medical bills after car accident in alabama

Who Pays my Medical Bills after I’ve Been Injured in an Auto Accident?

After a motor vehicle crash, those involved in the crash often find themselves facing skyrocketing medical bills. Understandably, one of the major concerns people have after being injured in a car accident is where they can go to get their medical bills paid. Alabama is an at-fault state, which means that ultimately, the party responsible for the vehicle accident should pay the medical bills. That said, it is hardly ever this simple and straightforward.

If you are injured in a car crash that was caused by another driver’s negligence, it is very rare that the other driver will freely take full responsibility and write you a check to cover all your medical bills. Usually, you will be trying to recover compensation (for your medical costs and other losses) from their insurance company. 

This can be a confusing and intimidating process, especially because insurance companies will do almost anything they can get away with to minimize the amount of compensation they pay out after an accident. This is why it is highly recommended that you get an experienced attorney involved as early as possible after the accident, so your right to recover compensation can be protected.

Getting Medical Bills Paid after a Car Accident

Although the driver who is at fault for an auto accident is the one responsible for paying medical bills, there are some potential obstacles that cause their insurance company to not pay all of these bills:

Auto Insurance Liability Limits

Alabama requires vehicles registered in the state to carry minimum liability coverage of $25,000 per person and $50,000 per accident. While some drivers carry more than that, many only carry minimum state requirements. This could become a major problem if you suffered a serious and debilitating injury in which your medical bills exceed these limits. If this is the case, you will have to look at other options for getting your medical bills reimbursed.

Alabama Contributory Negligence Laws

Alabama is one of a handful of states that applies the “contributory negligence” legal standard.  Under contributory negligence, if an injured party is found to have “contributed” in any way to the underlying accident that caused their injury (even 1%), they can be barred from recovering damages. Insurance companies will often seek to use these laws to their advantage by trying to pin some of the blame for an accident on innocent drivers. This is another reason you need skilled legal counsel by your side to effectively thwart these tactics and fight hard for every dollar of compensation you deserve.

Other Sources for Reimbursement of Auto Accident Medical Bills

If the driver responsible for the accident did not have insurance, did not have enough coverage to pay your medical costs, or for whatever reason you are denied coverage by their insurer, there are some other potential avenues for getting your medical bills paid:

Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Coverage: If the at-fault driver did not have sufficient coverage to pay your medical costs and cover other losses (such as lost earnings and pain and suffering), then you will need to look to the uninsured/underinsured (UM/UIM) motorist coverage in your own insurance policy. Alabama does not require drivers to carry this type of coverage, but UM/UIM coverage is highly recommended for exactly these types of situations.

Personal Injury Protection (PIP) Coverage: Another optional coverage that is highly recommended is called personal injury protection (PIP), otherwise known as “no fault coverage”. If you have PIP coverage, your own insurer will pay your medical bills and cover your other losses up to the policy limits, regardless of who was at fault for the accident. Most insurers will only offer up to $25,000 in PIP insurance, so it probably won’t pay all of your medical bills if you suffered a serious injury. That said, PIP coverage can be especially helpful in a state like Alabama because of the contributory negligence standard we discussed earlier.

Your Own Health Insurance: If your PIP coverage is exhausted and you are waiting to recover additional damages for your injuries from the responsible party’s insurer and/or your own UM/UIM coverage, your own health insurance can pay your bills (if you have insurance). This, of course, will be subject to co-pays and deductibles (which can sometimes be several thousand dollars), and if you ultimately recover damages from the other party, your health insurer will want to be reimbursed for what they have paid. 

Medicare/Medicaid: If you do not have private health insurance through your employer or from the public exchange, you may be able to get your bills covered through Medicare or Medicaid, if you qualify for either of these programs. These are both government health programs, and they generally will not pay your medical bills until they have received a notice stating that your PIP coverage (if you have it) has been exhausted.

Workers’ Compensation Coverage: One other possible source for recovering medical costs after a car accident is through workers’ compensation benefits. However, this would only apply in limited situations in which the accident occurred while you were on the job, such as if you are making a delivery for your employer. Speak with your attorney to find out if workers’ comp benefits might be available in your situation.  

Injured in an Auto Accident in Alabama? Contact a Seasoned Personal Injury Lawyer

If you or someone close to you suffered injury in a car accident in Alabama and it was someone else’s fault, you have a right to compensation for all of your losses; including reimbursement for your medical bills. But as you can see, getting your bills paid is not always a smooth and seamless process, and it is always best to work with a skilled and knowledgeable attorney who thoroughly understands how to get you the full and fair compensation you deserve.

At Mann & Potter, we are ready to go to work for you! Call us today at 205-879-9661 to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation and case assessment. You may also message us online or stop by our Birmingham office in person at your convenience.

how to avoid an accident with a school bus

Back to School: Avoiding Accidents with School Buses

Summer has come to a close and Fall is now in full swing. This means that millions of kids in Alabama and throughout the country are back in school. We all want our kids to learn and succeed in school, and this starts with creating an environment where they can get to and from school safely.

School buses are the most common way Alabama children travel to and from school. There are more than 8,200 buses that service school districts throughout the state, and more than 375,000 kids ride them each day.

Buses are a relatively safe way for school kids to travel. According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA), children are 70 times more likely to arrive at school safely when traveling by bus rather than traveling by car. In addition, school bus fatalities account for less than 1% of all traffic related fatalities each year.

Although school buses are safer than most other modes of transportation, accidents still happen from time to time. Oftentimes, the risk is not so much that a child riding inside the bus will be hurt, but more so that they might get hurt when they are outside the bus. There is also the risk of serious injury to other motorists who collide with school buses, like what happened to the 17-year old high school student who was severely injured and later died when his car crashed into a school bus in August near Phenix City, AL.

If we all do our part, tragedies like these can be prevented, and we can help ensure that our kids have a safe and successful school year. Toward that end, here are five things that we as drivers can do to avoid accidents with school buses:

  1. Avoid Distracted Driving

The morning and evening rush hours can be hectic times of the day to drive. Drivers are often stuck in heavy traffic and in a hurry to get to work. On top of that, you may be trying to finish your morning coffee while you drive and respond to the latest text from your boss or coworker who needs something. This, unfortunately, is the world we live in. But that is no excuse to drive unsafely and put yourself and others in danger. 

Always give yourself plenty of time to get to work in the morning, and do not respond to texts and other electronic notifications from your cellphone. Most of these messages can wait, and if there is something you absolutely need to respond to, pull over in a safe spot and put your car in park first before sending your response.

  • Watch for Children Walking and Biking to School

Not all school kids ride the bus. Some who live closer to their school choose to walk or ride their bikes. From the moment you back out of your driveway, you need to be on the lookout for young pedestrians and bicyclists. This is especially true when you are driving through school zones.

  • Watch for Children Approaching Bus Stops

Along the same lines as the previous point, when you are driving near a bus stop, watch out for kids who are walking to the stop or already there waiting for the bus. Children are unpredictable, especially younger children, and you never know when a child will dash across the street trying to catch the bus or when they end up on the streets while just playing around with friends.

  • Drive Slowly when you are Behind a School Bus

You need drive slowly not only when there are kids nearby walking or riding their bikes, but also when you end up behind a school bus. Buses slow down and stop frequently to pick up and drop off kids, and they are also required to come to a complete stop at railroad crossings.  Proceed with caution when you are behind a bus, and always give them plenty of room to complete their stops safely.

  • Always Obey Alabama School Bus Laws

In most cases, you are not allowed to pass a stopped school or church bus in Alabama. If you are behind either type of bus or approaching it from the other direction, you are required to stop as soon as the bus raises its signal arm and remain stopped until the signal arm is lowered.  The only exception to this rule is when you are approaching a bus from the other direction on a divided four or six lane highway that contains a barrier or unpaved area which divides the directional lanes.

The state of Alabama does not look kindly on drivers who disobey school bus laws. Penalties for passing a school bus illegally start at $150 to $300 along with points on your driving record and higher insurance rates for a first offense. Multiple offenders face higher fines, loss of driving privileges, community service requirements, and other consequences. Many school districts have installed stop-arm cameras to catch offenders, so it is never a good idea to take a chance and disobey these rules.

Injured in a School Bus Accident in Alabama? Contact a Seasoned Vehicle Accident Lawyer

Even if you do your best to drive safely, bus accidents can still happen because of the negligent actions or omissions of other parties. If you or a loved one suffered injury in an auto accident in Alabama that was someone else’s fault, you need strong legal counsel by your side advocating forcefully for your rights and interests.

To schedule a free consultation and case assessment with one of the experienced attorneys at Mann & Potter, call us today at 205-879-9661, message us online, or stop by our Birmingham office at your convenience.

injured at work

Who is Responsible for Your Workplace Injury?

It’s just another typical day at work, until it’s not.

You are injured on the job, badly injured. And while your first thoughts rightly should be to seek immediate, emergency medical care, you soon wonder – just who is responsible for my injury? 

Who will pay the bills and how long do I have to recover?

Well, your employer is responsible for providing medical care through its workers’ compensation insurance coverage (if they have this coverage), including:

  • Visits to the doctor
  • Any hospitalization and therapy sessions
  • Tests that may be needed in your diagnosis
  • Medical treatment including drugs you’ve been prescribed
  • Any prostheses needed during your recovery
  • Add mileage to and from the doctor add to the costs that can be reimbursed

Report Your Injury

As the employee, in most cases, you are guaranteed a “benefit certain” in the event of an on-the-job injury.

If your employer has more than four employees, they are required to provide medical treatment for your workplace injury under the federal workers’ compensation laws.

Even if your injury does not require a visit to the ER, do not hesitate to report it.

Perhaps you were cut from some heavy machinery. Upon closer inspection, the cut seems to be getting worse. Or maybe you were not wearing all of the required safety gear at the time of the injury and you don’t want that discovered.

Under Alabama law, all job-related injuries must be reported to your employer who contacts his insurance carrier. The insurance company files the Employers First Report of Injury to the state workers’ compensation division.  It has the responsibility of promoting safety in the Alabama workplace under Alabama law and all employers must carry workers’ compensation coverage.

Do not opt instead to go to your private doctor. It will be up to the insurance carrier to determine which doctor you should see unless you are going to the emergency room for treatment.

While you are receiving workers’ comp benefits, you may still be able to recover from a third-party if an equipment failure was responsible for your injury.  

Contact the personal injury lawyers at Mann & Potter for a complimentary consultation to discuss your accident, and your recovery both physically and fiscally.

Also, if the workplace is unsafe in any regard, OSHA, the federal Occupational and Safety and Health Administration will inspect the potential workplace hazard. Your employers cannot retaliate against you for filing an OSHA complaint.

Types of Workers’ Compensation Coverage in Alabama

Your workers’ compensation coverage should apply even if you were working for your employer part-time. You also may not have been at the actual worksite but involved in work-related activity, such as driving goods to another location.  

Even under those conditions workers’ compensation covers any accidental injury.

You may be entitled to one of two types of temporary disability benefits to make up for lost wages while you recover.

Temporary total disability –Allows you to recover monies equaling 66 2/3% of your regular wages if your doctor says you cannot work. Certain more severe injuries may allow you to recover 80% of your regular wages for up to six months.

Temporary partial disability – If you can work with restrictions, according to your doctors’ direction, you may receive partial disability benefits up to 80% of your wages at the time of your accident.

If your disability is total and you are not expected to recover and cannot return to work, you may be eligible to receive permanent total disability benefits.

In the event of a death, your dependents will receive benefits based on your average weekly earnings.

You may not be able to seek benefits if the accident involved your intentional misconduct, you were intoxicated, or breached safety rules in the workplace.

Your Alabama Workplace Injury Law Firm

During the course of the claims process it is always advised you have an experienced workers’ compensation law firm representing your interests. Though it is not required, understand that the employer will have one or more attorneys to represent their interest.

Your claim may involve complex issues concerning partial liability, compliance with safety rules and regulations, engineering, third parties, and indemnity. You may have to appeal any workers’ compensation claim.

The attorneys at Mann & Potter have the workplace accident experience to help you determine if you have a case, and if you do, the best way to pursue it. Contact our office today at 205-879-9661 or reach out to us online to schedule your free consultation.

commercial vehicle accident in birmingham

I Was in an Accident with a Commercial Truck – Who Can I Sue?

Each year, thousands of individuals are killed and tens of thousands are seriously injured in trucking accidents. Semi-trucks are massive vehicles that can weigh in excess of 80,000 pounds when fully loaded, making them a potentially deadly force on the roadways, and cars and other passenger vehicles that are involved in collisions with 18-wheelers usually sustain the lion’s share of the property damage and injuries.

Almost 70% of those who are killed in crashes with commercial trucks are occupants of the passenger vehicle, with another 10% to 15% being bicyclists, motorcyclist, and pedestrians. Only about 15% to 20% of those killed in truck accidents are occupants of the large commercial vehicle.

Who is Responsible for a Truck Accident in Alabama?

Trucking accidents are among the most complicated types of personal injury cases, because of the number of parties that may be involved. For example, if the accident is the fault of the truck driver, the trucking company who hired the driver may also share liability. It is important to look at all parties that may be liable, so that the injured party receives maximum compensation, and so that those responsible are held fully accountable for their actions.

Here are some of the parties that someone who is injured in an accident with a commercial truck could go after:

The Truck Driver

Driver negligence is a major contributing factor in a large number of commercial vehicle accidents. And in a truck accident case, proving that the driver violated federal or state trucking regulations leading up to the accident can help demonstrate fault. Examples of commercial trucking violations include:

  • Driving under the influence of alcohol and drugs (DUI);
  • Hours of service violations (i.e., driving too long without taking a break);
  • Traffic violations such as speeding, driving recklessly, distracted driving, etc.

The Trucking Company

The company that employs the driver or contracted with them to make the delivery may also be responsible for the accident. Trucking companies will often try to avoid liability by claiming that the driver is an independent contractor rather than an employee. However, just because the company says the driver is an independent contractor, this does not necessarily mean it is true. 

For example, even if the company does not withhold taxes and provide workers’ compensation, unemployment, and health insurance benefits, the driver may still be an employee if they are required to display a company placard in the vehicle and/or they make deliveries exclusively for this trucking company. An experienced truck accident lawyer can thoroughly examine the relationship between the driver and the trucking company to determine if the trucking company can be held responsible for the accident.

The Cargo/Shipping Company

Some commercial trucking accidents happen because the truck was overloaded (beyond allowed weight limits) or loaded unevenly, causing the truck to rollover or tip to its side. When this is the case, the shipping company that loaded the truck may be partially responsible for the accident, particularly if they violated cargo loading rules.

The Designer or Manufacturer of a Faulty Vehicle or Vehicle Part

If the defective vehicle or defective vehicle part played a role in the accident, it may be possible to bring a product liability claim against the designer, manufacturer, or another party in the supply chain. Common product defects that can cause truck accidents include tire blowouts, brake line failures, computer dashboard malfunctions, and steering system failures.

The Party Responsible for Maintaining the Truck

Big rig trucks put on thousands of miles over-the-road in a typical month. But sometimes, in a rush to get them back on the road in time to meet tight and often unrealistic schedules, they are not serviced properly. Truck maintenance is essential to keeping the vehicle in safe working order, and when the party who is in charge of maintenance fails in this duty, they can also be held responsible if a preventable mechanical failure plays a role in the accident.

Contact a Seasoned Alabama Truck Accident Lawyer

If you or someone close to you was injured in a commercial trucking accident, you may be wondering who you can sue and how the process works. As mentioned previously, truck accident cases are extremely complex, and there are numerous factors that must be looked at in order to ensure that you receive maximum compensation. 

First and foremost, it is important to speak with an experienced attorney to review the case and discuss your rights and legal options. Representatives from the other side will likely contact you very soon after the accident, hoping to get you to agree to far less than what the case is worth.  Do NOT discuss the case with anyone from the other side without first talking to your lawyer.

At Mann & Potter, P.C., we have years of experience successfully representing individuals who have been injured in truck accidents in Alabama. We have in-depth knowledge of this area of the law, and we work closely with our clients, exploring every potential legal avenue toward recovering the full and fair compensation our clients need and deserve.

Contact our Birmingham office today at 205-879-9661 or reach out to us online to schedule a free consultation and case assessment.

Alabama Personal Injury Attorneys - Mann & Potter

Dangers of Speeding Trucks

Because 18-wheelers and tractor-trailers are so heavy and large, it is vital that truck drivers operate the vehicles with the highest level of attention and care. Many operators mistakenly believe that there is nothing wrong with speeding. While the legal penalties associated with driving over the posted limited aren’t anything close to a DUI, the lifelong consequences for accident victims can be the same or worse.

Statistics show that speeding trucks not only cause serious crashes with injuries, but also claim lives. In Alabama alone, there were over 7,500 trucks involved in crashes in 2017, and speeding was listed as the specific cause in 356 of them. However, it was no doubt a secondary cause in the majority of other accidents as well.

Why Speeding Trucks Are So Dangerous

There is a common misconception about the definition of speeding. While it is true that speeding refers to driving faster than the posted speed limit, it can also mean driving a truck too fast for current conditions. For example, operating a truck on a road with a 65-mph speed limit when that speed would be unsafe in a blizzard or heavy thunderstorm.

Few things are as dangerous as a truck that is speeding down the road. The NHTSA reports that speed is a contributing factor in one-third of fatal accidents. The danger is compounded for everyone on the road when the vehicle speeding is an 80,000-pound tractor-trailer. Some of the reasons that speeding trucks are so dangerous include:

  • Increased stopping distance. 18-wheelers need much more distance to stop than the average vehicle. When there is excessive or inappropriate speed involved, the distance required to stop will be even greater.
  • Difficulty turning. Large trucks must make wide turns and need to drastically reduce speed to navigate corners. If the driver is speeding, they might overcorrect or overshoot a turn.
  • Shifting cargo. The vibrations caused by excessive speed can cause a truck’s cargo to shift, which can unbalance the vehicle. This increases the chance of a rollover accident.
  • Increased jackknife and rollover risk. Tractor-trailers have a high center of gravity, so they are already at risk of rollover and jackknife accidents, but high speeds increase this risk.
  • Truck tires not made for high speed. The Associated Press published a story revealing that most commercial trucks have tires that aren’t meant for high speeds. Specifically, large truck tires are designed to be driven at 75 mph or less, so higher speeds can increase the odds of a blowout.
  • More difficult to control. Large trucks are harder to control at higher speeds. Not only will the operator have less time to react to unexpected events and road conditions, but the truck is also limited in maneuverability at high speeds.

The Department of Transportation Regulations on Speeding

Truck drivers have a variety of reasons for speeding, and none of them are justified. Some might want to make a delivery deadline and others are simply frustrated with the traffic on the road. The FMCSA has issued regulations meant to keep commercial trucks from speeding in dangerous conditions.

Under the rules, trucks are supposed to slow the speed and use extreme caution, regardless of the posted speed limit, when the following scenarios are present:

  • A truck is entering a curve in a road;
  • A truck is driving with a fully-loaded trailer;
  • A truck is driving through a work or construction zone;
  • The weather creates hazardous road conditions; or
  • When pulling off an exit ramp.

If you’ve been involved in an accident with a truck where speed was a factor, you may be entitled to compensation for your losses.

How a Qualified Truck Accident Attorney Can Help After a Crash

An accident with a big rig can be incredibly traumatic, and most victims of these crashes find themselves overwhelmed by the claims process and other obstacles suddenly in their path. Between speaking with insurance adjusters, doctors, and trying to recover from your injuries, this can be a difficult time.

At Mann & Potter, P.C., we have extensive experience guiding people just like yourself through this legal process so you can focus on reclaiming your life. Our legal team will not only protect your rights to recovery from the responsible parties, but also speak directly with the insurance companies so that you don’t have to. If you or someone you care about has been injured in a crash with a commercial truck, our qualified Alabama personal injury attorneys know what it takes to investigate these matters and pursue the just compensation you need and deserve. Contact our Birmingham office now at 205-879-9661 or reach out to us online to schedule a free consultation.

Birmingham Car Accident Attorneys - Mann & Potter

Five Things You Should Do Immediately After a Car Accident

If you have been involved in a car accident, this is not the time to be complacent. It is understandable that you’re upset and want things to return to the way they were just before the crash, but it’s vital that you take some steps to protect your legal rights before they are jeopardized.

When another party acted carelessly or negligently and caused your injuries, you have the right to make a claim for damages. But this can become increasingly difficult as time passes or if you fail to take the proper actions in the wake of a crash.

Whether you have just been in a wreck and you are reading this article from your mobile phone at the accident scene or want to know what to do if something happens down the road, here are five steps to take to protect your rights just after a car accident:

1. Never leave the scene.

As a general rule, you should never leave the scene of an accident. In some cases, this could be treated as a hit-and-run, and you’ll face charges. The only time you are justified in leaving the scene of an accident is when you require emergency medical treatment. And even in cases like this, you should only leave in an ambulance and not with another bystander, family member, or friend.

2. Call the police.

Your safest bet is to call 911 immediately after an accident and request that the police come to the scene. If there are no injuries, you may have to wait a long time or the police might not come, but there will still be a record of the call. If the police do show up, getting a police report filed is the best way to have an official record of the accident, which is something generally used by insurance companies to determine fault.

3. Get medical treatment.

If anyone is injured in the accident, it’s important to seek medical attention as soon as possible. Even a minor fender bender can lead to serious and life-changing injuries. The sooner you seek medical treatment, the better it will be for your case since you will have reliable documentation of your injuries.

4. Collect important information.

Even though the police will collect information at the scene of the accident, you should do this as well if you are physically able. In addition to taking pictures of the scene and damages with your phone, be sure to get the names and contact information of the other drivers, any witnesses, driver’s license and license plate numbers of vehicles involved, and insurance company information.

5. Call your insurance company.

You are required to report motor vehicle accidents to your insurance company as soon as possible, generally within 24 hours. What you don’t have to do is sign any release forms, give a recorded statement, or make any statements regarding fault. Make sure that you report the accident as required, but don’t go any further until you speak with an attorney.

In the Days Just After an Accident

Even after you’ve taken the above steps, there is still plenty to deal with after a serious car wreck. The next vital move is to contact an experienced Alabama personal injury attorney for a free consultation. The right attorney will thoroughly review your circumstances and outline your legal options.

Once hired, they can perform an independent accident investigation and keep track of all the details involved in pursuing a claim against the responsible parties. They will also deal with the insurance companies on your behalf, which allows you to focus entirely on your physical and emotional recovery.

This is the time that you should pay the closest attention to the messages from your body and keep in close contact with your treating physician. Since not all serious injury symptoms show up immediately, it is important to stay vigilant and document anything out of the ordinary such as numbness, pain, and dizziness.

Schedule Your Free Consultation with a Qualified Car Accident Lawyer

Time is not on your side after a car crash. Evidence can slip away or be destroyed, and witnesses can disappear. There is also the chance that an unscrupulous insurance adjuster might attempt to deny your legitimate claim or offer a settlement for much less than your case is worth. At Mann & Potter, P.C., we fiercely protect the rights of car accident victims throughout the Birmingham area and will aggressively pursue the full and fair compensation you deserve from the parties responsible for your crash. Contact our office today at 205-879-9661 or reach out to us online to schedule a free consultation.