Personal Injury Lawyer in Arizona – Free Guide
Download our free guide on how to win your claim with the help of a personal injury lawyer in Arizona.
The Truth About Personal Injury Lawsuits
Personal injury lawsuits are often the subject of scathing news reports about outlandish jury awards to undeserving plaintiffs.
What news stories often do not cover, however, are the huge amounts of damages a person suffered to deserve the large monetary award from a jury consisting of their fellow citizens.
The news stories also fail to mention the weeks, months and years it took for the victim to obtain the relief they deserve to return to their pre-accident livelihoods. For many, life will never be the same after an accident, especially one that had taken the life of a loved one.
There Is No “Everyday” Car Accident
Many people believe that personal injury lawyers go to work every day and work on the same cases, as if each case follows the same pattern and pays a set amount of money.
While the truth is each and every car accident case is very different — legally and factually — personal injury attorneys do follow the same court procedures under state and local laws.
For example, in a “standard” two car rear-end accident, there could be hundreds of possible fact patterns that lead to a very similar result. Questions that must be answered include the state of the roadway, traffic patterns, weather at the time of the accident, time of day the accident occurred, speed of the two cars involved as well as surrounding traffic, not to mention any potential mechanical failures by either or both of the cars.
There Is No “Standard” Damage Award
Some people believe that laws governing personal injury car accident cases also contain a magic formula to determine how much a case is “worth.”
The truth is no such formula exists.
If one did, it would be cited and used on a daily basis by insurance companies everywhere. Therefore, if one of their insured drivers is at fault for an accident, the insurer will typically calculate whether defending a lawsuit is “worth it” from a monetary standpoint.
Victims with lower level claims — those with minimal damages and no casualties – will often receive very timely settlement offers from the at-fault party’s insurance company because it makes sense to close the case as quickly as possible.
However, victims with cases involving serious injury or death often experience severe delays when trying to negotiate with the at-fault party’s insurance company.
This is certainly true of cases involving commercial truck accidents or drunk drivers. As heartless as it sounds, it may make more financial sense for the insurance company to pass the case on to their litigation department. The case may sit for a while as they conduct an internal investigation and analyze how much financial liability the company is facing.
Personal injury attorneys work to make sure insurance companies do not mistreated their clients and strive to obtain the best possible outcome in the least amount of time.
Calculating Damages In Personal Injury Cases
Before calculating damages, it is important to keep in mind there are two types of damages; compensatory and punitive. Compensatory damages intend to make you ‘whole’ after an accident by replacing the money you lost through medical bills or missing work. Punitive damages, on the other hand, are intended to ‘punish’ the other party for causing your injuries.
There are many factors that go into calculating damages. The following items are important keys to building the value of your case:
- Who is at fault
- Your medical treatments
- Your lost earnings
Who Was At Fault
A major factor in the amount of damages you receive is which party is at fault for the accident. The other driver could be 100% at fault, in which scenario you usually receive full compensation. In case you were 100% at fault, your insurer would compensate the other party for the accident and in turn, raise your rates.
In many cases, even if the accident was entirely the other driver’s fault, their insurer will try to assign a portion of fault to you. For example, if they assign 30% fault to you, they will pay you 30% less than the full value of the claim you are entitled to.
The first thing you should do in an accident is to get medical attention immediately. Do not hesitate to use EMT and/or ambulance services if quick hospitalization is necessary.
If you need ongoing treatment for a path to recovery, you want to find a good doctor — get a referral to a specialist from your family doctor if you need to. You can use health insurance or medical payments insurance (or both) to cover your treatments without waiting for a settlement.
To receive compensation for your medical treatment, it is very important to retain all copies of medical bills, documentation of treatments, and doctor’s notes. It is also essential to be responsible with your injuries and get treated as quickly as possible — without delay.
If you missed time from work as a result of the accident, you can get compensated for lost earnings.
Keep in mind there is a difference between “lost income” and “lost compensation”. Lost income refers to your base salary or hourly pay in relation to the time you were out of work. Lost compensation includes bonuses, vacation and sick time, and other company benefits above and beyond your base wages.
To receive compensation for lost earnings, you would need to bring bring supporting evidence and a letter from employer outlining your pay, benefits, and how much time you missed as a result of your accident. A doctor’s note saying you need time off work to recover from your injuries is also necessary to support your claim.
The Financial Aspect of Filing a Personal Injury Claim in Arizona
Many people who have been injured due to someone else’s negligence often don’t come forward to ask for help. There are several reasons, but most of them can be easily addressed.
Let’s be blunt: if someone else is responsible for your injury or the death of someone you care about, you may be entitled to financial compensation. There’s nothing wrong with that — but many people feel awkward about asking for it.
Frivolous Lawsuits vs. Genuine Lawsuits
A common concern we’ve heard from our clients is that they are afraid that they’ll look “greedy” — or as if they’re trying to “game the system” — if they bring a lawsuit against a person or a business.
That’s simply not the case.
Of course, if you contrive a fall in a Phoenix shopping plaza, or deliberately jump in front of a moving car, just so that you can file a lawsuit, you’ll probably be found out.
However, medical bills do pile up quickly — even if you have insurance. Missing work is no picnic, especially when you’ve used up all of your vacation and sick days. Most people simply can’t afford long hospital stays and time off work. We all have families to support, mortgages to pay, and other obligations to fulfill.
How Much Does it Cost to File a Personal Injury Lawsuit?
As with any professional relationship, it is important that you only work with someone you are comfortable with. To find someone you are comfortable with, you want to take advantage of free consultations offered by many personal injury attorneys.
More importantly, many personal injury lawyers won’t charge you a dime until you win your case — for two reasons.
One, you will not have to spend a lot of money on a case that may not go anywhere — especially when you’re already financially burdened.
Two, you can count on personal injury lawyers to be brutally honest about whether you’re likely to win your case based on their past experience and knowledge of the Phoenix and Chandler court systems.
Settling a Personal Injury Claim
Settling a personal injury claim involves an honest assessment of your injuries and damages, and how these impacted your life — physically, emotionally and financially. It also involves gathering documentation to support your claim and to receive fair compensation.
The good news is most cases get settled out of court — roughly 85% of them. But the bad news is if an agreement could not be reached, the case will likely go to court and litigation would last for months, if not years.
The key to settling a personal injury claim is to am yourself with knowledge and prepare for tough negotiations. See our detailed article on settlements.
Understanding the Questions Your Personal Injury Lawyer Needs to Ask
If you’re filing a personal injury lawsuit in Chandler or Phoenix, be ready for a lot of questions from your new attorney. Consider those questions as a primer. If your case goes to trial, you will be asked even more questions, and the person asking them may not be as friendly or sympathetic as your lawyer.
What Your Lawyer Needs to Know
Your attorney is going to ask you several tough questions, but she will have your best interests at heart. The more information she has, the better able she will be to build a solid strategy to get you the personal injury compensation you deserve.
Your lawyer will need to know all of the details about your accident. Be ready to provide her with a timeline for the day of your accident when you call for your free initial consultation. After hearing your story, she’ll probably ask general questions, including:
1. Is there any way you may have been at fault?
If your lawyer asks this, don’t feel like she’s shifting the blame to you. She just needs to know what type of argument the other party may try to construct.
2. Who saw the accident happen?
There may be witnesses available who can strengthen your case. If there are, your attorney may need to ask them for help.
3. Who is to blame for the accident?
Whether you’ve been in a car accident or a slip-and-fall accident, your lawyer will need to know who’s responsible before she can take any action on your behalf.
4. Were you committing a crime? Did the person who injured you commit a crime at the time of the accident?
Sometimes crimes such as trespassing can affect your ability to collect damages to pay for your medical bills. Likewise, someone who was convicted of drunk driving and caused your injuries may eventually be ordered to pay both compensatory and punitive damages.
The Bottom Line
Make sure you volunteer every detail when you’re talking to your personal injury lawyer. Remember, she’s on your side. Her job is to get you the compensation you deserve, whether to help you pay for your hospital bills or to make up for lost wages.
How to Choose the Right Personal Injury Lawyer in Arizona
If you’re looking for a Phoenix personal injury lawyer, it is important you research thoroughly before choosing representation.
It is not necessarily that one attorney is “better” or more educated than another. You simply need to work with someone who will treat you and your case with the proper level of respect, with complete commitment to your success.
Questions to Ask Your Personal Injury Lawyer
In your search for the right personal injury lawyer, you’ll need to ask several questions including:
1. Do you provide a free initial consultation?
A lawyer who will charge you for an initial consultation might not be the right choice. The purpose of a consultation is to help both of you determine whether you’re a good fit for each other. One who charges an initial fee just for meeting and learning about your case may only be interested in money as opposed to helping you through a difficult time.
2. How do you get paid?
Most people who have been injured tend to work with attorneys who get paid on a contingency basis. This means that the lawyer won’t make a dime unless you win your case. That’s good for two reasons:
First, your lawyer will be financially motivated to help you win.
Second, the attorney will probably decline to take your case unless she feels there is a good chance that you will win.
3. How much experience do you have in dealing with cases like mine?
Whether you’re suffering from a traumatic brain injury or you’re looking for compensation because of a defective medical device, you probably want to work with an attorney who has represented people in situations similar to yours. That’s not to say that another lawyer can’t represent you successfully. However, it is nice to have someone who has experience in the same type of case.
Ideally, you will work with a personal injury lawyer who “gets” you — who can connect with you on a personal level and won’t treat your case as just another file.
We Will Answer Your Questions
During your initial consultation, it’s okay to ask as many questions as you want. That’s what your lawyer is there for.
At Thompson Law Firm, we actually welcome your questions. With our offices in Chandler and Phoenix, Arizona, our attorneys understand the nuances of car accident cases and when it is best to negotiate versus filing a lawsuit to recover damages.
Connect with us at (480) 634-7480 or email Christy Thompson at email@example.com. Our initial consultations are 100% free.