FAQ

PERSONAL INJURY CASE FAQ

The moment you become involved in a roadway accident in the state of Arizona, you should establish a sense of the severity of the situation. In doing so, you will have a clearer idea of what to expect when submitting your insurance claim at a later date.

STAY AT THE SCENE OF YOUR ACCIDENT

If you leave the scene of an auto accident anywhere in Arizona you may be criminally prosecuted. You should be prepared to call paramedics and be ready to describe the nature and location of the incident with some degree of accuracy.

You’ll need to take every precaution to avoid creating any additional auto accidents by ensuring your vehicle is not obstructing traffic (if possible). Additionally, you should exchange all pertinent information with the other affected party.

REPORT THE INCIDENT TO THE PROPER AUTHORITIES

While there is no state law in Arizona that requires drivers to report an accident that only caused damage to vehicles, any incidents that result in either injury or death must be reported.

If a person was seriously injured a driver may find themselves in the middle of an insurance claim investigation and may face legal action. If this turns out to be the case, you should consult a qualified accident injury lawyer as soon as possible.

DOCUMENT THE ACCIDENT AS BEST YOU CAN

Where possible, take photographs of the accident and any notes you believe will be relevant in helping your insurance company make sense of the situation, and to strengthen your claim. This will ensure that your insurance company has all the information it requires to process your claim and can expedite its progression.

Regardless of who was at fault, documenting the accident, your vehicle and any sustained injuries will help to preserve the facts in case you need to recall them in the near future.

NOTIFY YOUR AUTO INSURANCE COMPANY

The sooner your insurance provider can finalize what needs to be done on their end, the better. If you do not provide your carrier with timely notice of your accident (within one or two days ideally), they may deny you coverage.

Thus, submitting your insurance claim as soon as possible serves to protect your opportunity to file a lawsuit if negotiations with your provider stall or break down.

CONSULT AN AUTO ACCIDENT ATTORNEY

Many people find that retaining counsel in such circumstances is worth having and if you are injured as a result of the accident, doing so may help you to better understand your options for legal recourse.

When you feel up to discussing the details of your case, call or contact us today for your free initial consultation and let us help you to move forwards towards a positive future.

“…every man who is his own lawyer has a fool for a client.”
The Flowers of Wit or a Choice Collection of Bon Mots (1814)

“It is one of the American privileges to make a fool of yourself, and it is guaranteed by the Constitution, and I do not see anything wrong with it.”

A Century of Legal Ethics

You won’t necessarily make a fool of yourself if you handle your own personal injury claim, but you won’t necessarily get the best results either.

The vast majority of personal injury cases don’t go to trial. The parties (one of which is usually an insurance company) negotiate a settlement. You may consider yourself an expert negotiator in your business life, but that doesn’t mean you can effectively negotiate a personal injury settlement against an insurance company’s representative.

NEGOTIATING A SETTLEMENT

A settlement negotiation involves a balancing of risk and reward. The insurance company will try to minimize the amount it has to pay out, while at the same time avoiding costly litigation that could result in a much larger payout.

The victim of a personal injury will try to maximize his or her damages while avoiding the risk of getting less at trial. The victim would also prefer to have the money sooner rather than later, especially if he or she is unable to work due to the accident and doesn’t have disability insurance.

Since the best alternative to a negotiated agreement (BATNA) is the same for both sides – going to trial – both sides need to be aware of what’s likely to happen if they do go to trial.

Obviously, an insurance company is going to be very up-to-date on the latest trial results. Its adjusters will know what local juries have awarded in similar cases.

When figuring out what settlement offer to make you, an adjuster will start by adding up your damages for medical care and related expenses (for things like medications, crutches, ambulance transportation, etc.). These expenses are called “medical special damages.”

Then the adjuster will multiply these medical damages by a factor from 1.5 to ten to calculate the amount for your pain and suffering and other non-monetary damages. The higher multipliers are for injuries that are especially painful, serious, or long-lasting.

The adjuster will then add up:

your medical special damages,
your non-monetary damages, and
your lost income (past and future)
to come up with a total.

But then that total is further adjusted by the percentage of fault. If you and another driver were equally at fault, for example, the total would be reduced by 50%.

That sounds simple, but there’s a lot of room for disagreement and negotiation:

Is your pain and suffering at the 3x level or the 7x level?
How long will it take you to recover?
Will you ever be able to do the same kind of work again?
If the accident makes you unable to work, would your future income have increased by 3% per year or a lot more? (For example, before the accident did you expect to receive valuable stock options or a major promotion?)
Was the at-fault driver so reckless (driving drunk, for example) that a jury would award punitive damages in addition to compensatory damages? An experienced personal injury lawyer will also know about recent jury verdicts and about factors that lead settlements to be higher or lower. You could collect this kind of information yourself, but it would take a very, very long time. Is this really how you want to spend your days when you’re recovering from your injuries and trying to get on with your life?
EXPERIENCED LAWYERS HAVE USEFUL “DATABASES” OF KNOWLEDGE

An experienced personal injury lawyer will also know about recent jury verdicts and about factors that lead settlements to be higher or lower. You could collect this kind of information yourself, but it would take a very, very long time. Is this really how you want to spend your days when you’re recovering from your injuries and trying to get on with your life?

If you’re unable to negotiate a settlement you can live with and the case does go to trial, that’s an even better reason to hire a lawyer to represent you.

Although judges are usually patient with “pro per” plaintiffs, that patience only goes so far. People who represent themselves will have to take the time to educate themselves about forms, fees, deadlines, rules of court, rules of evidence, and the law. Making a seemingly “minor” mistake can get a case thrown out of court – permanently.

Most personal injury lawyers work on a contingency basis: they receive a percentage of the amount that the client receives either from a settlement or a court verdict. Since a skilled personal injury lawyer can often negotiate a higher settlement, or get a better result at trial, than a non-lawyer client can, often the net compensation to the client is higher, even after the lawyer’s fee is deducted.

At the Thompson Law Firm, we have more than 10 years of experience helping clients obtain compensation for their personal injuries. We take care of the details so clients can get on with their lives.

We work on a contingency basis: we don’t get paid unless and until you get paid.

To give you an idea about the compensation a client might receive in a personal injury case, please review our success stories.

When you’re ready to talk, please contact us to arrange a free initial consultation by phone or at our downtown Chandler office.

When you’ve been in an accident, you’d normally go to your regular doctor to seek medical care for your injuries. But what if you’re new in town and don’t yet have a regular doctor? What if you’re healthy and haven’t been to a doctor in years? What if your regular doctor is a general practitioner and you need a specialist, such as an orthopedist?

How do you go about finding the right doctor after an accident?

ASK FOR REFERRALS

If you already have a primary care doctor and you need a specialist, then you could start by asking your regular doctor for a referral. Your regular doctor will already be familiar with your general medical history and will probably have a good idea about who the best specialists in the area are.

If you don’t already have a primary care doctor, then you can ask around for recommendations. Ask friends, relatives, colleagues, etc. which doctors have good reputations for treating injuries of the type you suffered.

If you’re in the hospital following your accident, you can ask the doctors and nurses on staff for their recommendations about a doctor you could see for continuing care once you’re discharged.

ONLINE RESOURCES FOR FINDING A DOCTOR

If asking around doesn’t help, then you can turn to Google (or Bing or Yahoo, if you prefer).

You can also try ZocDoc.com, which lets you search for a doctor by location, reason for visit, language, and the doctor’s gender. ZocDoc shows patient ratings and even lets you know when each doctor has openings for appointments.

If you search for doctors in Chandler on Yelp.com, you can also add other cities like Mesa, Phoenix, and Gilbert. You can search by driving, biking, or walking distance of your home or office. And you can select categories like family practice and internal medical. Yelp also includes patient feedback and ratings.

You can also consult an experienced Chandler personal injury attorney and ask for a recommendation. Local PI attorneys deal with doctors all the time, and hear from clients whether they’re good or bad.

Even if your accident wasn’t serious and you feel fine afterwards, or if you think your injuries are minor and will heal on their own, it’s a very good idea to see a doctor as soon as possible after your accident – within 72 hours if possible.

For one thing, you may be more seriously injured than your realize. Some injuries aren’t apparent until days or even weeks after an accident. Prompt medical care can prevent your condition from becoming worse, and can help you heal faster.

Also, failing to seek medical care may reduce the amount of compensation you could receive if you sue for damages or make a claim against another party’s insurance carrier. An insurance company may question the seriousness of your accident, and your credibility in general, if you failed to see a doctor after the accident.

At the Thompson Law Firm, we’d be happy to refer you to a local doctor if you retain us to handle your claim.

We work on a contingency basis: we don’t get paid unless and until you get paid.

To give you an idea about the compensation a client might receive in a personal injury case, please review our success stories.

When you’re ready to talk, please contact us to arrange a free initial consultation by phone or at our downtown Chandler office.

When you’ve been injured and it’s someone else’s fault, how do you pick the right attorney to take your case?

First of all, you want someone who’s handled a lot of personal injury cases. You don’t want someone just starting out as a lawyer, who’s going to learn on your time and your dime.

You probably don’t want a generalist who handles everything from bankruptcy to drunk driving defense.

You want an attorney with good judgment. Usually, judgment comes with experience – the more times you’ve negotiated with a particular insurance company, the more you know when you’re getting a low-ball offer.

You want a lawyer who’s handled personal injury cases that are similar to yours. A slip-and-fall accident and a defective medical device can both produce personal injuries, but each type of case has its own unique issues.

If you’re a busy professional, like many Chandler residents, you want a minimum of hassle. You want someone who’s going to fill out the forms, collect the reports, make the calls – and wait on hold – so that you can focus on getting better and getting on with your life.

If you’re smart and highly educated, also like many Chandler residents, you want your attorney to give you detailed information. You’ve probably already done a lot of research about your injury, the law, and potential legal outcomes, but you’ve got a long list of questions Google can’t answer.

You want a lawyer who inspires confidence. You want to know that your lawyer is prepared and on top of your case.

You want someone who’s easy to reach via phone or email. Of course you want someone who will promptly return your calls and answer your emails.

You want to be kept informed about the progress of your case.

Although support staff can answer some of your questions, when you need to talk to a lawyer you want to talk to a lawyer.

You want someone who’s tough enough to negotiate with an insurance company, and personable enough to sway a jury.

You want personal service – the kind you’d get from a concierge at a five-star hotel.

So how can you tell if a lawyer offers the combination of knowledge, experience, professionalism, and service you’re looking for?

Ask around. Ask your friends and colleagues for recommendations (and horror stories).

See if the lawyer you’re considering lists success stories on his or her website. How many of these cases are similar to your own? If you don’t see a similar case listed, ask the attorney if he or she has handled a case like yours.

Arrange an initial consultation, before you actually hire a lawyer. Many lawyers offer this for free. Although your attorney doesn’t need to be your best friend (forever), he or she should feel comfortable to talk to.

If you have been in an accident, contact Thompson Law Firm in Chandler, AZ to speak with an experienced personal injury attorney.

We provide personal injury legal services to clients in the greater Phoenix area including: Chandler, Gilbert, Mesa, Scottsdale, Tempe, Maricopa, Globe, and Queen Creek.

If your personal injury is minor, and you’re physically up to it, you may decide to handle your own personal injury claim.

(However, if you have serious or disabling injuries, or if your injuries were caused by something like medical malpractice, exposure to toxic substances, or defective and complex machinery, then you may find that you need the services of an experienced personal injury attorney.)

In most personal injury cases, such as cases involving auto accidents, pedestrian accidents, bicycle accidents, and slip-and-fall accidents, the responsible party is covered by insurance. Thus, you’ll probably be communicating and negotiating with an insurance adjuster.

GUIDELINES FOR “DO-IT-YOURSELF” PERSONAL INJURY CLAIMS

Before you talk with the other party’s insurance adjuster, read our guidelines. It’s better to keep most of your communications in writing, so you don’t say something without thinking that could damage your case. Of course, you should also be extremely careful about what you put in writing.

The amount of compensation you’re entitled to is based on things like the amount of your medical expenses and lost wages.

When determining an initial settlement offer to make you, an insurance adjuster will add up your damages for medical care and related expenses then multiply these medical damages by a factor from 1.5 to ten to calculate the amount for your pain and suffering and other non-monetary damages. The higher multipliers are for injuries that are especially painful, disabling, serious, or long-lasting.

The adjuster will then add up your medical damages, your non-monetary damages, and your lost income (past and future).

Then the adjuster will reduce the total if you were partly at fault for the accident. For example, if an accident was 20% your fault, then the total settlement offer would be reduced by 20%.

To get the maximum possible compensation, you will need documents and witnesses to establish things like the extent of your injuries, your costs, your lost income, and who was at fault for the accident.

ACCIDENT REPORTS AND EVIDENCE FOR PERSONAL INJURY CLAIMS

You’ll need to collect medical records and copies of bills from your doctors, your hospital, and any other medical professionals or institutions that treated you. This can be a considerable hassle, especially if you have multiple providers. Some providers will require you to fill out special forms. Most will charge you for copies of your records.

You’ll need to get an accident report from the police, if that’s relevant in your case. You can learn more on the website for the Arizona Department of Public Safety. The Department of Public Safety has records for accidents that were investigated by Highway Patrol Officers and that occurred on state highways. If your accident happened on a city or county road, you’ll need to contact the local law enforcement agency that investigated the accident.

You can also get photographs of the accident scene, if any were taken by the police.

DPS accident reports may take as long as two weeks to be available, so wait until then to call 602-223-2230 or 2236.

When you’ve collected all your documentation and are ready to present your claim, you’ll need to write a demand letter stating the basis for your claim and what you expect as compensation.

If, after you present your claim and all of your supporting documentation, the insurance company refuses to pay, or agrees to pay only a token amount that won’t fully compensate you for your injuries and costs, then you’ll probably need to retain an attorney in order to change their minds – and to bring a lawsuit, if needed.

At the Thompson Law Firm, many of our clients are busy professionals. We take care of the details and the paperwork so our clients can focus on getting better and getting on with their lives.

If you have been in an accident, contact Thompson Law Firm in Chandler, AZ to speak with an experienced personal injury attorney

We provide personal injury legal services to clients in the greater Phoenix area including: Chandler, Gilbert, Mesa, Scottsdale, Tempe, Maricopa, Globe, and Queen Creek.

No lawyer can tell you exactly how much your personal injury case is “worth.” There is no precise formula.

However, an experienced personal injury attorney can give you an estimate of the range of compensation you can expect.

Most personal injury cases settle out of court, and most defendants are covered by insurance. Thus, most compensation is paid to personal injury victims on the basis of a settlement negotiated with an insurance company.

In a settlement negotiation, the parties balance risk and reward. One risk is that the parties won’t settle and the case will go to trial. Going to trial means that it could take months or even years for the victim to receive compensation, and the victim will have to deal with depositions (answering questions from the defendant’s attorney), medical examinations, and testifying at trial.

If a case does go to trial, a risk for the victim is that the jury will award an amount lower than the defendant (or the insurance company) would have agreed to. A jury might even find that the victim was entirely responsible for his or her own injuries, and thus award zero damages.

EXPENSES ASSOCIATED WITH A PERSONAL INJURY

Whether compensation is based on a negotiated settlement or a jury award, the calculation starts with your actual expenses associated with your injury:

Medical costs (hospital and doctor bills, medications, home health care, physical and emotional therapy, ambulance bills and other transportation expenses, etc.)
Lost income
Property loss or damage (including for vehicles and clothing)
If you haven’t fully recovered at the time of a settlement or jury award, then compensation will also be based on your future medical costs and lost income.

CALCULATING LOST INCOME IN A PERSONAL INJURY CASE

Computing lost future income can be tricky. It depends on things like:

The extent of your injuries and your prospects for a full recovery
If you are unlikely to recover fully, your capabilities and limitations (from an employment standpoint)
Whether assistive devices can help you do your work; for example, can you use voice recognition software and a headset rather than a keyboard?
A comparison of the income you could have expected to receive if you had not been injured versus the compensation you could expect for the type of work you are able to do given your injuries
Promotions, bonuses, stock, options, and other benefits and increases in compensation you could have expected over your working life
INTANGIBLE AND PUNITIVE DAMAGES IN A PERSONAL INJURY CASE

Compensation is also based on less tangible and concrete damages, past and future, including:

Pain and suffering (during the accident and afterward)
Emotional distress (including fear, anxiety, and loss of sleep)
Loss of enjoyment of normal life activities such as walking and engaging in recreation
Loss of consortium (damage to family relationships, sue to factors such as the inability to engage in sexual relations)
If a defendant’s behavior or neglect in causing the accident is considered particularly outrageous, a plaintiff may be awarded “punitive” damages to punish the defendant and deter similar conduct in future.

COMPARATIVE NEGLIGENCE AND MITIGATION

Comparative negligence is another factor that affects the amount of damages. Arizona law follows the doctrine of “pure” comparative negligence. This means that a victim can seek compensation for 10% of his or her injuries even if he or she was 90% responsible for the accident that caused them.

Also, an injured person is expected to mitigate his or her damages by seeking medical care and following medical advice. Failing to do so, if this increased the extent of a victim’s injuries, can reduce a victim’s compensation under the doctrine of comparative negligence.

If you have been in an accident, contact Thompson Law Firm in Chandler, AZ to speak with an experienced personal injury attorney.

We provide personal injury legal services to clients in the greater Phoenix area including: Chandler, Gilbert, Mesa, Scottsdale, Tempe, Maricopa, Globe, and Queen Creek.

If you’ve been involved in an accident that was investigated by the police, you’ll need a police report in order to pursue your claim against the responsible party or parties.

The Arizona Department of Public Safety (DPS) maintains records of accidents that occurred on a state highway.

DPS officers have up to 14 days to complete and submit their reports to the Department Records Sections. Thus, people who were involved in accidents are asked to wait two weeks to check on whether a report is available. The number to call is 602-223-2230 or 2236.

HOW TO GET A POLICE REPORT

DPS accident reports may be requested using this form, and the form should be sent to the address here. Copies of accident reports by mail must be accompanied by a self-addressed stamped envelope and the appropriate fee. The fee is $9 for the first nine pages and $1 for each additional page; thus, you’ll need to call first to find out how many pages are in your report. Photographic contact sheets are $10 and individual photos (either 8×10 or 4×6) are $4 each. CDs are $35 each, if available.

Note that no cash or personal checks are accepted by mail. Only business checks, cashier’s checks, or money orders may be sent. Checks and money orders should be made out to Arizona Department of Public Safety.

Police reports may also be requested in person at the DPS office at 2102 West Encanto Boulevard, Phoenix. The office is open from 8 to 5 Monday through Friday and closed on state holidays. Cash, business checks, and money orders (but not credit or debit cards) are accepted for in-person requests.

If an accident occurred on a city or county road, the law enforcement agency that investigated the accident will have the report.

In Chandler, you can request a police report using this form. The cost is $5 plus 15 cents per page for each page over 35. However, there is no charge for people listed as victims. Payment may be made by cash, check, or money order. The normal processing time is 7 to 10 business days.

You can also see a Chandler accident report online at this site. You’ll need to know the date of the accident AND the report number in order to view the report.

HOW TO READ A POLICE REPORT

Here are some things to look for when you’re reading a police report:

Start by reading the narrative section of the report. This will tell the “story” of the accident in chronological order, and will include statements made by witnesses. The narrative will give you an overview of the accident (as seen by the police) and help you understand other parts of the report.
At the end of the narrative the officer’s name, badge number, and department should be listed, along with the date of the report. If you believe that the report contains errors, start by contacting the officer who wrote the report to request corrections.
At the end of the report there may be an addendum, which is a continuation of the narrative. This is where the police add information discovered after the original narrative section was completed.
The cover page of the report will include the names, addresses, phone numbers, and dates of birth of the parties involved in the accident. The cover page will also include the date, time, and location of the accident. Insurance information should also be listed here.
The section after the cover page will list details about the accident like points of impact,tire impressions, and estimated speeds of the vehicle(s) involved.
Although you can get a police report yourself, your personal injury attorney can do this for you. Your attorney can also request corrections to any errors in the report.

At the Thompson Law Firm, we have more than ten years of experience helping clients in Chandler with their personal injury claims.

We work on a contingency basis: we don’t get paid unless and until you get paid.

To give you an idea about the compensation a client might receive in a personal injury case, please review our success stories. We also invite you to read testimonials from our clients.

When you’re ready to talk, please contact us to arrange a free initial consultation by phone or at our downtown Chandler office.

Liability insurance is designed to protect the insured person or business entity from the risks of liabilities imposed by lawsuits. In general, liability insurance payments are made not to the insured party but to a third party who was injured by some act or omission of the insured party.

When a claim is made against the insured party, the insurance company has a duty to defend the insured party, assuming the claim is of a type covered by the insurance. For example, most insurance policies don’t cover deliberate acts such as assaults.

MOTOR VEHICLE ACCIDENTS

Arizona Law re quires drivers to carry car insurance with at least the following policy limits:

$15,000 per person for bodily injury liability
$30,000 per accident
$10,000 for property damage
Many people in Chandler carry significantly more than the minimum amount of insurance in order to protect their assets in the event of an accident.

BODILY INJURY LIABILITY

Bodily injury liability insurance is designed to pay for the third-party victim’s medical and other expenses in the event of an accident. It will not cover the insured driver’s own injuries, but it will usually cover injuries to passengers in the insured driver’s car (even if these are family members).

PROPERTY DAMAGE LIABILITY

Property damage insurance pays for damage the insured driver causes to the vehicle or other property of another person. For example, property damage insurance would pay for damage to a bicycle the insured driver ran into and damaged, to a fence that the driver knocked over, etc.

Property damage liability insurance doesn’t cover damage to the insured driver’s own car, even if the other driver doesn’t have insurance.

TYPICAL COVERAGE OF CAR LIABILITY INSURANCE IN ARIZONA

Anyone who drives your car with your permission (unless expressly excluded by your policy) is covered by your liability insurance. Covered drivers could include teenagers with learner’s permits (as long as a responsible adult is in the car while they’re driving), houseguests, friends, and others.

If you buy a new vehicle while your insurance is in effect, the new vehicle will normally be covered under the same policy that covered the vehicle it replaced. You will generally need to notify your insurance company about the new vehicle within 30 days of purchase. Most insurance policies will also extend coverage to an additional vehicle.

If you use your personal vehicle for business purposes (for example, to make deliveries or to take clients on tours of homes for sale), you may or may not be covered by your regular liability insurance. It’s a very good idea to ask your insurance agent about this.

If your regular policy doesn’t cover business uses of your vehicle, you can try to obtain a commercial vehicle policy. However, using your vehicle for a car pool (on a share-the-expenses basis) doesn’t generally require you to obtain business vehicle insurance.

Note that if you plan to drive your vehicle into Mexico Mexican law requires you to purchase separate liability coverage from a Mexican insurer. Failure to obtain this insurance can lead to jail time or heavy fines if you’re involved in an accident in Mexico. Your local Arizona policy may also provide you with some coverage within a limited distance (20-25 miles) of the US-Mexican border.

ACCIDENTS ON BUSINESS PREMISES

Most business owners in Chandler carry liability insurance.

Accidents on business premises can include slips and falls, parking lot collisions, and any other accidents caused by employee negligence or unsafe conditions.

Most premises cases settle out of court. When they go to trial, the median jury award nationwide was $98,000 in 2005, according to the US Department of Justice.

If you’ve been injured in an accident in the Chandler area, the Thompson Law Firm can help you seek compensation for your injuries. In the likely event that the other party had liability insurance, we can handle the paperwork for your claim and try to negotiate a settlement with the insurance carrier.

We work on a contingency basis – we don’t get paid unless you get paid.

We invite you to read our success stories and testimonials.

When you’re ready to talk, please contact our office to arrange a free initial consultation.

50 plus Answers for Victims of Car Accidents

Here are 50+ questions and answers to help you deal with the aftermath of a car accident, including ones involving drunk driving.

TALKING TO THE AT FAULT DRIVER’S INSURANCE: When, Why — and When to Hang Up.

Not if you can avoid it.

No good can come of your talking to the at-fault driver’s insurance company. You don’t make a claim in a phone conversation, so this won’t help you get compensation. Remember, you were the victim in this car accident, not the other driver.

A claims adjuster for the other party in this car accident may try to get you to do or say something that could hurt your claim. That’s why it’s best to say as little as possible.

If the other party’s claims adjuster calls you, all you need to share is your name and address. You can also tell them your lawyer’s name and contact information, if you’ve retained a lawyer.

You shouldn’t discuss the details of the car accident or your injury. Just tell the adjuster that you may (or will) be making a claim at the appropriate time.

If the claims adjuster asks to record the call, say no.

If the claims adjuster gets pushy, feel free to hang up.

If you want to find out whether the other insurance company has accepted 100% liability for the accident, you can ask the claims processor for your own insurance company.

If the other insurance company hasn’t accepted liability, you can ask them why not via email or fax. Again, it’s best not to get involved in any kind of a phone call.

To learn more about this issue, click here.

They’re trying to get you to say something that would show you were partly or entirely responsible for the accident.

They probably won’t ask you to admit fault straight out. But they’ll probe for any inconsistencies between what you say happened, what their driver says happened, and what the police say happened.

If the case goes to a jury (which is unlikely but possible), the other side’s attorney can use these inconsistencies to cast doubt on whether the insurance company’s client was really 100% at fault for the car accident.

That’s why you shouldn’t talk to them about the car accident, and you certainly shouldn’t allow them to record a call with you.

To learn about comparative negligence, click here.

If your car accident was investigated by the police, you’ll need a copy of the police report to pursue your claim against the responsible party and his/her insurance company.

The Arizona Department of Public Safety (DPS) maintains records of accidents that occurred on state highways.
DPS officers have up to 14 days to complete and submit their reports to the Department Records Sections. Thus, people who were involved in accidents are asked to wait two weeks to check on whether a report is available. The number to call is 602-223-2230 or 2236.
DPS accident reports may be requested using this form, and the form should be sent to the address here. Copies of accident reports by mail must be accompanied by a self-addressed stamped envelope and the appropriate fee. The fee is $9 for the first nine pages and $1 for each additional page; thus, you’ll need to call first to find out how many pages are in your report. Photographic contact sheets are $10 and individual photos (either 8×10 or 4×6) are $4 each. CDs are $35 each, if available.
Note that no cash or personal checks are accepted by mail. Only business checks, cashier’s checks, or money orders may be sent. Checks and money orders should be made out to Arizona Department of Public Safety.
Police reports may also be requested in person at the DPS office at 2102 West Encanto Boulevard, Phoenix. The office is open from 8 to 5 Monday through Friday and closed on state holidays. Cash, business checks, and money orders (but not credit or debit cards) are accepted for in-person requests.
If an accident occurred on a city or county road, the law enforcement agency that investigated the accident will have the report.
In Chandler, you can request a police report using this form. The cost is $5 plus 15 cents per page for each page over 35. However, there is no charge for people listed as victims. Payment may be made by cash, check, or money order. The normal processing time is 7 to 10 business days.
You can also see a Chandler accident report online at this site. You’ll need to know the date of the accident AND the report number in order to view the report.

Here are some things to look for when you’re reading a police report:
• Start by reading the narrative section of the report. This will tell the “story” of the accident in chronological order, and will include statements made by witnesses. The narrative will give you an overview of the accident (as seen by the police) and help you understand other parts of the report.

• At the end of the narrative the officer’s name, badge number, and department should be listed, along with the date of the report. If you believe that the report contains errors, start by contacting the officer who wrote the report to request corrections.

• At the end of the report there may be an addendum, which is a continuation of the narrative. This is where the police add information discovered after the original narrative section was completed.

• The cover page of the report will include the names, addresses, phone numbers, and dates of birth of the parties involved in the accident. The cover page will also include the date, time, and location of the car accident. Insurance information should also be listed here.

• The section after the cover page will list details about the car accident like points of impact and tire impressions, and estimated speeds of the vehicle(s) involved.
Although you can get a police report yourself, your personal injury attorney can do this for you. Your attorney can also request corrections to any errors in the report.

Yes you can and you can request it from your own insurance company.

They’re admitting their driver caused the accident and they now need to pay you for the property and bodily injury their insured caused.

Absolutely. A verbal acknowledgement will not cut it.

You can ask for this in a short, simple fax or email. For example, you could write:

Does [name of insurance company] accept liability for the accident involving [name of insured driver] on [date]?

(You would fill in the information in brackets above when you send your email or fax.)

You should communicate in writing, by fax or email. However, don’t get involved in a discussion or share your own information via fax or email.

Or you can hire an attorney, like me, or use your own insurance company’s representative, if they are willing to help you.

Once they admit their driver is 100% at fault, you can start talking. Otherwise, all the conversations will lead to their attempts at having you accepting some portion of fault. You don’t want that to happen.

However, you still need to be careful not to say anything that would reduce the amount of your valid claim.

For example, when someone asks you “How are you today?” your instinct may be to say “fine” – even if you don’t feel fine at all.

That’s one reason it can be helpful to have an attorney handle your claim – to prevent you from saying anything that could hurt your case.

Yes you should — not because you’re at fault but because that’s what you purchased it for.

Because you aren’t at fault, your premiums won’t increase if you make a claim.

Your own insurance company will pay to repair your vehicle and will then submit the bill to the at fault driver’s insurance.

Passengers injured in an accident will usually have a claim against one or more of the involved drivers or other parties.

For example, A passenger may have claims against multiple parties, including:
• The driver of the car he or she was riding in
• The driver of the other car(s) involved in the accident
• The manufacturer of the car (or car component) that caused the accident or increased the extent of the passenger’s injuries (if the car or component was defective)
• The public or private entity that created a hazardous road condition
• In a drunk driving case, the bar or restaurant that served an inebriated driver
To learn more about passengers’ rights, click here.

You should keep track of things like:

• Your medical expenses
• Your medical records
• Dates of medical exams and treatments
• Time missed from work (including the dates)
• Repair costs for your car
• Rental car costs (if this isn’t covered by your own insurance)
• Costs to replace any personal items that were damaged in the accident (save your receipts)
• Any other cost or damage related to the accident

The Criminal Justice System – How to Navigate it.

You can find out whether someone got a ticket by checking the police report on the car accident.

If the at-fault driver is accused of committing a crime – such as driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol – normally that person will be prosecuted.

In some cases, a driver who breaks the law will be offered a plea bargain – a reduced sentence in exchange for pleading guilty and avoiding a trial.

The other driver’s lawyer may also be able to get the case thrown out before trial, for a variety of reasons.

To learn more about DUI penalties in Arizona, please click here.

If you were the victim of a DUI accident, you may be called to testify in the criminal trial of the person who hit you. You can learn how to prepare to testify, and what to expect here.

What Can Be Done About My Car After an Accident?

If your car has been towed, you should have received the tow yard information from the police officer at the scene. Contact the tow company immediately and advise them of the at-fault driver’s insurance information.

Find out from the towing company what the fees owed are so far and what the daily cost is.

Until and unless the at-fault driver accepts 100% liability for the accident, towing and storage costs are your responsibility. Thus, you may want to consider having the car taken to a cheaper location. Note, however, that you will also need to pay for it to be taken somewhere else.

You can get your car repaired anywhere you want.

It’s a good idea to choose a reputable auto body shop that uses factory parts, not after-market parts.

If you need a list of good repair shops, contact us.

The at-fault driver’s insurance should pay for your repairs once they’ve assessed your vehicle.

They can either come to you or you can drive the vehicle to them (assuming you can drive it at all).

If you take your car to them, they’ll assess it sooner.

Also, consider making a claim against your own insurance if the at-fault driver’s carrier proves to be difficult or drags its feet. Your premiums can’t be raised if an accident wasn’t your fault.

You’re entitled to recover the difference between the value of your vehicle before the accident and the vehicle after it has been repaired as a result of the accident. This is called “diminished value.”

You’ll need an appraiser to determine this amount. The cost of the appraisal is small in comparison to the value that you’ve lost.

Contact us to ask us who we use.

To learn more about your car’s value after an accident, please click here.

Contact your leasing company. They’ll advise you how to proceed.

You’re entitled to the use of a rental car until you can repair or replace your own car.

The at-fault driver’s insurance may offer you a rental or your own insurance coverage can provide it. Sometimes it’s quicker and easier to use your own insurance rather than dealing with the at-fault driver’s coverage. Your own carrier will have the other carrier reimburse them for the charges.

It depends. If your injuries are significant, the at-fault driver has insufficient coverage, or you were hit by an uninsured or hit-and-run driver, you may be making a claim against your own policy.

Also, if the at-fault driver’s carrier tells you that they can’t determine who is at fault without the police report and you need transportation immediately, consider making a claim with your own insurance carrier.

If you make a claim with your own insurance company, you will have your deductible deducted from your repair costs. You’ll be reimbursed for your deductible once the at-fault driver’s policy repays your insurance company.

If repairs to your vehicle would cost more than 70% of the value of the car – e.g., the car is worth $10,000 and the repairs are $7,001.00 — expect the insurance company to offer you the fair market value of your vehicle, as it will be considered “totaled” or a “total loss.”

Fair market value is the Private Party Kelley Blue Book (“KBB”) value of your vehicle. If your vehicle doesn’t appear in KBB, then an estimate of what your vehicle would sell for by a private party will be done. Newspaper ads, Craigslist, Auto Trader, etc. may be used for this.

Possibly. You’ll have to provide proof of new additions to the car and ask for the value of this items.

Unfortunately, after-market parts on a vehicle do not necessary increase the overall value of the vehicle. Thus, an insurance company may initially will offer you zero.

If you can produce a receipt or invoice that’s less than a year old, you improve your odds of recovering something.

If you can get 50% of that costs, you’re doing well.

Injuries, Doctors, Medical Bills, Health Insurance and How to Feel Better.

We assist our clients if and when they need medical care. To learn more about finding a doctor, click here.

We can assist you with finding a doctor or other health care provider who is willing to defer payment until after you receive compensation for your injury.

Discuss this with your doctor or their front office staff at the beginning of your treatment. If they agree, they’ll probably will advise you that the’ll be recording a medical lien in order to ensure their payment from the insurance company.

A medical lien is a recorded document, meaning it is a public document recorded with the County Recorder’s Office indicating an outstanding medical bill that must be paid from your insurance settlement.

This doesn’t affect your credit score and it’s not reported to any credit bureaus.

A medical lien is reported to the insurance company for the at-fault party to ensure that the medical bill is paid from the settlement.

In order to be paid, a lien must be recorded timely and it must meet certain other legal criteria.

To learn more about medical liens, click here.

By not taking time off work, even though you may lose pay or even your job, you can hurt your ability to recover an appropriate settlement for your injuries.

Documentation of your injuries is how an insurance company evaluates your claim and determines whether it will pay your claim.

This documentation can include:
• records of medical treatments
• medical bills
• Records of time lost from work due
Without medical bills or other specific losses, your claim for bodily injury is minimal.

More importantly, the longer you wait for treatment, the more difficult it is to determine whether the injuries you suffer from are as a result of the auto accident or some other issue.

Bottom line, don’t wait to get treatment.

Yes, you should use your own health insurance rather than pay out of pocket or wait for a settlement.

You should understand that payment from your own health insurance company are only a loan. This is because the insurer that originally paid the medical bills can file a medical lien against the proceeds of the settlement or damage award in the personal injury case. To learn more, click here.

You may also have medical payments insurance and not even know it. To learn more, click here.

A vehicle accident can make an existing medical condition worse, and you can be compensated for this worsened condition.

You should seek treatment for a worsened condition, just as you should for a new injury.

Ambulance and EMT costs will normally be paid by the at-fault driver’s insurance company. They may also be covered by your own health insurance or medical payments insurance, in which case your insurance company would seek reimbursement from the other driver’s insurance.

Hospital costs will normally be paid by the at-fault driver’s insurance company. They may also be covered by your own health insurance or medical payments insurance, in which case your insurance company would seek reimbursement from the other driver’s insurance.

Going To Work after a Car Accident. What to Do First

It’s probably a good idea to tell your employer that you were in an accident, if you suffered injuries. You may need to take time off from work for medical treatments or to have your car repaired, and your employer may be more receptive to this with plenty of advance notice.

You may also need to have your employer make accommodations to your working conditions because of your injuries. For example, you may not be able to lift heavy objects or stay on your feet as long.

You should start by using your sick time, and only use your vacation time if you don’t have enough sick time to cover the full period of your recovery. You should also talk to the human resources department at your employer about any other options you may have, such as temporary disability leave.

Usually, compensation for time lost from work will be part of a settlement with the at-fault driver’s insurance company.

Simply ask the human resources department at your employer to provide a letter stating the days you were off work due to your injuries.

Yes, usually you will be compensated for time off work due to medical appointments, even if your wages are not docked.

This is a tough question. Unless you work in a job in which your compensation is based on your efforts and successes (such as commissioned sales), it may be hard to put a value on working at less than 100%.

Contact us to discuss your specific situation.

Personal injury claims involving a drunk or drugged driver have some special features.
When a driver is convicted for driving under the influence (DUI) in criminal court, this can greatly strengthen a civil claim for personal injuries caused by that driver. This is because the standard of proof is higher in criminal court than in civil court.
To learn about penalties for DUI, click here.
If you’ve been called to testify as a witness or victim in a DUI case, click here to learn how to prepare and what to expect.
However, since many insurance policies don’t cover injuries due to DUI (or other criminal acts), a criminal conviction can make it harder for a victim to collect compensation for his or her injuries.
In addition to the compensatory damages available in any personal injury case (to compensate the victim for medical costs, lost income, pain and suffering, etc.), victims of drunk drivers may also be entitled to other forms of recovery.

This information should be in the police report on your accident.

Yes, the drunk driver is still responsible. Other parties may be responsible as well. These other parties could include the person who entrusted the car to the driver and any establishment that served liquor to the driver, if he or she was obviously intoxicated at the time.

If your case goes all the way to a jury (which is unlikely), the jurors may be more liable to award punitive damages if injuries are caused by a repeat offender.

To learn more about punitive damages, click here.

Mental and emotional injuries are as real as physical injuries. To find a doctor or therapist who can help you, ask your primary care doctor for a referral or contact us.

You can send an email or text to the at-fault driver’s insurance company and ask.

As discussed above, avoid talking to the insurance company on the phone.

No lawyer can tell you exactly how much your personal injury case is “worth.” There is no precise formula.
However, an experienced personal injury attorney can give you an estimate of the range of compensation you can expect.
Most personal injury cases settle out of court, and most defendants are covered by insurance. Thus, most compensation is paid to personal injury victims on the basis of a settlement negotiated with an insurance company.
In a settlement negotiation, the parties balance risk and reward. One risk is that the parties won’t settle and the case will go to trial. Going to trial means that it could take months or even years for the victim to receive compensation, and the victim will have to deal with depositions (answering questions from the defendant’s attorney), medical examinations, and testifying at trial.
If a case does go to trial, a risk for the victim is that the jury will award an amount lower than the defendant (or the insurance company) would have agreed to. A jury might even find that the victim was entirely responsible for his or her own injuries, and thus award zero damages.

To learn more about determining the value of your case, click here.

You should contact your own insurance company. You may have uninsured motorist coverage.

To learn more, click here.

If not, you may need to sue the other driver to seek compensation. However, your chances for recovery may be poor. Most people who drive uninsured don’t have much in the way of income or assets you could take to pay for a judgment in your facor.

You should contact your own insurance company. You may have insurance that protects you if you’re hit by a driver who is un-insured or under-insured.

To learn more about under-insurance coverage, click here.

You should contact your own insurance company. You may have medical payments insurance or other coverage that can help you.

Under some circumstances (including your death), your family members can be compensated for injuries they suffer indirectly as a result of your own injuries.

This type of compensation is sometimes referred to as being for “loss of consortium.”

Family members may also be able to recover for anguish, sorrow, and mental suffering.

To learn more, please contact us.

A claim for an injury to a child is very much the same as a claim for an injury to an adult.

For information about injuries to unborn children, and having a car accident when you’re pregnant, click here.

For information about reducing the risks for children in car accidents, click here.