Back injuries after a car accident can be severe. Even if they don’t cause pain right away, or they cause mild symptoms that goes away in a few days, back injuries can be more serious than they seem. They might involve underlying issues like vertebrae fractures, herniated discs, and spondylolisthesis, which may not be immediately obvious.
Ignoring back injuries can exacerbate the condition, lead to chronic conditions and secondary injuries, and hinder your ability to receive the compensation you deserve. This guide will show you the steps to take to ensure you recover fully and receive the compensation you deserve and how a back injury car accident attorney can help you.
What Should You Do If You Have a Back Injury After a Car Accident in Arizona?
If you suffer a back injury in a car accident, taking the steps below can help you recover completely, build a solid claim, and receive fair compensation.
- Seek medical attention immediately, whether you’re in pain or not. Waiting makes it harder to prove that the accident caused your injuries.
- Report the accident to the police and your insurance company.
- Gather evidence like photos of the accident scene and damaged clothing.
- Document your condition by keeping copies of medical records, bills, and other relevant documents.
- Consult a back injury car accident attorney.
An experienced back injury car accident lawyer in Arizona can help you navigate the complexities of a back injury claim and pursue fair compensation. Call the Phoenix car accident lawyers at Hutzler Law today at (602) 730-4530 or fill out a short contact form for a free consultation of your car accident case.
Why Do I Need a Back Injury Car Accident Attorney?
Handling the back injury claim yourself may seem like the best option, especially if the injuries seem minor or you’re concerned about the costs of hiring legal help. But seeking professional legal representation can make a substantial difference in the outcome of your case for the reasons discussed below.
1. Determining whether you have a case
Just because you sustained a back injury from a car accident in Arizona doesn’t mean you are entitled to compensation. If you don’t start by determining whether your case is entitled to compensation, you might waste time and money pursuing a case that won’t amount to anything. An attorney can assess the validity of your claim and advice you before you start the legal process. This will save you from unnecessary stress and expenses.
Even if you have some experience with the legal system, most cases are different and require unique approaches and skill sets. An experienced back injury car accident attorney has dealt with similar cases, so they understand the intricacies of insurance policies, personal injury law, and the evidence they need to build a strong case. They can help you navigate the legal system effectively and protect your rights.
3. Accurate valuation
Determining the value of your back injury claim involves considering many factors, including medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and rehabilitation costs. It is easy to overlook, undervalue, or overvalue some factors. A high valuation can decrease your chances of winning, while a low valuation can lead to unfair compensation.
A personal injury lawyer has the experience to assess your claim’s worth accurately, ensuring you don’t ask for less than what you deserve.
4. Negotiation skills
Insurance companies look out for the interest of the at-fault party, so they aim to settle quickly and for as little compensation as possible. They have teams of lawyers to fight claims and employ various tactics to get you to accept a low settlement offer.
You deserve the same representation. Experienced attorneys have dealt with insurance companies many times. They know the tactics used, so it’ll be hard to give in to lowball offers, and they have tactics of their own, so they can negotiate for the highest compensation possible.
5. Evidence gathering
Arizona is an at-fault state. That means you must prove the other party’s negligence and your damages when you file a civil claim. This needs compelling evidence.
An attorney can help you prove the extent of your damages and the defendant’s negligence by gathering all the evidence they need to strengthen your case. They have the resources and connections to collect evidence you might not be able to access on your own, such as:
- Accident reconstruction
- Police reports
- Expert opinions
- Medical records
- Witness testimonies
While you can gather some evidence on your own, working with a skilled attorney can result in a stronger case with the best outcome.
6. Maximizing compensation
Experienced attorneys understand all the potential avenues for recovering economic damages like past, present, and future medical expenses and are skilled in valuing non-economic damages like emotional distress. They also understand the legal system, so they can identify opportunities for punitive damages if your claims warrant them. This allows them to secure the highest possible compensation for you.
7. Peace of mind
Seeking compensation while dealing with back injuries can be physically and emotionally taxing. Entrusting legal matters to an attorney allows you to focus on your recovery and well-being while knowing a professional advocates for your rights.
If for no other reason, work with an experienced back injury car accident attorney because it costs nothing upfront to hire them. You only pay them if they win the case.
What Damages Can You Recover in a Back Injury Car Accident Claim?
You can recover three types of damages from a back injury car accident claim: economic, non-economic, and punitive.
Economic damages are meant to compensate you for the direct financial losses you incur from the back injury. They include:
- Medical expenses: This includes past, present, and future costs related to consultation, hospitalization, surgeries, medications, rehabilitation, and in-home services (even if they are non-medical).
- Lost wages: Compensation for income lost due to time off work while recovering.
- Loss of future earning capacity: Compensation due to a reduced ability to earn income in the future. The back injury may impact your ability to handle physically demanding tasks or maintain a consistent work schedule, reducing your income and career advancement potential.
- Property damage: Compensation for repair or replacement costs for damaged property.
Non-economic damages, also known as general damages, aim to compensate you for the intangible losses you experience. They don’t have a direct monetary value. They include:
- Pain and suffering: Compensation for physical pain and emotional or mental distress you experience due to the injury or accident. It includes physical pain, mental anguish, and disability or disfigurement.
- Emotional distress: Compensation for the psychological impact caused by the accident or injury, such as trauma and anxiety.
- Loss of enjoyment of life: Compensation for the loss of the ability to enjoy life’s activities or hobbies due to the injury.
- Loss of consortium: Compensation due to the loss of the ability to show affection to your partner. Unlike the other damages, your uninjured partner files the loss of consortium.
Punitive damages are not meant to compensate you for the back injury but to punish the defendant. According to Arizona tort law, you can only recover punitive damages if you can prove that the defendant acted with an “evil hand and evil mind.” A defendant acts with an evil hand and evil mind when they either:
- Intended to injure you
- Engaged in conduct that they know was unsafe and likely to injure you or others
- Disregarded the risk or harm created by their conduct
For example, you may be awarded punitive damages if the defendant drove while intoxicated or was drag racing on a busy street.
Can you Recover Damages if You Were Partially Liable for the Accident?
Yes, you can. Arizona follows a pure comparative negligence rule. Under the rule, you can recover damages even if you were partly at fault for the accident. Each party’s level of fault is assessed, and their compensation is reduced by their percentage of responsibility, even if it’s 99%.
For example, you can still recover compensation if you failed to yield the right of way while making a left turn and were hit by a driver driving above the speed limit. Suppose the court determines you were 40% responsible and the defendant is 60% responsible. In that case, if the total damages due to your back injury and property damage are $40,000, you can recover 60% of your damages ($24,000). If the total damages for the defendant were calculated as $50,000, they could recover 40% ($20,000).
Receive the Compensation You Deserve with Hutzler Law
Ignoring back injuries, even those that might seem mild, can make them worse and affect your recovery. It can also hinder your ability to receive the compensation you deserve as it’ll be harder to prove they resulted from the accident. The insurance adjuster can also argue that your back injury is not serious.
To recover faster and receive fair compensation, you should seek medical attention immediately, report the accident to the police, gather the evidence you can, document your condition, and, most importantly, consult with an experienced car accident or personal injury attorney. An experienced car accident attorney can navigate the legal complexities as you recover, preserve your rights, and get fair compensation even if you were partially responsible for the accident.
If you or a loved one has suffered back injuries from a car accident in Arizona, Hutzler Law can help you fight for the compensation you deserve. We will work with you every step of the way to ensure you understand the choices you have to make informed decisions. We work with experts and investigators to build cases that clearly show the defendants’ liability, including accident reconstruction experts, medical experts, forensic accountants, and others.
Contact us today to schedule a free and confidential consultation to learn what we can do for you, or visit our online contact form.