Birmingham, AL

  • Car Accidents in Birmingham Alabama

    Car Accidents in Birmingham

    If you believe you have a car accident case in Birmingham, your search for legal help must start with law firms that specializes in these types of cases.

    As of 2017, car crashes are reported to happen every 200 seconds in the State of Alabama. When seeking legal help, you may want to ensure that the lawyer helping you has the expertise and experience to increase the chances of compensation.

    Alabama Car Accident

    In the state of Alabama, the car accident statistics exceeds the national average. So much in fact, that a typical driver in Alabama has a 1 in 3 chance of being in an accident that involves an injury or death.

    When a car accident happens, your life changes. Perhaps the changes are minor: late to wherever you were going or rental car while your car is being repaired. Perhaps the changes are life-altering: you or a loved one have been seriously injured, disfigured or died.

    Regardless the severity of the car crash, what you say and what you do at the scene can have a serious impact on your personal injury claim.

    Here are 8 steps to take if you have been in an accident:

    Step 1 – Call 911 and Help the Injured

    Alabama requires you to stop and remain at the scene of an accident. If you are able, call 911 and see if anyone else is hurt.

    The 911 dispatcher will need the following information:

    The Location

    When someone is injured in an accident, seconds matter. Give the 911 operator all the information you can about location, such as: street signs, land marks, closest major intersection and highway markers.

    Report all Injuries

    Police will always be dispatched to an accident scene, but not necessarily a full emergency medical team. It is important you alert the 911 operator to any obvious injuries or if anyone is complaining of discomfort or pain.

    Safety at the Accident Scene

    Accident scenes can often be dangerous. Cars are still driving by in opposite directions with accident vehicles blocking lanes and people walking around to assess the damage to their cars. If you see any potential hazards, alert the 911 operator and he or she can dispatch more police to help direct or block traffic and protect the scene for further investigation.

    Regardless of who caused the accident, it is always recommended you:

    Step 2 – Gather Evidence for your Insurance Claim

    Evidence is essential when proving responsibility and damages to the insurance claims adjustor. Once you leave the scene of the accident, all evidence disappears aside from the police report. If you have not been injured in your car accident, try to collect as much information and evidence as possible.

    What evidence do I collect?

    If a car accident results in damage to your vehicle or road structures or personal injury; Alabama law requires all drivers to remain at the scene and exchange the following:

    To speed up your claim or strengthen your case against the other driver, it is recommended you collect the following information as well:

    There are many free apps for both iPhone and Android phones you can download to help you collect the information and guide you through the steps to take.

    Many insurance companies also provide their own mobile applications to report car accidents. These apps can help your insurance agent initiate the claim procedure.

    Some popular phone apps are:

    Step 3 - Contact Your Insurance Company

    Most car insurance policies have a clause stating your “duty to cooperate”. Under this clause, you are agreeing, by purchasing the car insurance policy, that you will report any accident and cooperate with any investigation.

    How does the “Duty to Cooperate” Clause affect me?

    Before an insurance company pays a claim, they need to understand what happened and who was at fault. By notifying your insurance company immediately after a car accident, it helps them understand the details of the accident while they are still fresh in your mind. It can also help the insurance company better represent you should the other driver change their story after the fact.

    Even if you caused the car accident, and the other driver states they are not injured, nor worried about any minor damage to their car; it is important you remain at the scene and call you insurance company.

    Some injuries can take days to appear and if this happens and the other driver decides to sue you for a personal injury claim, your insurance company, and subsequently you, will be at a tremendous disadvantage.

    In addition to contacting your own insurance company, you should also contact the other driver’s. The insurance representative will assign you a claim number over the phone and especially, if you have sustained injuries in an accident that was not your fault, having this claim number will assist you in having your injuries treated faster.

    What if I don’t report the accident?

    In some minor accidents, people feel it okay to not report the claim. By doing this, you are risking being in violation of the “Cooperation Clause” and having your insurance company raise your premiums, cancel your policy or not renew your policy when it is set to expire.

    Step 4 – Understanding Alabama’s Insurance Laws

    Alabama follows the Third-Party Liability Rule, which basically states that a driver who has been injured or sustained damages to their property can pursue a claim against the negligent driver.

    This gives the victim of a car accident, three options:

    Like most states, Alabama insurance law requires all drivers to carry minimum property damage and liability insurance.

    The minimum amounts set are:

    Step 5 – Contributory Negligence Law

    Alabama is one of five states total that adhere to the Contributory Negligence Law. This law states that if a victim of an accident has any responsibility for the cause of a car accident, no matter how small a part, they are not entitled to receive any compensation for their injuries or damage to their vehicle.

    For Example:

    Driver #1 is speeding, when Driver #2 cuts him or her off causing an accident. While it is clear that the actions of Driver #2 caused the accident, had Driver #1 not been speeding, they would have been able to react and brake, potentially avoiding the accident.

    Step 6 – When to hire an Attorney

    Most accidents are minor and can be settled without legal representation. For more complex accident cases, you may want to consider hiring an experience personal injury attorney in Birmingham, AL to represent you and ensure your rights are protected.

    If your English is limited, you may consider looking for a law firm with a Hispanic and/or Spanish speaking staff or lawyers that speak Spanish so you can better understand your rights as well as the legal process.

    Types of Injuries:

    Soft Tissue Injuries

    are the most common in car accidents and include: muscle strain, whip lash, bruising, minor cuts and sprains to tendons and ligaments.

    While these types of injuries are more temporary; insurance companies usually settle for a fair amount to cover any medical bills, chiropractic bills, lost wages here and there and minimal pain and suffering. Very rarely would you require legal representation.

    Hard Injuries

    are more serious injuries, including: deep gashes, fractures, head and spine trauma, severe burns and any other life-threatening injury.

    While these injuries are not as common, when they happen, it can be devastating.

    Loss of income, reduction in quality of life, strain on relationships, surgery, temporary or permanent disability, chronic and severe pain, medical costs and therapy costs are some examples of damages an attorney can help you collect.

    How much does an attorney cost?

    Most car accident attorneys will offer an initial consultation for free. They will review the details of your accident and decide if your case is worth representing and taking to court.

    If your case has the potential for a higher pay-out than what the insurance company is offering, they will typically work on a contingency bases. Meaning they will cover all the legal costs of your case until your case is won, at which time they will take between 30% and 40% of the gross amount.

    If, however, your case is lost and your attorney is unable to settle your claim, then you owe the attorney nothing.

    Step 7 – Small Claims Court

    In car accidents where you sustained minor or sift tissue injury, the insurance company may deny your claim or offer a settlement below what you have paid in medical bills and lost wages. It may also be difficult to find an attorney to represent your case when such a small amount is being negotiated. Your third option is to sue the at-fault drive in Small Claims Court.

    How much can I sue for in Alabama Small Claims Court?

    Victims of car accidents can pursue a lawsuit against the at-fault driver in Alabama small claims court. The maximum jurisdiction (or amount you can sue for) regarding personal injury and property damage is $6,000, not including filing fees and court costs.

    Visit the Alabama State Judiciary website. to submit a claim.

    Step 8 – Alabama’s Statute of Limitations

    The Statute of Limitations, or time frame you can submit an accident claim for personal injury claims is two years from the date of accident. This means you have 24 months to either settle your injury claim with the insurance company or file a lawsuit.

    Keep in mind, the insurance company has no legal obligation to settle your accident claim before the statute of limitations expires. The legal responsibility is yours to pursue and follow up. If you feel the insurance company is purposely stalling your claim to reach the 2 year mark, you may consider seeking legal representation.

    Notice: The basic information on this page is NOT in any way legal advice or legal representation. Read our full notice here

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