Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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UPDATED: Feb 19, 2020

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We asked Dave Wattel, an Arizona attorney who has been handling plaintiffs’ cases exclusively for over 20 years, what advice he would give to somebody who has been in an Arizona auto accident. Aside from cooperating with the police and never admitting responsibility, he provided us with these tips:

Tip #1: Don’t use your insurer’s repair facility

I would advise anyone who’s been involved in an auto accident to not let their insurance company control the repair process. Do not let them send your vehicle to a direct repair program facility.

The reason for that the direct repair program facility is under contract with the insurance company’ and you can’t have two masters. They’re going to look to serve the insurance company, not the automobile owner. Unfortunately, there is a great deal of pressure put upon the direct repair program facility to cut corners because otherwise they can’t make ends meet.

A lot of insurance companies cut the labor rates for their direct repair program facility. So if the direct repair program facility can’t make money off the existing labor rate, what do they have to do? Cut corners. They’re going to put aftermarket parts on the car which may nullify warranties. They’re going to do things that are not in the best interest of the owner of that vehicle. So I suggest that an insured, or a victim of an accident, take their vehicle to an independent body shop that has no ties with any insurance company. That’s first and foremost.

Tip #2: Get the right medical attention

Get yourself to a medical provider, whether it be an osteopath, an allopathic physician or a chiropractor that understands how to provide care following an auto accident or following an injury claim. That means that if there’s something beyond the ability for treatment within the confines of the four walls of that office, go and see a specialist if necessary.

Unfortunately, over the years I’ve seen a lot of providers such as chiropractic and osteopath physicians who seem to want to keep the patient there. Although the client may have neck and back pain, shoulder pain, knee pain or some memory issues, the chiropractor is unwilling to make a referral to a specialist or just ignore those problems that are not within his treatment protocol.

So, the head injury, the shoulder injury and the non-spinal complaints can potentially go unaddressed’ which is not in the best interest of that patient or victim. You want to find a provider that can address those particular neck and back complaints, but if you have other symptoms, that chosen provider needs to have a referral system to be able to send you to a neurologist or an orthopedist or some other specialist who can address those.

Tip #3: Hire the right counsel from the get go

You probably ought to hire counsel right from the get go. But you’ve got to get to the right car accident attorney. You’ve got to get to an attorney who is essentially an expert in insurance, who understands the importance of litigation and who is willing to go to court. Insurance companies know which attorneys are unwilling to go to court,. so they low ball their clients. You’ve got to get an attorney who assists with property damage’ one who understands the importance of having a client utilize their own insurance for property damage, as opposed to the other person’s.

You also want to an attorney who understands and pursues diminished value claims. Lots of attorneys out there do not pursue diminished value claims and probably commit malpractice when not doing so under certain circumstances.