5 Things You Need to Know After Being
Injured in an Auto Accident in Arizona.
- Write down everything about the accident. Yes, do this now. It’s that important. Be sure to include what you saw, heard, felt, location of the accident, and everything you can remember.
- If you were injured, seek medical treatment. Visit an urgent care, your primary care physician, or a chiropractor if you feel any pain. Avoiding medical treatment can cause serious injury over time.
- Keep a running list of all providers you have seen due to the accident. This will help you and your personal injury attorney tremendously.
- Health insurance. Treat through your health insurance when possible. If you do not have health insurance you will need to treat with a provider that works on a lien.
- Open a claim with your insurance company. A lot of accident victims are nervous about reporting an accident if it wasn’t their fault, but you may have coverages that can help you.
- If you have collision coverage on your insurance, your insurance company will fix your car and will work with the other driver’s insurance to ensure they cover the costs. Click here to learn more about settling your property damage claim.
- If you have rental insurance, your insurance company will gladly assist you in finding a rental that suits your needs.
- If the defense (at fault) insurance company reaches out to you, this is when you need to consider whether or not you are going to hire a personal injury attorney (auto accident lawyer). If you are going to retain a car accident lawyer, don’t answer any of the defense insurance’s questions about the accident, property damage, or your injuries.
- Be cautious of all conversations with the defense (at fault) insurance company in regards to your injury. Do not accept any check for your injury and do not sign anything from an insurance company without getting an opinion from a personal injury attorney. Once this transaction is complete, you cannot collect additional money for medical bills, lost wages, or pain and suffering. Click here to learn the “Insurance Dirty Tricks” and what the business of insurance is really about.
- Consult with a personal injury attorney. At the very least, you will learn your options and feel more confident about what option is best for you. The Zanes Law auto lawyers serve the Phoenix, Tucson, Mesa, Tempe and Scottsdale areas to assist in obtaining a favorable auto accident settlement for our clients.
If you choose to hire our Arizona auto accident attorneys, this is what you can expect
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ABOUT THE ZANES LAW CAR ACCIDENT LAWYERS | PHOENIX, ARIZONA & TUCSON, ARIZONA
If you have been injured in a car accident, you need the help of an Arizona car accident attorney. Zanes Law has both Phoenix car accident lawyers and Tucson car accident lawyers ready to help you immediately. Since 2003, the Arizona car accident lawyers at Zanes Law have represented thousands of clients on their car accident personal injury claims.
The Zanes Law car accident lawyers have helped client’s who were injured in many different ways. Over the years, our car accident attorneys have helped clients who were pedestrians when they were hit by a car, we have had clients involved in car accidents with semi-trucks, we have helped clients on wrongful death cases where their loved one was killed in a car accident, we have helped clients who were injured in car accidents with reckless drivers, drunk drivers, and distracted drivers, and in many other different types of car accidents that were not the fault of our clients. It is the experience that our car accident attorneys have that will enable you to beat the insurance company.
Our fully staffed offices of both Phoenix car accident attorneys and Tucson car accident attorneys are available to speak with you 24-hours a day, seven days each week. The initial consultation with one of our car accident lawyers is also free. So let the Zanes Law car accident lawyers help you on any automobile accident claim that you have, including:
- Multi-car accidents
- 18 wheeler | large truck accidents
- Taxi cab accidents
- Pedestrian accidents
- DUI accidents
- Teenage driver car accidents
- Bus accidents
- ATV accidents
- Motorcycle accidents
- Bicycle accidents
- Wrongful death auto accidents
ZANES LAW’S CAR ACCIDENT LAWYERS WILL HANDLE YOUR PROPERTY DAMAGE CLAIM.
Both our Phoenix car accident lawyers and Tucson car accident attorneys help our clients resolve their property damage claim. This is important because it is a service that many car accident law firms refuse to handle, and we handle the claim for free. We do not charge extra to handle your property damage claim against the insurance company. We do this because it is important to our car accident clients. Think about it, you need your car fixed, you need a rental car in order to get to work and doctors appointments, and to get it done quickly you need our help, and our car accident attorneys are happy to give it to you.
MAKING A DIMINISHED VALUE CLAIM AFTER A CAR ACCIDENT
After you have been involved in a car accident the attorneys at Zanes Law are happy to help you bring not only your personal injury claim, but also a diminished value claim for your vehicle. We are willing to bring this claim on your behalf because we have learned that after a car accident our clients are not only concerned about getting their vehicle repaired, but they are also concerned about their vehicle suddenly having less value because it has been involved in a car accident. We understand that this “diminished value” is important and that our clients should be compensated for this because when they go to sell their vehicle, even after it has been repaired, our client will receive less money because it has been involved in this car accident. So when our attorneys bring a diminished value claim for a client we are getting them compensated by the at-fault party’s car insurance company for this difference.
As we discussed above, the Zanes Law lawyers help all clients find the appropriate resolution to their property damage claims after a car accident. Many car accident law firms will not do this because the firm does not have a financial incentive to do so.
At Zanes Law we have always taken the opposite approach and do handle our client’s property damage claims for free, and we will also take on diminished value claims on a contingency fee basis. Below are two tips regarding your diminished value claim:
Tip #1: Understand how diminished value is determined
Car insurance companies fight over diminished value claims simply because that is what car insurance companies do. They fight. But determining the diminished value of a vehicle after a car accident is simple. Our lawyers will determine the fair market value of your car prior to the car accident, and then we will subtract the fair market value of the repaired vehicle after the car accident. Unfortunately, insurance companies prefer to use a different calculation that actually favors them! No surprise there. I won’t get into the details of the formula that insurance companies attempt to use, which is know as the “17c Formula,” because it is complicated. But what you need to know is that a good car accident attorney should be able to fight the insurance company on this and win.
Tip #2: How old your car is and the cost of repairs are important factors.
The amount of your diminished value is directly related to the amount of repairs that your car needs. The more it costs to repair your vehicle the greater your diminished value, generally speaking. At the same time, the older your vehicle is the less diminished value you will have. A general rule of thumb is that diminished value does exist for most vehicles involved in a car accident, but it is not cost effective to pursue a diminished value claim on many vehicles that are more than five years old or that had less that $2500 in repairs done to them. Having said that, every claim is fact specific and you should get the input of a knowledgeable car accident lawyer at our firm regarding any diminished value claim that you may have. Our consultations are free and we have car accident attorneys in both our Tucson and Phoenix offices.
To learn more about handling your property damage claim please listen to this podcast.
UNDERSTANDING YOUR WAGE LOSS CLAIM AFTER A CAR ACCIDENT
Unfortunately, many of our clients who are injured in car accidents are unable to work for a period of time because of their injuries. In addition, many of our injured clients who are still able to work will miss time from work in order to attend the doctor’s appointments, physical therapy appointments, and other medical appointments that are directly related to their car accident injury care. So how does your wage loss claim work and what do you need to know about a wage loss claim after you have been injured in a car accident?
First, you need to know exactly what a wage loss claim is. Lost wages refer to the income that you are not able to earn because of your injury. This lost income can include:
The income that you have lost for the period that you are not able to work;
The earning capacity that you have lost if you have a long-term disability from the accident and are not able to make as much money as you did before the accident.
The opportunity that you have lost by missing out on things like a contract extension or having to turn down a job offer because you are recovering from your injuries and cannot work.
How do you document your lost wages?
To be successful on your wage loss claim after a car accident you must be able to provide the insurance company with documentation that supports the fact that you are not able to work because of your injuries. You will have to provide proof. This proof will need to include the following:
Documentation from your medical providers that documents your inability to work due to your injuries from the car accident. It needs to describe your injuries and should include the dates that you are unable to work because of those injuries.
Documentation from your employer that verifies that you missed work due to your injuries and that shows the dates that you missed work.
If you are self-employed, paid on commission, or are an independent contractor you will need to provide tax returns or additional documentation that proves that your income did in-fact decrease due to your injuries.
How do you calculating your lost wages?
The short answer is it depends on lots of different factors, so we will begin with the scenario where one of our car accident lawyers is helping someone who has been injured and has a full-time job. Basically, they injured person is an hourly or salaried employee. If this is the case, to calculate the lost wages we would simply take the number of hours that our client missed from work and multiply them by their hourly pay rate. Our attorney would also argue for additional monies if our injured client missed out on a promotion or other opportunity, but this is harder to justify.
When we have an injured client who is paid on commission or has a non-salaried job with irregular work hours, calculating the wage loss is more difficult, but is possible.
First, we would need to show that our client actually lost income because he was unable to work due to the injuries suffered in the car accident. For example, a decrease in the number of sales you made during this time frame verses the prior months, or a decrease in billing invoices. If the overall wages decrease during the year, we could provide prior tax returns as evidence of what your client would have earned had he not been injured in the car accident.
Finally, you are also entitled to your lost wages even if you used your vacation or sick leave to cover those hours. The reason is because you now do not have that paid time off to use in the future.
What if you are never able to return to work?
If you are disabled because of your injuries lots of work needs to go into proving this and also proving the long-term value of your wage loss claim. There are a number of variables that need to be considered in determining your overall financial loss and this generally requires experts like a vocational rehabilitation specialist, life-care planner, and an economist who will analyze and calculate data in order to determine your lost wages, the cost of retraining, the cost of future medical needs, etc.
If this is the situation that you find yourself in, please contact a Zanes Law car accident attorney immediately so that we can make sure that your rights are protected and that you are compensated.
To learn more about how lost wage claims work please click on this link.
UNDERSTANDING HOW CAR INSURANCE COVERAGE WORKS
Many people who are injured in a car accident actually get victimized a second time because the at-fault driver does not have enough insurance to fully compensate them. Our Tucson and Phoenix car accident lawyers see this everyday. Our attorneys regularly represent clients who are injured in car accidents and then we find out that the negligent person either had no auto insurance at all or did not have enough insurance to completely compensate our client. But once an accident happens it is too late to buy the insurance coverage that will protect you from this scenario. Because of this, the time to protect yourself is before you are ever involved in an automobile accident.
The purpose of this information is to allow you to protect yourself. That’s right…..you need to protect yourself. No one is going to do this for you. Regardless of their television commercials, car insurance companies really aren’t in business to protect you against the bad things that can happen. They are simply in business to sell you an automobile insurance contract that they hope they will never have to pay out on, but it is on you to have the knowledge that you need in order to buy the right types and amounts of car insurance.
So how much car insurance do I need? Our accident attorneys get asked this question all the time. So let’s begin by discussing liability car insurance coverage.
Liability car insurance coverage
is the part of your car insurance policy that will pay someone who you accidently hurt if you cause an auto accident. Let’s face it, car accidents happen. If you run a red light and hurt someone that certainly wasn’t your intention. That’s why it’s called (and is) an accident, and accidents do happen. So this coverage protects you from having to pay with your money if you accidently hurt someone. What happens is your car insurance carrier will pay the person that you hurt in the automobile accident so that they are reimbursed for their medical bills, so that they are reimbursed for their lost wages because they could not work, so that they are compensated for the pain, suffering, and inconvenience of being injured, and your insurance will pay them for any other losses that they have because of this accident. If your insurance decides to fight the person that you hurt and you are sued, your insurance company will provide and pay the attorney who will defend you in this lawsuit and, if you lose, they will then pay the judgment.
Currently every state has it’s own laws which control the minimum amounts of liability coverage that a driver is supposed to have. In Arizona, the law is that you must have a minimum of $15,000 in liability insurance coverage, but we all know that this isn’t nearly enough. If you accidently hurt someone their medical bills alone could far exceed $15,000, and when you are responsible for the medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and potentially other damages $15,000 doesn’t do much to protect you! I realize that how much car insurance you can buy is directly affected by what you can afford, but because of what has been discussed above, the recommendation of the lawyers at Zanes Law is that everyone carry at the least $50,000 worth of liability coverage. This will insure that anyone you accidently hurt in a car accident at least has a shot at being fully compensated for his injuries and it will at least give you a shot at being protected from having personal liability. Remember, if you accidently hurt someone so severely that your liability insurance policy limit isn’t enough to completely compensate the person who is hurt, you could now be personally responsible and have to actually pay the person the difference between the insurance money available and the actual value of his claim. Because of that, a person who makes lots of money and/or has lots of assets needs significantly more car insurance coverage in order to be protected from personal liability. So how much liability car insurance you buy is a personal decision but, make no mistake about it, it is a decision the deserves some thought on your part.
Uninsured Motorist insurance coverage is the part of your car insurance that will pay you if you are hurt in a car accident and the at-fault driver does not have any car insurance. Unfortunately, our attorneys see this just about every day. Think about it this way…..when someone is having trouble paying all of their bills they typically don’t stop driving and/or give up their car. In addition, they tend to choose groceries and rent over paying for their automobile insurance during that difficult time. So they let their car insurance lapse. If you are unfortunate enough to be in a car accident with this person after their insurance policy has lapsed, an uninsured motorist has hit you. This means they will not have an auto insurance policy to compensate you for your injuries, missed time from work, pain and suffering, etc. If you find yourself in this situation, legally you can still sue the person that hit you and get a judgment, but, in my experience, the odds of you ever collecting money from this person are slim to non-existent.
For the above reason, at Zanes Law our lawyers agree that you MUST purchase uninsured motorist coverage when you purchase your liability insurance. Unlike your liability coverage, which exists to protect others, your uninsured motorists coverage exists to protect you and your family. The impression that we have always gotten is that insurance companies prefer to not sell you uninsured motorists coverage. This is because the actual premium piece of this coverage is extremely inexpensive for you, but it costs the insurance company a great deal of money because they end up paying out on this coverage regularly. They reason insurance companies pay out on uninsured motorists coverage so often is because there are so many uninsured drivers on the road. Therefore, our advice to you is to purchase as much uninsured motorists insurance coverage as you can afford.
Although the above is not an exhaustive explanation of all the different car insurance coverages available under an auto insurance policy, these are the three basics that will protect you. When speaking with your insurance company you should also consider purchasing medical payments coverage, property damage coverage known as comprehensive/collision coverage, and any other coverage that is available to you. Keep in mind that all States are different and have different laws in relation to the legally required insurance coverage that a driver must have. Because of that, the above information is simply general information. Please make sure that you research and understand your specific State laws in relation to auto insurance coverage.
UNDERSTANDING WHAT TO DO AFTER A CAR ACCIDENT
At Zanes Law our car accident lawyers see first hand the many mistakes that people make after being involved in a car accident. Unfortunately, many times these mistakes are costly and may harm their chances of being compensated for their injuries after the accident, even when the fault lies solely with that driver.
If you were in an auto accident due to the negligence of someone else, you might be entitled to compensation for all of your different damages and you should certainly consult with a lawyer experienced in handling car accident claims. In addition, if you were injured in a car accident you should certainly seek medical care for your injuries. Finally, you must avoid making the common mistakes that people make after being in an automobile accident. After handling thousands of car accident injury claims, the lawyers at Zanes Law recommend that you do the following if you are involved in a car crash:
Always Call The Police: This is important because the police will prepare an accident report. This report is an objective record of what took place in the accident and will attest to what happened. This will prevent the other driver or witnesses from changing their version of what happened. Remember, over time memory of a witness can fade or the at-fault party can decide to change his version of the facts if you do not have a police report. If you or someone else in the car accident suffered an injury, this police report provides valid documentation that is needed, especially if a lawsuit is going to be filed.
Do Not Admit Fault: When you are discussing the accident it is important not to admit fault or say “I’m sorry.” Admitting fault can be used against you at a later time when you are attempting to bring your claim for either your personal injuries or the damages to your vehicle. Even if you believe you were at fault, you may be incorrect, there is no way to know all of the details surrounding an accident, especially under the stress and shock after a car accident.
Get The Other Driver’s Information: After a car wreck, regardless of how minor it may appear, do not fail to exchange insurance information. Even if you think there is no damage, and nobody seems to be hurt. You do not know what could develop later. You also need to get the name, address, phone number, license number, insurance information, license plate number, and the make and model of the other driver’s vehicle. This is what will be used if you are going to seek any legal help.
Taking Pictures: Take photos of the accident scene, the damage to all cars involved, the condition of the road, and the position of each vehicle that was in the car crash. These photos will be important if there are any disagreements on how the accident happened. These accident scene pictures will be the documentation that you can use to prove your personal injury claim.
Contact All Insurance Companies: After being involved in a car accident you need to contact the at-fault driver’s insurance company but you also need to notify your insurance company. Failing to notify your auto insurance could prevent you from recovering on your property damage and any costs associated with your injuries. It is also important that you speak with a car accident attorney before giving the insurance company any written or recorded statements about the accident.
You Must Receive Timely Medical Treatment: The failure to receive timely medical care after an accident is one of the biggest mistakes that our car accident lawyers see clients make. After being involved in an automobile accident you need to seek medical treatment immediately. Even if you think you are fine. Many times it is difficult to tell the type of injuries that you have sustained. When the body is in shock, you may not feel the pain until later. It is important to have your injuries diagnosed as soon as possible if you are going to be pursuing an auto injury claim.
Do Not Trust Any Insurance Company: Many times after a car accident the insurance company will try to find ways to avoid paying anything at all. Even your insurance company may attempt to prove that you were violating the terms of your policy so they will not have to defend you or pay your legal bills.
You Must Understand Your Rights: Be aware of the types of damages that you can seek compensation for after a car accident. You can make a claim for the damage to your vehicle (property damage claim), you can make a claim for your medical bills, you can make a claim for the pain and suffering that you experienced due to your injuries, and you can make a claim for all lost wages that you incurred.
Contacting A Car Accident Attorney: Zanes Law has automobile accident lawyers in both our Tucson and Phoenix offices. We provide a free consultation to anyone who has been involved in a car accident because we want you to understand your rights and how the insurance claims process works.
Do Not Wait Too Long To Pursue A Claim: The sooner that you pursue you accident claim the better off you will be. All car accident injury claims legally have a limited amount of time set for you to pursue the claim. Depending on the facts available, you may need to take action relatively quickly.
About Doug Zanes
“When I began practicing law years ago I simply wanted to help others, but did not specifically know in what way. As I began representing clients, just by circumstance the clients who I was helping happened to be clients who had been charged with committing crimes.
Then one night, my wife and I were driving home from the airport and narrowly missed being hit head-on by a drunk driver who was driving the wrong way on the street that we were on. As his headlights suddenly appeared in front on me, I turned to the right as he crashed into the median. We were extremely fortunate and he was eventually convicted of driving under the influence.
This was the night that I realized how quickly a life could be changed in an accident, and this was the night that my law firm stopped representing criminal defendants and began to focus on helping injured victims.” – Doug Zanes, Owner of Zanes Law
Treating on a lien: This means that you will not be charged any up-front costs for treatment and the provider will be compensated upon your settlement. This provider would require payment for their services before you receive your proceeds from the claim.