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FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions

Personal Injury FAQ’s

I’ve been in an accident.  Now what do I do?

First, if you were injured, get medical help – the sooner, the better.  If don’t need to go to the emergency room immediately, and if the police haven’t already done so, take photos or videos of the accident scene and get the contact information from any witnesses.  Don’t admit fault or apologize to anyone else who was involved, especially if the accident was not your fault.  Anything you say after an accident can be used against you later.  If you don’t think that the accident was your fault, call us to discuss your options. The consultation is free.

How do I know if I have a case?

Contact an attorney here for a free consultation. We’ll probably be able to tell you who’s responsible, based on the facts of your case.  In most situations, you’ll have a case if someone acted carelessly and caused your injuries.  However, proving this standard is more complicated than it sounds, which is why it is important to consult an attorney.

What if I don’t feel hurt right away?

The trauma from an accident can cause a biological response that rushes adrenaline throughout your body, and temporarily reduces sensations of pain.  You may start feeling significant pain or develop other symptoms later.  It’s a good idea to consult a doctor after an accident, especially since some of the most serious conditions can emerge over time.

How long do I have to file a personal injury case?

The statute of limitations in Arizona for a tort action is generally two years from the date of injury, or when you knew or should have known of your injury.  If your claim in­volves a state public entity such as a city or town or school district, then the statute of limitations is only one year, and you must also properly serve notice of your claim on the state public entity within 180 days from the date of injury.  Also, if your claim involves a worker’s compensation claim, or a claim that arises by statute (such as a dog bite claim), you may have only one year from the date of injury to preserve your claim.  These and other time periods, subject to several excep­tions, may cut off your right to claim for your injury.  As a practical matter, however, you should try to pursue a claim as soon as possible while the evidence is still fresh. This will help you prove liability and the scope of your damages.

What if an insurance adjuster calls me?

The other driver’s insurance adjuster is looking out for their insured, not you.  They may seem friendly and sympathetic, but they are almost certainly trying to get statements that would reduce or eliminate the liability of their insured. They may also want to know about any past accidents or injuries you may have had.  Without going into detail, tell the insurance adjuster to contact your lawyer, if you have one, or contact your insurance company, if you don’t (then talk to a lawyer).

What are damages in a personal injury case?

Compensatory damages are meant to compensate an injured plaintiff for their loss or injury.  They are either economic or non-economic.  Economic damages after an injury are usually medical bills, lost income and earning capacity, property damage, and the costs of future treatment. Non-economic damages are more subjective, covering items such as pain and suffering, mental anguish, and lost enjoyment of life.  If the defendant acted in an especially egregious manner, for example, extremely reckless or drunk driving, you may be able to recover punitive damages in addition to compensatory damages. These are meant to punish the defendant and deter this type of conduct.

How much is my personal injury case worth?

It depends on the specific nature of your injuries, medical bills, lost earnings, and other facts that usually can’t be determined until your case has been thoroughly investigated.  You can ask an experienced personal injury attorney for a rough estimate, but attorneys are generally prohibited from promising that they’ll recover a certain amount or predicting a definite outcome in a case. Factors such as the insurance of any at-fault parties, their assets, and your own insurance are also important.  Also keep in mind that people who are represented by an experienced personal injury attorney will likely recover substantially more than someone who is not represented, or is represented by an attorney who does not have the experience or focus in that area.

What if I had a pre-existing condition?

You can still get damages from someone else who was at fault for the accident. The damages may be reduced to account for the pre-existing condition, but you can hold another person or entity accountable for aggravating the condition. Someone who interacts with you takes you as they find you, so the question of whether someone without your condition would have been injured is irrelevant. That said, these cases tend to be more complex and may require the assistance of experts, so hiring an attorney can be especially important.

How long will it take to settle my claim?

The overwhelming majority of personal injury cases end in a settlement with the defendant or an insurance company. Unfortunately, the time that it takes to reach a settlement is hard to predict and can vary dramatically. As a general rule, a claim that involves disputed liability or substantial injuries and a significant amount of money will take longer to resolve because the insurer may fight harder over it.  Hiring an attorney sometimes can motivate an insurer to make a fair offer earlier in the process, since they know that they are less likely to be able to take advantage of you.

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