Wild Arizona Weather and Accidents

The monsoon season is well underway here in Tempe, AZ. As a driver, driving during the monsoon can prove to be pretty intimidating for good reason. The department of transportation reports that approximately 19% of all accident injuries are from weather-related accidents. The vast majority on these weather-related accidents happen on wet pavement and during rainfall.

While things have heated up this week in the valley, it does not mean drivers are free from the wraths of the monsoon season. The Arizona department of transportation sent out this tweet recently of a small downpour.

These small storms can still produce heavy winds and cause wet roads.  Defensive driving is important to keep in mind when driving in the bad weather. One way of being proactive about defensive driving is being aware of storms heading your way. Via their twitter account, the national weather service can be a great resources on staying in the loop of when storms are nearby.


If you do happen to find yourself in a middle of a storm the Arizona department of transportation has released their “Pull aside, stay alive” campaign for the 2018 monsoon season.

The reason storms are so dangerous to driving is because of the way they affect visibility and pavement conditions. Lowered visibility caused by blowing dust and heavy rain can be hazardous to everyone on the road. Wet pavement increases the braking distance on your car and those around you. Be sure to watch out for the hazards of driving in our summer weather, especially when the hazard is other drivers not paying attention.

If you have been in an accident during poor weather conditions in Scottsdale, Tempe, Mesa, Gilbert or elsewhere in the East Valley, experienced car accident attorneys Kel Vrana and Chandra Farris can meet you in our Tempe office. If you live in the West Valley we can also meet you in our Peoria or Surprise offices to discuss your personal injury or diminished value claim.

Arizona Diminished Value Claims on AZ Minimum Insurance Limits

As we reported earlier, Governor Ducey vetoed the bill that would have raised Arizona’s minimum required auto liability insurance coverage. This means that if you are in a car accident and the other person is at fault, they may have as little as $10,000 to cover damages to your vehicle (in addition to any other property damage they caused). These low minimum limits mean you are at risk of not getting paid in full for repairs to your car, and there may not be enough money left over for an Arizona diminished value claim that would compensate you for lost resale or trade-in value on your vehicle.

$10,000 Might Not Be Enough Money

The biggest risk is $10,000 might not be enough money to repair your car. If your vehicle sustains $15,000 in damage and the person who hit you has a minimum $10,000 policy, their insurance is not going to pony up the extra $5,000 out of the kindness of their hearts. Insurance is a contract, so even if your vehicle is totaled out and the fair market value is over $10,000, all that person’s insurance is obligated to pay you is the $10,000 their contract allows for. That also means there is no additional money for you to recover for an Arizona Diminished Value Claim.

You can protect yourself and ensure there is money for repairs by adding collision coverage to your personal insurance. It is very rare that your contract stipulates you can make an Arizona Diminished value claim to your own insurance. However, to cover the excess repair bills you can pay your deductible to have your insurance cover the unpaid amount. Sometimes your deductible can be refunded to you if the other party has enough coverage. Gap coverage insurance may be helpful as well in the event that your car is totaled, and the fair market value is less than what you still owe.

Sometimes You have to Split the $10,000 with Other Victims: Pro Rata Split

If a driver hits your car, another car, and a light pole, the $10,000 has to be split to pay for those three damages. In theory, you could sue the at fault driver to try and recover your full damages. But, that is often not practical. The amount you normally get from the insurance policy is proportional to the cost of your repairs versus the total cost of all other victim’s property damage. Let’s look at some hypothetical numbers as an example:

If both victim cars and the light pole have $10,000 in damages each, the $10,000 insurance policy is split equally 3 ways and you, the other driver, and the city who owns the light pole each get $3,333.33 (and you can fight for the last extra penny if you want).

Hypothetically, you could also make an Arizona diminished value claim to swing the pro rata split into your favor. Consider the previous example, but now add a claim of $10,000 diminished value to your vehicle.

Your damages are now valued at $20,000 compared to $10,000 for the other car and $10,000 for the light pole. This means the pro rata split of the insurance’s $10,000 awards $5,000 to you, $2,500 to the other driver, and $2,500 to the city that owns the light pole, assuming everyone agrees.

Ideally, you won’t be in a position where the damages from a car accident are larger than the available insurance. When there is available property damage coverage, it is easier to make an Arizona diminished value claim to recover the resale or trade-in value that your vehicle has lost by being damaged in an accident. With the current minimum liability limits remaining at $10,000, a lack of coverage is still a risk. We recommend you review your insurance coverages to ensure you are protected. We broke down the specifics of the current minimum limits and the types of coverage you can obtain in an earlier article here, for your convenience.

Speak with an Experienced Accident Attorney for Free

If you are dealing with an accident involving minimum limits or would like information on making and Arizona diminished value claim, call us for a free consultation with an experienced accident attorney to analyze your case. We are happy to look it over with no obligation.

If you have been in an accident in Scottsdale, Tempe, Mesa, Gilbert or elsewhere in the East Valley we can meet you in our Tempe office. If you live in the West Valley we can also meet you in our Peoria or Surprise offices to discuss your personal injury or diminished value claim.

Arizona’s Minimum Auto Insurance Limits Are Staying the Same

For the past few months we’ve been posting updates on a bipartisan bill to increase the minimum insurance requirements for the state. The bill passed the legislature and went to the governor’s desk to either be signed into law or vetoed. And he chose… VETO!

In his message to the legislature, Governor Ducey stated he was concerned that auto insurance rates might rise and cause more people to drive illegally without insurance. During the debate on the bill, there was an estimate that insurance could cost an extra $90 per year for a new increased  minimum policy.

What does this mean? Arizona required minimum limits will stay the same level they’ve been since 1972: 15-30-10. That means there is a fifteen thousand dollar max payment per person for injuries (excluding the person at fault). There is a thirty thousand dollar max payment for all the injury claims from the accident. And there are ten thousand dollars total available for all property damage claims. Click here for a more thorough breakdown.

In our experience, the minimum limits are dangerously low and do not cover many of the injuries and vehicle damages we see in the cases that come through our door. For example, a minimum policy is not likely to cover an Arizona diminished value claim. An Arizona diminished value claim is when you try to recover the resale value your vehicle loses after an accident. If your vehicle was worth $25,000 and sustained $10,000 in damage, hypothetically it may have lost $5,000 in resale value. Normally, you could attempt to recover that lost $5,000 by making a diminished value claim. However, the only available insurance money on a minimum policy was used up by your repairs cost.

What Can You Do Now?

Even though the government has not raised the minimum limits, we can offer some options for you to proactively take action to better protect yourself on the roads. We recommend  buying an insurance policy with at least limits of 100/300/100, uninsured motorist coverage, underinsured motorist coverage, $5,000 of medical payments coverage as well as comprehensive, collision and rental coverage.

Underinsured motorist coverage

Underinsured motorist coverage solves the issue of low state limits most directly. Underinsured motorist covers your bodily injuries only. So, if you have more than the at-fault party’s limits in medical bills and pain and suffering damages, the underinsured coverage will make up the difference (up to your policy’s limits). This kind of coverage is crucial for accidents with severe injuries or with many people injured in one accident.

Uninsured Motorist Coverage

Uninsured motorist coverage also covers the cost of injuries, and is needed in more cases than you might think. The most obvious case is if the driver of the other vehicle never bought insurance or let their policy lapse. Since insurance is a contract, their insurance company does not have to pay for your damages if the insured individual has not been meeting their contractual obligations.

Another scenario is if you are hit by a hit and run driver who is never caught. Whether they gave you fake information, or just immediately left the scene, you can’t be paid by a person you can’t identify. If a person is drinking and driving, worried that they have warrants, or just scared, they could take off and leave you without a way to pay for your vehicle’s damage, diminished value, or personal injuries.

Additionally, the other person’s insurance may decide, “nope, we’re not obligated to pay for this.” Again, insurance is a contract and follows whatever rules the person agreed to when they signed their policy. A huge area of conflict recently has been how driving for Lyft or Uber affects a person’s personal coverage. If you’re hit by an Uber driver and it’s unclear if they were on the clock, the Uber insurance and personal insurance might both refuse coverage, leaving you forced to pursue the individual: a messy process and relies on the person actually having enough cash or assets to cover your damages.

Medical Payments Coverage

Medical payments coverage will pay for your medical treatment after an accident. This is especially helpful when your health insurance has the right to subrogation, meaning they can demand to be repaid for an accident related treatment. We’ve seen health insurance companies make this decision over a year after the original accident, Medical payments coverage lets you avoid the risk of that paperwork nightmare. Medical payments coverage also gives you an added buffer on top of the at-fault party’s insurance and your underinsured insurance for severe accidents.

Comprehensive, collision And Rental coverage

Comprehensive and collision coverage are for your property damage. These are useful as a first line of defense for your car’s damage. Even if the other person is at fault, you can use this coverage immediately for repairing your car, securing a rental vehicle, and paying towing and storage fees. Be careful, because the exact terms of this coverage will vary by policy. For example, you may only be allowed a certain type of rental vehicle for a limited amount of days.

In general, collision insurance is when you hit something. For example, you hit another car, you hit a pothole, you hit a tree, you roll your car and it hits the ground, etc.

Comprehensive insurance generally means something besides a car hits you. For example, a tree branch falls and hits your car, an elk jumps into the road and hits you, or someone steals or damages your car.

Rental Coverage is to provide you with a rental car while your vehicle is being repaired or totaled out. It is important to review your rental coverage and see what exactly is provided. Many policies will only allocate a certain amount of money for a certain period of time. If you have a large family you will want to verify they will cover a larger vehicle like an SUV or mini-van.

Speak to an Experienced Attorney About Your Car Accident

If you are dealing with an accident involving minimum limits, call us for a free consultation with an experienced accident attorney to analyze your case. We are happy to look it over with no obligation.

If you have been in an accident in Scottsdale, Tempe, Mesa, Gilbert or elsewhere in the East Valley we can meet you in our Tempe office. If you live in the West Valley we can also meet you in our Peoria or Surprise offices to discuss your personal injury or diminished value claim.

AZ Minimum Auto Insurance Coverages are Rising After 46 Years

A few months ago, we posted about a state bill proposed to raise the minimum insurance limits for auto insurance. As of today, May 1st, 2018, the current version of that bill has passed.Arizona State Capitol

By Visitor7 [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], from Wikimedia Commons

Arizona House Bill 2254 was passed with 45 yes votes, 12 no votes, and 3 abstentions. It was a bipartisan effort, with 24 democrats and 23 republicans voting together in the house to pass the bill. The bill also passed the Senate and will become law July 1st, 2019 assuming Governor Ducey does not veto it.

What does this mean? After the law is passed, when people buy new policies or renew their old ones, the new policy will have to have at least the new increased minimum limits. You can look at this as “how low could I possibly go” when buying insurance coverage. They’re raising the bare minimum to a level that will do a better job of providing coverage if there is an accident.

Currently, if a person wants to spend the bare minimum on car insurance, they can buy a 15/30/10 liability policy. Next year the bare minimum will be a 25/50/25 liability policy. We shared a detailed breakdown in our earlier post.

The bottom line is that rates may go up for some but risk will go down for many. If someone hits you and is at fault, their insurance will cover at least up to $50,000 of total medical bills with $25,000 of coverage per person. Additionally, their insurance will cover at least $25,000 of property damage relating to the accident. This will be especially helpful if multiple vehicles were hit, or if one of the vehicles is expensive.

Arizona diminished value claims are one area that will be particularly assisted by this increase in rates. We’ve explained in detail here how an Arizona diminished value claim helps people recover lost resale or trade-in value lost in an accident. Essentially, if someone hits your vehicle, the damages and repairs listed by carfax could cause the resale value to drop. Hypothetically say the drop is $10,000. That is $10,000 their insurance should owe you (keep in mind, they’re not going to want to give it). That $10,000 comes out of the property damage pot. So currently, if a minimum policy already did $10,000 in repairs for your vehicle, they’re out of money and you’d have to sue the driver to get your additional $10,000.

Under the new limits, the pot for property damage contains $25,000. This has to be shared among all the vehicles (besides the driver’s) involved in the accident, in addition to any other damaged property such as street lights. Still, if you have an expensive vehicle that is more subject to large drops in resale value after an accident, you will be better protected than before.

This reform does not protect us in all cases. What if the person who hits you is driving without insurance? Or they stole the vehicle? Or it’s a hit and run and they are never caught? A minimum liability policy will not pay to repair your vehicle or cover your medical bills. In most of these cases you’d need a comprehensive/collision policy with uninsured/underinsured coverage as well. Medical payments coverage could also assist you.

Finding the right insurance coverage can be difficult. But it is incredibly frustrating when you’ve been in an accident and you find out your policy doesn’t protect you. As a courtesy to former clients, Kel and Chandra are happy to speak to you about what kind of protection you have or may need under your current policy. If you’ll need to change your policy when this law takes effect, you can call us to schedule a time for Kel or Chandra to go over what coverages might be helpful for your situation. And of course, if you’re in an accident give us a call and an attorney can sit down with you to explain your options.

Changing Insurance Limits to Make Arizona Roads Safer

This image is a derivative of “1972MustangMach1” by “Anetode” and “Bigfoot 15 jumping at Brown County Arena 2015” by Royalbroil used under CC BY. This work is licensed under CC BY 4.0  by Vrana Law Firm

A major service we provide clients is helping them navigate the maze of insurance coverage. And one of the hardest things to do is tell clients we’ve hit a dead end when the coverage runs out.

While we are pretty good at finding other insurance coverage, negotiating with hospitals to lower bills, or finding providers who can treat you for less money… sometimes we just have to tell clients “there’s only $15,000 to pay for your $100,000 hospital bill.”

Why would that happen? Because Arizona state law only requires a person to have an insurance policy with a minimum of “15/30/10 Liability.” These were the levels legislators thought were appropriate when the law passed 46 years ago.

What does that mean? Well, the liability part means it is coverage to protect OTHER people from the policy holder. It doesn’t pay to help the policy holder’s injuries or the policy holder’s car. So if someone with state minimum coverage blows through a red light and T-Bones you, their insurance will NOT be paying anything to them. Let’s see how it would cover you.

Minimum Property Damage Coverage

In a 15/30/10 liability policy, the “10” is $10,000 to cover property damage in the accident. This includes damage to your vehicle, personal property, rental charges, diminished value of your vehicle, and any other property damage (like if a someone hits a fire hydrant or light pole and the city wants to get repaid).

When these limits were set in 1972, $10,000 would go a lot further. For example, here is a 1972 Mach 1 Ford Mustang.

A 1972 Ford Mustang Cost $3003 New 1972MustangMach1” by “Anetode” is licensed under CC BY 2.0

According to NADA, when this car was new it retailed at $3003. So, with the original property damage minimum limits you could plow through three of these babies like the monster truck in the first image and total them all without exceeding the cap.

But as cars have grown safer they’ve also become more expensive. Think about your car: how much would $10,000 fix? Each airbag that went off is a few thousand to replace before we even talk about body damage and paint. And if that is exhausted, there is nothing left to compensate you for your lost resale value either.  Or if your car is worth $15,000 and is totaled, you are going to be short at least that missing $5,000.

Back to the original example, a base model 2018 Mustang has an MSRP of $25,585. If it were totaled that would be $15,585 of value uncovered by minimum limits. So the limits set in 1972 that would cover 3 new Mustangs now only cover about 40% of one. If the original intent of the minimum coverage was to safely cover the damages to someone’s vehicle, damage to other property, and the victim’s rental car costs, $10,000 is no longer sufficient.

Minimum Bodily Injury Coverage

The costs of medical treatment after an accident are also hard to cover with the current minimum limits. The other portion of a 15/30/10 policy pertains to bodily injury. 15/30 refers to the money that covers other people’s injuries in the accident. There is a $15,000 dollar limit on each individual’s coverage. So if this person runs the red and hits you, the most money his insurance would pay towards your medical bills, pain and suffering is $15,000.

What is the 30? The 30 stands for the $30,000 limit for everyone (besides the policy holder) injured in the accident. Was it you and a friend hit? Great, you can each get all of that minimal $15,000 injury coverage that probably won’t cover your bills, hurray! But were you and two friends hit? Bummer, that means instead of $45,000 paying for your injuries, you all split the $30,000 getting maybe $10,000 towards each of your bills if they’re roughly the same. And was there another car involved? Well, unfortunately that means the $30,000 is split between all of you.

How You Can Protect Yourself Now

There are steps you can take to protect yourself from this situation right now. You could purchase comprehensive, collision, underinsured, uninsured and medical payments coverage for your car insurance policy. But, this problem is only getting worse for everyone. Thankfully, our state government is thinking about fixing it!

What the State Might Do to Raise Minimum Limits

The Arizona Senate just voted 19 to 11 for SB 1075 to raise the required minimum coverages to 25/50/25 liability. These would be the same coverages described above, but with increased limits. If the Arizona House of Representatives also passes a bill it will have the chance to become the new law.

Here at Vrana Law Firm, we’re excited about the possibility that this law may go through. When we work with clients in car accidents, our goal is to make them whole after the accident. This includes getting your car repaired, finding you treatment to help you recover, and getting an injury settlement that covers your bills and compensates you for your injury. The biggest obstacle to this is often when the driver that hit you has minimum limits and you don’t have any underinsured coverage to help out.

So, we will be calling our Arizona representatives to support this bill. If you’d like to help out, you could also call, email or write to your representative. Who are they? The state makes it easy to find out and contact them.

How to Contact Your State Representative

First, go to this website and enter the address you’re registered to vote at to find your legislative district: https://azredistricting.org/districtlocator/

Second, go to this website and look up your representatives for that district: https://www.azleg.gov/memberroster/

That will give you some information on your representatives, including their office contact information. You could call them, email or write them an actual letter.

Arguments For and Against Raising the Minimum Limits

Why would we not want minimums to go up? Well, if you’re buying the cheapest insurance possible, the cost of it could go up because you’re getting more coverage. Someone who’s barely getting by would be squeezed a little more. They might not want to be forced to pay for something they think they’ll never use.

It’s the nature of our job, but we see far too often the effects of people driving without enough insurance. We recommend to everyone in our office to get a policy with comprehensive and collision coverage and at least 100/300/50 limits with  100/300 underinsured, 100/300 uninsured and $2,000 in medical payments coverage. We often talk to victims of hit and runs, drunk drivers and normal accidents where the medical bills drastically exceed the current minimums. To us, it’s a matter of personal responsibility to drive with a reasonable level of insurance coverage and the proposed increase gets us closer to that level.

If you’d join us in contacting your representative to encourage this change, we’d appreciate it! Insurance is something we pay for but hope never to have to use. But if used, we hope that all those payments were made for a policy that will actually give the coverage needed.

Why is the insurance putting used parts in my car after an accident?

Some people are frustrated by the use of used parts to repair their vehicle after an auto accident, especially when they were not at fault. They might suspect the shop was trying to save money at their expense.

The best way to avoid getting used parts is to work with a repair shop you trust and can communicate well with. If they have to utilize used parts, they can at least verify the used parts are in acceptable condition. Here’s why:

The duty to mitigate damages and used parts

After a car accident, you have the duty to mitigate your damages. This is legal speak for “don’t spend money you don’t have to.” The insurance company paying for your repairs will say, “you were using your car, right? Therefore, it was a car full of used parts. We will pay for a replacement used part.”

This kind of logic is hard to hear when it’s someone else who caused the accident. Unfortunately, this is the compromise the law makes to prevent exploitation of the system from either side. Having a good relationship with your repair shop and choosing one that will advocate for you is how you can best work within this system.

To see how this works, understand there are four players at work in this scenario. The first two are you and the repair shop, advocating to restore the vehicle to its previous condition. The third player is the insurance company paying for repairs that wants to minimize its costs. The fourth player is the vendor selling the parts to be used.

When repairing your vehicle with used parts, the shop can still demand the part meets certain specifications. This balances the insurance’s right to use used parts with your right to restore the vehicle to its previous condition. If the part bought by the insurance company does not meet specifications, the shop has the right to reject it.

The insurance company then has a choice: do they try another used part, or just provide a new one. They may try another used part and, if it does not meet specifications, it could be rejected again.

This back and forth process can start costing a dangerous amount of money and resources for the insurance but also possibly you. While waiting on parts to ship, your car is accruing costs for storage at the shop which increases the bill daily. If there is rental coverage, you’re costing the insurance money using your rental as well. However, the shop may not have the space to keep your car waiting. And you probably would prefer to have your car back and not deal with the hassle. So, this is a game of chicken that can be frustrating on both sides.

Sometimes, the third player in this game, the parts vendor, can bring about an easy solution. If the shop has a good relationship with the vendors, some are willing to discount new parts to the rate of used parts. In this situation, the shop gets a part in the right condition and the insurance gets the cost they feel is appropriate.

Who does the shop work for? You or the insurance company?

Fighting for quality parts can take more time and energy. If the body shop is working for you, this is an investment they can make because it pays off when they earn business based on their reputation. These are the types of shops we work with and refer clients to. Compare this ethic to a “preferred” shop that relies on referrals from the insurance companies to gain clients and make money. The insurance company’s goal is to have a car repaired at a minimal cost. If rejecting a part causes a delay that costs more in rental car cost and shop storage, there may be some hesitancy by the preferred shop to take that risk of losing preferred status. Or, the company may reduce other costs to balance the cost of the delay. The risk to you is that if the shop feels more accountable to the insurance company than to you, the insurance’s goal of minimizing cost is going to overpower your right to have the appropriate parts or process when repairing your car. Or, that the cost of the total repair will not reflect the true damage to your vehicle.

You might ask, “Wait, if they gave me what I want and discounted the cost, why is that bad?” In a world run on common sense, that would be fine. But, again, it comes back to the insurance company being driven to reduce expenses at all costs. This includes paying you as little as they can for any diminished value claim or personal injury claim you might also make.

 

What has my car repair cost got to do with my personal injury or diminished value claim?

Say after the accident you had some symptoms of whiplash and were treated by a chiropractor. The insurance will still apply the same mitigation of damages obligation to your treatment. The seems fair, because most people aren’t going to disrupt their lives to go to the doctor more than necessary. But after you’ve treated a few times and have recovered, when presenting the bills to the insurance company you may hear this:

“Why did you need to go to the doctor? It only cost $800 to fix your car. You couldn’t have been hit hard enough to be hurt that bad. We’re not paying for this.”

So, now that you have used the shop they recommended, that shop quickly repaired the vehicle at a deflated price to make room for more insurance referrals, you cost them less by using a rental for less time… instead of rewarding you for keeping those costs low, they may use that as an excuse to refuse payment on injury.

Does this happen because there’s one person in the insurance company out to get you? No, part of it is that the property damage and injury adjusters are usually separate, overworked people. The injury adjuster will take a look at the low property damage and quickly determine what they think is a reasonable range of treatment.  Property damage cost will often hold a disproportionate sway over an injury adjuster’s initial assessment, even to the point of obscuring basic facts of the accident. We’ve actually had a conversation that went something like:

Adjuster: “I see a bill here from the hospital for over $20,000. That can’t be related to this accident, you client’s car only had $500 in damage and the accident was in a parking lot”

Kel: “Well, if you’ll review the police report, our client was loading groceries in their car, when your client’s car struck and pinned him against his own car”

Adjuster: “Oh, well, I’ll have to go back and review that.”

Diminished value claims can also be undermined when a repair shop doesn’t advocate for you. Diminished value claims are a way to recover the lost resale or trade-in value due to the accident. The true diminishment amount is unique to each vehicle and situation. However, most insurance companies have a formula that takes the amount of property damage and prior condition of the vehicle into account. If the shop is pressured by a relationship to the insurance company to say the parts were already in worse condition to accept a used part, the combination of lower value of the car and cheaper part replacement cost is going to have a compound effect to lower your estimated diminishment. In short the argument is, “your car didn’t lose much value because it was already worn out and it didn’t have that much damage anyway.” A diminished value appraiser can answer these arguments with a detailed report and possibly discovering faulty repairs that need to be redone. But now you’ve lost time and the argument may be harder to make to get you compensated appropriately. You may even be stuck litigating the matter to finally get a fair appraisal of your loss, but that process can take years.

The best protection is to start with the right partners

So, it is best to get out ahead of these potential problems. Working with a shop that has a good reputation of serving its customers is a solid way to protect yourself from getting used parts that are below the quality appropriate for your vehicle. When the shop is more accountable to you than the insurance company, you can be assured the total damages will be addressed appropriately at a reasonable price. This protects you for an injury or diminished value claim you might later make. It also rewards the shop for doing a good job on the repair, rather than doing a good job of cutting corners and costs.  When getting your car repaired after an accident, you may have to compromise and accept some used parts due to your duty to mitigate damages. However, in working with a shop you trust, you can ensure the parts used on your vehicle will meet the acceptable standard to work as effectively as the part being replaced. Or, the shop’s ability to reject poor quality parts and relationship with vendors may make it possible to get new parts at a price the insurance company will accept.

We can help you find a quality repair shop

We have several shops we work with across the valley that have proven their ability to do excellent work for the customer. One of our priorities for clients is getting their vehicle repaired quickly and effectively. A quality shop helps you get your vehicle back in the best possible condition as soon as possible. We can also count on these shops to record the repairs appropriately and coordinate with any diminished value appraisal we may need done. Their precise work gives us the best possible foundation for making an injury or diminished value claim afterwards.

If you are taking care of property damage after a car accident on your own and are worried about used parts, we highly recommend finding a repair shop with a reputation for customer service. If you’d like to get your vehicle repaired and also pursue a claim for personal injury or diminished value – or if you are unsure and you’d just like some information to determine how you’ll move forward – call us for a free consultation with an experienced accident attorney to analyze your case. We are happy to look it over with no obligation.

If you have been in an accident in Scottsdale, Tempe, Mesa, Gilbert or elsewhere in the East Valley we can meet you in our Tempe office. If you live in the West Valley we can also meet you in our Peoria or Surprise offices to discuss your personal injury or diminished value claim.

Vrana Law Firm Turns Two!

The Vrana Law Firm TeamThis week we were excited to celebrate the completion of two full years in business. Our second year has been a year of growth. We’ve added three new members to our team. This growth was thanks to the generous referrals from clients to friends and family as well as our hustle to bring them in great results on their cases.

Aa part of that growth, the major change in our third year is our new, larger Tempe office. We are in the same building, but now occupy the large suite at the front door. This larger space allows us to offer even more services and comfort for our clients. Our two dedicated conference rooms give us a larger and more comfortable space to meet with clients. We’ve hosted depositions and other legal proceedings in house, reducing the stress and travel distance for our clients. Clients have been able to meet with the attorney while having family members present through the speaker phone. And if there is a question about roadway design or how the accident occurred, we can pull up Google Maps on the wall mounted TV and explore the street view photography to analyze the accident.

Another milestone was the installation of our street signage. We were excited to design and order a brand-new sign for installation in the monument along Baseline Road outside our Tempe office. The Vrana Law Firm maroon V is now proudly displayed right at the parking lot entrance. Starting from a single office to having our name on the building in two years has been an exciting journey and we’re looking forward to continuing this success.

For our third year, we are still focusing on what has made us successful:

  • Kel and Chandra remain available to everyone for calls and questions; the attorney phones ring every time you call
  • Anyone in an accident can come in or call for a free consultation and speak directly with an accident lawyer
  • If you hire us again, or refer someone who hires us, we offer a discounted pre-litigation rate to those referrals
  • Our law offices in Tempe, Peoria and Surprise let us serve you throughout the valley
  • We are still one of the few firms who fight for diminished value claims even without an associated injury claim

Thank you for helping us celebrate our third year in business.  Any time you or someone you know needs the help of a Tempe accident attorney you can trust, give us a call and we will get to work for you.

Flooded Cars and Diminished Value Claims

As the flood waters recede in Houston, hundreds of thousands of cars, trucks and SUVs are left behind as total losses. Their upholstery is now caked in mud, their electrical systems are shorted, and the engines and exhaust systems are clogged with debris and corroded.

Be careful not to buy one of these cars.

At Vrana Law Firm, we are one of few Valley firms that offer representation for diminished value claims on their own, as well as diminished value claims in conjunction with a personal injury claim. These claims are contingent on us being able to prove you lost value on your vehicle due to the negligent actions of another person. One argument an insurance company will make against you is that your vehicle is not as valuable as you think it is.

Buying a used car will make a diminished value claim difficult. Buying a used car with a history a severe damage will potentially make a diminished value claim impossible. After Harvey, anyone shopping for a used vehicle will need to be extra diligent to avoid the coming wave of flood damaged vehicles with washed titles.

After hurricanes Katrina and Sandy, the practice of title washing came under scrutiny as large numbers of flooded vehicles were sold under clean titles through fraud and legal loopholes. In 2014, Carfax studied the market and found 650,000 flooded cars were sold with washed titles.

Carfax offers a flood check service online. They also list some warning signs for buyers. These include rust around the dashboard or inside the trunk latches, mismatched upholstery and carpets, or moisture in the interior lights.

If you are in the market for a used car soon, bear in mind that prices may rise due to the increased demand in Houston. If you find a deal that seems too good to be true, check for rust.

If I already have a chiropractor, do I need an attorney?

After an accident, you are probably just trying to get healthy and get your life back on track. If you already have a chiropractor it is natural to trust that person for this new injury. A good relationship with your doctor is important for recovering and staying healthy. Study on this subject shows that when you feel comfortable talking with your doctor about your treatment, you “do better biologically, in quality of life, and have higher satisfaction.” So, of course it makes sense to treat with a doctor you trust.

Yes, if you already have a chiropractor, getting an attorney protects you legally and financially.

Accident injuries can become much more difficult in terms of record keeping requirements, resolving who gets paid, and making sure the insurance compensates you appropriately. That’s where having an attorney work with your current chiropractor gives you more protection.

Could you get unexpected bills down the line?

If you already are seeing a chiropractor, getting an attorney can help protect you against unexpected bills. Because of the right to subrogation, health insurance companies treat accident injuries differently. If someone negligently caused your injury, your health insurance says “why should we have to pay this? This wasn’t our client’s fault. We could not predict this cost when assigning the rate they pay!” So, if your health insurance has a right to subrogation, they want to get repaid.

That makes sense, but it can become an unexpected hardship to you if you have already been paid a settlement and used up that money. Suddenly you’re responsible for paying back the money your insurance paid for your care out of pocket! And it’s not just the chiropractor, but also the emergency room you went to, the physicians, and the bill of the diagnostician that read the x-rays. It could be for any other accident related treatment your health insurance covered.

An attorney can make sure no one comes back for more after your settlement.

If you already have a chiropractor, getting an attorney can help manage all of your medical billing. The attorney and chiropractor will work out the best way to make billing easy and unobtrusive to your treatment. One method is the doctor can work on a lien. That basically means they do not charge you until your case is settled. The attorney then pays them along with your other medical providers from the settlement amount.

If your chiropractor doesn’t want to work on a lien, that is fine as well. While you are treating, an attorney will track your medical providers and request their medical records and bills when your treatment is complete. Experienced personal injury attorneys do this for two reasons. First, your records and bills serve as tangible evidence for your loss. That’s what insurance companies pay you for, so the attorney collects them all to make the strongest argument for your case. And second:

An attorney can try and reduce the amount of money you owe to these providers.

If you already have a chiropractor, an attorney can make sure they get paid fairly and possibly reduce the amount you owe to other medical providers. Sometimes the emergency room will accept a lower payment in order to get it all in cash sooner. Or, an insurance company might not have a subrogation team and might not want to get paid after all. The attorney makes sure all of these providers have a final bill amount and make sure they get paid so that no bills suddenly arrive at your doorstep months or years later.

Will my case really be that complicated?

It depends. If you have been in an accident and already have a chiropractor, you might consider speaking to a lawyer to learn more. At Vrana Law Firm we offer free consultations where you can speak to an attorney about your particular situation. This would be a chance to learn about how an attorney can work with your chiropractor to protect you from unexpected debt, the hassle of tracking down bills, and all the other complications of accident injuries.

If you are in this situation, call us at 480-359-6002 so we can help you understand your case. Or, click here to learn more about our free consultations.

 

The excitement and risks of rain in Phoenix

The monsoon finally came to Phoenix in a big way this week! The National Weather Service referred to the storm as a one in a hundred years event for central Phoenix, with 2 inches of rain falling in just one hour and posted this dramatic time lapse:

Arizona Department of Transportation also posted several warnings and photos of the flooding on the I-17:

Also, Arizona Central has a slideshow of pictures and video that captures the severity of the storm and the resulting property damage and disruption to our roadways.

The forecast for the coming week includes more rain and brings the risk of more accidents.  In fact, the Department of Transportation reports 22% of all accidents are weather related. Defensive driving is key to protecting yourself from the elements and other drivers. Some variables to consider are:

Pavement condition: wet weather increases your braking distance, especially immediately after the rain begins to fall and oil spilled in the street slowly spreads and washes away. Increasing your following distance and decreasing speed can help prevent rear end collisions.

Visibility: blowing dust and heavy rain reduce your field of vision, especially if your windshield wipers are dry and cracked from the summer. Combined with wet pavement, the risk of chain reaction accidents here is high. Avoid the mess by increasing your following distance and decreasing speed.

The Department of Transportation provides a complete list of risks for inclement weather if you care to learn more.

Despite the risks, I plan on enjoying a week of lower temperatures and some rain. I hope you also have a safe and enjoyable time!