What to Expect from a Top Personal Injury Lawyer in Arizona
All licensed attorneys in Arizona must comply with ethical responsibilities governed by the State Bar of Arizona.
Finding a personal injury attorney in Arizona can be an overwhelming process. Although injury attorneys are aplenty in Maricopa County, you want to be sure your case is in good hands.
Each personal injury case varies but regardless of the case, there are certain things you should expect from a top attorney in the area.
Choosing a Personal Injury Attorney in Arizona
- Ethical Responsibilities: All licensed attorneys in Arizona must comply with ethical responsibilities governed by the State Bar of Arizona. Under these rules, attorneys must charge fairly for their services, act in the best interest of their clients, and keep their clients reasonably informed.
- Standing With State Bar: You should expect your attorney to be in good standing with the State Bar. You can search any personal injury attorney in Arizona to check if they are in good standing with the State Bar of Arizona.
- Initial Consultation: When you first reach out to an attorney, their office will schedule an appointment for an initial consultation. This is the same thing as an interview. At this appointment, the interviewer will gather the basic facts of your case and accept any relevant documents.
- Retainer Agreement: After the attorney has analyzed the information you provided, they will inform you whether they can accept your case. Then, you will be given a retainer agreement to sign.
- Payment Arrangements: Attorneys will tell you how they will bill for their services. They typically bill by the hour or on a contingency.
- Contingency Fee Agreement: In these arrangements, there are no upfront monetary costs for the legal services and the payment comes out of the recovered amount, so if there is no money recovered, you do not owe legal fees.
What to Expect Before Filing A Lawsuit
- Investigation: Once you retain an injury lawyer, they will initiate an investigation right away to build your case. They will search for all relevant evidence of the kind of injury you suffered, the extent of your injuries, and who is at fault.
- Evidence: Evidence can take many forms. Often, it includes police reports, witness statements, medical records, treatment records, and photos. Be ready to sign a document to allow your lawyer to obtain these records.
- Demand Letter: Once your lawyer has collected the information they need, they will draft a demand letter to the insurer of the party at fault (or the party, if they do not have insurance). The demand letter explains what happened to you, why the insured party is at fault, and what you are owed by the other party in damages.
- Damages: In Arizona, an injured person can recover the following three types of damages.
- economic damages: lost income, medical bills, property damage, medical treatment
- non-economic damages: physical pain and suffering, emotional distress, loss of consortium
- punitive damages: damages intended to punish the other party. These are available only in certain cases.
- Settlement Offers: Depending on the case, the insurer may make an initial settlement offer in response to the demand letter. Or, they may request more information. If they do make a settlement offer, it will almost certainly be lower than the demand. Most of the time, it won’t be their final offer.
- Settlement Negotiations: Your lawyer will discuss any settlement offer with you and advise you on how to proceed. Not only are top personal injury attorneys in Arizona well versed in these settlement negotiations, but they are also typically well-acquainted with local and regional insurance companies. In settlement negotiations, your lawyer will continue to analyze the facts of your case to best advise you on whether to accept an offer.
What to Expect After Filing A Lawsuit
Your lawyer will manage all formal litigation and keep you informed of any progress. It’s important to remember that your case can settle at any time, so filing a lawsuit does not necessarily mean you will go to trial.
The Steps in a Pre-Trial Litigation
- Complaint: to initiate a lawsuit, your lawyer will file a civil complaint in the appropriate court. A complaint is a legal document that formally lists the facts of your case and your allegations against the other party.
- Response: once your lawyer files the complaint and notifies the other party, the other party will respond by filing a response to your complaint. A response addresses all the allegations made in your complaint.
- Discovery: the next stage in litigation is called discovery. Discovery requires the parties to share information that could be presented as evidence at trial. In personal injury cases, discovery usually begins with written questions called interrogatories that you must answer.
- Depositions: discovery also includes depositions, which are live meetings where the person being deposed must answer questions from one of the party’s attorneys, and requests for documents. Discovery can take months to finish. It is the longest stage of litigation.
- Trial: trials are very rare in most civil lawsuits. Your personal injury lawyer will manage all aspects of the trial. This includes making opening and closing statements, filing motions, entering evidence, making objections, and calling witnesses. If you succeed at trial, you will be rewarded damages. If you do not succeed, your lawyer will advise you as to whether you should appeal.
“Your case can settle at any time, so filing a lawsuit does not necessarily mean you will go to trial.”
Recovering Your Money
You can recover damages from a judgment in your favor at trial, or from a settlement agreement. Through a settlement agreement, the other party will likely ask you to waive all future lawsuits and ask for the terms of the settlement agreement to remain confidential.
Either way, your lawyer will coordinate recovering your money, whether it be via a check, wire transfer, or otherwise.
Contact Goodnow & McKay
The Arizona personal injury attorneys of Goodnow and McKay have spent many years successfully pursuing compensation for clients who have suffered personal injuries in a variety of different cases. Our attorneys are committed to fighting for the best outcomes for their clients with accident and injury claims. Contact our office today to schedule a free consultation.