by Doug Zanes | Last Updated: December 30, 2016


It is undeniable and unfortunate that over the holidays there are lots of accidents.  With all of the traffic on the roads there seems to be an uptick in car accidents and with so many people out-and-about there seems to also be an increase in accidents like slip and falls.  Fortunately, many of these accidents are minor in nature and aren’t life changing.  So what should you do if you are involved in one of these so called “minor” accidents and you are interested in resolving your injury case without an attorney?

Resolving your injury case without an attorney?

This is an extremely personal decision and is actually a difficult question for me to answer.  But here is my perspective.  In my experience as a personal injury lawyer over the past 20 years is that insurance companies generally are not fair to people who have been injured and who are now trying to get compensated.  This is what makes resolving your injury case without an attorney challenging.  That’s what I have seen over and over again, and that is why I have written my book “Winning Your Personal Injury Case.”  So I do not expect that the insurance company will be fair to you when you handle your own claim.

But that is not enough for me to say that you are better off with the help of a lawyer.  This is because personal injury lawyers in Phoenix and Tucson, Arizona (this is where my offices are) charge anywhere between 33.3% and 40% of the monies that they get for you as a fee.  So if you have a case that has a real value of $6000 and the insurance company is willing to pay you $3800 (unfair), you may actually be better off just taking it rather than hiring a lawyer in order to get the $6000 real case value.

Let’s just do a little math and also talk a little bit about reality.  Many times your lawyer won’t actually be able to make the insurance company pay the $6000.  He will only get them to make a max offer of, let’s say, $5700.  You will the have to pay him 33.3% of that $5700 as his fee (fee = $1899).  The lawyer will also have some costs that he has incurred for getting your medical records and bills, copies, etc. On average, I think that case costs on smaller cases are on average about $250.  So after paying costs and fees, this leaves you with $3551 instead of the $3800 that you could have gotten on your own.  Under this scenario you would have financially been better off without an attorney, but you would have also had to do all the work.

Resolving your injury case without an attorney? What are the most important things to know?

If you do decide to handle your own injury case, the following is a list of the most important things that you will need to focus on:

  1. Your medical care must be your priority. In every personal injury case it is the medical documentation that is used to prove both that you were injured and to also prove the extent of your injuries.  If you do not receive medical treatment you will have trouble getting compensated.  So if you were hurt in an accident, you should go to the emergency room and you should then follow up with your primary care physician and talk to him about whether ongoing treatment is needed and appropriate for your injuries.  Ongoing treatment would be physical therapy, chiropractic care, seeing a medical specialist such as a pain management doctor, etc.
  2. You need to have your health insurance pay for you medical bills. I talk to lots of clients who do not think that their health insurance should have to pay for their care since the accident was someone else’s fault.  Do not do this.  The reason that you have health insurance is to pay your medical bills.  You do not want to be stuck with these bills if for some reason your case does not work out, so have your medical bills paid by health insurance.
  3. You need to understand that there is a difference between medical treatment and diagnostic medical care. Diagnostic care is when you go to the emergency room or your primary care doctor.  It is a single visit where the doctor diagnosis your injury.  For this medical care the adverse insurance company will need to reimburse you for these medical bills and will pay you a small amount on top of that for the inconvenience and pain and suffering.  Medical treatment is the care that you need to do to get better.  This is medical care such as physical therapy, chiropractic care, and pain management care.  For this care you will be able to make a claim for the inconvenience and pain and suffering that is much more significant than the diagnostic care.
  4. The adverse insurance company is responsible for covering any property damage that you’ve incurred, for covering your medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering.

At Zanes Law we regularly assist people who have been injured in both car accidents and other types of personal injuries.  One of our clients was so happy with our help that she left the following Google reviewI’m so glad that I went to Zanes Law.  They helped me throughout the whole process and kept in constant contact.  Doug and his team are wonderful.  I would definitely recommend Zanes Law to anyone and would definitely use them again (hopefully don’t need to).

If you have either been injured in a car accident or you simply want to understand the process before you ever end up there, please click below to get a free download of our book “Winning Your Personal Injury Case.”



Doug Zanes
Doug Zanes: Founding Attorney Raised in Douglas, Arizona, and went to college at Arizona State University and graduated from law school at St. Mary’s University School of Law in Texas. Doug began practicing law in Phoenix Arizona in 1997.
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