Frequently Asked Questions

Advances Against Your Pending Personal Injury Settlement

So if I was injured in an accident, can I get an advance against my settlement? The answer is yes. But in Arizona you can’t get that advance from us as your attorney. That’s unethical in Arizona. So what happens is, if you want to get an advance against your settlement, there are companies out there that will provide that service. They’ll give you an advance against your settlement and they get paid back at the end. When we have clients who get advances that’s between the client and the advance company. The advice we give clients is to not do it. We think it’s a bad idea. The reason is because of the fees and the interest that the client has to pay in order to get that advance.

For example if a client gets a five hundred dollar advance against their settlement, when their case is over and it’s all said and done they may pay two thousand dollars or more back to the advance company in order to get that five hundred dollars early on. That’s not a very good deal. So what happens is you pay high interest and then at the end of your case you get very little money because the money is going to pay back the advance. So our advice to clients is don’t do it. But ultimately that is between the client and the advance company and we have no control over the advance, how much money the advance company will give a client, and in the end how much money the client will have to pay back to the advance company. But if you’ve been hurt in an accident, give us a call and we’ll help you on your accident case and we’ll do it in a way that gives you the best possible resolution.

Personal Injury Cases Where Multiple Parties are Injured in One Accident

So what happens if several people are hurt in a car accident that you were hurt in? Everybody who is hurt in that accident has a claim and has a right to be compensated for their injuries. So what happens is, that can negatively impact the money that you’re able to get from your accident because there’s more people making claims. When you have a limited amount of money and more people making claims each person is going to receive less. But each person involved in the accident has a right to make a claim.

Each person involved in the accident should actually be represented by a lawyer to help them on their case. Whether it’s everybody in the car hiring one attorney, we represent lots of clients in that same fashion, or everybody hiring a separate attorney. That happens regularly as well. But the point is everybody involved int that accident does have a claim. They all have a right to be reimbursed and it just complicates things. If you’ve been involved in that kind of accident and you haven’t hired an attorney to represent you it really is in your best interest to hire an attorney, so give us a call.

Underinsured Motorist Coverage

So what happens if the driver that hurt me only has a small insurance policy and and my medical bills are, quite honestly, bigger than that insurance policy? That’s a good question and that’s a problem that we see regularly in cases. The most important point out of that question revolves around underinsured motorist coverage. That’s what underinsured motorist coverage is for. That’s why you having underinsured motorist coverage is extremely important. Because that exists to protect you just under that certain circumstance. If you don’t have underinsured motorist coverage, the first thing to do is we want to make sure we resolve your case as quickly as we can when you have the lowest possible number for your medical bills. The less you owe the more money you’ll get.

Then we have to go get reductions from health insurance companies that are owed money and medical providers that are owed money in order to create a scenario, quite frankly, where you actually get compensated for your injuries, as opposed to all the money going to pay somebody else. And then if you have underinsured motorist coverage we’re going to make that claim after all of that’s done. But that’s in general how that works. There’s certainly a lot more to it but if you’ve been hurt in an accident and you have a lot of medical bills from day one, make sure you call us and we’ll take care of all of this for you.

The Negotiation Phase of a Personal Injury Claim

So what happens when you’re done with your medical care and you’re ready to get your case resolved? The first thing we do is we send a demand to the insurance company which is essentially a packet that includes all your medical bills, all your medical records, all the information regarding lost wages and any other damages that were claimed along with a letter that explains what we think they need to pay in order to resolve the case. Now keep in mind that’s a demand letter, and in a demand letter we are asking for an amount to start the negotiation process. Seldom does a case actually resolve for that amount.

That’s just a figure we are putting out there to start the negotiation process. What happens is the demand gets mailed and so now you have, lets say, seven to ten days for the mail process to happen, for it to arrive on the adjusters desk, it takes them a number of weeks to review everything because their also reviewing lots of other cases and during that process we are continuously calling and talking to the adjuster but quite honestly once a demand goes out it usually takes about two months to finish the negotiation process and resolve a case if we’re going to be able to settle it. It’s not an immediate process. And then once the case is resolved, if it settles, there are then things that need to be done before we are able to pay a client. Whether it’s dealing with reductions and things like that. So it can be a lengthy process. It can be a complicated process. So if you’ve been injured in an accident, call us, and we’ll help navigate that process for you.

Auto Insurance Coverage and Personal Injury Claims

So how does your auto insurance coverage work? Lots of clients I talk to come in and they tell me “I purchased full coverage” and then we get their policy information and they don’t really have full coverage. What they have is liability coverage that meets the state law. Full coverage is actually coverage for your property damage. So if you were in an accident and it’s your fault or the other driver didn’t have insurance and it was their fault, your property damage coverage has to fix your car. Full coverage includes medical payments coverage that will pay your medical bills if you don’t have health insurance and you don’t, lets say the at fault party didn’t have insurance, or fled the scene so you didn’t have their information.

Uninsured motorist coverage protects you if you were hit by somebody that doesn’t have insurance. Underinsured motorist coverage protects you if the person who hit you didn’t have enough insurance to fully compensate you. There’s rental coverage which puts you into a rental car so you’re able to get to work, get to your doctor’s appointments, if the other insurance company isn’t able to, isn’t willing to, is fighting you on your case or if the accident was your fault. So full coverage is a lot more than simply liability coverage. It’s a long conversation, quite honestly. So if you’ve been injured in an accident and need to know what coverages you have and what needs to be done to make sure that you’re protected give us a call and we’ll take care of all that for you.

Why Does Medicare Get Reimbursed in a Personal Injury Claim?

So if your health insurance is Medicare, why does Medicare have to be paid back? Medicare is a federally funded health insurance plan. So built into the system, our federal government, our politicians, have built in a requirement that Medicare be reimbursed for any medical bills that they pay if you ever receive compensation from the party that injured you. Meaning Medicare doesn’t want to let you get paid and they get stuck paying the bill and don’t get reimbursed. It’s federal law. Medicare is actually what’s known as a super lien. So not only are you as the client who’s received the medical care responsible to reimburse those bills, Medicare could come after my law firm if we fail to reimburse them.

Medicare could come after, lets say, an auto insurance company like State Farm if they fail to make sure that Medicare gets reimbursed. Anybody who had any involvement in your case is actually responsible monetarily to pay that lien, in addition to us as lawyers being responsible ethically. So Medicare is just something that we have to deal with and that we deal with in lots and lots of cases. So if Medicare is your health insurance coverage and you’ve been injured in an accident, call us because we know how to take care of it correctly and we know how to take care of it in a way that helps your case resolve more quickly.

What is AHCCCS?

So what is AHCCCS and how does it impact your case? Important question because, quite honestly, we have lots and lots of clients who receive AHCCCS benefits. AHCCCS is health insurance provided by the state of Arizona through Medicaid. So it’s tax payer funded, actually, tax payer money is what funds AHCCCS. It’s what pays your medical bills if you have AHCCCS. And so the government always takes care of itself, built into AHCCCS is a requirement that at the end of any personal injury case we have to pay AHCCCS back for any medical bills that they paid, or reimburse them for any medical bills that they paid. It’s the law. It’s the way it works.

The upside to that is this, AHCCCS actually only pays a small fraction of what a medical provider bills them, and that medical provider is legally required to bill them. So you’re much better off paying AHCCCS their small fraction than you would be if you had to pay that medical provider the full amount. So that’s a good thing. But we deal with AHCCCS regularly. We get reductions from AHCCCS regularly on liens that they claim. So if you’ve been hurt in an accident and AHCCCS is your health care, or your health care plan is an AHCCCS plan, give us a call because we’ll make sure it’s handled correctly.

Liens Against Your Arizona Personal Injury Claim

So what is a lien? Quite honestly a lien is an interest that a third party has to your personal injury settlement award money. So there are lots of different types of liens. There are medical liens, there are child support liens, there are health insurance subrogation liens. If you, for example, fired one attorney and hired us to represent you, it’s possible your old attorney could have a lien for some of his attorney’s fees. There are Medicare liens, there are AHCCCS liens, there are lots and lots of liens that we deal with every single day on all the cases that we work on. Clients are concerned about that because every lien that has to be paid is less money that the client walks away with. So if you have a tax we have to deal with or you have a child support lien that we have to deal with, it’s just part of what has to be done.

But we will deal with it. We will take care of it for you. Now one of the frustrations I know clients have is they would prefer that we don’t deal with it. Some clients prefer that we just give the client the money and don’t address the lien. But unfortunately as lawyers, ethically we have to take care of liens. We have to deal with them. If we don’t, an attorney could certainly lose their license to practice law. So it’s just part of what we have to do. But we do it very well and it’s part of dealing with your lien, or with any liens that you have what we’re trying to do is reduce those as much as possible or if somebody making a lien claim is entitled to be paid legally, we take care of that so it doesn’t come back to get you. But it’s complicated. So if you’ve been in an accident and you need help on it, call us and we’ll take care of it for your because again it’s complicated and we do this every day and we’re very good at it.

Reimbursement for Medical Bills

So what medical bills are you entitled to be reimbursed for after being hurt in an accident? In Arizona, quite honestly, the answer is all of them. The actual medical bills, the full medical bill with any medical provider, even if your health insurance paid that bill, you are entitled to that full bill over and above what your health insurance paid. If you pay for something out of pocket, lets say a co-pay or a prescription, you’re actually entitled to be reimbursed for that amount, too, but one of the things that you need to keep are the receipts for anything that you pay out of pocket and provide them to us so that we can claim that as part of your case.

So the short answer is you are entitled to be reimbursed for all of your medical bills that have incurred. The important piece is, we as your attorneys need to know about all the medical providers you’ve seen. We need to know about all the prescriptions you’ve been given and we need the receipts from when you gotten those filled at Walgreens or Costco or wherever you’ve chosen to go. Or at the very least we need you to tell us where you got your prescriptions filled so that we can go get that information for you as part of your case. So if you’ve been hurt in an accident, call us and we’ll help make sure that you get reimbursed for every medical bill that you incur.

What is Your Primary Care Physician’s Role After an Accident?

So when you’ve been hurt in an accident, what is the role of your primary care physician in your medical care? That’s an important question because we do have lots of cases where clients will actually start to treat with, lets say, a chiropractor without seeing any other doctors. It really is important that every client see a primary care physician or some sort of medical doctor and the beginning of their case for a couple reasons. In my experience, what happens is chiropractors tend to treat back injuries and neck injuries and in their records those are the injuries that they actually document. Even though the client who’s the patient has mentioned a knee injury or mentioned a hurt elbow it doesn’t get mentioned or translated into those records. Your primary care physician will document all those injuries.

They’ll document your knee injury, your elbow injury, your wrist injury, the ringing in your ears, as long as you mention it to him. That’s why we want all our clients to see a primary care physician or medical doctor in addition to lets say a chiropractor or a physical therapist, because we want complete medical records. In addition it’s your primary care physician who will sort of direct what the rest of your medical care is. So if you’re not getting better just doing your physical therapy or just doing your chiropractic care, it’s your primary care physician who when you go back and see them and talk to them about how you’re not getting better will decide do you need to see a pain management specialist, do you need to have an MRI? So if you’ve been hurt in an accident, understand that the medical care is very complicated and give us a call because we will help you.

Contacting Us About Your Medical Providers

So do you need to call us every time you see a new doctor and give us that doctor’s information? The answer is yes. That’s something that we actually need our clients to do. And the reason is because, quite honestly, in a lot of cases our clients see lots of medical providers. They’ve been hurt in an accident and in order to get better they need to see not one medical provider, not two, not three, but throughout the life of a case they’ll see a dozen different doctors. The best way for us to know who you as our client is seeing for medical care is to simply have you tell us.

That’s why we communicate so often with our clients. When a paralegal calls your or your attorneys calls you and asks you about your medical care you actually want to tell them well here are the doctors that I’ve seen up to this point. Because what happens, unfortunately, sometimes is we learn of a new medical provider when we’re reviewing medical bills or I should say medical records that we’ve gotten from other medical providers that have mentioned a new doctor’s name in it. And what that does is it makes your case take longer. It now makes us put everything else on hold to then go get those medical records and those medical bills when if we had known about it a month or two earlier we could have gotten them much sooner which would have kept your case moving forward.

Communicating that with us as your lawyers is very important. That’s what we ask all of our clients to do and certainly if you’re watching this video and thinking of calling Zanes Law and sitting down and hiring us to help you on your case, that is one of the things we will ask you to do throughout your case. So if you’ve been hurt in an accident give us a call and we’ll do everything that needs to be done to help you.

What if the At-Fault Party Doesn’t Cooperate?

So what happens if the person responsible for your accident doesn’t want to cooperate? I can tell you it does make it more difficult to pursue your claim but it doesn’t make it impossible. It just means there’s more work for us to do because in order to pursue a claim we generally need to know who the insurance company that’s responsible for the injuries is. And we’ve got to be able to deal with them. So it’s really not about the cooperation from the person responsible, it’s about needing the information in order to pursue a claim. And so certainly if you’re in a car accident and you’re able to get that information we want you to get it for us.

If you’re only able to get a license plate number then we at least need that. The more information we have the better. So the short answer is we don’t necessarily need the cooperation from the at-fault party but we have to have some information about who they are about about who their insurance company is in order to pursue a claim. So if you’ve been hurt in an accident, even if you have very little information, do me a favor and give us a call and we’ll help you on your case. We’ll help you find that information. We’ll do what we do every day in order to represent clients and most of the time we’re able to get that information. So give us a call.

How Long Does it Take to Get a Police Report?

So how long does it take to get a police report? Good question, and the answer quite honestly varies. It depends on who we’re trying to get the police report from. I can tell you the Arizona Department of Public Safety sometimes takes six weeks to two months to move the reports through the process and make them public. The Phoenix Police Department, they’ll generally take a week or two at the most but sometimes can take more which partly depends on whether there’s a criminal investigation that’s part of the accident that occurred. If that happens it can take an extremely long time to get the report. So unfortunately the best accurate answer I can give you is it depends, which I know isn’t the answer that you want to hear.

But if you’ve been in an accident it doesn’t mean you can’t start to pursue your claim until you get a police report. We start on cases all the time where we don’t have the police report. We’re able to find the other driver’s insurance information. Lots of times the police will have given you a face sheet to the police report and that has a lot of the information that they need. There are lots of cases where there isn’t a police report at all and the police officer has hopefully created and information exchange sheet that has some of the information that we need. But, so again, there’s a lot to it and there’s a lot of ins and outs to it. So if you’ve been in an accident give us a call as soon as you possibly can and we’ll get started on your case immediately.

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