Driving is one of the most dangerous things you do every single day. According to the Arizona Department of Transportation there were more than 100,000 car accidents in Arizona last year. Vehicle accidents resulted in two deaths per day on Arizona roads. Arizona car accidents cause nearly $3 billion worth of damage each year. Car insurance claims is required in Arizona. Arizona law requires that all drivers have minimum $15,000 liability coverage. For accidents involving more people, the minimum amount is $30,000. Additional types of auto insurance are not required. These include coverage for vehicle damage, medical expenses and protection from uninsured drivers.

Complex legal issues can arise from accidents, including traffic laws and safety regulations (e.g. for trucks and commercial vehicles), legal questions relating to negligence, liability, wrongful deaths claims from fatalities, serious injuries that cause death, vehicle damage and medical treatment costs, as well as legal issues relating to negligence.

Attorneys and Insurance Companies

Insurance is highly regulated, complex, and competitive. No wonder that there are so many television commercials. According to the Insurance Information Institute, auto insurance companies received over $107 billion in premiums in 2013. Insurance companies have teams of people who are trained to evaluate and investigate claims. These people are called “claims adjusters” and their job is to gather information, review records (including witness statements and police reports) and determine the insurance company’s liability. However, adjusters are employees of insurance companies.

Although insurers are an important and valuable part of society, they don’t make any money by paying out the maximum amount or paying you as fast as possible.

Insurance companies can maximize their profits by minimizing risk and maximizing payouts. They have the motivation and resources to do this. Many claims adjusters have worked with hundreds of attorneys and cases. How many cases have you handled? This power imbalance is why many people hire lawyers to represent them in accidents that result in injury, death, or property damage. An attorney can help you navigate the complicated insurance process.

Avoid these Pitfalls

Accidents are unpredictable and stressful by their very nature. You are most likely to be the victim of an accident and in a vulnerable position. What can you do? These are some tips to help you deal with an accident.

Get medical treatment and call the police. This is obvious but often overlooked. It is important to concentrate on your immediate safety, health, and not the potential for a ticket or damage to your vehicle. Under Arizona law (A.R.S. SS 28-661) requires you to immediately stop and remain at an accident scene. Keep calm. You should remember that injuries can occur internally and may not feel severe because of adrenaline pumping through the body or the shock from an impact. You should seek medical attention immediately if you suspect you are hurt or feel any pain. Other symptoms to watch out for include dizziness and ringing in your ears. You should seek medical attention if you feel any pain following the accident.

Be honest and cooperate with the police. Give all information requested by a police officer. Don’t leave anything out. Don’t lie or exaggerate. Be honest. Don’t forget to tell the truth if you don’t recall something. When you are asked if you are hurt, make sure to tell them all your symptoms, even those that seem minor. Do not assume you are in an accident if you cannot see blood. Recent news regarding NFL football players and brain injuries (concussions/brain injuries) highlights the dangers of brain injury from sudden impacts or collisions.

Collect information. Take pictures of your vehicle as well as the vehicle of the other driver if it’s safe. Take pictures of any injuries, such as swelling or bruising. They won’t likely take photos at the hospital. In case witnesses leave the scene before the police can speak to them, get their names. Arizona law (A.R.S. Arizona law (A.R.S.) requires that drivers involved in an accident must exchange the following information: name and address, registration, driver license, and driver’s license. You must also “[r]ender reasonable aid to a person injured by the accident, including making arrangements to transport the person to a doctor, surgeon, or hospital for medical treatment if it becomes apparent that treatment is required or requested by the injured person.” The police will usually ask you to fill out an accident information transfer form. (See below for more details). You will need to fill out an accident information exchange form. This form will include all the information and a report number. Reports are usually not available until several working days after an accident. Traffic accident reports for Phoenix are available online at To get your report, fill out the form if you were contacted by the Arizona Department of Public Safety (“DPS”) Go to azdps for more information about obtaining a report on traffic accidents.

Get involved. After you have taken care your physical condition, contact an attorney. Many insurance policies require that you report any accident to them. Many times, your insurance company will contact you and ask you to record a statement. You may be asked by your insurance company to make similar requests. You don’t have to agree to a recorded interview the moment they ask. An experienced adjuster will ask the right questions and re-characterize statements to reduce the value of your claim. This could limit or foreclose your ability to recover as much. You may not know the extent of your injuries or pain if the recorded statement was taken soon after the accident. Many people experience increasing pain days later. For guidance and questions, contact an attorney.

Who is at fault?

How can you determine who is responsible for an accident? Sometimes, the answer is obvious: You were rear-ended at a stoplight. The other driver was speeding, or drunk driving and was issued a DUI ticket. These may seem obvious cases, and they often are. But the other driver could be telling a different story than the police. Arizona law recognizes the concept of “comparative blame”, which means that one or both drivers may be partly responsible for an accident. If you speed while making a left turn, but the other driver is trying to do the same, you could be considered 20% at fault.

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