By Zachary J. Thornley

Being involved in an accident can be a life-changing event. Life changing events require careful consideration and it’s important to keep your composure. However, it can be difficult to keep your composure when you are in shock or injured. The best way to be prepared is to have a plan. Here are some tips to go by:

First, don’t assume that if you feel no pain, you are not injured. You should be checked out by a medical professional to ensure your health and wellbeing. If you are injured, it also documents your injuries and can be used as evidence in your case.

Crash scenes change rapidly as first responders work to open roads up for traffic. Therefore, it is important to gather as much evidence from the scene at the time of the accident as possible. Photos and videos are routinely admitted in court. If you can’t take photos or video but have someone with you who can, ask them to help. Gather police reports and any other evidence police gathered. If you believe the other party was on their phone, you may want to alert law enforcement to obtain an extract of the other party’s phone before it can be deleted. It is vitally important in cases involving a death.

Speak to an attorney prior to speaking with insurance companies. Additionally, if you are being blamed for the accident and you dispute fault you should immediately request an attorney prior to speaking to law enforcement. An experienced attorney can provide legal advice and guide you through the legal process. It is vitally important to understand your rights. Attorneys can also assist in more complicated matters like working with crash scene reconstruction experts to ensure your rights don’t get trampled.

Insurance companies are known for being difficult, not wanting to pay or offering no settlement at all. If you have been injured through no fault of your own, you deserve just compensation for your injuries, pain and suffering, missed wages, and damages.
Also make sure that you keep detailed records and documents of all your expenses, bills, out-of-pocket costs, lost wages, and damage to your vehicle or property.

Most attorneys offer free consultations. Likewise, most personal injury attorneys work on a contingent basis, meaning that they don’t get paid until you do. When choosing an attorney, there are several important details to consider.

First, when you speak with the attorney, do they explain things clearly and in a manner that makes sense to you? Sometimes a case may need to go to trial in front of a jury. If the attorney can’t explain himself clearly to you imagine how he will sound to a jury trying to argue your case.
Fees change slightly throughout the state of Arizona but not enough to overcome the importance of finding an attorney who will work for you, as your advocate, to ensure that you and your case have the best outcome. Trust your instincts and choose an attorney you feel comfortable with.

Be wary of turn and burn firms where the firm’s main goal is to push your case through, get what they can and close it out so they can put up their next billboard. Quality over quantity of billboards should be your focus.

Zachary J. Thornley is the owner of Thornley Law Firm. For more information, call 602-686-5223 or visit