Case Stages after a Personal Injury, Car Accident or Motorcycle Accident
When you initially meet with the legal team at Cantor Crane, our experienced motorcycle accident lawyers will work with you to ascertain pertinent facts about your accident. Knowledgeable and highly trained, our Attorneys take the time to get to know each client with a personal one-on-one consultation. During this in-depth and confidential conversation, your accident will be discussed to the full degree. Details to be explored include the circumstances, location and other important information that will be needed to establish your case.
When your consultation has been completed, the legal team of motorcycle law attorneys will begin to organize and prepare the information. We approach each case as if it was actually going to trial. However, our past experience has shown that with the hard work of an aggressive accident attorney, approximately 95% of Personal Injury cases can be settled on an “Out of Court” basis.
Below are the steps / case stages in a motorcycle accident case:
- Gathering Information
- Claim Analysis
- Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Claims
- Personal Health Insurance/Medical Payments Coverage
- Worker’s Compensation Claims
- Rental Car Reimbursement
- Beginning a Lawsuit
- Mandatory Arbitration/Trial in Superior Court
We begin by sending a notification to the adverse insurance company notifying them of our involvement in this case on your behalf. We also request that the insurance company send us copies of statements and other documents pertaining to your accident.
The next step is to send a letter to doctors and hospitals you received care from. This is to let them know that we are representing you after your motorcycle accident. With this letter, we specifically request that those who have treated you do not disclose information to insurance adjustors or investigators working for the other party in this case.
Should you have medical bills due to your motorcycle accident, we will also send them a letter to let these people know that unpaid bills might be paid from a legal settlement or recovery effort. In this letter, our law firm tells them that you will legally execute a lien that allows them to seek reimbursement from this recovery. We proceed in this manner, because the majority of creditors hold off the billing process when they are provided with a solid reason to wait for payment.
In the event that a creditor will not wait, you will still be faced with the responsibility for your medical bills while the case is pending. This is true whether you are able to recover financial damages or not.
Our next step is to speak with law enforcement officers who have investigated your accident. We contact and interview any witnesses to the accident as well. Photographers may also be taken of the accident scene should they be deemed necessary. Supportive information such as statements and information, will be requested if they will be helpful in processing your claim. This includes contacting employers, schools and the Internal Revenue Service.
When necessary, a private investigator will be hired to work on your case in greater depth. Should such a person be hired, these fees will be your responsibility and considered an “out of pocket expense.” Clients are given the choice of paying these expenses up front, or requesting that these costs be deducted from future financial recoveries received on your behalf.
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One should never agree to settle their case until a noted improvement has been reached in their medical condition. You should not accept a quick settlement from an insurance company. To do this, would be to lose out on recovering future medical expenses. It is additionally wise to wait to settle any case, until a full investigation has been completed. This generally amounts to a time frame of between four to six weeks, so that information can be properly gathered.
Please note, that if witnesses to the accident are reluctant to speak with your legal team or have moved out of the area, this will further delay the investigation. A final medical report may not be provided by your physician until your medical treatment is completed. This report will also document future medical treatments that may be necessary. To make sure your medical report is complete, it often takes between six to nine months (or longer) before your physician(s) makes this report available.
Depending upon your individual case, it may need to go through a legal process known as “Compulsory Arbitration.” Should this occur, it may actually take as much as another twelve months to reach your date of arbitration. If one of the parties involved in the case does not agree with the arbitration ruling as it is given, the case can then be appealed to the Superior Court. If a case heads to a jury trial, this usually adds additional months for the case to process through the legal system.
After our legal team has received all of the necessary medical documents and has completed a thorough investigation of the case, we will determine how we can best work in your favor. Our team members work with you so that you understand how we arrived at our decision. We make it our mission to work with each client so that a fair agreement and proper financial settlement can be reached in each case. At no time will our law firm either accept or reject a settlement offer without your full consent.
In the event that the driver responsible for your motorcycle accident and medical injuries was on the road without an insurance policy, you will have to file what is known as an “Uninsured Motorist Claim” against your own insurance policy. This is, if you have purchased this type of coverage within your policy. This is where your own insurance company takes on the role of the insurance company of the party at fault would have taken, if they had insurance of their own. While this coverage can cover your medical expenses, it will not cover losses incurred for property damage due to the accident.
We start processing an uninsured motorist claim, by sending notification to your insurance company regarding this accident. As per the rules outlined in your insurance contract, the majority of uninsured motorist claims will be completed through arbitration. Similar to a “mini-trial”, arbitration is accomplished with more casual rules regarding such things as evidence. Case witnesses can give sworn testimony, as well as testify to what they have seen. A ruling is considered final, when the arbitrator in the uninsured motorist claim has come to a decision.
Property Damages are defined as damage caused to your motorcycle. It may also be used to describe damages to paint, windshields, clothing and other personal articles. A property damage claim is usually settled long before a personal injury claim is completed. Normally, claims are settled while a personal injury claim is still underway. Insurance companies are liable for the fair market value of one’s motorcycle. The exception is when the vehicle in question is a rare, collector’s or show vehicle.
An insurance company takes on the duty of restoring you to the position that you were in prior to the accident. If you are “upside-down” on your financial commitment to pay off your motorcycle, the insurance company will pay out less than the amount you owe to your lender. If the cost of repairing your motorcycle is more than it is worth, it will be “totaled.” In this case, you may choose one of two possible options:
- You have the right to accept the financial sum offered by the insurance company for the value of the motorcycle. To achieve this, you will have to sign over the title of the vehicle to the insurance company to receive payment.
- You can hold onto your vehicle. To do this, you must agree to the insurance company reducing the worth of your motorcycle to its current salvage value.
For those clients who choose to hold onto to their vehicle, a “Salvaged Title” will replace the Title you already own. Should you have a valid dispute as to the true value of your motorcycle, a separate case for arbitration on the property damage will be conducted. When there is a loan on the damaged vehicle, the insurance company will send payment directly to the lender or financial institution. For a motorcycle that is judged to be in drivable condition, an insurance company will send a check that they believe is a fair settlement. This check is considered final as to your property damage claim.
Before any property damage claim can be processed, it is necessary to take your motorcycle to an auto body shop for a thorough inspection. If your vehicle requires additional work that was not previously quoted, the auto body shop can contact the insurance company to obtain additional funding for repairs. This is why it is imperative that one not cash any check they have received until accident related repairs have been fully documented.
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There is also something known as “Subrogation” that the majority of medical insurers place in their contracts. This means that it may not benefit you to file a personal injury or accident claim against the medical insurance policy that your insurance company provides to you. A “Subrogation” clause allows an insurance company to directly recover the amount that they have paid out towards the medical treatment of your injuries. In this manner, settlement monies received in your case are used to reimburse the medical insurance company for the amount that they have paid to physicians and medical centers who have cared for you.
Insurance that covers motorcycle riders generally contain a no-fault policy as it pertains to medical coverage and payments. If one is injured in an accident, the insurance carrier will pay all medical payments that do not exceed the limits of your policy. If you have enough medical bills to make claims against this amount, it is wise to do so. This means that our law firm can receive more money for you through the recovery process. There is however, one exception to this rule.
An insurance provider is allowed to reduce the total amount of a settlement, if a person is utilizing both an uninsured motorist coverage in addition to medical payments coverage. This is to prevent your insurance company from paying out twice to cover the same medical expense.
Clients will be required to reimburse the Industrial Commission, should they have a workers’ compensation claim. This is for any medical or wage payments workers compensation has paid to you regarding your accident. It is important to still make a claim, because you are given protection under the law should you incur injuries at a future time. Personal injury claims have a statute of limitation lasting two years from the date of injury.
If you then suffer an injury while on the job, you are still entitled to this two year statute of limitations. However, our legal firm will not be able to file a lawsuit on your behalf until a full year has passed. This applies unless we receive reassignment from the Industrial Commission itself.
In short, reimbursement of the claim from workers compensation must occur within one year and not two years. You will receive a second year only if and when the Industrial Commission agrees to give ownership of a second year back to you through a reassignment of your claim.
Reimbursement for a rental car is not necessarily easy. If it is determined that your motorcycle is not in ride-able condition and the other party is 100% at fault in the accident, they will be held responsible with the costs of providing you with a replacement vehicle. The stipulation here, is that the other party’s auto insurance company must believe that their client is completely at fault for the accident as well.
To come to an agreement on this matter, may take some time. As a service to our clients, our law firm is able to provide our clients with access to a rental vehicle. It should be noted, that the costs of this rental vehicle is on a “lien basis pending the resolution of the liability determination.”
When the person responsible for your motorcycle accident or personal injury has insurance and a “fair and reasonable settlement” can not be reached, our legal firm can file a lawsuit. It is our policy to always speak to our client first, to discuss the additional costs of litigation and the probability of a favorable outcome.
Depending upon the details of the case, we may decide to file a lawsuit on your behalf as a first step. You give us permission to file this lawsuit when you sign a contingency fee agreement with our company. This means that you understand that we are working to protect your legal rights in this situation.
A lawsuit begins with the filing of a “Complaint” directed at the party responsible for the accident. A “Complaint” outlines the legal ground for a lawsuit on your behalf, and discusses the injuries you have suffered. As the one who files this lawsuit, you are known as the “Plaintiff.” The party responsible for your injury is known as the “Defendant.”
Upon receipt of these legal documents, the Defendant takes them to his or her insurance company. Their insurance provider will then send this document to their legal department for processing. Lawyers from the insurance company or the “Defense” then file a written “Answer” to our formal complaint.
Once the defense team has filed and delivered an answer to us, this case is “considered to be at issue.” While your case has begun, it is important to note that it is entirely possible to reach a settlement at any time. It is not unusual, for a settlement to be reached just prior to the start of a trial or even after the court proceedings have started in earnest.
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A motorcycle accident lawsuit begins when Complaint and Answer have both been filed. At this point, both the Plaintiff and Defendant will obtain information from each other. This is known as the “Discovery” process. Discovery is another way of saying disclosure. As your legal team, we are required to provide information about your claim that is relevant to the Defense.
Both the Plaintiff and Defense legal teams obtain their information through a series of written questions. These “Interrogatories” must be sworn to ascertain that they are true.
A “Deposition” might also be taken from you to gain information about your case. These are taken from you and other witnesses in your case. These sworn testimonies are recorded by a person known as a “court reporter.”
Defense attorneys representing the insurance company may additionally ask you to submit to an exam performed by a physician of their choosing. During this exam, a representative of our legal team will be present with you during this medical exam to record the findings. It is not uncommon for doctors that are hired by defense lawyers to give erroneous or conflicting reports from that of your own medical providers.
When a claim is worth less than a total of $50,000, it must proceed through what is known as “Compulsory Arbitration.” This differs from the arbitration that is used for uninsured and under-insured motorist claims. In this manner, arbitration is not seen as a final judgment in your case. The court appoints an attorney to serve as an arbitrator for your case. This attorney then listens to all of the evidence, as well as all of the motions presented in the case. If this occurs, the court provides a date for us to appear before this arbitrator on your behalf.
When we appear to represent you, our duty is to present all evidence in your favor and call witnesses that will corroborate your side of the story. The court appointed arbitrator then issues their decision within ten days of the hearing. There are no juries present during the compulsory arbitration process. If we do not receive a decision that we believe is fair and reasonable, we may choose to appeal it on your behalf. At this time we request a “Jury Trial” in Superior Court.
While few cases actually proceed to arbitration or a jury trial, we prepare each case from the onset as if it will. Insurance companies maintain databases that contain information on individuals that have made injury claims in the past. This is why it is imperative that you tell us about any prior accidents, workplace related injuries or lawsuits. Being honest with us when exploring your claim is the key to receiving a fair and reasonable outcome in your legal case.
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Out-of-pocket legal expenses are the sole responsibility of clients, and are separate from attorney legal fees for services. Costs per case might include such things as transcripts, photocopies, telephone bills, postage, court filing fees, travel expenses, etc. Our law firm advances the costs of investigation, court filings and several other fees.
At all times, we will discuss these and out-of-pocket costs with you in advance. Please note, that we do not loan money against an “unrealized recovery” as per the Arizona Legal Ethical Rules.
While we have provided with you general information on our website, every case is taken on an individual basis. This is why you should call or email our law firm for a consultation. Our legal team is able to speak with you to truly listen to your side of the story. If we believe that we will be able to obtain a settlement or need to take your case to trial, we will tell you. It is this honesty, integrity and desire to serve our clients that makes us the recognized law firm we are today.
At Cantor Crane, we treat you as our friend in need rather than just as a nameless client. If you, one of your family members or one of your friends has been injured in a motorcycle or motor vehicle accident, we invite you to call us at (602) 254-2701 or submit your request on our “Contact Our Firm” link. If you click on the link, we will reply via email shortly. While many attorneys try to claim that they are aggressive, Cantor Crane are truly “Beyond Aggressive!”