Since 1987, Tony Merchant and his team of dedicated personal injury attorneys have offered top-notch legal experience to car accident victims in Arizona. He’s helped his clients win millions of dollars after suffering from catastrophic accidents and injuries.
Among Tony’s strengths are his abilities as a top-notch negotiator. 92% of cases do settle out of court, and the ability to paint a picture for the defense that tells them it’s time to offer fair compensation for your injuries is a vital skill. Yet he is also a talented litigator, with a long and storied history of both personal injury and class action lawsuits under his belt.
In short: you couldn’t be in better hands when you contact our law firm.
Tony Merchant helps his clients with life-altering, catastrophic car accident injuries. These include:
We also help clients who are facing permanent disability, in addition to helping the families of clients who have died in car accidents. While no amount of money can ever replace what the car accident has taken from you, it can give you the resources you need to rebuild your life after the incident.
Step 1: Get to safety and call 911. It is against the law to do anything else.
Step 2: Exchange insurance information with the other driver. We recommend taking a photo so you don’t risk transposing numbers. This also ensures the information is stored in your device, rather than floating around on a piece of paper that you might lose.
Step 3: Take photos of the accident. Take lots of photos, from every angle you can think of. Get photos of local road conditions as well. Photograph your injuries, too.
Step 4: Gather the names and numbers of any witnesses on the scene.
Step 5: Talk to the police, but be careful what you say. You must answer questions truthfully but that doesn’t mean you have to volunteer information. You should also avoid phrases which may be used against you later, like “I’m sorry.”
Step 6: Get medical attention. For some of our clients, this is “Step 1,” as they are often too injured or unconscious to proceed to the next step. Keep in mind you must follow all of your medical provider’s instructions to give yourself the best chance. Avoid saying things like, “I’m okay,” or “I’m fine.” The defendant driver’s lawyers will use that against you later, claiming you’re exaggerating the extent of your injuries when it’s time to start calculating settlement amounts.
Step 7: Contact an Arizona personal injury attorney. We do recommend doing this even before you contact your own insurance company, as your attorney can handle both your insurance company and the other driver’s. This prevents you from making mistakes which could impact your case later.
If you’re feeling reluctant to hire an attorney you’re not alone. Most people have never hired a lawyer before, and they may question whether they really need to do so. You may even feel like you’re getting combative before it’s strictly necessary.
To determine whether hiring an attorney is right for you, ask yourself two questions.
One, was the accident your fault, or mostly your fault? If it wasn’t, then you have a legal right to collect compensation for your losses. The other driver was negligent, and you shouldn’t have to bear the brunt of their actions or decisions.
Two, how injured are you? If you have a minor sprain or a little whiplash, then you may be able to navigate the claims process yourself. Insurance companies generally pay out on minor claims without complaint, and the amount they offer is usually fine.
However, when you have major, catastrophic, life-altering injuries, insurance companies start fighting to wriggle out of paying anything at all. Think about it: they can absorb writing you a $3000 check. What they don’t want to do is write you a $3 million check.
Note even if you have catastrophic injuries insurance companies might make you an initial settlement offer. The figure they offer may even sound big to you. In reality, it’s usually not enough to cover even a fraction of an accident victim’s medical bills, let alone their lost wage, loss of earning capacity, or long-term care bills.
When in doubt? Call a lawyer and let them figure out whether you need their help or not. Any attorney will tell you if your insurance company is shorting you on their settlement offer. We’ll tell you honestly if your case isn’t strong enough to pursue. You aren’t required to do any guesswork.
Make no mistake, Arizona’s car accident laws are complex, and you will need an attorney to help you navigate them. Nevertheless, there are five laws you should have at least a basic understanding of if you’re going to pursue an Arizona personal injury case.
During an Arizona car accident case each party will be assigned a percentage of fault. It could be 90% and 10%, or 99% and 1%, or 50% and 50%. The percentage of fault is decided by a jury in cases which move to litigation or are agreed upon between both party’s lawyers when the matter is settling out of court.
You can recover funds at any percentage of fault, though usually you want to be less than 51% at fault to make the case worth pursuing at all, as otherwise the other party can make a counter-claim against you that simply wipes out all your gains.
Whatever percentage of fault you are assigned is then subtracted from your eventual personal injury award. For example, if you are 10% at fault and receive an $100,000 settlement then the defendant’s insurance company is going to write you a check for $90,000.
This is why it’s so important to have a good attorney on your side. A good attorney can present the facts of your case in a way that minimizes your fault percentage and maximizes your eventual settlement amount. This is a matter both of litigation skills and of negotiation skills.
You have two years from the date of your accident to file a claim. If you fail to do so, you forfeit your right to recover.
Insurance companies know this, and they often string people along trying to “run down the clock.” They may stall, fail to return calls, ask for paperwork over and over again, demand that you sign things you really should not sign, or tell you they can’t talk to you until you’ve reached maximum medical improvement. Do not fall for these tactics.
You can file your claim on the day of the accident if you want to. In fact, you should choose a lawyer and allow them to file the claim on your behalf just as soon as you are awake, alert, and medically capable of doing so.
Moving fast also helps you recover money faster, as it can take 18 to 24 months from the date of filing a claim to actually receive your money.
Every driver in Arizona is required to carry a minimum amount of liability insurance. They must carry up to $25,000 in bodily injury per person, up to $50,000 in bodily injury per accident, and up to $15,000 for property damage per accident.
If you took a look at Arizona’s car insurance laws then you already know many motorists don’t really carry enough insurance to handle most injuries. If you have a traumatic brain injury $25,000 isn’t going to help much. Yet insurance policies are only going to pay up to the policy holder’s limits.
In addition, about 15% of Arizona’s population is completely uninsured in defiance of the law.
It’s a good idea to purchase an uninsured/underinsured motorist policy, and to purchase that policy up to the policy limits. This will allow your own insurance company to make up the difference between what the driver’s insurance company will pay and what you’re actually owed. This is also the policy that will cover you if you are involved in a hit and run accident.
Your settlement should contain compensation for both economic and non-economic losses.
Economic losses include:
Economic losses are a fairly straightforward figure based on hard numbers.
Non-economic losses are known as your “pain and suffering” damages. This is basically a legal acknowledgement that you’ve been put through something you shouldn’t have had to go through. In Arizona pain and suffering is calculated using a multiplier. That is, the jury, or your lawyer in negotiation with the defendant lawyer, determines how severe your injuries are and how badly they’re going to impact your life in the future. They rate these injuries between one and five.
Five is the most severe, most catastrophic, most life-altering injury you can imagine, whereas 1 is a milder injury.
They then multiply your economic damages by this number to come up with your pain and suffering award. So if your economic damages came out to $100,000 and your multiplier was 2, then your pain and suffering award would be $200,000.
The third type of compensation is a little bit more rare. This is the punitive damage compensation. In general, this money is awarded whenever the other driver did something worthy of punishment. This could be driving under the influence, fleeing the scene of the accident, texting while driving, or knowingly driving a vehicle that was not roadworthy. Punitive damages may be any amount. Whether you get them, and how much they’ll be, depend entirely on the facts of your case and on your attorney’s skill as a negotiator.
In the most immediate sense, we can help by ensuring you don’t do anything which does irrevocable harm to your case. We can file your claim and deal with insurance companies on your behalf.
Yet we do more than that. We also gather evidence, structure case in a way that is more likely to get you paid, negotiate with the insurance companies and prepare your case for litigation, if necessary.
The services of a car accident attorney are important enough that you’re about 40% more likely to recover funds after your accident if you have an attorney working on your behalf.
When you hire a car accident attorney you do not have to come up with an expensive retainer or pay a huge hourly fee.
Instead, personal injury attorneys get paid on contingency. This means they don’t get paid until your case is successful, and then they get paid a percentage of your settlement.
Don’t fear that you’ll lose out by hiring one. Statistically, accident victims recover three to ten times more money by hiring a personal injury attorney than they would if they’d tried to go it alone. The math works out in your favor.
Over 30 years of experience and millions of dollars earned for our clients makes Tony Merchant a solid choice. Contact our office to get started today.