Do I pursue with a claim on the "at fault driver's" insurance? How far should I take the claim if any?
was in an accident two days ago with my boyfriends truck. the other driver was cited failure to yield. i have a suspended license, and the vehicle i was driving had no ins, and no current registration. my son was also in the truck and his head hit the windshield and it has a open wound not deep, like a skid mark, but he wasnt wearing a seatbelt. he is having left arm, shoulder and back pain. i received a ticket for susp. license, presenting suspended lic, no registration, no ins. am i now the one liable for all these damages? what do i need to do now? they impounded my boyfriends truck for thirty days, can i get it sooner? what about the damage to the other vehicle, am i responsible?
Your question has many individual legal questions contained within it, so I will try to address each one:
The suspended lciense, no insurance, no registration, and presenting a suspended license are separate issues that you will have to deal with. However, they do not directly affect your rights on teh rest of the issues.
The truck was impounded due to the lack of a valid driver's license. The truck owner can apply to get the truck out in less than 30 days.
Your son has a right to make claims for the injuries he received. However, his failure to wear a seatlbelt will be raised by the other side to claim that this failure contributed to his injuries. Depending upon his age, you can expect either your son or you will be partially blamed by the adverse insurance company for the lack of wearing a belt. Whether that can be successfully used to reduce his rights to recover depends on whether they can prove the injuries that are caused by the lack of a seatbelt.
The law in Arizona regarding a driver’s license is as follows:
Mutz v. Lucero, 90 Ariz. 38 (Ariz. 1961), holds that failure to have a driver's license is irrelevant as to negligence. See Christy v. Baker, 7 Ariz.App. 354, 439 P.2d 517 (1968), Lufty v. Lockhart, 37 Ariz. 488, 295 P. 975 (1931), and Pratt v. Daly, 55 Ariz. 535, 104 P.2d 147 (1940). These cases indicate that there is no proximate cause between a lack of a driver’s license and a motor vehicle accident, and lack of license does not equate to negligence per se. Furthermore, the fact of citation or non-citation of a driver is inadmissible in an action for negligence. Ingrum v. Tucson Yellow Cab Co., 131 Ariz. 523, 527, 642 P.2d 868, 872 (App. 1981); Warren v. Hart, 71 Wash.2d 512, 429 P.2d 873 (1967); Billington v. Schaal, 42 Wash.2d 878, 259 P.2d 634 (1953); Cotton v. Pyle, 400 S.W.2d 72 (Mo. 1966).
The seat belt law in Arizona is as follows:
A.R.S. 28-909 (B) says:
The operator of a motor vehicle that is designed for carrying ten or fewer passengers, that is manufactured for the model year 1972 and thereafter and that is required to be equipped with an integrated lap and shoulder or a lap belt pursuant to the federal motor vehicle safety standards prescribed in 49 CFR §571.208 shall require each passenger under 16 years of age to either:
1. Have the lap and shoulder belt properly adjusted and fastened while the vehicle is in motion.
2. If only a lap belt is installed where the passenger is sitting, have the lap belt properly adjusted and fastened while the vehicle is in motion.
Your lack of a drivers license, registration or insurance is of no moment in determining whether or not you were negligent in causing this collision. Based on what you have said, the other party is responsible.
I suggest you take your child to a Dr. and have him examined and treated. You also should get treatment for any injuries you have sustained. I suggest you photograph any visible injuries as well as the damage to both vehicles.
I suggest that you contact a personal injury attorney in your area and see whether or not the attorney would undertake representation of your child or you or both of you. Do not give any statement to the adverse insurance carrier nor grant them access to your medical records or your child's medical records without first speaking to your attorney.
Do Not Delay in Seeking Counsel.
Mr. Lundeen is licensed to practice law in Florida and Vermont. The response herein is not legal advice and does not create an attorney/client relationship. The response is in the form of legal education and is intended to provide general information about the matter within the question. Oftentimes the question does not include significant and important facts and timelines that, if known, could significantly change the reply and make it unsuitable. Mr. Lundeen strongly advises the questioner to confer with an attorney in your state in order to insure proper advice is received.