Who Pays for My Medical Bills After An Accident in Arizona?

After an auto accident, your worries increase immediately. You’re probably in a lot of pain, and you begin to see medical bills piling up. And who is going to pay for all of it? The weight of financial devastation can weigh you down and make it feel like there is no hope.

According to the Arizona Department of Transportation, nearly 54,000 people were injured in vehicle accidents in the State of Arizona in 2015. The average cost for the medical treatment of the injuries from those accidents is astronomical. The average incapacitating injury cost over $90,000. The average non-incapacitating injury cost $26,000, and the average cost of investigating possible injuries was a whopping $21,000. These figures show that any way you cut it, the medical bills for the average car accident in Arizona can be expensive.

So, who picks up the tab for all of this expensive medical treatment? In a car accident, which insurance company is responsible? If an insurance company does pay the doctor’s bills, does any of that money have to be paid back? Where does Medicare enter into the picture?

At the end of the day, your medical bills are your responsibility. Yes, someone else’s insurer may be responsible for compensating you for the cost of treating the injuries they caused. However, until that compensation arrives, the burden of payment remains on you. Medical providers can still demand payment and send your accounts into collections if those payments are not received. This will affect your creditworthiness. Therefore, it makes sense to make payments on your medical bills if and when you can and wait to be reimbursed for those payments by the negligent party’s insurer.

That being said, let’s examine a few different payment situations involving accident-related medical bills and their payment. After reading through these examples, you’ll start to get an idea of how you can get the cost of your medical treatment taken care of quickly, with the least possible amount of personal expense.

Personal Health Insurance

Your personal health insurance coverage is the primary source of coverage for any medical bills arising from the treatment of car accident injuries. It’s going to work the same way that it does for any other covered medical expense that you incur in your day-to-day life. You give your medical providers your insurance information and, in most cases, they will bill your health insurance company directly. Obviously, you will still be responsible for any deductibles or copayments, per the agreement between you and your insurer.

Don’t be afraid to use your insurance. After all, this situation is precisely why you decided to invest in health insurance coverage in the first place. However, be aware that if you receive a settlement or judgment, your insurer is entitled to recoup all payments it made on your behalf that arose out of your accident. Obviously, this is only fair. You cannot expect one insurer to pay for the cost of your medical treatment and then have another insurer pay you compensation for the same cost. In such a case, you’d receive a double recovery, and your insurer would be left holding the bag.

The Other Driver’s Auto Insurance

If you do not have health insurance coverage, you still may be able to have your medical treatments paid for by the auto insurance policy of the at-fault driver. If you have health insurance, your auto insurance coverage could help you pay for your deductible and any co-pay charges that you still must come up with out-of-pocket.

Auto insurance policies will only cover medical expenses up to the amount stated on the policy, so if you have coverage up to $100,000, and your treatment costs add up to $150,000, you would still be personally responsible for the $50,000 that exceeds the other driver’s coverage. This is why it pays to carry as much insurance coverage as you can afford to buffer your finances against a situation like this.

Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Coverage

As you probably know, Arizona law requires that all drivers carry auto insurance that provides a minimum of $15,000 per person and $30,000 per accident in bodily injury liability coverage. Unfortunately, a significant percentage of Arizona drivers flaunt this law. If the driver who caused the accident that injured you had no insurance or had insurance that was insufficient to pay for your injuries, you could look to your own uninsured/underinsured coverage to pay your medical bills.

Uninsured motorist coverage is auto insurance that you purchase that protects you and the passengers in your car from the damages caused by a driver who carries no liability insurance. With uninsured motorist coverage, the insurer will pay compensatory damages to you for bodily injuries that resulted from the uninsured driver, up to the policy limits.

Underinsured motorist coverage is also auto insurance that you purchase. Underinsured coverage protects you and the passengers in your car from the damages caused by a driver who has insufficient liability insurance coverage to pay for your injuries. The insurer will pay compensatory damages to you for bodily injuries whose cost exceeds the other driver’s policy limits, but only up to the limit of the underinsured motorist policy.

No Insurance Coverage of Any Type

If you do not have any insurance coverage, your medical bills are your sole responsibility to pay. Your medical providers will probably not wait until you settle your case for you to pay, so it is essential that you keep lines of communication open with the billing offices. Let them know that you have an open claim or lawsuit and that you are working with an attorney on a settlement. They will not put a hold on the bills, but you can work out a low monthly payment plan that will show good faith until your case is settled.

When your treatments have ended, and you have physically recovered from all of your injuries, you can then begin to settle your claim. The entire amount of all of your medical bills will be included in your damages. If you have insurance, you will reimburse their payments to medical professionals for your treatment out of the compensation you receive. Your personal injury attorney will help you navigate the entire process.

Keep in mind that an experienced personal injury attorney will be able to negotiate with health insurance companies, auto insurance companies, and government entities such as Medicare to have what you owe them reduced – sometimes by as much as 50%.

The attorneys at Lazzara Law Firm are familiar with the complexities of competing insurance interests following a car accident. They can work the various insurers to get your medical bills paid and make sure that you receive every penny of compensation to which you’re entitled. Contact us today for a free and confidential consultation.

Can I handle my own car accident case?

The short answer to this question is: yes, you can handle your own car accident case. But there are many, many reasons why you may not want to, not the least of which is that you’ll probably get greater compensation for your injuries if you hire an experienced personal injury attorney like those here at Lazzara Law Firm.

If you’ve been in an accident and sustained injuries due to someone else’s negligence, you know how quickly your life can change. All it takes is an instant for things to go badly, and all of a sudden, you’re injured, your car is damaged or possibly even totaled, and your life is never going to be the same. Or at least that’s how it feels at the time.

It doesn’t even matter what the reason for the accident was – someone else was negligent while driving, and now you’re paying the price for it. The harsh reality is that you’re in pain, wondering how you’re going to pay for everything, and wondering when you’re going to be able to get back to work. You’ve suffered lost wages from not being able to work both now and in the future, mounting medical bills for treatments, minor or major medical procedures or surgeries, possible emergency room visits, ambulance fees, and property damage to your vehicle. All of this is creating an enormous amount of stress in your life, as you wonder how you’re going to take care of your family with all of this going on.

Like we’ve said, you could handle your own case. But be aware that the insurance companies you’ll be dealing with have teams of attorneys on their side – all trained and experienced in making sure people like you get paid as little compensation as possible. See, insurance companies are in the business of making money. The less they pay out in insurance claims, the more money stays in the business. That means you’ll be up against powerful, knowledgeable lawyers who have been through this dozens – maybe hundreds of times before!

On the other hand, if you hire an experienced personal injury attorney to represent you, they will be well-versed in all the car accident laws that pertain to your case. They’ll be able to properly evaluate your unique situation and the facts surrounding the accident that caused your injuries to give you a reasoned opinion on what your case is worth.

An attorney will be able to collect all the evidence you need to prove negligence…police reports, witness statements, medical records, and photographs. They’ll ask you important questions that will help them defend your case against the negligent driver’s insurance company. This evidence is extremely important in helping you to obtain all the compensation that you are entitled to for your damages, and your attorney will observe all of the evidence in the case to get the most money for you that they can.
There’s a lot to know about attempting to defend your case against the opposing insurance company. There are people you should communicate with, and those you should not talk to. There are things you should say, and things you shouldn’t say. If your case goes to court, there will be many various forms to fill out and very specific administrative and court procedures to follow. If these procedures are not followed to the letter, your case could easily get thrown out of court.

If you get overwhelmed with the process, an attorney at Lazzara Law Firm will be there to explain how the legal process works, and answer the many questions you have regarding the compensation you’re entitled to, and when you’ll receive it. This can help alleviate an enormous amount of stress in your life so that you can focus on healing the physical and psychological wounds you suffered in the accident.

One of the distinct advantages of hiring an attorney instead of attempting to defend your own case is that, once you have found the attorney you want to work with, it becomes relatively hands-off for you. They do the paperwork. They take care of negotiations with the insurance company for your compensation. And if a suitable settlement can’t be reached, they will deal with all of the court procedures and litigation of your case. And they will do all of this because it’s what they do for a living. You wouldn’t ask your hairstylist to fix your car, would you? Your attorney does what he or she does so well because that’s all they do.

And you won’t have to pay a personal injury attorney out of your own pocket. That’s right – not one penny. Personal injury attorneys work on what is called a contingency basis. This means that they are paid out of the compensation that they can secure for you. It’s usually a percentage – around one-third, or 33% – and after they’re paid, the rest of the money is yours as compensation for the damages you’ve suffered. As an example, let’s say that your attorney negotiates a settlement with the insurance company representing the negligent driver in the accident that caused your injuries. Your attorney is able to secure $200,000 in damages for you. First, you’ll pay the attorney their 33%, or $66,000. The rest of the money, or $134,000, is then yours to keep.

Because your attorney will get paid based on the amount they are able to get for you, it’s in their best interest to fight for as much money as possible. When you get paid, they get paid, so it’s a win-win situation for everyone involved.

So before you decide to take on big insurance companies, and their highly-trained attorneys, contact Lazzara Law Firm and let us evaluate your case. You’ll probably find that it’s easier, much less stressful, and more lucrative to hire a qualified, experienced attorney to fight for the compensation you deserve for your injuries and property damage. Let Lazzara Law Firm handle your case so that you can spend your time recovering properly from your injuries. You can contact us at (480) 456-3080, or online on our contact page.

6 Ways To Ruin Your Car Accident Claim

If you’ve been in a car accident caused by someone else’s negligence, your life has undoubtedly gotten more complicated. You have to deal with the daily pain of the injuries caused by the accident. You also have to deal with the treatments for those injuries, as well as the limitations those injuries impose on your daily activities. On top of this, you are also probably unable to work. Bills are piling up and you wonder how they will be paid. In short, you are under an enormous amount of physical and mental stress.

The one light at the end of the tunnel is the fact that someone else is responsible for all of the physical and financial damages that you’re experiencing. Their insurer is responsible for compensating you for the losses that you’ve suffered as a result of the accident. This is why it is extremely important that any claim made against the other driver’s insurer be handled properly. To that end, in this article we’re going to look at some of the more common mistakes that are made when pursuing an accident claim.

Failing to Get a Police Report

Failing to obtain a police report regarding your accident is possibly the number one way to decrease your chances of obtaining the compensation that you deserve. If you’ve been in a car accident and the police are not on the scene, call 911 and state that you’ve been in a car accident and would like to have the police present. When the police arrive, they will begin investigating the accident. Answer any questions posed to you to the best of your ability. The information that is contained in this report has the potential to become invaluable evidence that supports your claim.

Not Seeking Medical Attention

One of the most common mistakes made after being involved in a car accident is failing to seek medical attention. Even if you don’t feel as if you’re injured, it is better to be cautious and get yourself examined at an ER or by your own doctor. There’s a very good reason to do so. Many injuries that occur during an accident do not become apparent for hours, days, or weeks after the accident has occurred. Neck and back trauma are prime examples of this phenomenon. If you do have injuries that manifest later, your failure to seek immediate medical attention can be used against you. An insurer can attempt to claim that your injuries are not as severe as they seem or that they were not actually caused by the accident itself.

Neglecting to Tell Your Doctor Everything

When you are being examined, you have an obligation to tell your doctor everything about how you are feeling. No detail is too small to be left out. After all, it isn’t your job to diagnose yourself. Let your doctor make a record of every symptom that you have and decide what needs treatment. The record that your doctor makes will be evidence that connects any injuries, current or future, to the accident itself. That evidence could very well help you obtain the compensation you deserve for the injuries you’ve suffered.

Not Contacting an Attorney Immediately

If you’ve been injured in a car accident you need to contact an attorney as quickly as possible. Insurance companies are in business to make profit. Yes, they spend millions on advertising that promotes their friendliness and neighborliness. However, at the end of the day, money is what matters to them most, not your well-being. An experienced personal injury attorney understands this. When you hire an attorney to represent you early on in the claim process, they will be able to advise you on how to behave as to maximize your chances of successfully settling your insurance claim. They will also work to insure that the amount of settlement is as large as it can possibly be under the circumstances. Without an attorney, you are at the mercy of the insurance company. In such a case, your interests will take a back seat to their bottom line.

Divulging Details to the Insurance Company

Insurance adjusters and attorneys who work for insurance companies are not your friends. They will try to get you to believe that they have your best interests at heart. They will express sympathy about your situation and will tell you that they are there to help you in any way they can. The problem is, they are not.

All of the representatives of the insurance company that you deal with are paid by that company. Their livelihood depends on staying within their employer’s good graces. As such, they will do what they can within the limits of the law to reduce the amount of your claim as much as possible or, if they can, eliminate it altogether.

This is why it’s important that you do not divulge details regarding your accident or your condition to any representatives of the other driver’s insurer. Any information you give them will be used to attempt to reduce or eliminate your claim. If you are represented by an attorney, simply give any representative of the other driver’s insurer your attorney’s contact details and ask them to contact him or her. Then refuse to answer any further questions.

Not Adhering to Doctor’s Orders

If you’ve been injured in an accident, your doctor has set out a plan of treatment that is designed to get you back to normal as quickly as possible. Your failure to follow your doctor’s plan of treatment is the best way for you to torpedo your chances to be adequately compensated for your injuries. When you skip doctors’ appointments and physical therapy appointments it creates a presumption that you are not as injured as you claim to be. The insurance company involved in your claim will eagerly take note of your failure to follow your doctor’s orders. They will then use your actions against you. They will point to any and all missed appointments as evidence that you aren’t actually injured, but are instead malingering.

10 Ways to Avoid a Car Accident

In 2015 in the state of Arizona alone, there were 116,609 total car crashes. Of those crashes, 895 proved fatal. Alcohol was responsible for 295 fatalities and 3205 injuries. Excessive speed was responsible for 300 fatalities and 21,991 injuries. Clearly, if you drive on Arizona roads, staying sober, driving within speed limits, and paying attention are things you should be doing.

With all these crashes happening on the roads, how can one stay safe and avoid an auto accident? What are the best ways to prevent getting in an accident in the first place? Of course, there is simple common sense. Make sure you are aware of who goes first at an intersection. Don’t follow the car in front of you closely. Don’t exceed the speed limit – especially if road conditions aren’t ideal. But beyond these common sense tips and basic rules of the road, what else can be done to prevent an accident? Let’s take a look.

  1. Drive in the center lane, not the fast lane, or the slow lane. The majority of highway accidents actually occur in the left lane. When you drive in the center lane, if something should happen (say, a car slams on their brakes in front of you), you have multiple ways to avoid a collision by changing lanes, or pulling over onto the shoulder of the road or highway you are on. Also, you will attract more attention if you are driving in the fast lane, and it may not be the attention you want (think red and blue lights flashing in your rear-view mirror).
  2. Continually scan the area ahead of you on the road, and on the sides of the road too. If you’re in an urban area, don’t just concentrate on the car in front of you. Watch what is happening with the cars ahead of that one as well. When you watch traffic like this, you’ll be aware of anything happening while you still have plenty of time to react to it appropriately and safely. If you’re in a rural area, scan the sides of the road for wildlife that may be entering the road. Slow down and proceed cautiously if you do see anything on the side of the road because an animal can dart out in a heartbeat.
  3. Be aware of all the blind spots you have, and don’t just rely on your mirrors. Actually turn to look when you’re changing lanes, backing up, parallel parking, etc. so that you are completely sure of what there is in the area you’re entering.
  4. Keep both hands on the steering wheel, in the “9 and 3” position (as if you were looking at a clock). Driving with one hand on the wheel, or driving with your hands at the bottom of the wheel, arms resting in your lap will decrease your response time in the event of something unexpected happening on the roadway. You need to have your hands on the wheel in the correct position to ensure quick maneuvering should you need it.
  5. Position your seat close enough to the steering wheel so that you can rest your wrist on the top of the wheel with your arm stretched out in front of you. While you won’t be driving that way, this is the correct position to avoid arm fatigue while driving, and to make sure you can maneuver quickly.
  6. They say you can’t judge a book by its cover, but you should judge a driver by his or her car condition and appearance. While this certainly isn’t accurate 100% of the time, it makes sense that an ill-maintained car might just be driven by an inattentive driver. The point is, watch for signals that you may be near a driver who may be potentially unsafe.
  7. Be aware of the limitations of your own vehicle. A 4-wheel drive truck with a V10 engine isn’t going to drive the same as a sports car or a minivan. It’s up to you to know your vehicle and what it is capable of. Learn how the vehicle itself reacts to certain situations such as wet or icy roads, or sharp corners, and be acutely aware of how quickly your car brakes in normal driving conditions, and in inclement weather. Knowing all of this ahead of time will increase your reaction time when you need it.
  8. Be attentive to your vehicle’s maintenance needs. Skipping scheduled maintenance will result in problems that could cause an accident, such as keeping old tires on a car instead of getting new ones when you need to. It won’t be worth the money you save on the tires if you’re dead because you went over a guardrail. All maintenance is important, and you should stick to what your manufacturer’s manual recommends.
  9. Avoid nighttime driving whenever you can. First, you can’t see the best at night, and there are hazards that you may not be able to see at all. Second, nighttime is when you’ll find more drunk and/or tired drivers on the road, as well as more teenagers. Also, pay attention to your head- and tail-lights to make sure they’re not burned out. If you find that you must drive after dark, pay extra attention to the road and the vehicles surrounding you.
  10. Pay to learn how to drive well by going to a high-performance driving school. Not only will you have a blast taking a car to its limits, but you will also learn vital avoidance maneuvers that could save your life in an accident when you need to think quickly. And you’ll learn it in a safe environment, instead of on an icy road. This is a smart investment in your driving skills.

Of course, you can be the safest, most attentive, and un-distracted driver in the world, but you can’t control what other drivers are doing. Accidents will still happen. But you can be as aware as possible of the conditions, drivers, and vehicles surrounding you to help avoid accidents wherever possible. Remember that driving is not a passive activity.

6 Facts You Should Know About Personal Injury Law

Being injured because of someone else’s negligence can change your life forever. You’re experiencing a significant amount of pain. It’s likely that your injuries are preventing you from working. You might be looking at weeks, or even months of recovery and physical therapy. In the most extreme case, you may never fully recover and will always be physically limited by the effects of your injuries.

Under Arizona law, you have the ability to obtain compensation for the personal and financial damages caused by the negligent acts of the person who injured you. You may have considered filing a lawsuit to obtain the compensation to which you’re entitled. If you have, there are a few vital facts about personal injury law that you need to know before you bring any legal action.

1. Personal injury law covers more than car accidents.

If you’re like most people, you associate personal injury law with car accidents. That’s a reasonable conclusion to reach. Car accidents are one of the most common causes of injury that occur due to negligence. Nevertheless, the relief offered by personal injury law is not limited to the victims of vehicle collisions.

Motorcycle, bicycle, and pedestrian accidents are all governed by personal injury law, as are injuries caused by slips and falls, defective products, and medical malpractice. Even dog bites can be considered personal injuries. If someone else’s negligence has caused you harm in any significant way, the chances are good that you have a valid personal injury claim.

2. In general, insurance companies are not on your side.

For the majority of personal injury claims, insurance companies provide the money that pays for settlements and damage awards. Despite this fact, insurance companies are not on the side of the injured party in a negligence suit. The primary purpose of the insurance industry is to turn a profit. That purpose cannot be satisfied if too much money is paid on claims against policies issued.

This means that when it comes to your personal injury claim, the insurance company involved will do everything it can to limit, or even deny your recovery.

3. An experienced personal injury attorney can make all the difference.

If you’re like the average personal injury victim, you could be facing tens of thousands, or even hundreds of thousands of dollars in bills for your medical treatment. You have likely lost a considerable amount of time at work. In fact, you may no longer be able to perform your job duties. As a result, you may not be able to return to work at all. None of this even begins to account for the pain, suffering, and loss of routine activities that have been caused by your injuries.

A competent personal injury attorney understands how your life has been changed by your injuries. They also understand the law and are able to use their knowledge and experience to communicate the value of your case to insurance adjusters, judges, and juries. Having an experienced personal injury attorney on your side often means the difference between obtaining the compensation you deserve and settling for an amount of money that fails to cover your needs.

4. Personal injury cases take time.

When you’re in pain, you want relief. Likewise, when you’re under the financial and personal strains caused by an injury, you also want relief. You want your life to get back to normal. You want to get out from under the pile of bills that keeps building up. You want the person liable for changing your life to take responsibility for their actions.

Your feelings are completely understandable. Nevertheless, successfully pursuing a personal injury claim takes time. The process cannot be rushed. A successful claim often hinges on careful preparation. Documents need to be gathered. Witness testimony needs to be taken. Every bit of relevant evidence needs to be gathered together to tell a story that convinces an insurance company to settle, or a jury to find in your favor. Remember, the ultimate goal is for you to obtain adequate compensation for your injuries.

5. No two personal injury cases are ever alike.

Though your particular injury case may fall into a specific category (car accident, slip and fall, etc.) each case is unique in and of itself. This is the reason why a one-size-fits-all approach cannot be used when investigating and litigating a personal injury claim. An experienced personal injury attorney realizes this. They treat your case as the one-of-a-kind matter that it truly is. Nothing is taken for granted or left to chance.

They know that a successful personal injury case not only depends on the facts involved, it also depends on the person who is presenting those facts. That is why a good attorney will not only gather all the necessary factual information, they will also present those facts to an insurance adjuster or jury in a manner designed to achieve the optimal results for their client.

6. You do not need to pay money up front to hire a personal injury attorney. 

Attorneys that practice in areas of the law outside of personal injury usually require an upfront payment in order to take your case. This is not the case in personal injury law. Personal injury attorneys are paid on a contingency basis. This means that the attorney will represent you without requiring any type of advance payment. If you don’t recover any money, they don’t get paid.

They will only receive a fee for their efforts if they successfully conclude your case. In other words, their fee is contingent on you receiving compensation for your injuries. When your case is successfully concluded, your attorney will take a portion of the amount of money recovered, generally 33%, as a fee for the efforts that they have put forth on your behalf.

3 Tips for Dealing With Insurance Companies After A Car Accident

After you’ve been in a car accident, life becomes complicated. To begin with, you’re likely dealing with the injuries caused by the accident. This means that you’re in pain. You’re also dealing with the limited mobility that an injury often brings. You can’t do what you’re normally able to do and even the simplest of tasks now seems impossible.

You’re also having to deal with the damage to your property that was caused by the accident. Your car has been damaged, perhaps seriously enough so that it’s not drivable. While you’re waiting for it to be repaired or replaced, you have to figure out how to get around. This means that you have to rely on friends, family or public transportation for a ride. Alternatively, you may find yourself having to rent a car which can be expensive.

Finally, you’re dealing with the stress of the unknown. You may not be able to work as a result of your injuries. You find yourself wondering who is going to pay for the bills that keep piling up. You worry about how you’re going to take care of yourself and your loved ones in the weeks or even months that it may take you to recover.

On top of everything else that you’re experiencing, you now also have to begin dealing with your insurance company and the insurance company of the driver who caused the accident that injured you. Both companies want information about the accident. You might not know how to answer the questions that are being posed to you. This feeling of uncertainty can increase the amount of stress that your feeling, which only makes the whole situation worse.

The last thing that you need at this point is more stress. Therefore, here are 3 things to keep in mind when communicating with any insurer. Using these tips will allow you to give the insurer the information they require to process your claim while, at the same time, protecting your interests.

The Insurance Company is a Potential Enemy

Insurance protects against loss. For a small fee paid on a regular basis, you are shielded financially from the potential of a large, catastrophic loss in the future. The concept makes sense. This is the reason why the insurance industry is able to collect over a trillion dollars in premiums every year.

That level of income means that insurance is a big business. Like any big business, the insurance industry in the United States needs profits to survive. So, while you protect yourself from loss by purchasing insurance, the company that sells you that policy protects itself from loss, in part, by doing what it can to reduce the amount of money that it pays out in claims.

After a car accident, the communications that you have with the representatives of any insurance company will generally be helpful and friendly. After all, the industry likes to market itself in terms of neighborliness and protection, However, never forget that anything you say to any representative of an insurance company has the potential to be used against you to devalue or deny the claim that you’ve made against the policy they’ve issued. Which brings us to the second thing you need keep in mind when dealing with an insurance company.

Facts and Nothing but the Facts

Facts are powerful things. They can be used to establish truth, find guilt and determine liability. In a car accident case, facts will be used to determine the value of a settlement or the amount of a judgment award. This means that in order to obtain an amount of money that adequately compensates you for your damages, you have to use solid and verifiable information. Conjecture, estimates and guesses will not help you to achieve the result you need.

This is why it is imperative that all of the information that you provide to an insurer in regard to your auto accident is factual. Your opinions will not take the place of verifiable proof. Therefore, in all communications with the representatives of an insurance company, stick to the facts as you understand them and nothing but the facts.

A great place to start is by giving the insurer all of the official documents that pertain to your claim. Police reports, witness statements and photographs are objective and based in fact. They establish what happened right before an accident and the subsequent results.

Medical records are another excellent source of factual information. Your medical records provide verifiable details of the nature of your injuries, the treatments your received and your general prognosis. They give the insurer an accurate snapshot of the pain, suffering and inconvenience that was a result of the accident. They also give an accurate count of how much your medical treatment cost.

An insurer may ask you to give them a statement about the accident. If this happens, it is imperative that you stick closely to the facts as you understand them. This is not the time to get emotional or advocate your claim. If you don’t know the answer to a question, say so. You are not being scored on how many questions you answered correctly. Saying “I don’t know” is infinitely better than guessing at something that you don’t remember clearly. When you make a statement based on a guess, you turn something that’s non-factual into the truth. The insurer will then use this non-factual fact against you to devalue or deny your claim.

Get Help When You Need It

The representatives of an insurer that you talk to are pros. Every day, they deal with people just like you who are making claims against insurance policies that have been issued by representative’s employer. They do not get paid to facilitate those claims. They are instructed and rewarded to do everything possible to “deny, delay and defend against” the claims that cross their desks. They know more about the insurance industry than you can ever hope to know. They will use this knowledge against you in an attempt to get you to settle your claim for less than it is worth.

Know when you’re in over your head and get help. An experienced car accident lawyer has the knowledge and skills necessary to advocate on your behalf to the insurer. They will present the facts of your case in the best possible light so that you are able to obtain the compensation that you deserve. An experienced attorney also knows the law. If the insurer refuses a reasonable settlement demand, your attorney will bring a lawsuit on your behalf and get you the compensation that you need in a court of law.

10 Ways To Relieve Back And Neck Pain After A Car Accident

After you’ve been involved in a car accident, the pain you feel can be unbelievable, especially down your spine. Whiplash is the #1 medical complaint for car accident victims, and whiplash can affect not only your neck, but your entire spine right down to your tailbone.

There are four stages of whiplash – first, as impact occurs, your mid-back is pressed flat against your seat back, which compresses your spine upward. Second, your torso accelerates with impact, but your head does not. This creates a “whipping back” motion of your head, until your head reaches the headrest. Third, your torso slows, but your head accelerates forward. Fourth, your torso is held in place by the seat restraint, while your head snaps forward. The second and fourth stages of whiplash are where the majority of the damage occurs to the soft tissues.

When you get whiplash from a car accident, you experience muscle and ligament strains, spinal disc fiber tears, and vertebrae being pushed out of place. Even your spinal cord and nerve roots that extend from your spinal cord are stretched. Your brain hits the inside of your skull, which can cause a concussion on top of the whiplash injury.

Other injuries that can be caused by whiplash trauma include:

  • Headaches – Usually a result of a whiplash injury, headaches can continue to be a problem even after the injury has been treated and healed.
  • Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) issues – TMJ can cause popping, clicking, and pain in your jaw. Chiropractors can usually treat TMJ, or refer you to someone that can. If left untreated, TMJ issues can result in headaches, trouble eating, ear pain, and facial pain.
  • Brain injuries – Concussion is a common injury due to the force of the impact of a car accident.
  • Dizziness and vertigo – These are usually symptoms resulting from the injury to your upper back and neck, and they usually resolve quickly after treatment.
  • Lower back pain – Whiplash injuries can even affect your lower back due to compression of the vertebrae.

All of this trauma can result in excruciating pain in the back and neck areas. Many whiplash and back injuries will heal on their own with time, but here are 10 tips to help you speed up that healing so that you can once again be pain free!

  • Place ice on your neck for around 15 minutes every two hours, and continue to do this for up to three days. This will reduce your pain and the swelling of the soft tissues in your neck and back. (Make sure you’ve wrapped the ice or cold pack in a thin towel – you don’t need ice burns on top of everything else!)
  • Consider taking some type of painkiller (NSAIDS work best). This will also reduce swelling, and help alleviate some of the pain you are feeling. Please remember to talk to your doctor first, so that you do not experience any drug interactions with current prescriptions you may be taking.
  • If over-the-counter medications don’t help you, or your pain is still at a level that you cannot tolerate, talk to your doctor about a prescription muscle relaxer or painkiller. These prescriptions should be a last resort, as many of them can become habit forming. Discuss the benefits and drawbacks with your doctor.
  • A neck brace may offer some temporary relief of the worst of the pain immediately following a car accident. The key is not to use a neck brace for an extended period, as the brace will actually begin to weaken the muscles of the neck and upper back due to non-use.
  • Moist heat can be used after the first two days of icing your neck and back. You want to make sure that as much of the swelling has been reduced as possible before applying any heat, as heat will bring blood into the area.
  • After your pain has begun to subside a bit, consider getting a relaxation massage. This gentle type of massage will help relax you and your muscles, and an experienced massage therapist can help reduce muscular pain by working on those areas affected by your injuries.
  • One of your strongest allies during your period of recovery from whiplash and back injuries is a well-qualified, licensed chiropractor. They will be able to help restore your range-of-motion by manipulating your spine. They will also be able to reposition the vertebrae in your spine that may have gotten misaligned during the impact of your accident.
  • Your doctor or chiropractor may recommend physical therapy, or soft tissue rehabilitation, after your accident. This will give you practical exercises to perform to make sure that you can do all the things you used to do before the accident occurred.
  • You may be given stretches and exercises that you should do while at home. This will increase the effectiveness of any medical care or chiropractic care you seek, as you will not be relying solely on a practitioner for your recovery. Other basic care like staying hydrated and getting enough sleep are incredibly important as your body recovers from the trauma of your accident.
  • If you have long-term pain that does not resolve after proper initial care at home, and/or from a chiropractor or physician, you may need to see a specialist to address where this pain is originating. The physical forces your body is subject to during an accident are enormous, and can result in injuries that are not easily resolved. You may need deeper treatment, or surgery to correct the damage done to your spine. Luckily, these extensive treatments aren’t common, and the above tips should help you recovery quickly!

Insurance Liability – What is needed to Collect from a “Covered Vehicle”

Under Arizona law, for liability coverage to apply when a “use” provision is in effect, a causal relationship between the injury-causing accident and the use of the covered vehicle must exist. Benevides v. Arizona Property & Cas. Ins. Guar. Fund, 184 Ariz. 610, 612, 911 P.2d 616, 618 (App. 1995) ; Love v. Farmers Ins. Group, 121 Ariz. 71, 74, 588 P.2d 364, 367 (App. 1978) . The injury need not be directly and proximately caused, in the strict legal sense, by the motor vehicle.Farmers Ins. Co. of Arizona v. Till, 170 Ariz. 429, 430, 825 P.2d 954, 955 (App. 1991) .

“The fundamental question is whether the use of the [covered] vehicle was itself the cause of the injury.” Ruiz v. Farmers Ins. Co., 177 Ariz. 101, 104, 865 P.2d 762, 765 (1993) . To recover under the insurance policy, the injured party must show that the covered “vehicle caused and produced [the] injury, not that it merely facilitated [the] injury.” Id. at 103, 865 P.2d at 764 .

In determining a coverage question involving the use of a vehicle, the Arizona Supreme Court explained: “The insurance is to pay for the negligent acts of the insured committed during the operation or use of the motor vehicle . . . . It should be emphasized: Liability arises out of negligent acts in the use of motor vehicles which proximately cause the accident and injuries.” Morari v. Atlantic Mut. Fire Ins. Co., 105 Ariz. 537, 538, 468 P.2d 564, 565 (1970) . In other words, “even though the causal relationship between the motor vehicle and the accident does not have to be the proximate cause of the accident, the accident must be caused by a negligent act in the use of the motor vehicle.” Associated Indem. Corp. v. Warner, 143 Ariz. 585, 588, 694 P.2d 1199, 1202 (App. 1983) , modified on other grounds, 143 Ariz. 567, 694 P.2d 1181 (1985) .

Breakdown for all reported motor vehicle collisions in AZ

According to the Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT), the following is the breakdown for all reported motor vehicle collisions in 2009:

BREAKDOWN OF ALL CRASHES IN ARIZONA
TOTAL 106,767

  • FATAL 709
  • INJURY 33,380
  • PROPERTY DAMAGE ONLY 72,678
  • URBAN 84,941
  • RURAL 21,826
  • ALCOHOL RELATED 5,854
  • PEDESTRIAN 1,523
  • PEDALCYCLE 1,995
  • MOTORCYCLE 2,958
  • SINGLE VEHICLE 19,116
  • MULTI-VEHICLE 87,651

BREAKDOWN OF FATAL CRASHES IN ARIZONA

  • TOTAL 709
  • ALCOHOL RELATED 244
  • URBAN 299
  • RURAL 410
  • SINGLE VEHICLE 320
  • MULTI-VEHICLE 389
  • ALCOHOL RELATED SINGLE VEHICLE 116
  • ALCOHOL RELATED MULTI-VEHICLE 128

BREAKDOWN OF PERSONS KILLED AND INJURED

  • IN ALL CRASHES: KILLED 806; INJURED 50,610
  • IN ALCOHOL RELATED CRASHES: KILLED 261 INJURED 4,142
  • IN URBAN CRASHES: KILLED 325 INJURED 39,656
  • IN RURAL CRASHES: KILLED 481 INJURED 10,954
  • USING SAFETY DEVICE: KILLED 221 INJURED 39,995
  • NOT USING SAFETY DEVICE: KILLED 321 INJURED 4,152
  • DRIVERS AGE 24 OR YOUNGER: KILLED 80 INJURED 8,098
  • DRINKING DRIVERS AGE 24 OR YOUNGER: KILLED 35 INJURED 543

BREAKDOWN OF CRASHES BY TIME

  • PEAK MONTH FOR ALL CRASHES DECEMBER
  • PEAK DAY FOR ALL CRASHES FRIDAY
  • PEAK HOUR FOR ALL CRASHES 4 PM – 5 PM
  • PEAK MONTH FOR FATAL CRASHES APRIL
  • PEAK DAY FOR FATAL CRASHES SATURDAY
  • PEAK HOUR FOR FATAL CRASHES 6 PM – 7 PM
  • PEAK HOUR FOR ALCOHOL RELATED CRASHES 2 AM – 3 AM
  • PEAK HOUR FOR FATAL ALCOHOL RELATED CRASHES 9 PM – 10 PM and 3 AM – 4 AM
  • PEAK HOUR FOR MOTORCYCLE CRASHES 5 PM – 6 PM
  • PEAK HOUR FOR FATAL MOTORCYCLE CRASHES 4 PM – 5 PM and 7 PM – 8 PM

OTHER FACTS

  • MOST COMMON MANNER OF COLLISION Rear-End
  • MOST COMMON DRIVER VIOLATION Speed too fast for conditions

Arizona at a Glance – 2009

  • Approximately 2.21 persons were killed each day.
  • One person was killed every 10.88 hours.
  • There were 138.56 persons injured every day.
  • One person was injured every 10.39 minutes.
  • Alcohol Related crashes accounted for 5.48% of all crashes and 34.41% of all fatal crashes.
  • Of all alcohol related crashes, 75.78% occurred in Urban areas and 24.22% occurred in
    Rural areas, while 44.26% of all alcohol related fatal crashes occurred in Urban areas and
    55.74% occurred in Rural areas.
  • Single vehicle crashes accounted for 17.90% of all crashes and 45.13% of all fatal crashes.
    Of all Pedestrian crashes, 7.94% were fatal while 1.25% of Pedalcycle crashes were fatal.
    Crashes which occurred during daylight hours (6:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.) accounted for 73.2%
    of all crashes.
  • Motor vehicle crashes resulted in $2.757 billion in economic losses to Arizona.
  • Children age 14 and younger accounted for 43 fatalities and 4,093 injuries in motor vehicle crashes.

Car Accident Texting Lawsuit

Car Accident Texting Lawsuit, Another Text Message Sender Named as Defendant

A New Jersey couple who were riding their motorcycle at the time were hit by a car in 2009 are now suing a woman for her part in her at-fault boyfriend’s motorcycle-car accident , who  was repeatedly sending  text messages to  her boyfriend as drove his vehicle to work

The accident victims David and Linda Kubert of Dover, N.J., were initially filing a civil suit only against the driver, Kyle Best of Wharton, N.J.

On September 21, 2009, Best’s vehicle veered across the roadway’s center dividing line, causing a violent head-on collision with the Kubert’s motorcycle. A sad fact remains true both of the Kuberts  lost a leg in the collision

Earlier this year in Montville Municipal Court, Best pleaded guilty to using a cellphone (reading and replying to text messages from his girlfriend) while operating his vehicle, failure to stay in his lane and careless driving.

The Kuberts have now amended their lawsuit to include the then 19-year-old Shannon Colonna, for contributing to Kyle Best’s negligence, even though she was not physically present in the vehicle.

In deposition Colonna stated that she was not sure whether Best was driving at the time she was texting him, but authorities believe she may have known.

Shannon Colonna’s  defense attorney rebutted:

“The sender of the text has the right to assume the recipient will read it at a safe time. It’s not fair. It’s not reasonable. Shannon Colonna has no way to control when Kyle Best is going to read that message.”

Kyle Best was legally reprimanded to speak to approximately 14 high schools about the perils of texting while driving.  Additionally he was fined $775.00 for his traffic offense.

The Kuberts’ lawyer stated:

“The defendant may not have been physically present, but she was electronically present.”

Superior Court Judge David Rand has to rule as to whether or not to keep Ms. Colonna in the lawsuit. This decision will be made within a week.

This story is particularly compelling because it involves the possible placing of negligence on a party that was not physically present at the time of the car accident, but was rather, electronically present, as the Kuberts’ attorney has explained.

As a Prescott AZ and Phoenix AZ car accident attorney, I want you to be aware that texting type accidents are rapidly becoming commonplace. I urge you to speak to your children about the obvious dangers of texting while driving and not so obvious texting a friend while they may be driving. Let them know they can cause an accident and not even be present in the car and could be held liable. But even worse is the fact that the motorcycle victims each lost a leg.

 

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