Have you or a loved one been injured because of someone else? Read these 5 common personal injury questions, then call our Phoenix lawyers!
1) What’s the value of a personal injury case?
When it comes down to valuing a personal injury claim here in Arizona, there are a number of factors that play into that. What are the actual damages? Are there any possibilities of pecuniary damages? Those are damages that a court in a lawsuit fashion can mandate on a person to really discipline them because of their activity. Emotional damages and whatnot, there it a myriad of damages that can be and bills and whatnot. There is a whole analysis that we’ll go through with you. One of our attorneys will sit down with you and go over what the actual value of your case is. We’ll offset that with bills that have to be paid and how much what you will end up getting as a result of your personal injury case.
You want to be very upfront with your lawyer. Give all of the bills, all of the medical records that are necessary. Discuss honestly with them treatment that you’ve had and treatment that you think you’re going to need in the future and how has this impacted your home, any loss of pay, loss of income, that the property damage related to the loss of a vehicle if it’s a car accident. There’s a number of things when you sit down with a lawyer, come up with a number that we feel that is reflective and that is a fair amount for the injuries that you have sustained and then we pursue that number either through a pretrial demand offers or through litigation and trying the case in court. There’s a process that one of our lawyers will go with you after you call down and talk to one of our attorneys. It’s a process that we’ll walk you through.
2) Should I give a recorded statement to the insurance company?
As soon as you are a victim of a personal injury incident, be it a car accident or even sometimes medical malpractice, you’re going to get a barrage of phone calls from insurance companies. One of the main things that they’re going to want to do is get a recorded statement from you. Please understand that this recorded statement is not for your benefit at all. It is for their benefit early on while you’re still under the stress of the incident and different things to solidify facts in order for them to attempt to deny your claim.
Should you give a recorded statement? The answer is unequivocally, absolutely not. Never ever, ever give a recorded statement to an insurance company before you talk to a lawyer regarding what has happened to you. Talk to a lawyer first. Call our office. It doesn’t matter if it’s after hours, on the weekend— call our office. Speak with one of our attorneys first, one of our staff people before you give a recorded statement. Please be assured that they’re going to use this recorded statement against you at some point, even if you know that you are not at fault. It’s not a good idea to just immediately offer up a recorded statement because there could be other things under the law that they use to mitigate their responsibility in taking care of the claims of your accident, even with your own insurance company. Again, these folks want your money but they’re not really willing to give up a lot of theirs.
At some point, will you have to give them a statement of what happened in the case? Absolutely. They’ll threaten you with things saying we’re not going to pursue your claim. We’re going to close your case if you don’t give us a recorded statement. All of that is false. They have an obligation to pursue your claim but you have a right to talk to a lawyer first. We would strongly urge you to do so. Whether it’s on the weekend, after hours, in the middle of the night, pick up the phone. Call one of our lawyers or one of our staff people will answer the phone. We’ll go over the facts of your case and we’ll call and deal with the insurance company and give them the information that they need to pursue your personal injury case.
3) Who pays my medical bills after a personal injury?
Regarding your medical bills as it relates to a personal injury matter, you get in a car accident and you have to go to the emergency room, you had to be flown the helicopter to a hospital, and you’ve had all of these chiropractic treatments or surgery, etc. Your health insurance has paid for these things. There are a couple of things in Arizona that can happen. First of all, medical providers, hospitals, they can file what we call medical leins. They’re recorded with the county. If they file a medical lein, whenever the proceeds come in for your case, we’re obligated to pay these leins first before dispersing any compensatory funds to you or settlement funds to you as it relates to your personal injury claim. AHCCCS, or the government insurance company, they have what we call statutory leins. They are leins that are automatic by statute. We have to call these folks and deal with them regarding the bill that they’ve paid in response to your medical care.
There’s a negotiation that happens in there. We talk to these folks and get these bills down to make sure that there is some recovery for you and then we go on from there. Will you end up having to pay for these medical bills, etc? The short answer is, yes, unless they file no claim and they’re not interested in being reimbursed or compensated and a lot of insurance companies won’t sometimes. There’s a variable there, could be, maybe not be, but we’d have to look at each individual bill, each individual claim for treatment that you’ve received. We’ll walkthrough. We’ll get them negotiated down to their lowest amount to make sure that we maximize the amount of money that you, the injured party, takes home as a result.
Make sure you gather up all of your medical bills, not just the bills but the records as well because if this goes to trial, we’re going to need both the bills and the records. The bills show the economic impact. The records show the actual injury. You’ll need both of them to craft up a good demand and make a good claim for damages in the trial. Discuss it with one of our attorneys. We’ll make sure we get all of the information we need to pursue those claims.
4) If I have a pre existing condition will that impact my case?
One of the things about personal injury claims as it relates to folks with preexisting conditions is the case law. We call it in the legal field the “eggshell plaintiff” rule. In other words, you take the plaintiff in the condition that you find them. If you had preexisting conditions that weigh into it and that were aggravated by the personal injury that has been caused by the at fault party, those are all considerations that go into damages. They find you like they get you. If you had frailties, it’s reason to believe foreseeable that they would have ran into someone with frailties. There can be considerations given to your preexisting conditions that you have. In no way are your preexisting conditions a bar to recovery or would deny you from getting the recovery that you deserve.
If you have these preexisting conditions and you think that they may play a role in your case, please make sure that you’re upfront and honest about them. Tell them to the attorney, because it’s going to come out down the road once they start requesting medical records should your case proceed to trial. You want to let your attorney know right up front that you have these preexisting health conditions and that they were impacted by the injury and by the accident so that they can adequately address them in the context of the litigation. Make sure you speak when you speak with one of our layers, you discuss that with them so that we can make sure that they are properly addressed.
5) Should I take the first settlement offer?
As with any personal injury claim where an insurance company has accepted liability, there will be a number of settlement offers that will be offered to a harmed party in a case. We’re often asked if clients should accept the first one. We never accept the first anything, unless they’re offering you the policy limits of that insurance policy upfront. If they’re offering you the policy limits, if the person that ran into your car only has a $15,000 insurance policy and they offer you the $15,000 upfront, well, that’s all they’re going to pay you, so of course, if that’s the first offer, then you accept it.
However, if they have $100,000 insurance policy and you have $50,000 worth of bills and they’re only offering you $55,000, are we accepting that? Absolutely not, because it doesn’t compensate for your injuries and for the emotional damages and trauma. We never accept the first offer and we never accept it on behalf of a client, unless it is the policy limits. We want to look at the value of the case and determine what the case is worth. If that first offer is reflective of what we believe that the case is valued then we may accept it. If it’s not reflective of that, then by no means will we accept it.
Oftentimes, too, before you ever get a chance to get to a lawyer, as soon as they know that you have an accident, the insurance company will call you. It’s really aggressive and it’s shameful, offering you some minimum amount. “We’ll send you $500 and we’ll pay for all your medical bills if you will accept.” They try to get you to low ball that because they don’t want you to be compensated for your emotional damages and your pain and suffering. If they call you and offer you something upfront, they’re trying to get out of something. Say no. Pick up the phone. Call our office. We’ll deal with the insurance company for you.
In fact, we’ll tell them to stop calling you and to deal with us related to your personal injury matter so that you can get the most that your case is worth and that the insurance company is not low balling you. If you’ve received this call from an insurance company and you’re not sure what to do, let us tell you what to do. Pick up the phone and call our office. We’ll deal with the insurance company for you and make sure that you get the best value for your case.
Have you or a loved one been injured because of someone else and have questions? After checking out these 5 common personal injury questions, contact experienced Phoenix Personal Injury Attorneys at Smith & Green today for a legal consultation.
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