Car Accident Attorneys in Birmingham, Alabama
Statistics show that most people will be involved in at least one car accident in their lifetime, if not multiple crashes. While many accidents are minor, resulting in insignificant property damage and no injuries, others are catastrophic. When a serious car accident occurs that leaves occupants with significant damages, working with a committed car accident lawyer is a must. Attorneys at the office of Mann & Potter, P.C. are available to serve you.
Recovering the Settlement You Deserve Isn’t Always Easy
When you have been seriously hurt in a car crash that is caused by the negligence of another party, you no doubt have an expectation that there won’t be any hesitation when it comes to paying you the settlement that you deserve. Unfortunately, car insurance companies are often more interested in saving money and maximizing profits than they are in paying claimants the compensation awards they deserve. As such, you may be offered a smaller settlement than you deserve – something that is especially common when a claimant doesn’t have legal representation. Tactics that an insurance adjuster may use to reduce the value of your claim include:
- Alleging that you contributed to your accident and injuries;
- Diminishing the extent of your injuries;
- Claiming that your injuries were pre-existing;
- Casting doubt on causation (that your injuries weren’t actually caused by the accident in relation to which you’re filing a claim); or
- Simply offering you less than you deserve, hoping that your desperation will coax you into accepting anything that you can get.
Our lawyers understand the deceptive—and sometimes downright illegal—tactics that insurance companies use, and will protect you from unfair practices.
Negligent Drivers Cause Car Accidents
Car accidents don’t just happen; they are the result of negligence and error, and are almost always preventable as such. Some of the top causes of car accidents in Alabama include:
- Distracted driving – Driving while distracted is practically ubiquitous these days, especially with the rise in hand-held technology. Acts of driver distraction that lead to crashes include eating while driving, attending to child passengers and pets, changing music or temperature controls, applying makeup, and, most dangerously, texting or using a cellphone while behind the wheel.
- Drunk driving – Another top killer on Alabama’s roadways is that of drunk driving. Drunk drivers take numerous lives every year, and cause injuries to many more. In addition to driving after consuming alcohol, drivers also cause collisions when they operate a motor vehicle after using drugs, including illegal drugs, over-the-counter medications, and prescription drugs.
- Speeding – When drivers speed or drive at a speed that is unsafe for conditions (even if at or below the actual speed limit), the risk of being involved in an accident is increased. Not only does speed the risk of an actual collision, but it also increases the severity of damages should an accident occur.
- Driving aggressively – Drivers may commit other acts of negligence when behind the wheel, most of which can be classified as aggressive driving. These acts include tailgating, illegally changing lanes, running red lights or stop signs, cutting off another driver, and more.
- Drowsy driving is another increasingly dangerous possibility on the road these days. However, in some cases, car accidents are caused by factors outside of the realm of driver negligence. These factors include defective roads or dangerous road conditions, defective automobiles or auto parts, and adverse weather conditions.
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.
What Are My Rights as An Injured Passenger in a Car Accident?
The Alabama Guest Statute
A lot depends on who is at fault for the injuries you suffered. If another driver is liable, you have options—we will explain that later. However, if the driver of the vehicle you were in caused the accident, you may be facing an uphill battle. Alabama has a Guest Statute on the books, and it’s the only state to still have this type of law in place.
If you are hurt in an accident where the driver of the vehicle you are in is at fault, you cannot file a claim against their insurance if you were their guest. This law is designed to protect drivers from insurance claims stemming from efforts to help people by driving them off somewhere or helping them with errands.
Exceptions to This Statute
There are some exceptions to this. You can seek compensation if your injuries were caused by the driver’s willful or wanton misconduct. Proving wanton disconnect is challenging, however, which is one reason you need the help of a personal injury attorney if you are seeking compensation for injuries.
Willful, wanton misconduct isn’t simply speeding or driving too fast for weather conditions. The standard for this is substantially higher. You may be able to seek compensation under these conditions if, for example, the driver is under the influence and does not tell you that before you accept the ride. You might also be able to seek compensation if they intentionally harm you.
When Someone Else is Negligent
If the driver of the other vehicle involved in the crash is liable, you can still seek compensation from the liable driver. This is much easier with the help of an attorney. Be prepared to prove the other party’s liability with witness testimony, photos of the crash scene, video footage of the crash scene, and medical records. In this situation, the claim would proceed as a standard personal injury claim.
Evidence Used in a Car Accident Case
Statements from Involved Parties
Both parties will give statements to the police and to their own insurance providers. Don’t give a recorded statement to the other driver’s insurance company—this is likely to backfire on you. If there are discrepancies in the statements, the insurance companies will look at other types of evidence to figure out what the truth is.
A third party who witnesses the accident can be extremely helpful in a car accident case. As long as they don’t have any connection to either driver, their statements can clear up any inconsistencies in the drivers’ statements. However, their statements may be a little bit less trustworthy if they were with either driver at the time of the accident.
While expert witnesses are not used in every car accident case, they are often called upon in complex cases. For example, accident reconstruction specialists may be able to look at tire marks on the road, property damage, and vehicle damage to put together a timeline of the crash. A traumatic brain injury specialist can explain how a victim’s TBI will impact their lives and limit their earning ability. These experts are helpful both in determining fault in an accident and explaining the ramifications of a victim’s injuries.
Photographs and Video Footage
The more physical evidence you have of the accident, the stronger your case may be. Photographs of the crash scene show damage to both vehicles, the location of the vehicles, and other property that may have been damaged. Video footage can be even more helpful, especially if you have a dash cam in your vehicle. If you take photos and video footage of a crash scene, make sure that you make backups as soon as possible and send copies to your attorney. You don’t want a tech glitch to cause you to lose your most valuable evidence.
This is just one reason that it’s important to call the police when you are involved in an accident—the police report is a crucial piece of evidence for your insurance company and attorney. The police will take statements from both parties, look at the vehicles in question, and try to determine whether or not any laws were broken.
Part of building your car accident case is proving the severity of your injuries and showing how they have affected your life. Medical records are an essential part of this. Provide copies of all of your medical bills and reports to your attorney. Ensure that they include information on each appointment you’ve attended, the types of treatment you have received, and how your prognosis has changed over time. You may also want your doctor to include information on how your injuries limit you or affect your daily life.
Why Work with the Law Office of Mann & Potter, P.C.
The best thing that you can do after a car accident is to seek the course of a qualified attorney. Our law firm offers:
- Years of legal experience. Our law firm was established more than two decades ago, which means that we have years of legal experience behind our name. Over the years, we have gained insight and experience working on nearly all types of car accident cases. When it comes to managing your case, we are confident in our ability to navigate it successfully.
- History of success and numerous recognitions and accolades. We pride ourselves on the fact that we have been winning settlements and jury verdicts on the behalf of our clients throughout the course of our time in business, successfully recovering the award amounts that our clients deserve.
- Commitment to our clients. When you choose our law firm, you can be sure of the fact that we are working for you. We have the staff and resources necessary to fully commit to your case, and we promise to develop a strategy that is unique to your case. We remain available and accessible throughout the process, and never fail to make your case a priority.
- Knowledge and skill you can count on. A good lawyer isn’t just knowledgeable in the law; they’re also skilled in and out of the courtroom. The lawyers at our firm are talented negotiators, aggressive litigators, and accomplished investigators who have what it takes to secure the best outcome possible for your case.
Schedule Your Free Car Accident Consultation Today
Don’t wait a moment longer to schedule your free case consultation with our Alabama car accident lawyers at the office of Mann & Potter, P.C. You can reach us online, by phone at 205-879-9661, or in person to learn more and start building your claim.
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