than passenger vehicles, and this makes them more difficult to see – especially at night or in inclement weather. Use reflective clothing and proper signaling to help other drivers see you.
  • Don’t get distracted by technology. If your road trip is bringing you to an unfamiliar area, be sure to review your route ahead of time, so you aren’t distracted by navigation systems on the road. Motorcycle drivers must use greater physical control than drivers of cars or trucks. This makes smartphones and navigation systems even more dangerous to use for a motorcyclists.
  • Make sure you have the proper skills and experience before you hit the road. There is a reason one must obtain a separate motorcycle operator’s license. This is only the first step, however. Continue logging hours on a variety of roads. Continue taking courses and learning about your motorcycle.
  • Slow down! Speed is a factor in many motorcycle accidents. The best way to avoid a collision is to allow enough time to react to obstructions, traffic, and other road conditions.
  • Participating in organizations such as the Arizona Motorcycle Safety and Awareness Foundation can help you stay up to date on current motorcycle safety practices. Increasing public awareness is also important, both to increase safety practices in other riders, and to make other drivers aware of motorcycles on the road.

Contact Experienced Motorcycle Accident Attorneys

If you or a loved one has been involved in a motorcycle accident, it is important to seek advice from an experienced attorney who is familiar with motorcycle accident cases. Schedule your free consultation with the Fite Law Group by calling (602) 368-1869, or sending an email to [email protected]. Our attorneys have the experience and skill necessary to address the unique needs of motorcycle riders, and our staff offers the personalized attention necessary to get the compensation you deserve.

Recommended Arizona Car Insurance Coverage

Car insurance coverages vary in Arizona depending on how much you want to pay, but there are specific minimum coverages required. These can cover property damage, uninsured motorist coverage, medical payments coverage and more.

In the event of an accident, $5,000 is the amount advised for medical payments coverage. If you were to pay more, the money would be reimbursable to the insurance company. You must be insured for liability in Arizona in the amounts of at least $15,000 per person, or $30,000 per crash.

Liability insurance is required to show “financial responsibility” that can stem from an accident. Financial responsibility is proving you can pay if you are involved in an accident where you are at fault. All that is needed is proof of having car insurance in the state. Otherwise, the DMV says you can be forced to pay $250 or have your license suspended for up to three months the first time you fail to show proof.

The property damage minimum is $10,000 in Arizona for car coverage in an auto accident. However, as most cars are worth much more than ten thousand dollars today, we recommend having $25,000 to $50,000.

If you have important and more expensive assets, it is recommended to have more coverage. This way, you are adequately protected. It is possible to obtain high limits, even at $500,000, as well as what is known as an umbrella policy. The umbrella policy is a term for having more insurance, or additional liability, and can be cheaper to have than you think.

You also need to have uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage, which can cover medical expenses and lost money when you are involved in an accident with an uninsured driver or vehicle. Many people choose not to insure at a rate of up to 10.6% of drivers in Arizona as of 2012. The national average is higher at 12.6%, or about one out of every seven people. This average is steadily growing, so it is important to have your own insurance.

Ultimately, what kinds of coverage to have and the limits of that coverage are a personal decision based on your needs and the amount you can afford to pay for insurance.  Remember to shop around, check lots of different auto insurance companies and ask for rate quotes that include uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage to see if it is affordable for you.


Changes to the Rules of Lawsuits

2017 has brought about some of the most sweeping changes to the way Arizona civil lawsuits are handled since the Zlaket rules were introduced. Some of the most significant changes were an attempt to make the process quicker and more efficient to account for all the new technology available to lawyers today.

Time to Serve Summons

Some of the changes are likely to be unpopular, such as the shortened time to serve the Summons which is now 90 days rather than the previous 120. This puts additional pressure on attorneys and process servers to get Defendants served when those Defendants might be dodging service, may be out of town or may have moved multiple times since their last known address.  Since service by publication takes a full 30 day cycle and getting publication started take a bit longer, the window to attempt in person service will be somewhere in the neighborhood of 75 days.

Substitution of Counsel

The rules also require lawyers in the same firm to file a formal Substitution of Counsel with the court if one lawyer takes over the case from another.  In the past, law firms would regularly add and delete lawyer’s names from the pleadings when an associate attorney started working on the case or left the firm.  This change is likely to both make it easier for judges to figure out whom to yell at if something goes sideways and also to generate a bit of revenue for the court system.  It will affect larger firms much more than it will affect Fite Law Group, as we don’t have the same kind of turnover.


Another rule change designed to force lawyers to play nicely with one another is the new requirements to file a Motion for Sanctions.  Such motions must now be separate from other pleadings – no more Motions that also request sanctions at the end.  They must also include certification of a good faith consultation, essentially asserting that you talked to the other guy and told him what he was doing was wrong and tried to figure out a way to fix the situation before you filed the motion.  Finally, and this is an important one, you must serve written notice on the other lawyer indicating the specific conduct that will support your request for sanctions 10 business days before you file the motion.  This last step will likely trip up a lot of uninformed lawyers.  It will give the offending party time to decide whether it’s worth it to continue the bad action or if they think the lawyer who intends to file is off his rocker.  It also gives a two week “cooling down” period to ensure that the Motion for Sanctions isn’t just a hothead response to something he or she didn’t like.

Proportional Discovery

Very important to smaller personal injury cases (car and pedestrian accidents, slip and falls, etc. with under $50,000 in monetary damages) is the change to the discovery rules.  Under the previous rules, the parties could engage in all of the discovery mechanisms available to them under the rules in every case (depositions, sending written interrogatories and requests for admission and production, issuing subpoenas and conducting medical exams).  The new rule says that discovery must be “proportional to the needs of the case.”  This is not clearly defined and there will likely be a lot of litigation over what is proportional, but it may be some relief to the chiropractors and doctors that have been deposed for four hours over a matter that involved soft tissue injuries and minor amounts of treatment and received only a $12 check for their time.

Other Changes

Among the other changes are shortened amounts of time to respond to discovery requests (30 days rather than 40), the requirement to “promptly” provide a privilege log when documents are not being produced and now the insurance companies are required to produce a copy of any applicable insurance policy rather than just disclosing policy limits and a change to the form of subpoenas.

We lawyers have a lot of learning to do this year and the curve is steep.  If you have questions about your case and whether litigation is right for you, call Fite Law Group at (602) 368-1869.