Common personal injury claims include:
- Vehicle accidents
- Slip and fall accidents
- Work-related injuries
- Negligence and public liability
- Dog bites
People choose to file a personal injury claim for a variety of reasons, including lost wages, medical bills, emotional injuries, mental anguish, pain and suffering, and long-term trauma.
What Happens When You Hire Edwards & Petersen?
When you hire Edwards & Petersen to handle your personal injury claim, you get our Zero Fee Guarantee. That means that, until we win your case, you pay zero attorney’s fees.
Our relationship begins with a free consultation, where we listen to your story, discuss your case, and talk honestly about your chances of winning. When you hire Edwards & Petersen, our entire team joins in the fight to ensure you receive the best settlement possible.
Filing a Personal Injury Claim
The typical personal injury claim is a civil complaint wherein the injured person (the plaintiff, i.e. you) files suit against the person or entity (the defendant) that he or she believes is responsible for the injury. The plaintiff’s lawsuit usually alleges that the defendant acted irresponsibly or carelessly, or showed negligence, causing the plaintiff’s injury.
Our team works with you to establish the proof that the law requires before it determines that the offending party is liable for your damages. Accident reports, police statements, witness statements, a journal you kept of your experiences, photographs, medical reports, receipts for property damage, and more help prove your claim.
If you have not already created a journal documenting the incident, please do so as soon as possible. Include every detail you can remember in your written account, including names, dates, times, and places.
Expert witnesses are sometimes necessary to prove your claim for damages. People often think of these in relation to criminal cases, but you find expert witnesses across the legal field.
For example, if you file a personal injury claim against your vehicle’s manufacturer after the airbags in your vehicle failed to deploy during an accident, possible expert witnesses include an accident reconstructionist, engineer, and safety expert. Why? Because, there are certain types of collisions where an airbag may not be expected to deploy, such as a rear-end collision. However, if that collision caused your vehicle to hit another object at high speed, the airbag should have deployed. This is where your expert accident reconstructionist enters the case to support your faulty airbag claim.
Claims for Damages
After you’ve proven your claim, you must prove your damages. In other words, how did you suffer harm as the result of this incident? Typically, this means compensatory damages, which are intended to return your finances to the state they were in before the accident. However, if the defendant’s actions were particularly egregious or negligent, you may also be awarded punitive damages. These are meant to punish the defendant to discourage a repeat of the behavior that caused the accident.
Common compensatory damages in a personal injury case include:
- Lost income: This includes wages lost due to the incident, even if you were able to take sick or personal leave, as well as future wages (also known as lost earning capacity).
- Medical bills: This includes both treatment already received and any expected future medical treatment.
- Property damage: This includes any personal property damaged in the accident.
- Pain and suffering: This includes the discomfort experienced during and immediately after the incident.
- Emotional distress: This includes the psychological impact of incident, such as the fear and anxiety often experienced after an automobile accident.
- Loss of enjoyment: This includes an inability to enjoy pursuits you used to take pleasure in, such as hobbies and sports.
- Loss of consortium: This refers to your personal relationships, particularly those between spouses or parents and children. It may also include loss of companionship or sexual dysfunction.
Since compensatory damages are intended to reimburse you for actual losses, your claims must be proven in some way. For example, you cannot claim $10,000 in medical bills without providing records showing that amount. This can be doctor visits, hospital stays, prescription medications, and any other relevant medical expenses accrued due to the incident.
Punitive damages are not very common in Arizona, where the law defines them as appropriate only when the defendant’s actions were guided by “an evil hand and evil mind
Settling Your Personal Injury Case
The majority of personal injury cases are settled without either party ever setting foot in a courtroom. Typically, your attorney and the insurance company’s legal representative, or the defendant’s attorney, successfully negotiate a settlement amount. The plaintiff (you) agrees to forgo any further legal action and the defendant agrees to pay the sum arrived at in the settlement.
Edwards & Petersen will never agree to a settlement without your approval. If we cannot reach a reasonable settlement through negotiation, we take your case to court and argue for your rights there.
How Long Do You Have to File a Personal Injury Claim?
The State of Arizona set the statute of limitations on personal injury claims at two years. That means that you have two years, starting at the date of the incident, to file a formal claim in court or you forfeit the right to legally enforce the claim you may have. That is why acting now is important to make sure you take the necessary steps to preserve your claim.
What Can You Expect in the Way of Damages?
Without knowing your exact circumstances, estimating damages is impossible. However, we can say that many insurance companies attempt to settle cases using the multiplier method, with the amount of multiplier varying depending on the severity of your damages. For example, if you spent no time in the hospital and had few medical bills with no long-term consequences, you’re probably looking at an initial offer of 1.5 times the amount of your quantifiable expenses (i.e. medical bills and lost wages). However, if you underwent numerous surgeries, spent significant time in the hospital, lost your job or the ability to perform your job, or experienced other significant repercussions, the insurer may offer up to 5 times the amount of quantifiable damages.
The multiplier method is intended to take into account your pain and suffering, emotional damages that are impossible to quantify (though that doesn’t stop insurance companies from attempting to quantify them).
Arizona also has a rule called Comparative Negligence, which means that a judge or jury may determine that you hold partial responsibility for the incident. In that case, the damages awarded are reduced by the percentage they find you are at fault. So, if your portion of responsibility is gauged to be 10 percent, and the damages awarded are $10,000, 10 percent of that amount would be deducted, for a total damages award of $9,000.
What Should You Bring to Your Initial Consultation?
During our initial consultation, we’re looking to get the clearest, most accurate view of your case so that we may advise you on your next steps. To do that, we need as much information from you as possible. To ensure we have the information needed, you should bring:
- All medical bills, including prescriptions and any recommendations for future medical treatment
- A complete description of the incident: what happened, when, where, and any other pertinent details (if you have a written account already, please bring this)
- Any photos you have of the accident, your injuries, and damaged property
- A list of any activities you can no longer participate in
- Pay stubs that show either lost wages or personal time used in lieu of lost wages
The more information you have for us, the better we’re able to determine the likelihood of winning your case and what type of settlement our experience tells us you might expect. In addition, if you have any questions you want us to answer, please write them down and bring them with you. Most people think they’ll remember but, when the time comes, those questions slip their mind.
The attorneys at Edwards & Petersen PLC are passionate about providing the best legal representation for their clients. If you have a personal injury claim, call us today for a free consultation.