How Are Damages Determined in Alabama Car or Truck Accidents?
As a driver in Alabama, you know that car and truck accidents happen on a daily basis. According to the Alabama Department of Transportation, you have greater than a one in three chance of being involved in a crash with injuries or a fatality within your lifetime. The probability that you will be involved in any sort of vehicle crash in your life is 98%.
Finding Who is “At Fault” or Negligent
If you have been involved in a car accident, you may have wondered if you would be able to recover any damages for your injuries and for the damage to your car. In order to receive any compensation for injuries suffered in an accident, it is necessary to determine who was at fault or who’s negligence caused the accident. Negligence is defined as the failure to use a basic standard of care that results in damage or an injury to another. Alabama is a “fault” state when it comes to car accidents and insurance coverage. This means that the fault – legal responsibility – of the drivers involved in the crash will affect how damages are paid to those who are injured or whose property is damaged as a result of the accident.
There’s an important caveat with finding fault in Alabama. If you contributed to the car accident in any way, then the amount of the damages you could recover may be reduced and it is possible you may not receive any damages. This legal standard is called contributory negligence.
Every Alabama driver is required to purchase liability insurance. This type of policy does not cover damages to your vehicle or your injuries suffered as a result of an accident. It covers injuries and damages suffered by other parties involved in an accident, if you are found to be at fault for the accident..
Getting Information at the Scene of the Accident
Gathering information at the scene of an accident could be critical to determining fault. Determining fault can be key to proving negligence which directly impacts whether you are eligible to recover damages and can play a part in the amount of the damages
This may not be possible if you have sustained major injuries, but if you didn’t, make sure you survey your car crash scene. Get the names and contact information of the other driver, passengers, and witnesses. Exchange information with the other driver, but do not admit fault or say “I’m sorry.” Insurance companies can use that as an admission of guilt and will refuse to pay for any damages.
Take pictures of your car, the other car or cars, as well as area around the accident scene. Pay close attention to anything that may have impacted or caused the accident – road condition, guardrails, road signs. Take note of the weather conditions. Make sure that you report the accident to the police and get the subsequent report. Get checked out by a doctor to document and treat any injuries. Contact your insurance company as soon as possible. The information you get soon after the accident occurs will be detrimental in your claim or case.
Types of Damages You May Receive
Every car or truck accident is different. If you have an accident with a large truck, liability or negligence may reach beyond the truck driver and extend to the trucking company or the truck manufacturer. Even with a car accident, determining fault and damages may become a very involved process. Insurance companies may offer you a settlement early in the process, before you’ve had an opportunity to consult with an attorney, in hopes of securing a lower settlement.
In Alabama, you may be entitled to compensatory damages if you were injured in an accident. These damages are also referred to as economic and non-economic damages. Economic damages are the tangible costs resulting from the crash, such as property damage, medical expenses, hospital bills, and rehabilitation costs. Non-economic damages include the indirect or hidden costs of the accident, like pain and suffering.
If a death resulted from the accident, then you may seek punitive damages. You can also seek punitive damages if you are able to prove the other driver willfully or recklessly ignored your safety. Although there are no caps on compensatory damages, there are caps on punitive damages, excluding death cases. Punitive damages can be awarded up to three times of compensatory damages.
Being involved in a car accident can be a life-changing experience. If you’re seeking to recover damages from a car crash, contact the experienced Alabama auto accident injury attorney at Law Office of J. Allan Brown, LLC at 251-473-6691 or online for a free consultation.