Stabilize Medical Condition
First things first, at the crash site the very first thing that you should do is make sure that anybody who is injured, that their condition is stabilized.
The second thing that you should then do is call 911 and request police assistance at the site and medical assistance if that is a requirement also. According to Arizona Law, if you have been injured in a motor vehicle accident or if the damage to the vehicles exceeds $1,000, by law you are required to report that to the police. Report of Motor Vehicle Accident (Form MV-104) within 10 days of the accident. So it is best to call the police right away at the scene to get it done there and then. Failure to file within 10 days can lead to a suspended license. If a person is injured, contact the police immediately. Failure to file a police report may negate your insurance so it is always recommended you do so. You may not know the level of injuries and value of damages to the vehicles. $1,000 is a low amount, it doesn’t take much!
Once you have done that, the next thing that you need to do is exchange insurance and ownership information with the other driver. That’s also required by law. I.e. You need to give them your information and get theirs.
Wait for the Police to Arrive – Don’t move the vehicles
The police will show up and medical personnel may show up if they were called. The police will require the information from you. Give that to them. Don’t move the vehicles until you have that instruction directly from the police because it is very often critical that the police see for themselves and document on the police files the exact location of the vehicles and even the crash debris on the road. This will be key to determining who’s responsible legally for the accident. Once the police give you the okay then you can move the vehicles.
Receive the Accident / Collision Report
The police will give you, at the end of that investigation on-site, a document called the collision report. That’s a pretty important document. You don’t want to lose that. You want to bring that into your lawyers. They’re going to need that, the information that’s contained on that document.
Get witness information
The next thing that you need to do, of course, is, if there are any witnesses on location, you definitely need to get their names and phone numbers so we can contact them. You would often be amazed and surprised how, after the fact the accident has occurred, the other side says ‘well we’re not responsible for that accident, you are. That’s where the witnesses come in. They can be really important.
Last but not least, if you’ve got a cell phone or a camera, take pictures of the damage to the vehicles, take pictures of the location of the accident, and any other pictures at the scene you think might be of interest. That’s always worthwhile to do.
Write out the facts on a piece of paper and date it
An accident facts form is very useful. Every driver, whether you’re on your motorcycle / in your vehicle or even hit by a car as a cyclist or pedestrian… if you have been in an accident at all… you should probably write out a little bit about the information of the accident, how it occurred, everything you can remember.
We highly recommend that you jot down the facts and all information that you need for your lawyers for the police and for litigation.
When do I need a lawyer?
At what point should a rider (or driver for that matter) decide that a lawyer is needed? There are two situations where you are going to need a lawyer after a crash. Of course, the first situation is if you’ve been injured or anybody on your bike or in your vehicle, as the case may be, has been injured. The sooner you talk to a lawyer the better. The reason for that is that they’ve got to start the evidence-gathering process. The quicker that’s started, the less that gets lost between the cracks. That’s the first situation.
The second situation is if you are not at fault for the accident and the other driver is claiming they’re not at fault for the accident, saying that you are, or, alternatively, if the police come and they don’t charge anybody or they in fact charge you with the accident that you know you’re not at fault for, you really need to talk to a lawyer pretty quickly after that event because the better that you’ve represented the less grief it’s going to cause. Because if you get charged or accused of being at fault for the accident, that can have adverse effects on your claim for compensation, in other words, the number of damages that you are going to collect.
The insurance adjuster is not your friend.
What is the job of the insurance adjuster for the at fault person? The other thing that you need to always bear in mind is that the at fault insurance company, their adjuster’s job is to pay out the least amount of money for the damages created in this accident that they can. That’s what they do.
To put it slightly differently: They’ve got a job to do and their job is not necessarily in the injured plaintiff’s best interest. Their job is to reduce the amount of money that their insurance company has to pay out to get this claim resolved. Plaintiff’s counsel (i.e. your injury attorney) on the other hand, our job is quite a bit different. Our job is to insure that our clients get the full and proper compensation for the injuries and damages that they’ve suffered.
What will the insurance company do to try and mitigate their losses?
What are some of the things that insurance companies do to mitigate their losses when it comes to a crash situation? Do they send investigators out to come and follow you, especially if it is a bigger claim?
The insurance companies hire a lot of experts to try and minimize the amount they have to payout. First off they have professional insurance adjusters who are highly trained to collect information that favors their companies.
The insurance companies have their own specialist doctors; they have specialist lawyers and other legal staff; they have specialist psychologists; accident reconstructionists; the list goes on and on. They have very deep pockets. So it’s really hard for an individual to scale that veritable wall of specialists without having legal representation because if this is the only type of law that you do, and you do it day in and day out, you’re familiar with all of the different types of experts, when you need them, how you need them when you need to counter the insurance companies experts, et cetera.
We pay all the expenses of the claim for our clients. We get paid back when we win the case. The evidence we produce from our own experts is key to getting the top settlement value, as judges will rely on the evidence before them. We need to have evidence to prove the case and counter the evidence put up by the defendant’s’s insurance company.
They will deny liability
One of the first things that happen is they’ll deny liability for the accident for their insured’s driving and say their position is they are not paying out any money.
They may take only partial responsibility
The next position that they might take is ‘well, our driver is only partially responsible for the accident so we are only contributorily negligent for the accident and therefore we are only going to pay out a percentage of the injured party’s damages.’
They can even claim it was an Act of God
‘You know the road was icy and it wasn’t our driver’s fault because the road was icy.’ They will play every card they can to try to pay out the least amount possible to you, or nothing.
Low ball offers
One of the things they can do to mitigate their damages of course is through their adjusters they’ll make you a low ball offer saying that your injuries fall below legislated minimums or whatever. They might offer you $2,500 to $5,000 simply just to go away. They know it is less than what you’d get with proper legal representation and they may say things to you like ‘Well, the law says that’s all your entitled to get’. With all due respect, you really ought to go see a good Arizona injury attorney before you accept those kinds of offers. First to see if your injuries fall in that category. Secondly, to see if that’s the only head of damages that they should be paying out on. You know they may not have considered your loss of income, expenses etc. etc.
They can hire private investigators
Another thing that the insurance companies will do is they’ll hire private investigators to come and take pictures or videos of you. The private investigators will sometimes talk to your co-workers, your neighbors, your ex-spouses, and they will sometimes even go as far as to start getting onto your social media spots and start seeing what you’re saying on there and try and use that against you. So there’s a world of things that they can and will do to reduce the amount that they have to pay out. That’s their job however our job is to combat and counter that!
Why should I choose a Tucson accident injury attorney?
Perhaps the best analogy is that if you got a serious heart problem, you don’t go to your family doctor to have heart surgery. Why? Well, because family doctors don’t do heart surgery day in and day out. The exact same reasoning applies when you go to hire a lawyer for representing you with these types of injuries from these types of accident cases. You want a lawyer who has lots of specific experience to get you the maximum compensation.
What should I say to the adjuster? Direct adjuster to your lawyer!
One of the things that we recommend is that when the at-fault driver’s adjuster contacts you and wants to come to see you to have you give a statement, or the adjuster wants to ask you a bunch of questions about how the accident happened, or what your injuries are, or to get you to sign forms that allows them to get your work information, etc. etc. It’s our recommendation that in that situation you will always tell the adjuster simply, “Please contact my lawyer for any information you want regarding myself or this case”. That way it’s fairly good protection for you so that information that shouldn’t be given to the other side isn’t given to the other side.
We therefore highly recommend that you just tell them ‘call my lawyer’, because (1) when you say that, at that point they’re going to stop bugging you and they’re going to talk to the lawyers; and (2) the other thing that is that a lot of people worry like, ‘OMG, if I hire a lawyer I am involved in a legal process’ or think internally ‘I’m nervous about engaging in the legal process.’ The following is intended to set your mind at ease. It is not as scary as you might think. It is really not scary at all, as your attorneys will do all the work and let you focus on recovery from you injuries.
Should I keep an accident diary?
When you’re in the hospital we don’t want you to keep a diary. You’ve got enough problems that you’ve got to deal with in the hospital. We want you just to concentrate on getting well and getting out of the hospital. Once you get out of the hospital and we meet with you, we will give you something called the Accident Injury Journal, and in this binder, there’s a number of sections in it. We’ve got Wage Loss Record, and then it goes through all of those particular headings. We have in there an Expense Record Index, and Diary Index, Appointment Records, and Instructions to Client with regard to the medical reports, with regard to legal documents, and general correspondence instructions. This is how we like you to do certain things. And, we give every client one of these. So all the correspondence that we receive or send out on their case, we send our clients a copy of it and we ask them to keep it all in this journal. The reason we want to keep it in the journal so we have one ready reference place where all their information is retained and it keeps our clients up to date with what we are doing on the file at all times also.
Zox Law Tucson Injury Attorneys will come to you!
This brings up another point about hospitalization. If you’re in the hospital and you can’t get out to see a lawyer, indeed even if you’re at home recuperating from a serious injury and cannot get out to our office, we’ll come to you wherever you are anywhere in Arizona. Just give us a call and we’ll talk to you, and come out and see you and do what we need to do and get any information necessary for getting your case going.
How does the legal process work?
We have 30+ years of experience in injury cases so we know what we are talking about.
First off, extremely few cases ever reach a courtroom. Some lawyers say 5% however we would estimate fewer than 1% go to a courtroom hearing.
A number of cases will go only as far as oral depositions and that’s where we go into a room, usually our own boardroom in our own law offices. We prepare our clients in advance, brief them on what the deposition process is, and we go into the room and the other lawyer is there, and the other driver. Their lawyer asks you questions about the accident and your injuries etc. and you have to just answer the questions. We ask their driver questions, they have to answer them. It’s all under oath, there is a stenographer there who records everything said. The simplest thing in the world is just to tell the truth and there’s nothing to worry about.
We usually can settle the cases after the oral depositions and once we have gathered and put together all our own experts’ evidence. This can be medical expert evidence as well as economic expert evidence to show your economic losses past and future caused by the motor vehicle accident. We do this to maximize the compensation you should receive and we pay for all of this out of our pockets, we get the money repaid by the defendant’s insurance company when we settle the case. All these costs which we carry are repaid over and above your general damages for pain and suffering in the ultimate settlement amount.
Our advice to all our clients: Always tell the truth!
One of the most important things we tell all our clients is this, when you’re coming to see your lawyer, tell him or her the absolute truth. Tell your doctors the truth. If you have to go to depositions/discoveries, tell the truth there.
People sometimes ask us, “Is it okay to exaggerate?” We would rather you just told the unembellished truth, plain and simple. The reason for that is that it makes your case go faster, you usually get better compensation, and you don’t spend years and years fighting with the other side because, if they believe you are telling the truth, the whole process works much smoother. There is no need to embellish or exaggerate. In fact, to do so may do real harm to your credibility and hurt your case. You will likely end up with less money or no money at all for your accident if you exaggerate or are dishonest about the real facts.
That said we also caution clients not to play down the real suffering they have endured. The diary is a great aid to jog one’s memory about all the suffering they went through in the recovery phase from injuries. So we just encourage you to tell the full truth, without leaving anything out, but without adding anything extra either!
Why Zox Law Tucson, Arizona Injury Attorneys?
We have a 24-hour phone service. In Arizona, the accident injury lawyer is the only law that we do. Zox Law has been a member of the Arizona State Bar for over 30 years since 1987. We understand motorcycle riders and the types of accidents they get into, the types of injuries that they get, and the types of damages they suffer as a result of these accidents. Being riders we understand riders. Last but not least we also understand that on occasion there’s a bit of a bias against riders out there and we’re used to working through that to get just result in terms of the level of compensation for injuries you may have unfortunately sustained. We work very hard for all of our clients.