Although we will interview you in depth during your first meeting with us, that interview will only result in obtaining general information regarding the date of the collision, place of the collision, and the circumstances surrounding the collision. We will begin by making a file on your case that organizes the facts we have obtained and we will begin preparing as if your case was going to proceed to trial. We prepare each file as if it was going to trial, even though approximately 95% of all cases are settled short of an actual trial occurring.
We will notify the other party’s insurance company that you have retained The Simon Law Group as your attorneys. We will also request that the insurance company give us a copy of any statements you may have given them.
Letters are also sent to all physicians and hospitals involved in the case, notifying them that you have retained The Simon Law Group to represent you. At the same time, we request that they, your physicians and hospitals, do not give any information to any insurance adjuster or investigator for the other party. Letters are also sent to other people with whom you have incurred a bill as a result of your injuries, advising them of our representation and advising them that any unpaid medical bills may be paid from any recovery made in your case. We will further advise them that you will execute a lien against your recovery. This is done because many creditors are willing to wait for the payment of their bill if they have a reason to do so. However, some creditors will actively pursue payment no matter what action we take and, as I am sure you are aware, all medical bills are your responsibility whether a recovery is obtained or not. Any police officers who may have been involved will be interviewed, witnesses will be contacted, and, if necessary, photographs of the collision scene will be taken. Additionally, any necessary information from the Director of Internal Revenue, employers, schools, or other persons who have information supporting your claims will be obtained. If necessary, an investigator will be hired to assist us in this investigation. That cost, like other out-of-pocket costs, are your responsibility and can be deducted from any recovery or paid up-front by you if you choose.
No case should be settled until your medical condition has reached medical improvement, including future medical expenses, and all investigation has been completed. At a minimum, a month to six weeks is needed to gather the necessary information, but in some cases, where witnesses have moved or are reluctant to talk, that process can take much longer. Additionally, it may be impossible to obtain the necessary medical information because your doctor(s) cannot answer many questions until your treatment has concluded. Sometimes, we have to wait six to nine months, or longer, from the date of the collision before we receive a final medical report from your doctor about your medical condition and possible future medical expenses. If a mandatory arbitration in your case becomes necessary it can take an additional year to reach arbitration. Then, if either side does not like the result, they can appeal to Superior Court for a jury trial, adding additional months to the process.
As soon as the investigation has been completed and all necessary medical information is obtained, we will evaluate your case. We will attempt to help you understand our evaluation and will attempt to arrive at a proper settlement amount with you. No settlement is ever accepted or rejected by The Simon Law Group without your consent.
Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Claims
An uninsured motorist claim is where the person who is responsible for your injuries had no insurance and you are filing a claim against your own uninsured motorist coverage. An uninsured motorist claim is available only if you have purchased uninsured motorist coverage from your insurance company. Your insurance company assumes the role that would have been taken by the responsible party’s insurance company if there had been insurance, except that uninsured motorist coverage does not cover property damage. You must notify your insurance company of the collision to begin this process (we can do this for you). However, except in very rare circumstances, if we cannot agree to a value for your claim, we do not go to trial. We go to an arbitration hearing as defined in your insurance contract. The process is that we choose an arbitrator, they choose an arbitrator, then the two arbitrators choose a “neutral”, or third arbitrator. An arbitration is like a mini-trial, with sworn testimony and witnesses, but with relaxed rules of evidence. The decision of the uninsured motorist claim arbitration is final.
Property damage usually means damage to your motorcycle. It can also cover damaged jacket and clothes, broken windscreens, paint damage, tank and fender damage and the like. The property damage is usually settled long before you are well again. We can settle your property damage without dealing with your personal injury claim. Except in very rare instances, i.e., a collector’s bike, a show bike, etc., the other insurance company is responsible only for the fair market value of your motorcycle. You may owe more than the market value of your bike: the insurance company does not have to pay you what you owe on the bike, only its market value. The insurance company has a duty to put you back in the position you were in just before the collision. Therefore, if you owed more than your bike was worth before the collision, you will owe more than the amount of money received from the insurance company. If your bike is “totaled”, meaning that it would cost more to repair than its fair market value, you generally have two choices: (1) you accept the amount offered and sign the title of your motorcycle over to the insurance company or; (2) you accept the amount offered less its salvage value and you keep your bike. You will have to obtain a “salvage” title: Your new title will have a notation designating your bike as a “salvage vehicle”. If there is a genuine, well-founded dispute as to the value of your bike, and the amount in dispute is substantial, a separate arbitrator on property damage may be sought. IF YOU OWE MONEY ON YOUR MOTORCYCLE DO NOT EXPECT TO SEE THE CHECK FOR THE PROPERTY DAMAGE, THE CHECK FROM THE INSURANCE COMPANY WILL GO DIRECTLY TO THE FINANCE COMPANY.
If the damage is less than the fair market value of your bike the insurance company will fix it. Often when your bike is only minimally damaged and is rideable, the insurance company will give you a check that appears to be a full and fair settlement knowing that if you go to a body shop the body shop will have to call the insurance company to obtain a “supplemental estimate”. This is done because if you cash the check and later go to a body shop and additional damage is found it will be difficult to prove that the damage came from this collision and the insurance company does not have to pay for the additional damage.
Personal Health Insurance/Medical Payments Coverage
If you have personal health insurance it may or may not be to your benefit to file a claim against your health insurance coverage. Most insurance company contracts contain a “subrogation” clause that allows them to recover (i.e., to be paid back) any amount that they pay for injuries you sustain as the result of a third-party’s negligence (i.e., the person that injured you). Simply, you probably will have to pay back your health insurance company, from your settlement, for any money they have paid to physicians or hospitals.
“Medical payments coverage” is a no-fault health insurance policy attached to your motorcycle insurance, or to the insurance of the bike on which you were riding as a passenger. Medical payments coverage only has to be paid back for those bills exceeding $5,000.00. Therefore, every dollar of medical payments coverage puts another dollar in your pocket. You paid for it – use it! There is one exception, however, if we are using your uninsured medical coverage and you have medical payments coverage, the insurance company can take a “set-off”; the insurance company can reduce the total amount of the settlement by the amount paid under the medical payments coverage. The idea being that one insurance company should not be required to pay for medical costs twice.
Worker’s Compensation Claims
If you were injured on-the-job you must pay back the Industrial Commission for all medical expenses and wage payments that they have made to you. However, it is very important that a claim be filed for you because the claim gives you great protection for your injuries in the future. The typical personal injury claim has a two-year statute of limitations. If you were injured on the job, the statue of limitations remains two years, but your ability to file a lawsuit ends after one year unless we have obtained a “reassignment” from the Industrial Commission. Therefore, you own your personal injury claim that stems from a work-related injury for only one year. A re-assignment is where the Industrial Commission allows you to pursue your personal injury claim during the second year by giving you back the ownership of your claim.
Rental Bike or Car Reimbursement
Rental bike or car reimbursement is not a simple process. If the other person is 100% at fault and your bike is not rideable, the other person is responsible for providing you with a replacement vehicle. However, the insurance company for the other party will not agree to pay rental vehicle charges until they are assured that their insured is 100% at fault and that process can take an extended period of time. We have resources to place you in a rental vehicle on a lien basis, pending resolution of the liability question. However, if you are found to be partially at fault for the collision the other party’s insurance company is not required to provide you with a replacement vehicle and you will be asked to return the rental and would be responsible for those costs. Many insurance companies refuse to accept a direct bill from a rental bike or car company or seek to reimburse you after you have paid the rental company even though you are fault free, therefore, we would use our resources to provide you a rental vehicle on a lien.
Beginning a Lawsuit
If your claim is against an individual who had insurance and a settlement cannot be reached with the insurance company, The Simon Law Group will consider the advisability of filing a lawsuit. We will discuss the additional costs and the likelihood of obtaining an acceptable result. In some cases, however, it is important to start a lawsuit immediately. By signing the contingency fee agreement you have given us permission to file a lawsuit if we determine it is necessary to protect your rights.
A lawsuit begins by delivering to the responsible party a document called a “Complaint”, which explains the basis for the lawsuit and your injuries in a general way. You are called the “Plaintiff”, the other party is called the “Defendant”. The Defendant takes these papers to his insurance company, which delivers them to its lawyers. The lawyers hired by the insurance company to defend, deliver to us a document called an “Answer”, and at that point, “the case is at issue”.
We want you to know that although a lawsuit has begun, settlement is always possible and is very often made just before trial or even after the trial has started.
Once the lawsuit has begun, both sides have the right to obtain information from the other side. This process is called “Discovery”, but the process is actually “Disclosure”. We have a duty to provide to the other side all information we have that is relevant to your claim. Additionally, both sides obtain information through “Interrogatories” (written questions sworn to be true that must be returned within 30 days), “Depositions” (Sworn oral testimony before a court reporter we are present to protect your rights), and medical examinations by a doctor of their choice at their expense. Under certain circumstances we can record the examination or we can be present. (We expect their doctor to prepare a poor report and are surprised with a report supporting your doctor and your claim).
Arizona law demands that there are no secrets in lawsuits. The theory is that if both parties know everything about the other case, there is an increased likelihood of settlement and a reduction of court time.
Mandatory Arbitration/Trial in Superior Court
Currently, all claims worth less than $50,000 must first go to mandatory arbitration. This mandatory arbitration differs from Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Arbitration in that it is not final. The Court appoints a practicing attorney to act as arbitrator, to hear all motions and to hear the facts. A date is set and we appear before the Arbitrator, present our evidence, witnesses and records, and within ten days he/she makes a decision. There is no jury. The rules of evidence are relaxed. If we do not believe the decision to be fair and reasonable we have the right to appeal to Superior Court for a trial by jury. The vast majority of cases are not arbitrated or tried, even though lawsuits are filed. Many times they are settled within days before arbitration or trial. As a result, The Simon Law Group will prepare all cases as if they are going to arbitration or trial even though over 95% do not. Before we go to arbitration or trial the procedures and what will be expected of you will be explained to you in minute detail so you will be as comfortable as possible during the arbitration/trial. It is absolutely essential that we have your cooperation in helping us gather facts about your case.
The insurance company maintains a computer database that shows all of the people who have made claims for other injuries in the past. If you have made a claim in another collision, workman’s compensation injury, or have filed a lawsuit in the past, the facts of your previous injury and the amount of your settlement will be known to the insurance company. You are, therefore, urged to be absolutely honest with us in all of your answers throughout our handling of your case. One of the most difficult things for an attorney to deal with is when it can be shown that the client made inconsistent statements or failed to disclose what appears to be relevant information.
You are responsible for all of the out-of-pocket costs. These costs are separate and distinct from the attorney’s fees for legal services. These file costs include, but are not limited to, copying costs, costs for investigating services, expert witness fees, transcript costs, postage, long distance telephone charges, facsimile charges, court filing fees, jury fees, process server’s charges, travel costs and expenses, and such other costs as are necessarily incurred in the proper preparation of your case.
At The Simon Law Group, we will advance costs for copying, investigation, postage, telephone, facsimile, court filing and process server’s fees. Other costs will be incurred only after consultation with you. Although we will front your expenses for the case, we cannot ethically advance or loan money against an unrealized recovery.
The information contained in this website is general in nature. Each and every case we have handled is on an individual basis. While The Simon Law Group is representing you, you can call in and speak with our legal assistants or paralegals at any time. Most questions can be answered immediately by them, and they will serve as the liaison between you and us. They will assist you with any minor problems and questions you may have during the ongoing stages of your case. At The Simon Law Group we do not treat you as just a client but as a friend in need. If you, a loved one, or family friend have been involved in a motorcycle accident and you like what you have read in our website, please call us at our office, or click onto “Contact Our Firm” and we will E-mail you. The Simon Law Group — Experience Matters!!!