Bruce Squire Law

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Bruce M. Squire

480-247-3890


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Frequently Asked Questions


I've Been in an Accident

What should I do first? How much time do I have before I need to call an attorney?

What you should do first after an accident depends on your specific situation. Unfortunately, there is no "one size fits all" answer. If you were hurt and haven't seen a medical professional yet, your health should be your first priority. See a doctor.

After you have taken care of your immediate medical needs, you need to think about:

  • Who will fix or pay for my car?
  • Should I report the accident to my insurance company?
  • Should I talk to the other person's insurance company?
  • How can I get a rental car?
  • Who will pay for my medical bills?

No website can take the place of getting advice from a lawyer about your specific situation. Bruce Squire Law offers no cost, no obligation consultations, either over the phone or in the office. If you have questions, big or small, feel free to give us a call. You will be under no obligation to hire us. Hide this content.

Is it ok to talk with my own insurance company?

Your own insurance company may limit or even deny your claim based on what you say or how you say it. Most insurance companies have a “cooperation clause” that requires the policyholder to cooperate with their own insurance company. This often requires giving information to the insurance company, giving them access to your medical records, or even giving a recorded statement. However, you have the right to consult with a lawyer before you talk to your own insurance company. You also have the right to have a lawyer with you if the insurance company requires a recorded statement. For that reason, it is smart to get advice from your own lawyer before you talk to your insurance company. Feel free to call us if you have any questions about what you should or shouldn't say to your insurance company. Hide this content.

Is it ok to talk with the other person's insurance company?

Unlike dealing with your own insurance company, you have no obligation to cooperate with another person’s insurance company. You can refuse to give them any information they request. However, the insurance company may not pay your claim unless you give them certain information. Therefore, it may be in your best interest to give some information to the other person’s insurance company. They key is to give them the necessary information without doing or saying anything that may jeopardize your case. Therefore, it would be wise to consult with a lawyer before you talk to the other person’s insurance company. Hide this content.

I heard about someone who got $15,000 for an accident case and he wasn't even hurt. How is the value of a personal injury claim determined?

This is an urban legend that every personal injury lawyer has heard. It is always $15,000, which happens to be the minimum bodily injury liability insurance limit in Arizona. The truth is, insurance companies don’t give $15,000 to people who suffered no damages (unless the person is committing insurance fraud, which is a class 6 felony).

When personal injury cases go to trial in Arizona, here is the instruction given to the jury that is asked to decide the value of a personal injury case. They are supposed to consider the following factors:

  • The nature, extent, and duration of the injury.
  • The pain, discomfort, suffering, disability, disfigurement and anxiety already experienced, and reasonably probable to be experienced in the future, as a result of the injury.
  • Reasonable expenses of necessary medical care, treatment and services rendered, and reasonably probable to be incurred in the future.
  • Lost earnings to date and any decrease in earning power or capacity in the future.
  • Loss of love, care, affection, companionship, and other pleasures of the marital or family relationship.
  • Loss of enjoyment of life, that is, the participation in life’s activities to the quality and extent normally enjoyed before the injury.

Determining the value of a personal injury claim is more of an art than a science. Personal injury lawyers consider settlements and verdicts in other cases in the area, as well as their own experience in handling similar cases. However, each case is unique. An experienced personal injury lawyer should be able to give their client a range of the value of their case, but only after they have gathered the evidence needed to evaluate a case. Hide this content.

I was a passenger in an accident. Does my own insurance company need to be involved?

As a passenger in an accident, you may be entitled to recover benefits from multiple insurance companies. There may be situations when your insurance company won't provide any benefits to you, but others when your insurance company can provide valuable benefits to you. If you need help sorting out which insurance company should pay your claim, feel free to contact us. Hide this content.

How long does it take to settle an injury case?

There are two different timelines to consider when answering this question. The first timeline is from the time of your accident to the date the insurance company begins considering your claim. The insurance company usually won’t make an offer until they have the information they need to evaluate your claim. It may take weeks or months to understand the full extent of the injuries and the losses caused by an accident. For that reason, it is advisable for the injured person to wait until their injuries have healed, or at least become medically stationary, before trying to settle a personal injury claim.

The second timeline is the amount of time it takes to get a fair offer from the insurance company after they have the information they need. Some insurance companies respond quickly and others drag their feet. Sometime they don’t make a fair offer at all and a lawsuit is needed. Unfortunately, that adds more time to the process.

Each case is unique. However, an experienced personal injury lawyer should be able to give their clients some idea of how long each step is likely to take in their specific case. Hide this content.

Why does my medical insurance plan want the details about my car accident?

Many insurance plans have the right to be reimbursed from personal injury settlements. In other words, they may pay the medical bills for accident-related medical treatment, but they want to be paid back if you get a settlement. They want information about your accident case to see if they can get reimbursed. Are they allowed to do that? Sometimes yes, sometimes no, and sometimes only partially. This is an area of law that is constantly changing. You need to carefully coordinate all the different insurance coverage that applies. Otherwise you might find yourself owing money to a medical provider or insurance company. A personal injury lawyer’s job is to make sure that valid reimbursement claims are paid, but only to the extent allowed by law. This is a common area of critical mistakes when people handle their own personal injury claims. Hide this content.

Will I have to go to court?

Most personal injury cases settle without a lawsuit and most people never have to go to court. However, certain cases are more likely to end up in a lawsuit. Here are a few factors that may make it more likely that your case may go to court:

  • If there is a serious dispute about who is at fault, or if there are multiple people who may be at fault;
  • If your claim is due to medical malpractice, a defective product or negligence by a governmental entity (city, county, state, etc);
  • If you have pre-existing medical conditions that were affected by the accident or there are issues about what injuries are caused by the accident;
  • If a child or incapacitated adult is injured (these cases usually require court approval of any settlement);
  • If your injuries haven’t healed or become medically stable by the time the statute of limitations deadline arrives;
  • If you or your lawyer has unrealistic expectations, or your lawyer hasn’t adequately prepared and evaluated your case.
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What happens if the other person has no insurance?

According to the Insurance Research Council, over 20% of drivers in Arizona do not have car insurance. That means that if you are in an accident, there is a 1 in 5 chance the person who caused the accident won’t have insurance. The odds may be a little higher if you assume that people who don’t bother to buy insurance may be more reckless. You have two choices when injured by an uninsured motorist. First, you can try to collect from the uninsured motorist personally. However, a common reason people don’t carry car insurance is because they can’t afford it. You may be able to get a judgment against the uninsured motorist, but are likely to have a hard time collecting it.

Your second choice is to make a claim for uninsured motorist coverage under your own policy, or under the policy of the car you were in. Even a pedestrian walking across the street and hit by a car can make an uninsured motorist (UM) claim under their own policy. Your UM coverage will cover the same personal injury losses that the other person’s insurance would have covered if they had insurance.

If you don’t carry UM coverage on your car insurance policy, you should talk to your agent about adding it.

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How long do I have to file a claim?

Any legal claim will have a deadline. These deadlines usually require that you file a lawsuit in order to preserve your claim. In cases involving governmental entities or employees, you also have to file a Notice of Claim. If your case isn’t settled, or a proper lawsuit or claim isn’t filed before the deadline, your claim is lost forever. Even filing one day late is too late. These deadlines vary depending on the type of claim. If the claim involves a tribal member of a tribal entity (such as an Indian casino employee) it may be as short as 90 days. Cases involving dog bites have a one-year deadline.

Do not assume that a deadline mentioned in the above paragraph applies to your situation. There may be exceptions that shorten or lengthen the deadline for your specific situation.

It is important not to wait until the deadline to seek a lawyer. An investigation is often needed to determine all of the people or entities who are at fault, how they have to be named in a lawsuit or claim, how they have to be served, etc. If you have a legal clam, you should seek the advice of a lawyer quickly to make sure you understand all the deadlines that apply to your specific situation. Hide this content.

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What Can I Expect When I call Bruce Squire Law?

Can I talk to Bruce for free about my case?

Absolutely. There is no charge for a consultation for an injury claim. The free consultation does not obligate you to hire Bruce Squire Law. There will be no pressure to hire our firm. Hide this content.

What percentage do you charge for injury cases?

We offer contingency fees for personal injury cases. That means our fee is based on a percentage of the amount we recover for you. If we don’t recover anything for you, you owe us nothing.

The percentage charged depends on the type of case. In some cases the fees are regulated by law. For example, for a claim against the United State government, such as an accident involving a US Post Office vehicle, the maximum percentage is 20% or 25%, depending on whether the case was settled with or without a lawsuit. For many other cases, the percentage ranges from 29% to 33 1/3% of the settlement amount. Costs advanced on your case, such as for medical reports, court costs or expert witnesses, are in addition to the fees.

Here's something many lawyers won't tell you. Every lawyer in Arizona must consider whether the contingent fee charged was reasonable at the end of the case. If the contingent fee percentage results in a fee that is unreasonable, the lawyer is ethically required to reduce the fee. Lawyers have been suspended for failing to do this. We have a paragraph in our fee agreement that says if a client ever feels that our fee was too high, we agree to accept whatever the State Bar feels is reasonable. We even provide the telephone number for the fee arbitration department at the State Bar in our fee agreement. The fee arbitration costs the client nothing and the State Bar is not just a rubber stamp for the lawyers. They do order fees reduced or refunds given in many cases. We have not had a client request fee arbitration. We work hard for our clients and believe they feel that our fees are very fair for the results obtained Hide this content.

I've heard about lawyers that offer discount fees. Won't I end up with more money for myself if I use a lawyer that offers discount fees?

I'll answer this by giving an example based on a true case. I took over a case from a lawyer who got a $70,000 settlement offer for a client. He told the client $70,000 was more than the case was worth. A few months later I took over the case. We were able to get a $100,000 settlement. If you do the math, you'll find that a 33% fee on a $100,000 settlement gives the client $14,500 more than a $70,000 settlement and a 25% discount fee.

The example above, while true, is for illustrative purposes only. I obviously can’t guarantee that I’ll get 30% more for your case than other lawyers. No lawyer can promise to get more for your case than some other lawyer. Every case is different.

The point is that lawyers aren’t all the same. Hiring a lawyer is an important decision and should not be based solely upon advertisements, websites, case examples or fees charged. Experience can make a difference. For help in deciding how to hire a lawyer for your personal injury case, read the answer to What questions should I ask when deciding to hire a lawyer for my injury case? Hide this content.

If I call your law firm, who will I talk to and what will they ask?

The phone is usually answered by a receptionist who will transfer you directly to Bruce Squire. If he is busy you can leave a message with the legal assistant or on his voice mail and he will promptly return your call. Some law firms will have a call center or an assistant that screen calls and you may not to get to talk to a lawyer. That doesn’t happen at Bruce Squire Law. When you talk to Bruce Squire, he will need some basic information about you and your case to make sure there is no conflict of interest. He will then answer your questions and address your concerns. There will be no pressure to hire the law firm. However, if you decide to hire Bruce Squire Law, we will explain what is involved and make it an easy process. Hide this content.

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How Should I Choose a Personal Injury Attorney?

What questions should I ask when deciding to hire a lawyer for my injury case?

Hiring a lawyer is an important decision that should not be based on advertisements or websites. Here are some questions you may want to ask when making a decision about hiring a lawyer for a personal injury case:

  • How much experience do you have with my type of case?
  • Are you certified as a personal injury specialist by the State Bar of Arizona?
  • How is your current caseload? Will you have time for my case?
  • Will non-lawyers be working on my case, and if so, what work will they do?
  • If I hire you, will you give me your cell phone number?
  • Are you available if I need to talk to you or meet you after normal business hours?
  • What is your approach or philosophy in handling personal injury cases?

After meeting with a lawyer, ask yourself:

  • Did the lawyer have the experience and professional skills necessary to handle my personal injury case?
  • Do I feel confident relying on his or her judgment?
  • Did I feel comfortable with the lawyer's recommendations?

There are other resources available to check out lawyers. All lawyers licensed in Arizona are listed on the State Bar of Arizona website. You can find out if your lawyer carries malpractice insurance and if they have any disciplinary history. This information, and more, can be found at http://www.azbar.org/FindALawyer. Information on Bruce Squire can be found here.

AVVO is a private website that also has ratings on lawyers. You can search for a lawyer on AVVO at http://www.avvo.com/find-a-lawyer. Bruce Squire's AVVO rating can be viewed here.

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When should I get a second opinion about my case?

If you are thinking about getting a second opinion about your case, it probably means you have some doubts about your case or how it is being handled. We offer second opinions on personal injury cases free of charge. You may learn that your current lawyer is doing a good job on your case and a second opinion will give you peace of mind. More than 50% of time that I give a second opinion, I recommend that the person continue with their current lawyer. The second opinion may help you better understand the legal issues in your case. You will also know what questions to ask your current lawyer to help you become better informed about your case. Hide this content.

What should I do if I am not happy with my current attorney?

First, talk to your lawyer. Let him or her know why you are unhappy. You may find that open communication will resolve your concerns. You always have the right to terminate your lawyer. However, your fee agreement may provide that your lawyer is entitled to a fee even if you terminate the agreement. You may want to seek a second opinion before terminating your lawyer. Hide this content.

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