This Is The First Time That I’ve Been In An Accident. Do I Have A Case?
Being involved in an Arizona car accident can be frightening regardless of how many accidents you have experienced in the past. When it is a first time accident for you, the experience can be especially overwhelming and confusing. After you have been involved in an accident, you should understand what steps you should take and when you should contact one of the experienced motor vehicle accident lawyers at Lamber Goodnow. Depending on the type of accident, you may have reporting requirements. If your accident was caused by the negligent or careless actions of another motorist, you may be able to recover compensation to pay for your losses.
What to do after a first time accident
After an accident, many people feel overwhelmed and are unsure of how to handle it. You may experience a rush of adrenaline because of the fear and stress of the accident. Immediately after your collision, you should check yourself and others who are in your vehicle and the other involved vehicle for injuries. If you are able to do so, take photographs of the damage to both vehicles. You should also write down or photograph the other vehicle’s license plate, make and model. Provide your information to the other driver and get his or her own information. If you or someone else is injured, call 911 for help immediately. After the emergency responders and police arrive, request medical care. Finally, after you have received treatment, contact the experienced team of injury lawyers at Lamber Goodnow for further help.
Reporting requirements after an accident in Arizona
If you or anyone else is injured, you are required to report the accident to law enforcement either orally or in writing immediately under A.R.S. § 28-666. The law requires that all accidents that involve personal injuries or deaths are reported by using the quickest means possible. If the accident occurred in a city, you must report it to the local police department. If it happened outside of a municipality, you must either report it to the county sheriff’s department or to the nearest office of the Arizona Highway Patrol. If your accident only involved property damage, you are not required to report it. However, if the accident was caused by another driver, it is still a good idea for you to report it to police for insurance purposes.
Requirement to remain at the scene of an accident and to render aid
In Arizona, all drivers are required to stop at the scene of an accident in which they have been involved and to exchange information with the other drivers under A.R.S. § 28-663. The required information that must be exchanged includes the driver’s name, address, and insurance information as well as the vehicle registration information. People are also required to show their drivers’ licenses to the other drivers. If you leave the scene without providing this information to the other driver, it is a misdemeanor offense. If you leave the scene of an accident in which someone was injured or killed without rendering aid and waiting for law enforcement, you may be found guilty of a felony offense.
Importance of getting medical attention
Because of the surge of adrenaline that you might experience, you may not realize that you have been injured in an accident until hours or days afterward. Some serious injuries that are common in car accidents may not show symptoms for days. After you have reported the accident, it is a good idea for you to promptly see your doctor for an examination. You should never tell the responding officer or the other driver that you were not injured. Instead, you should simply say that you need to see a doctor. Getting a prompt medical evaluation after an accident is important for several reasons. If you have a serious injury such as internal bleeding, a traumatic brain injury, whiplash, or others, prompt medical attention and treatment may improve your prognosis and make it likelier that you will fully recover. Getting medical care immediately after an accident can also help to show a causal link between your accident and the injuries that resulted from it.
Getting prompt legal help from the attorneys at Lamber Goodnow
If your accident was caused by another motorist or by a driver of the vehicle in which you were riding, it is important for you to consult with the Lamber Goodnow injury team as soon as possible after you have sought medical treatment. Our lawyers have assisted many injured victims of car accidents in Arizona with recovering compensation for the losses that they have suffered. We are also able to negotiate with the insurance company on your behalf and to identify all potential sources of recovery for you. This may help you to protect your rights so that you might recover the maximum possible compensation to which you should be entitled.
Understanding insurance in Arizon
Arizona law requires that drivers carry insurance with certain minimum liability limits under A.R.S. § 28-4009 or to purchase a bond in the amount of $40,000 and file proof of it with the Arizona Department of Motor Vehicles. The minimum liability amounts required by the state include the following minimum amounts:
- $15,000 bodily injury for one person, or $30,000 bodily injury coverage for two or more people; and
- $10,000 in property coverage.
In many cases, these limits are insufficient to pay for all of your losses. In other cases, some accidents may be caused by drivers who fail to comply with the state’s mandatory insurance law. If you have uninsured or underinsured motorists coverage on your insurance policy, you might be able to file a claim with it when you have been involved in an accident with a driver who is uninsured or underinsured.
Filing claims when accidents are caused by uninsured or underinsured motorists
While you are not required to have uninsured and underinsured motorist insurance coverage in Arizona, it is a good idea for you to get this coverage. The Insurance Information Institute reports that 12 percent of motorists in Arizona in 2015 were uninsured, and the figure may have increased since that time. If you have this type of optional coverage, you may submit a claim to your own company to secure compensation. You will have certain requirements for filing your claim under A.R.S. § 12-555, including the following:
- You must provide written notice of your intent to file a claim under your UIM/UM policy no later than three years after your accident to your company; or
- You must provide written notice to the insurance company of your intent to file your claim no later than three years after you learned that the other driver was uninsured; or
- Three years after you either knew or should have known that the claim was denied by the other driver’s insurance company; or
- Three years after you knew or should have known that the driver’s insurance company was insolvent.
It is important for you to understand that the statutory time period is the earliest three-year period that is described under the law. It is also important to understand that the personal injury statute of limitations in Arizona is two years, making it important for you to file your claim as soon as possible.
Dealing with insurance companies
Insurance companies are motivated to try to minimize their losses and often do so by trying to minimize the amount of money they are forced to pay out for injury accidents. You should recognize that insurance adjusters work for the companies that employ them and are motivated to protect their employers’ interests instead of your own. You should never agree to give a recorded statement to an adjuster or another representative of the other driver’s insurance company. You should also not agree to sign an authorization form or to accept a settlement offer before you talk to an attorney at the Law Offices of Lamber Goodnow. Insurance companies may try to get you to make a statement that they can use against you later. They may use medical authorizations to search through your medical records in an effort to blame your injuries on a different incident. Finally, insurance companies may extend offers that are unreasonably low and that are insufficient to pay for your losses. It is fine for you to politely tell the insurance company representative that you would like to talk to a personal injury attorney before you will be willing to sign anything or to give a statement. If we agree to accept your case, we can handle the negotiations on your behalf so that you can concentrate on getting better.
Do I have a case?
It is common for people to wonder, “Do I have a case?” In order to prevail on a car accident claim, you must be able to prove that the other driver was negligent and that the driver’s negligence was the proximate or direct cause of your injuries. You must also be able to show that you suffered harm because of your accident. Simple accidents that only involve minor property damage will generally not be enough to form the basis for filing a lawsuit. If your accident was minor, you may be able to handle the claims process on your own.
If you were injured in an accident that was another person’s fault, you may have the grounds to file a claim. Every case is different, and we will need to review your case to make a determination about whether you have a valid claim.
Can you refer a doctor?
At Lamber Goodnow, we believe that it is highly important for you to see your family doctor or another doctor who regularly treats injured patients immediately after your accident. If you do not have a relationship established with a doctor, we might provide you with a list of doctors that are in your geographic area. The short answer to “Can you refer a doctor” is that the ultimate choice of the doctor you will see is up to you. Insurance companies may ask you at a deposition or hearing in your case how you were referred to your doctor. The company may then try to claim that your injury lawyers and the doctor are working together in a scheme. Because of this, and other reasons, we do not provide direct referrals to doctors for our clients and, instead, leave the decision up to you.
Contact the experienced team at Lamber Goodnow
When you have been injured by the actions of another motorist, it is important for you to get legal help from the attorneys at Lamber Goodnow as soon as possible. Our lawyers have substantial experience helping injured victims in Phoenix, Tucson and throughout the Southwest. We can help you to identify all potential sources of recovery and negotiate with the insurance company on your behalf. Contact us today at 1-800-ATEAM-LAW to schedule a free consultation or complete our contact form online.
 A.R.S. § 28-666.
 A.R.S. § 28-663.
 A.R.S. § 28-4009.