Personal Injury Attorneys
Protecting Alabamans’ rights to safety
Accidents happen when we least expect them. Most people are able to walk away from these accidents with minor injuries, but not all are as lucky. Those who disregard the rights and safety of others deserve to pay for their actions, and Birmingham law firm Mann & Potter, PC holds them responsible. The firm’s experienced personal injury lawyers have a history of success representing people throughout Alabama who have suffered serious and catastrophic injuries due to another party or entity’s recklessness or wrongful action. The firm fights for the rights of those harmed in:
The Process of a Personal Injury Claim
After an accident causing an injury, you begin your claim by retaining a personal injury attorney. The attorney digs into your accident and injuries, looks at your medical records, and figures out how much your injuries are worth. From there, they draft a letter explaining what they are requesting for your injuries. They send this to the liable party’s insurance company. This number is just a starting point for negotiations; it is unlikely that it will be the amount you actually receive.
During negotiations, both people may bring up evidence or ideas to support a higher or lower settlement amount. If all goes well, both parties eventually come to an agreement. You sign a document that waives your right to sue in exchange for the settlement. They process the paperwork and send the check. Before you receive your money, your attorney’s fee is taken out. So are any other claims made to the money.
For example, if your health insurance paid out part of your medical bills, they are entitled to recoup those costs from your settlement. If a settlement is not agreed upon, your attorney will file a lawsuit against the at-fault party. They will have built a court case that demonstrates the other party’s duty to you, their negligence, how their negligence caused your injuries, and your losses. You then go to court and both sides make their case. The jury determines how much (if anything) you are owed by the defendant. At any point during this process, settling is still an option. The majority of cases are settled before a full trial is completed.
Statute of Limitations
Each state has laws regarding the statute of limitations for a personal injury case. In Alabama, you must file a case within two years of the date of your accident. If you miss this deadline, you will be unable to recover compensation. If your claim is against the government, you must meet even stricter deadlines. A claim against a municipality has a six-month statute of limitations, and a claim against a county has a one-year statute of limitations.
What to Do at the Scene
At the scene of the accident, it’s important to stay calm as much as possible and think about what you can do to lay the groundwork for a personal injury case. Do not speak to the other driver except to exchange contact information and insurance information. You do not want to unintentionally accept liability for the accident. Take pictures of your vehicle, your injuries, and the scene of the crash. Get video footage and photos from multiple angles if possible.
Getting Medical Treatment
Seeking medical treatment is crucial if you want to build a strong personal injury case after a vehicle accident. Not only could you have life-threatening injuries after a crash, you need to prove that any injuries you sustained were caused by the accident. If you go to the doctor a week or two after the accident, for example, the other side could argue that your injuries weren’t really all that serious or they were not related to the accident. They can’t do that quite as easily if you go to urgent care or the emergency room immediately after an accident. Once you begin receiving medical care, keep all of the documentation and bills you receive. Follow your doctor’s treatment recommendations and do what you can to mitigate the severity of your injuries. Ignoring your doctor’s treatment recommendations can seriously weaken your case.
Protecting Your Rights Immediately
Once the other driver’s insurance company gets notified about the crash, they want to settle the claim and protect themselves legally as quickly as possible. If it is obvious that their client is to blame, you can expect to hear from them very quickly after an accident. However, do not talk to them until you have an attorney. It doesn’t matter how nice they sound, how much sympathy they seem to have for your injuries, or that they want to give you money right now. If you accept their initial offer, it is extremely likely that you will get less than you deserve. Hiring an attorney should be the first item on your to-do list after you have gotten checked out by a medical professional. They can begin gathering evidence, investigating your accident, and building a case for you. Additionally, they can take over communication with the insurance company, taking one more item off your plate during this difficult time.
Economic damages are those related to your actual financial losses after an accident. These are generally easy to calculate and prove. For example, you know how much your medical bills are if you keep track of co-pay receipts, incoming bills, and medication co-pay receipts. Similarly, you can easily determine how much income you have lost because of an accident.
Several types of compensation fall under the category of “economic damages,” including:
- Medical expenses, including co-pays, ambulance fees, surgical expenses, and medical equipment
- Lost income
- Property damage, including damage to your car, the value of your car if it is totaled, and the cost of anything destroyed in the accident
Economic damages are easy to quantify and prove with paperwork, bills, and receipts.
The other main type of compensation you may be entitled to after an accident is non-economic. Non-economic damages aim to pay you for the losses you have experienced that cannot be tied directly to a specific dollar amount. However, because these are still considered losses, the court system does allow you to be made whole through non-economic damages. This category includes items like:
- Pain and suffering
- Mental anguish
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Disability and/or disfigurement
- Loss of companionship
As you can see, these types of compensation are much more subjective than non-economic damages. It is easy to put a number on the value of a lost day of work; it’s much harder to put a number on the pain you’ve suffered after an accident. Generally, the amount of non-economic compensation you may be able to get is tied directly to the severity of your injuries and the amount of economic compensation you are entitled to. The longer your injuries are likely to last and the more they impact your ability to engage in everyday life, the more non-economic damages you may receive.
Calculating Damages for Your Accident
What does this mean as you try to figure out how much your personal injury claim is worth? First, know that you should speak about this with an attorney. While you may be able to figure out a ballpark number for your economic damages, it’s likely that you are forgetting some of the expenses you’ve incurred because of the accident. On the flip side, people are also very likely to overestimate the value of their pain and suffering, mental anguish, and other non-economic losses.
You don’t want to simply choose the attorney who throws out the biggest number, especially if they do so without actually listening to the details of your case. You want to choose an attorney who listens and asks questions before telling you how much your case may be worth. Anyone can say a big number, but it does not mean that’s what they can actually deliver.
One factor to think about as you calculate damages is your role in the accident. Alabama is one of the only states with a contributory negligence statute. Under this statute, victims of an accident cannot recover compensation with a personal injury lawsuit if they were at all liable. Most personal injury cases settle outside of court, so it is unlikely you’ll see this play out in the courtroom. However, the fact that Alabama has this statute can affect the settlement offers you receive.
Long-Term or Permanent Injuries
If your accident caused injuries that could follow you the rest of your life, you should use this time to set up the long-term support you will need to maintain your independence and stay healthy. Consider keeping a notebook with you at all times or just take voice memos on your phone so you can keep track of the many ways your life has changed. If you tell your care providers exactly what your struggles are, they can help you get set up with long-term physical therapy, occupational therapy, and in-home support to help you maximize your quality of life.
Immediate Emotional Changes
In the hours and days following an accident, don’t be surprised if you suffer intense mood swings. Injuries often cause a major rush of adrenaline to the brain, and as that wears off, the pain may hit you hard. These changes in your brain chemistry and pain level can cause you to lash out or act irrationally. Consider setting up an appointment with a therapist to talk through your concerns and find productive ways to channel your emotions.
Permanent Changes to Your Emotional State
For some people, changes to their emotional state wear off. For those who suffer traumatic brain injuries, though, these changes may last forever. In these situations, significant mental health support is crucial. People who develop traumatic brain injuries after an accident need a strong relationship with TBI specialists, psychiatrists, and counselors.
Mistakes to Avoid in a Personal Injury Case
Waiting Too Long
The longer you wait to file a personal injury claim, the less evidence you have at your disposal. It’s best to meet with an attorney right after your accident so they can investigate, gather evidence, and move forward with your claim.
Going Public with Your Injury
Whether you post about your accident on social media or go to the news about it, you could be seriously damaging your case by going public. While it may be difficult, limit your discussion of your claim to your attorney until it is settled.
Not Knowing the Terms of Your Settlement
If you do negotiate a settlement, make sure you completely understand its terms. Victims will sometimes take a settlement, and then try to go back to the liable party to ask for more compensation. This is almost guaranteed not to happen.
In some cases, victims underestimate their damages. When trying to calculate medical bills, they might look at the bills coming from the insurance company and simply calculate them that way. They don’t realize that the other party’s insurance company may have to pay the whole bill, not just the part that their health insurance doesn’t cover. They forget to calculate in the cost of going to and from doctors’ appointments, medication expenses, ambulance bills, and other expenses. This is one reason you should work with an attorney during this process.
Ignoring Medical Advice
If you are seeking compensation for your injuries, there’s an expectation that you have a vested interest in having your injuries healed. If you go to the doctor but fail to attend follow-up appointments, skip physical therapy sessions, or don’t do your range of motion exercises, it may appear to the other side that you are dragging out your injury just to get more money out of them.
Not Hiring an Attorney
This is easily the most expensive mistake that accident victims make. People skip hiring an attorney for a number of reasons. They might be worried about the cost, which isn’t an issue because most personal injury attorneys work on a contingency basis. They may worry about the stress of going to court, which isn’t an issue because the vast majority of personal injury cases are settled out of court.
Defining Common Personal Injury Terms
Assumption of Risk
Assumption of risk refers to the fact that every activity comes with some level of risk. If you choose to engage in that activity, you are essentially accepting that risk. The level of risk for an indoor trampoline park, for example, is different than the level of risk that comes with going for a walk around the block.
Compensation is money paid from a negligent party or a negligent party’s insurance company to a victim of their negligence.
This refers to any type of loss you have suffered as the result of an accident caused by someone else’s negligence. For example, your damages might include lost wages from time off of work, medical bills from your injuries, and property damage. You will need to document damages to get compensation.
If someone has a duty or duty of care to someone, they have an obligation to limit damage to them. A good example is the duty of care a driver has when they are on the road. They have a duty of care to everyone else on the road, so if they text while driving or drive drunk, they are violating that duty.
When someone violates their duty of care, it is considered gross negligence if they blatantly and recklessly disregard the other person’s health, wellbeing, or property.
Liability refers to a legal obligation one has. In personal injury law, it typically refers to one person’s obligation to pay for damage caused in an accident.
When you decide to move forward with a lawsuit, you are engaging in litigation. This isn’t always the end result of a personal injury claim, since many claims are settled during negotiations.
When someone violates their duty of care to another person, they are engaging in negligence. Many people use this term to refer to the carelessness shown by one individual in an accident.
Following Your Attorney’s Advice
Once you have hired an attorney, listen to them. If you choose an experienced personal injury attorney with thousands of successful cases behind them, trust them to know what is best for your case. Stay quiet about the case on social media. Do not go outside the legal system to seek justice.
We also handle the following cases:
Insurance companies, employers and other negligent parties typically want to settle personal injury lawsuits as quickly and cheaply as possible, meaning injury victims are often faced with a settlement offer far below the amount they deserve. Mann & Potter, PC is a trial firm — the lawyers go to court to fight for clients whenever it is appropriate and in the client’s best interest to do so.
Wrongful death claims
Losing a loved one is never easy, but losing a loved one to another person’s negligence is a tragedy. Mann & Potter, PC represents the survivors of these tragedies in holding negligent parties responsible and obtaining financial compensation to cover your family member’s medical bills, funeral expenses, loss of support and, in some cases, the loss of companionship. There is no limit to the causes of a wrongful death. Some common fatal injuries result from the following circumstances:
- Motor vehicle accidents
- Pedestrian accidents
- Aviation accidents
- Medical malpractice
- Birth injuries
- Traumatic brain injuries
Contact Mann & Potter, PC. as soon as possible to begin your wrongful death lawsuit.
Righting wrongs in Alabama since 1997
Birmingham law firm Mann & Potter, PC draws on years of legal experience to help injury victims win just compensation through settlement or trial. Contact the firm online or call 205-879-9661 to begin your case with a free initial consultation.