7 Mistakes That Will Ruin Your Personal Injury Case
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If you have suffered a serious injury, contact a Phoenix personal injury attorney at Smith & Green to fight the insurance companies and obtain you the maximum compensation. Call for a free no-obligation consultation.
When you are injured in an accident due to the fault of another, it can be a complete and utter game-changer! Accidents and injuries can lead to long unexpected hospital stays, massive medical bills, permanent bodily impairment and prolonged periods of no income while you are off of work recovering. In one sudden instant you can go from being healthy and financially secure to being unable to walk, unable to work, and fearful of losing just about everything.
At our office, we understand that suffering personal injuries from an accident can be a catastrophic, life-altering ordeal. That’s why we dedicate our legal practice to helping protect the rights of injured parties. At Smith & Green, we are experienced Phoenix personal injury attorneys that focus our practice on getting top dollar settlements and jury awards for injured parties just like yourself. We have a reputation for excellence and for relentlessly fighting the insurance companies to ensure that our clients get the maximum compensation they deserve.
We routinely represent people who were injured in car accidents, trucking accidents, and motorcycle accidents. We handle premises liability cases (such as slip and falls), dog bite cases, bicycle accidents, pedestrian accidents, and every other type of case involving injuries due to the fault of another, including cases against cities, municipalities, governmental agencies, and government employees.
The first thing we advise all of our clients to do after an accident resulting in injuries is to take immediate action. Personal injury cases do not get better with time. It is of utmost importance that the injured party obtain medical care at the time of the accident or as soon as reasonably possible thereafter.
The first and most obvious reason to seek immediate medical attention is for the sake of your health and well-being. The second reason is that failing to seek medical attention within a reasonable time after sustaining your injuries is very detrimental to your personal injury case. The majority of personal injury cases involve insurance carriers for the at-fault party, whether it be automobile insurance in the case of a car wreck, error and omissions insurance in medical malpractice cases, or general commercial liability insurance in the case of a slip and fall in a store.
Insurance companies do not stay in business by paying out money on their claims. The hire dedicated adjusters tasked with the duty of reviewing your claim in an effort to deny it, or pay out as little money as possible. One of the first things an adjuster does in an effort to deny a claim is they look for a gap between the date of the accident and the first date of medical treatment. If the adjuster sees that the injured party waited until three weeks after the accident to seek initial medical treatment, they will not pay out on the claim, as they know that their attorneys can easily convince a jury that the party wasn’t that injured from the accident if they waited a whole three weeks to seek medical care.
The second most important action the injured party should take after seeking medical treatment is to retain one of our experienced Phoenix personal injury attorneys as soon as possible. Arizona law has a strict 2-year statute of limitations for the filing of personal injury lawsuits. In cases where the at fault party is a city, municipality, governmental entity, or employee of a governmental entity, the party must file an initial claim within 180 days of the accident and then has 1 year to bring the lawsuit. While these may sound like long time periods, they are next to nothing in terms of legal time. In many cases, it may take the greater part of a year, or longer, for the injured party to even complete medical treatment for their injuries. Retaining an injury attorney right out of the gate will ensure that you don’t miss any time sensitive deadlines that could prevent you from settling your case or having it heard in court.
Retaining an experienced personal injury attorney will shield and protect you from direct communications from the insurance carrier. Once an attorney signs on to represent you, the at-fault party’s insurance carrier can no longer have any direct communication with you outside the presence of your attorney. This is of crucial importance to the injured party as it is common custom for the insurance carrier to make very early low-ball offers to unrepresented parties in hopes of closing the claims out as quickly as possible. Injured parties who jump at such offers are generally shortchanging themselves of a substantial portion of the recovery they would otherwise be entitled to. Hiring a Phoenix personal injury attorney early is extremely important because it prevents the insurance carrier from taking any recorded statements of you. Insurance carriers routinely seek to take a recorded interview of the injured party. In doing such, they often ask questions that tend to solicit damaging and unfavorable statements from the injured party, which the insurance carrier and their lawyers later use to either deny the claim or get the case dismissed from court. Once you are represented, they lose that advantage!
When you retain an experienced injury attorney early on, your attorney takes the reigns for you and will provide you with a strategic game plan that will put you in the best possible position to recover the maximum amount of compensation you deserve. For example, your attorney will instruct you about the various categories of damages you can expect to recover including: medical expenses (past and future), lost wages (past and future), property damage, losses and out of pocket expenses, pain and suffering, loss of consortium and permanent physical impairment. Your attorney will request all of your relevant medical records and bills and immediately begin compiling and itemizing a comprehensive list of all of your economic damages, so that none are left out. In some cases, your attorney may even consult with economists, physicians, life care planners, and vocational experts to accurately account for all of the costs of your future medical care and future lost earning capacity. All of this is done, of course, to ensure that you get the best possible recovery for each and every injury, loss and harm you suffered in the accident.
What Are Tips for Dealing with Insurance?
Many of our clients have advised us that immediately after an injury, they have been contacted by their insurance company asking for statements. There have been situations where, after an injury, you think that you should immediately contact your insurance company. You really shouldn’t do that. I recommend that you contact your attorney and let us call your insurance company for you. The reason I say that is there are certain things that you could say that could hurt your case. Now, most people think that their own insurance company is on their side. The sad reality is that the insurance companies may be trying to limit their exposure so that they can pay you as little as possible. Make sure you contact your attorney. Let your attorney handle the conversations with the insurance companies so that you don’t say anything that could mess up your case.
How Do We Determine the Value of a Case?
When our clients come to us with a personal injury case, one of the very first questions they ask is, “What is the value of my case? How much is it worth?” That is a very difficult question to answer. A lot of times it comes down to the specific nature of that person’s injuries. Not only the physical injuries but sometimes there can be some mental injuries as well. It can be very difficult assessing or valuing a case. We can look at precedent. We can look at other cases that have been settled in the state of Arizona. There are other things that we can do to help you determine the value of your case. There’s no set formula for determining the appropriate value of a case. It can be difficult. You need an experienced attorney in Arizona to help you determine what the value of your case is.
Should I Take a First Settlement Offer?
Many of our clients have received offers from insurance companies that are far below what the value of their case is. With any kind of a negotiation to resolve a case, there’s going to be some back and forth. Usually, the first offer is not something that a client should ever consider taking. There may be that rare instance where somebody received a fair offer the first go around, but that’s not usually the case. I would not recommend taking an offer from an insurance company right away. I would recommend consulting with an experienced attorney and determining whether or not that’s the proper value of that case and whether or not you should consider accepting that offer.
What is the Minimum Amount of Medical Bills for a Claim?
We have clients with injuries with a very broad range as far as the amount of medical bills that they have incurred from the accident. There is not a minimum limit to any type of injury in order to file a lawsuit. In some cases, your medical expenses might be very low, but you might have a good chance of recovering a large sum of money for compensatory damages or punitive damages. Let’s say for example you’ve had long-term mental health issues as result of the accident. In those cases, you might not have a lot in terms of medical bills. There is no minimum amount of medical bills or cost or anything like that in order to bring a lawsuit.
What is the Disadvantage of Not Seeking Immediate Medical Care?
We often get questions about what you should do first in the event of an accident. Sometimes we get calls from clients who didn’t seek out medical care right from the very beginning. My advice is if you are hurt, as soon as you see any sign of injury whatsoever, back pain, neck pain, leg pain, you should immediately seek out medical care. It certainly makes it easier for us to recover for those injuries if we can show that the injury is related to the accident. Now, if you’re in that situation where you didn’t seek out care and it did take some time for the injury to manifest, that does not bar your claim. Again, we would rather you have sought treatment right away, but if you did not, that’s not unusual. That happens from time to time. If that happened to you, seek out counsel from an experienced injury attorney in Arizona.
How Long is a Personal Injury Case?
One of the first questions we get from clients is how long this is going to take. Our clients are concerned because they’ve got medical bills they need to pay, or they’re getting notices about late medical bills, those sorts of things. Those are all legitimate questions and concerns, but there is no blueprint for how long it’s going to take to process your injury case. Every case is totally different. Some of them can be resolved very quickly with settlements while others could take a very long time.
For example, our primary concern is not with how long it’s going to take to process your personal injury case but waiting until you’re healthy. We want to make sure that you get all of the treatment that you need, all the treatment that you deserve before we even seek any kind of a recovery from the insurance company. Again, our primary concern is going to be making sure that you get the treatment that you need. It’s not going to be with hurrying up and rushing through the case and trying to finish it as quick as we can. That’s not our biggest priority.
When Should I Hire a Phoenix Personal Injury Attorney?
Most of our clients have contacted us immediately following the accident. We get called right away. Some of them have called us right after the accident occurred asking us what they should do. That’s not always the case. If you’re ever seriously injured, maybe you’re unconscious, maybe you’re transported to the hospital. My recommendation to you would be to call an attorney as soon as you’re able to. You want to make sure that you call an attorney right away so that they can make sure that you don’t do something that could harm your case.
For example, insurance companies, immediately following an accident, are going to call you. They’re going to try to get statements. That can hurt your case, but then also after the accident, there are certain things that you can use as evidence that can help preserve your case like for example, taking pictures. All those things can really help us when we’re trying to establish liability. I would recommend contacting an attorney as soon as you possibly can.
The Phoenix personal injury attorneys at Smith & Green will fiercely advocate for you at every turn. We understand just how scary and traumatic the prospect of a post-accident life can be for the injured party. When you meet with us, you will find a down-to-earth team of attorneys and staff that you can completely trust! We are here to make your post-accident life as stress free as possible so you can focus on recovering from your injuries knowing that your personal injury case is in the best possible hands. Best of all, we work on a contingency fee basis and only get paid when we settle or win your case. Call today for a free consultation. There are no hidden charges or out of pocket expenses. Let us work for you!