Personal Injury Representation
Arizona Raised | Arizona Educated | Arizona Experienced
The Vakula Law Firm, PLC provides the services of personal injury attorneys who put clients’ needs first.
This is one reason that we are willing to evaluate accident claims even when they involve apparently minor injuries. As many accident victims soon learn, an apparently minor injury sometimes causes a major disability later on.
It is important to seek out experienced legal advice before signing away your right to file an injury claim in court.
Top 10 Common Questions
Often times, people want to know what type of compensation they can expect from their particular claim. This is often a difficult question to answer at the beginning of a case because all of the factors to be considered are unknown right after an accident.
Some people believe case value is determined by multiplying medical bills by a particular factor. This is truly a misnomer. Sometimes the value of a case is dictated by the amount of insurance coverage available.
What Arizona law provides, however, is that an individual is entitled to an amount of money that will reasonably and fairly compensate the individual for the nature, extent and duration of their injury, the pain, discomfort, suffering, disability, disfigurement and anxiety already experienced and reasonably probable to be experienced in the future, as well as the reasonable expenses of necessary medical care, lost earnings and compensation for the loss of love, care, affection, companionship of the family or marital relationship and loss of enjoyment of life’s activities.
We can help you appropriately document these harms and losses to make sure that you are fully and fairly compensated.
Each case is different. Each case depends on the particular facts and circumstances. Some injuries are not as significant and heal within a few weeks. Some injuries are more significant and take several months or years to resolve. Some people never recover from their injuries.
First, we are concerned with making sure that you find appropriate medical care and that you have gotten as well as you can as quickly as you can. Once you have reached that state of recovery, we will then attempt to settle your claim with the responsible party’s insurance company.
If appropriate compensation cannot be had through negotiation, then we will discuss the factors involved in proceeding with a lawsuit and the litigation process.
Our attorneys will be with you every step of the way.
We recommend that you see a health care provider that you are comfortable with and that you trust. There are physicians who are familiar with the claims process and understand the information that the insurance company is looking for when considering your claim.
Physicians that are unfamiliar with appropriate medical documentation can cause problems when it comes time to present your claim. Another consideration is that some physicians actually work for the insurance companies and, therefore, may not have your best interests at heart.
If you do not know a physician or if you need a specialist to help guide you through the recovery process, we are available to help you find health care professionals that can help you get back on your feet as quickly as possible.
Under Arizona law, in order for a health care provider to make sure they are paid from available liability insurance, the doctor is required to file a lien with the County Recorder.
The doctor often will have a copy of this lien forwarded to you. Often times, people are upset by seeing a lien placed against them in this manner.
If such a lien is filed against you by a physician or by a health insurance company or other entities, we can investigate the lien to make sure whether it is valid or not. We will also help you in resolving the lien and making sure that an appropriate lien release is filed.
Ordinarily, in an auto collision claim, there are two sources to pay for your car damage. The first source would be the insurance company for the responsible party.
The second source is your own collision coverage through your insurance company. Sometimes the insurance company for the responsible party drags their feet in investigating a claim.
They may initially refuse to pay for your damaged vehicle. This becomes a problem when your car is not driveable and you need immediate transportation.
We can help coordinate submitting the claim for your car damage in order to get you back on the road as quickly as possible.
Under Arizona law, the responsible party’s insurance company is responsible for paying you for the “diminished value” of your vehicle. That is, Arizona law recognizes that a vehicle’s value may be reduced once the damaged vehicle has been repaired.
We can help determine if presenting a diminished value claim to the responsible party’s insurance company is appropriate. Presenting such a claim ordinarily requires enlistment of experts in the automotive field.
We can help put you in contact with these experts, to make sure you are fairly compensated for your losses.
People are concerned about whether they are required to pay back their automobile insurance company for benefits received. In most circumstances, a person is not required to reimburse their own insurance company.
In certain circumstances, reimbursement of your insurance company may be required, but only if appropriate notice has been filed by the insurance company. We can help analyze your case and confirm whether you have an obligation of reimbursement or not.
We will confirm what your actual legal responsibility is.
People are often concerned about whether their insurance rates will increase if a claim is made through their insurance policy because of injuries or damages suffered in a collision.
Many people purchase insurance coverages, paying the insurance company a premium to have certain protection and then find themselves afraid to present a claim.
Arizona law specifically holds that an insurance company cannot increase a motor vehicle insurance premium of an insured who has not caused or significantly contributed to an accident.
It is, therefore, illegal for an insurance company to raise rates in such a circumstance. Often, people carry no-fault coverages which only apply to situations where benefits are needed because of the fault of another. This would include claims for medical payments coverage, uninsured motorist coverage and underinsured motorist coverage.
These coverages are important coverages for which benefits have been paid. It is contrary to Arizona law for an insurance company to raise a victim’s insurance premiums when claims are made under these coverages.
There are specific tax codes which regulate the taxability of compensation received in a personal injury claim. Ordinarily, compensation for personal injuries is NOT taxable income. In rare circumstances, a portion of compensation received for a claim may be taxable.
It is best to have an attorney review these matters, along with your tax professional, to make sure you are fully protected.
The Vakula Law Firm, P.C. has superior qualifications and is uniquely qualified to handle your personal injury claim. Nicholas Vakula has over 25 years of experience in Arizona personal injury law.
He is also a Certified Specialist in Personal Injury and Wrongful Death by the Arizona Board of Legal Specialization.He is a member of the Million Dollar Advocate Forum and he is recognized as a Preeminent Lawyer by the Bar Register of Preeminent Lawyers of America/Martindale Hubbell.
The lawyers at The Vakula Law Firm, P.C. are also members of the Arizona Association for Justice/Arizona Trial Lawyers Association. This is the exclusive Arizona association of attorneys dedicated to representation of injury victims.
When considering hiring an attorney for your personal injury claim, consider the following: there are approximately 20,000 attorneys admitted to practice law in the State of Arizona. Of those 20,000 attorneys, approximately 200 are Certified Specialists in Personal Injury and Wrongful Death by the Arizona Board of Legal Specialization.
Of those 200 members, approximately only 50 attorneys have dedicated themselves to representing injured individuals through membership in the Arizona Association of Justice. Many other certified specialists represent the insurance companies against accident victims.
Of the approximately 50 members of the Arizona Association of Justice who are Certified Specialists in Personal Injury and Wrongful death, only 10 are lifetime members of the Arizona Association for Justice. Mr. Vakula is a lifetime member of the Arizona Association for Justice and a Certified Specialist in Personal Injury and Wrongful Death.
We are uniquely qualified to handle your personal injury claim.
We are ready to fight for you.
Reasons To Use The Vakula Law Firm
We are Arizona trained and licensed attorneys. We limit our practice to the exclusive representation of individuals who have been harmed by the fault of irresponsible persons or companies.
We know what it takes to make sure that you are treated fairly and to make sure the insurance companies and their attorneys do not treat you unfairly.
One of the biggest headaches people run into after being involved in an accident is the relentless phone calls and harassing conversations received from the responsible party’s insurance company.
We can make sure that these unpleasant interactions cease. No one wants to be treated unfairly. We will take care of handling the insurance company representative, so you can concentrate on recovering from your injuries.
Often, people involved in collisions are not sure where to turn for medical help. Of course, the most important concern for anyone injured in an accident is to seek out a qualified health care professional for treatment of their injuries as soon as possible.
We have the resources to help you find health care professionals who can provide you with the treatment you need to get back on your feet and back to your normal life.
Sometimes people do not have the health insurance coverage needed to see a doctor. Sometimes people are new to town and simply do not know where to go. Sometimes people seek out care from physicians who actually work for the insurance companies.
We can help you find physicians who have your best interests at heart in making sure you recover as fully as possible from any injury suffered in an accident.
Often, people are confused by the different insurance coverages which may be available to them. They are not sure which company they should make claims with and what coverages apply to their particular situation.
They are concerned their own insurance rates may increase if they make a claim. We can help you coordinate the gambit of coverages which may apply to your case, including liability, medical payments coverage, uninsured motorist coverage, underinsured motorist coverage, health insurance, property damage and rental claims.
Sometimes the biggest problem an injury victim faces is getting transportation following an accident when the victim’s vehicle has been severely damaged and is undriveable. We can help explore the various avenues for repair or replacement of your vehicle and coordinate those efforts as soon as possible, so you can get back on the road.
Sometimes insurance companies unfairly delay investigations of claims in order to create more stress and pressure on an injury victim who is not only hurt, but who also has no transportation. We can help alleviate these problems for you.
You may also be entitled to damages for the DIMINISHED VALUE OF YOUR VEHICLE. Often times, once a vehicle is repaired, the actual value of the vehicle has decreased because of the damages suffered in a collision.
We have the knowhow and experts available to help make sure that all of your vehicle damages are fully compensated.
In situations where a victim’s car has been damaged and is undriveable from an accident, we can help coordinate obtaining rental vehicles through appropriate available insurance coverage.
Even if a rental vehicle is not obtained, under Arizona law, a “LOSS OF USE” claim may be available. We can help you document these losses and get them submitted for reimbursement.
It is important at the outset of an accident to preserve testimony of any independent witnesses to your collision. It is important to get this information on the record as soon as possible and before memories fade.
We have the knowhow and investigators available to obtain this information, so as to protect your claim.
Sometimes there are disagreements about who is responsible for a collision. Sometimes there is more than one person responsible for a collision and joint claims have to be made.
Sometimes the insurance company for the responsible party claims you were at fault. Sometimes the insurance company claims you have not proven the full extent of your harms and losses.
We know the experts that can help prove who was at fault and how badly you have been damaged. Such experts can include accident reconstructionists, expert medical witnesses, vocational experts, economists, metallurgists, failure analysis experts, automobile experts, tire failure experts, etc.
Following a collision, accident victims are bombarded with paperwork from various sources claiming entitlement of reimbursement from any money collected by the victim.
Often, liens are filed with the County Recorder’s office or liens are sent personally to the victim, demanding reimbursement. These liens can be received from hospitals, health care providers, insurance companies, health insurance companies, AHCCCS, Medicare, etc.
Oftentimes, these liens are not legal and do not have to be paid. We can help sort through these claims, to make sure you are protected.
We will advise you about all aspects of your claim and what you can expect to accomplish with our assistance.
We will help explain the legal process to you. The insurance company representative for the responsible party is trying to pay you as little as possible on your claim.
That is the representative’s job.
The insurance representative is only looking out for the insurance company.
We will make sure that someone is looking out for YOU!
Whether an injury appears to be catastrophic or minor, an accident victim needs knowledgeable and aggressive advocacy and advice. The Vakula Law Firm, PLC provides legal counsel and representation for car, truck, motorcycle, pedestrian, bicycle and other accident victims.
The Vakula Law Firm, PLC serves people in the Phoenix area and across Arizona who have been injured or lost family members in accidents. Any potential client is welcome to schedule a free initial consultation.
Mistakes People Make Not Hiring an Attorney
Many people feel comfortable speaking with an insurance representative following a collision because the representative sounds nice. Sometimes adjusters will even tell people to go ahead and see their doctor and “we will take a look at your medical bills when you are done.”
Keep in mind that whatever an insurance representative may tell you at the beginning of the case might not necessarily bind the insurance company to assume “full” responsibility for your claim at the end of your case.
Often what insurance adjusters tell a victim of an accident is considered settlement negotiations and what the insurance representative says may not legally be considered to be a promise to carry through, as a victim may have been led to believe.
Hiring an attorney can help better assure that what an insurance adjuster says is not just an “empty promise,” but an agreement to handle a case honestly.
The first thing an insurance company will do following a collision is to gather statements from all the individuals involved in the collision and any witnesses to the collision.
The insurance adjuster is trained in the law and will attempt to obtain statements which are favorable to the insurance company, so that the insurance company can reduce or eliminate the amount of money they should pay.
An innocent victim of an accident may assume they will be okay just “telling the truth” to the insurance adjuster. However, techniques used by the insurance adjuster often allow the adjuster to bend the truth against the victim of the accident.
No individual is legally required to provide a statement to the adverse insurance company’s adjuster. There may be a contractual requirement for an individual to provide their own insurance company with a statement.
However, in either case, no individual is required to give a statement to an insurance company without having the victim’s attorney present. Having an attorney present makes sure the statement is conducted in a fair manner.
You should know what your rights are before speaking with the insurance company. Remember – – the insurance company is only looking out for themselves. Make sure someone is looking out for YOU!
Following a collision, everyone hopes for the best. Everyone hopes that the damages are not as bad as they could be, that injuries are not as serious as they might develop and that everything will be handled without a hassle.
Unfortunately, many injuries that are suffered in an accident do not instantly develop following the accident. It is medically documented that there can be a delay in the onset of injuries which can take several hours or even days to develop following an accident.
It is important, therefore, to report any injury or symptoms of injury to police investigating the accident and to a physician following the accident and to make sure all symptoms are examined and assessed. Report all injuries as soon as possible.
Often times, the cause of certain accidents are not readily apparent. Sometimes the cause is apparent to one party, but not another. Duplicating the circumstances of a particular accident “after the fact” can often be troublesome or impossible.
It is, therefore, important to properly preserve and document the instrumentalities leading to and causing an accident. The method and manner to appropriately preserve important evidence for a case is essential to bringing a claim to successful resolution.
An attorney can make sure appropriate evidence preservation takes place.
Most people assume that people will take them at their word and will believe what they have to say. Unfortunately, insurance companies operate in a contrary manner.
Documenting injuries and the cause of injuries is essential to a successful claim. Photographs and even videos of one’s injuries, including bruising, cuts, burns, abrasions, distinguishes a successful claim from a not so successful claim.
Remember “A person who documents their claim the best, gets the fairest result.”
An attorney can help make sure such documentation takes place from the beginning and throughout the course of your claim.
Often times, following an accident, there will be witnesses who can help support your version of the collision.Following an accident which has been investigated by a police officer, most individuals assume the officer will collect the names and information from witnesses present at the scene.
Sometimes people believe witness statements are not necessary because the person responsible for the accident admits fault at the scene. Unfortunately, often times following an accident, the at-fault person will “change” their story about who is responsible for the accident.
It is important, therefore, to immediately secure the identification and accident information from all witnesses as soon as possible.
Following an accident, people often assume that the person causing the collision will be a good neighbor and own up to their responsibility for causing an accident.
In such circumstances, people sometimes elect to not call the police for an investigation and simply choose to exchange information with the responsible party, so that the responsible party’s insurance company can handle the matter later.
Choosing to allow the responsible party to leave the scene under such circumstances can often cause headaches later. Calling the police department to the scene to identify the people involved, obtain their identification information and to confirm the circumstances of the accident is, therefore, the best way to obtain independent confirmation of the circumstances of the accident.
Often, the insurance representative for the responsible party will contact the victim, to try to “settle” the case up front. Settling before an appropriate medical examination or vehicle inspection has been completed can cause big problems later.
Sometimes people do not appreciate the full extent of their injuries until several hours or days later. Without an appropriate examination by a qualified physician, a person may sign their rights away before they find out how seriously they are injured.
Vehicle damage may also be hidden. “Assuming” there is not much damage to a vehicle under the circumstances where a proper inspection of the vehicle shows much more damage than is readily apparent can cause problems, also. The law also may provide for compensation of other injuries and damages which the victim is not aware.
Signing a release immediately following an accident oftentimes results in more harm than good. An attorney can review the release documents before they are signed and advise you as to whether the release fully compensates you under the law.
Often, people are injured seriously in accidents and assume that they cannot bring a claim for a variety of reasons. These could include the fact that the person responsible for the accident did not carry insurance, that the officer investigating failed to issue a citation or that there simply was no known cause for the accident.
Consulting with an attorney can provide insight as to whether one does or does not have a good claim. We can fully investigate a responsible driver to determine if there may be other sources for payment for their responsibility. The issuance of a traffic citation for a particular accident does not necessarily determine, under the law, who is responsible for a collision.
Sometimes products that cause injuries are recalled or the circumstances of a particular pattern of injury is a known to attorneys, but not known by the general public. Obtaining a free consultation with our firm can help you determine if you have an injury claim worth pursuing.
Most people have a natural apprehension about using an attorney. They assume it will cost too much to use an attorney or that they can handle their claim on their own.
Unfortunately, people who deal with insurance company representatives place themselves at a great disadvantage, as they are usually dealing in the dark. That is, the insurance company representative understands the law and the facts that are essential to defeating your claim. Consulting with an attorney, therefore, levels the playing field, by allowing you to understand the law and the evidence necessary to present a successful claim.
Our initial conference is FREE of charge. We will meet with you and review the particulars of your claim and provide you with our opinion about the merits of your claim. You can then decide if you want to continue handling the matter on your own or if you want us to help you.
We will provide you with the information you will need to make an intelligent decision about handling the matter on your own or letting us fight for you.
Nicholas E. Vakula is certified as a legal specialist in personal injury and wrongful death litigation who has handled thousands of accident claims over the years. Our firm frequently receives referrals, because other lawyers and former clients are aware of our reputation and track record of successful outcomes.
The Vakula Law Firm, PLC is dedicated to helping injured and surviving family members obtain fair compensation after a traffic accident or workplace accident. Learn how the law firm can help you and your family after a car crash or construction accident. We evaluate potential medical malpractice cases in Arizona as well.
Mistakes People Make Giving An Insurance Company A Statement
Even though an insurance representative contacting someone to obtain a statement may lead one to believe the statement is an informal discussion, nothing could be further from the truth.
The statements obtained by insurance companies are usually recorded with the purpose of being used against you later if all of the information in the statement is not 100% accurate. In common, every day conversation, we make reasonable guesses about certain topics under discussion.
Guessing in a statement to the insurance company, however, can cause major problems for an individual later when presenting a claim. Having an attorney present during any statement given to an insurance company can help prevent unfair questioning and a tendency of some individuals to guess in providing information to the insurance representative.
Insurance companies usually call accident victims immediately following a collision. The insurance representative sometimes will give the impression that it is your legal obligation to immediately provide the insurance company with a statement.
A victim of an accident should not feel pressured into providing a statement without having their own personal legal representative present. You do have the right to have an attorney present during the statement.
Obviously, if one is not truthful in providing a statement, that lie will most likely catch up with them down the road. An appropriate statement to the insurance company representative should be an accurate accounting of your memory, but should not include any untruthfulness.
Insurance representatives are trained in asking ambiguous questions. They are also trained in asking compound and leading questions . Their intent is to try to get you to say or make it appear that you are saying something inconsistent with the true facts of your case.
If you are not aware of these techniques, you can be taken advantage of.
Insurance companies obtain recorded statements and then have the statements typed up into a transcript. You have the right to obtain not only a copy of the written transcript, but of the independent audio recording, too.
Sometimes the actual audio recording is different than the written transcript. Sometimes the insurance company loses the original audio recording and, therefore, it cannot be reproduced.
Securing your own independent audio recording helps eliminate inconsistencies that may be created by neglect or intention by the insurance company’s representative.
Insurance companies like to obtain statements from the victim first, so that they can provide your version of the accident to the responsible party.
Sometimes the responsible party changes their version of the collision from that provided to you or provided to the police at the accident scene.You are not required to give a statement to the insurance company without an attorney present.
Oftentimes, it is better to employ an attorney in an attempt to obtain the responsible party’s statement of how the collision occurred, to ensure that the true facts of the collision are secured and to make sure you are protected.
One of the tricks insurance representatives like to use in obtaining statements is to get a victim of the collision to estimate speeds of vehicles, the time which transpired between the collision intervals, and the distances involved in the collision.
While it is understood in normal conversations such information is based on an individual’s estimates, when provided in a recorded statement to the insurance company, such information can be manipulated to make it look like an accident is the fault of the collision victim.
An attorney can help make sure that any information provided concerning these parameters are presented in an accurate fashion and prevent the insurance company from unfairly manipulating the information.
Sometimes insurance representatives have the intent of getting you mad. They want to get you to argue. They record such conversations and then try to make it sound later like you were trying to be unreasonable. You do not want to be taken advantage of in this manner.
Insurance companies oftentimes ask you to provide a history about previous injuries, medical treatment and accidents.The reason the insurance company representative requests this information is so that your statement can be compared to independent investigation information obtained by the insurance company.
The insurance companies have the ability to investigate whether you have ever submitted or made a claim through health insurance, liability insurance, work insurance, etc. for injuries or care. This information can go back several years and may have been long forgotten by an individual.
The insurance representative, therefore, puts an unsuspecting victim at a disadvantage.
You are not required to give a statement to the responsible party’s insurance company. You may have a responsibility to provide your own insurance company with a statement, but you still have the right to have an attorney present to protect you in either scenario. Having an attorney present makes sure that the insurance company is not taking advantage of you.
The insurance company is only looking out for themselves. Make sure you have someone looking out for YOU!
Things You Do Not Have To Provide The Insurance Company
You are not required to give the responsible party’s insurance company a recorded or written statement. You may have to provide your own insurance company with a statement. In either scenario, you have the right to have an attorney present to make sure the insurance company does not take advantage of you.
Often times, the insurance representative will want you to sign paperwork allowing them to get medical documents directly from your physicians.
Often times, the medical authorization will allow the insurance representative to get medical records from ANY health care provider you have seen. This would include not only physicians you have seen for your accident injuries, but also physicians you may have seen before the accident or for unrelated conditions.
The insurance company uses blank authorizations in order to dig into your background in order to find excuses to pay you less than you deserve on your claim.
By law, you are not required to provide the insurance company with your Social Security information. Often times, the insurance company wants this information to do a background check on you, to see if they can turn up any information which they could try to use against you.
Insurance representatives often want you to provide information about your health history. Often times, the questioning goes beyond the particular injuries which were caused in the accident. The law allows you to refuse to provide information about injuries that have nothing to do with the accident.
Often times, insurance representatives want to get a detailed history from you about your places of employment, your work hours, rate of pay, etc. This information is sought even though you may not be making a claim for time missed from work because of your accident.
Some times the representative uses this information to identify individuals who may have unkind things to say about you. The insurance company wants this information even though the information has nothing to do with your accident claim.
Some insurance representatives pressure people into signing a release. The representative wants to end the claim before an injured victim has completed their medical treatment or knows the full extent of their injury or property damage losses. You are not required to sign a release until you know the full extent of your injuries and damages.
An attorney can help you make sure that you have provided a full accounting of your losses to the insurance company before signing any paperwork from the insurance company.
Often times, the insurance company for the responsible party wants to know if you have health insurance which is paying for your bills. By law, this information is not relevant to the responsible party’s insurance company liability to you. The responsible party’s insurance company is not allowed to take advantage of the fact that you paid for health insurance.
The responsible party is responsible to pay for all damages and they do not get a credit for expenses paid through your health insurance company or out of your pocket personally.
Sometimes the insurance company wants you to provide them with a history of your previous spouses or provide them with a list of the names of your friends or your social network site.
Often times, the insurance representative will contact these individuals or review your site in order to dig up non-complimentary information about you. The insurance representative is not concerned about whether the information is true or not.
The information may be used by the insurance company, however, to leverage you into accepting less than you deserve on your claim.
Often times, the insurance company will ask you to provide them with documentation of your claim. This may include submitting photographs, a faulty product, letters or statements from witnesses, etc.
In no uncertain terms should you ever provide the insurance company with the original of any item requested. The insurance company should only be provided with copies of documents. You need to maintain the originals. If a particular product needs to be inspected, it should be handled through an attorney to make sure that the integrity of the item at issue is not compromised or lost.
Often times, the insurance representative will try to start an argument with the injured victim.You are not required to engage in arguments with the insurance company concerning the facts or law that applies in your case.
The insurance representative is trained in the law and is trying to get you to take a position which will allow the insurance company to pay you less on your claim than you deserve. The best course is to have an attorney review your claim and handle any arguments posed by the insurance representative to make sure you are protected and treated fairly.