Mobile Personal Injury Attorneys Answer Frequently Asked Questions About Car Accidents and Negligence Claims
Below are answers to some of the questions the lawyers from the Law Office of J. Allan Brown most frequently encounter as they advise and represent victims of automobile accidents and other personal injury in Mobile. If you have other questions, or if you or a loved one has been injured due to another’s negligence and needs immediate legal help, give us a call at 251.473.6691 or contact us online for a free consultation.
What do I do if I get in a car accident?
Your first concern should be for the safety of yourself and others. If there are any serious injuries, call 9-1-1 right away. Perform First Aid if you are qualified, but do not try to move an unconscious or immobile person unless it is absolutely necessary for their safety, such as if they are lying in traffic. Similarly, the cars should not be moved unless it is necessary for traffic safety, in which case they should be moved to the shoulder if they are operable or can be safely pushed. Never leave the scene of an accident without first exchanging information with the other driver and waiting for the police to arrive if they have been called.
While waiting for the police to come, exchange information with the other driver or drivers, including names, driver’s license numbers and insurance policy information. You can share the name of your insurance company and policy number, but do not discuss your benefits with the other driver, such as the amount of liability insurance you have or whether you carry medical payments coverage. Also, do not make any statements that might be construed as demonstrating negligence, such as if you were speeding or distracted. If there were any witnesses to the accident, try to get their contact information as well. It is also a good idea to use this time to take pictures of the automobiles and the general scene of the accident.
Even if you were not treated for emergency medical attention, you should make an appointment with your doctor as soon as possible. Your doctor will want to examine you thoroughly and may want to order x-rays or other tests. Keep in contact with your physician if you later experience dizziness, pain or other unusual occurrences. Some injuries, such as head and back injuries and internal damage, may not be immediately apparent immediately following a collision.
As soon as possible after the accident, contact an experienced Mobile personal injury attorney. Your lawyer will want to start right away to make sure important evidence is collected before it goes away. Do not give any written or recorded statements to the insurance company or cash any insurance company settlement checks until you have spoken with a knowledgeable car accident attorney.
If I was partly to blame in causing the accident, can I still recover compensation for my injuries?
Alabama is one of only four states in the country to adopt a standard of pure contributory negligence. In other states, a plaintiff’s own negligence will serve to proportionately reduce a jury award against a negligent defendant, but here in Alabama it acts as a complete bar to recovery. If the jury finds that your own negligence in any way contributed to the accident or injury, then you will not be allowed to recover any compensation in court, even if your own contribution to the accident was slight and the bulk of responsibility lies with the other party.
The insurance companies are well aware of this rule and do everything they can to convince the jury that you were at least partly to blame for your injuries. It is imperative that you are well-represented by a skilled and knowledgeable attorney who will stand up to the insurance company defense tactics and keep you from being unfairly charged with negligence in an accident that was not your fault.
How long do I have to file a lawsuit?
In most cases of personal injury or wrongful death, you have up to two years from the date of the injury to file a lawsuit. This is known as the statute of limitations. If you fail to file a lawsuit within that time, your claim may be barred, and you can be prevented from collecting any compensation from the negligent party. While two years may seem like a long time, it can go by very quickly if you are seriously injured or have lost a loved one. Much of the time is spent dealing with physical recovery or loss; dealing with paperwork, insurance claims, and doctor bills; trying to find work or apply for disability or unemployment; etc. Also, if you are trying to negotiate a settlement with the insurance company, be careful that they do not drag out the negotiations beyond the date of the statute of limitations, which can be disastrous to your case.
Also, be aware that the statute of limitations period can be different depending upon the type of injury, such as if it involved a defective product, medical malpractice or a birth injury, or if the injured person is a minor. It would be a shame to lose your case on a technical detail. This is one reason why it is very important not to wait to contact an attorney when you have been injured. Your lawyer will go right to work on your case collecting and preserving evidence and building a case for settlement or trial, and will make sure that important deadlines are not missed. In Mobile, contact the Law Office of J. Allan Brown for a free consultation.