Car Accident Lawyer | Birmingham, Alabama
There are many laws and regulations regarding traffic on the road. When these various laws and ordinances are not followed, then the results can be catastrophic and even deadly for the victims involved. Running a red light, speeding, reckless driving, drunk driving, and many other causes can result in severe injuries and even wrongful death sustained by other drivers on the road. This may be a confusing and unique time in your life, as the claims process and resolving a legal dispute are complex matters. The good news is that car accident lawyers handle these matters on a routine basis, and are available to guide you.
What should injury victims do first after a car accident in Alabama?
- Check for injuries and Call 911 if necessary - the absolute first thing you should do is check to see if you or anyone else is seriously injured and call 911 to request immediate emergency assistance.
- Seek and obtain medical treatment - if you do not have insurance, you can contact me and I will attempt to get you in to see a doctor.
- Legal duties of drivers involved in motor vehicle accidents in Alabama, Ala. Code § 32-10-1
- Remove vehicle from roadway
- Give information and render aid
- Identify owners of damages property and leave contact information
- Immediatlely notify local law enforcement
- Contact a car accident lawyer to make sure you are preserving your legal rights
How should injury victims preserve value in a car accident claim?
It's safer to think of preserving settlement value instead of maximizing. There are several steps you can take to preserve your claim value.
- Take down witness names and phone numbers
- Document your activity, such as trips to the doctor, and how your life has changed as a result of your injury - if you keep a journal or diary, it's very likely you will have to show it to the defense during a lawsuit.
- Keep copies of everything - make a file folder for your records
- Avoid speaking with the adjuster if you intend to consult an attorney. If you do speak with an adjuster, be mindful that your conversation is possibly being recorded.
- Stay mindful of what you share on social media. It's not a good idea to start attempting to delete things, but you can limit your future acitivity. You should also stay aware that it's very possible that a private investigator is watching you.
- If you are engaged in long-term medical treatment, such as physical therapy or rehabilitation, it is best to wait until you have either completed treatment, or have reached a sustainable plateau of improvement. You only settle once, and cannot come back if you later realize your medical condition didn't improve as much as anticipated.
- Stay in contact with your car accident lawyer, and make sure your lawyer is informed of anything that happens regarding your claim
Car Accident Laws in Alabama
Car Accident lawsuits are typically governed by Alabama state law, particularly Title 32 of the Code of Alabama.
Highway safety, and the Alabama Rules of the Road are enforced by the Alabama Department of Public Safety.
Car Accident lawsuit defendants
Proving liablity (who's fault the accident was) and the nature and extent of your damages is done according to Alabama law in the majority of cases. Potential defendants in a car accident lawsuit include:
- The at-fault driver
- The at-fault driver's employer if they were working when the accident occurred
- The manufacturer of either vehicle involved
- Service or Repair Mechanics that have worked on either vehicle
- If the at-fault driver was working when the accident occured - their Employer
- Any other third party driver that may have contributed to the accident
In many cases, more than one potential defendant my be liable for your damages and injuries. Car accident lawyers are familiar with the types of defendants that can be included in a car accident lawsuit. You are invited to contact me to hear more about which defendants should be included in your claim.
How Car Accidents Happen
Because of the laws governing Alabama roadways, and the Rules of the Road, there is very little room left for accidents to occur without negligence on someone's part. Common causes of car accidents in Alabama include:
- Aggressive or Negligent Driving
- Negligent repairs or maintenance
- Drug or Alcohol intoxication
- Distracted driving, such as texting
- Company deadlines if the driver was employed
- Failure to adequately train or instruct a company driver
- Negligent entrustment of a motor vehicle
Negligence can appear and make itself known in subtle ways. It's not always easy to point exactly to where the negligence occurred. A car accident lawyer comes into play by gathering evidence and building a persuasive case to prove your claim.
Car Accident Injuries
Car accidents pose one of the most dangerous threats to physical health and wellbeing to people in Alabama. Despite best efforts to maintain safe roadways, and to manufacture safe vehicles, serious injuries and fatalities are repeatedly suffered by Alabama motorists. Car accident injuries include:
- Brain and head trauma
- Broken bones and internal organ damage
If you are having trouble obtaining medical treatment, you should contact a car accident lawyer to see if there are any options available to you. Sometimes a car accident lawyer can arrange for medical treatment for uninsured clients. If you have been in a car accident that wasn't your fault, and you require medical treatment as a result, and you do not have insurance, then there are still options. You are invited to contact me to discuss your options.
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How much money is a car accident lawsuit worth?
Settlement value depends on the particular facts and circumstances of each case. Damages are generally broken into two categories: Special Damages and General Damages. Special damages are things we can point to and add up. General damages are things that we cannot show a receipt for.
- Medical Bills - proven by gathering your medical records and billings, and then by having a doctor say under oath that your bills were reasonable and medically necessary to treat your injuries. If you have health insurance that pays for your medical care, you will have to reimburse them what they paid on your behalf - this is known as a "Subrogation" interest or lien, which means your insurance company expects to be paid back if we recover money from your lawsuit.
- Retail costs - what the hospital charged on their invoice
- Subrogation costs - what your healthcare insurance provider actually paid
- Property Damage - proven by gathering mechanic repair bills and estimates
- Lost past and future wages - proven with past employment records, both before and after your injury. We might also consult what is known as a "vocational expert", which is someone knowledgable in the general job market, and how permanent injuries can impact wages.
- Pain and Suffering - proven through your direct testimony, and then supported with your medical records and the testimony of your doctors, other treating medical professionals, and any friends or family members who have personally observed the impact your injury has made on your quality of life.
- Emotional Distress / Mental Anguish - proven in similar fashion to pain and suffering. It's impossible to jump inside someone's head and experience what they experience, but, it is possible to observe the outward signals that they present. Emotional distress and mental anguish claims are taken much more seriously when the injury victim can point evidence such as attending mental health counseling or psycho-therapy.
Mandatory Liability Insurance in Alabama
- General motorist mandatory coverage Ala. Code § 32-7-6(4): Every policy in Alabama requires primary automobile liability insurance in the amount of at least twenty-five thousand dollars ($25,000) for death and bodily injury per person, fifty thousand dollars ($50,000) for death and bodily injury per incident if there are two or more passengers involved.
- Uber or Lyft Mandatory Insurance Ala. Code § 32-7C-2: These companies are known in the law as "Transportation Network Company" or (TNC), and vehicles engaged in Uber or Lyft services require additional coverage:
- Without a passenger for hire: primary automobile liability insurance in the amount of at least fifty thousand dollars ($50,000) for death and bodily injury per person, one hundred thousand dollars ($100,000) for death and bodily injury per incident while they are not carrying passengers for hire; Ala. Code § 32-7C-2(b)(1)(a).
- With a passenger for hire: Primary automobile liability insurance that provides at least one million dollars ($1,000,000) for death, bodily injury, and property damage; Ala. Code § 32-7C(c)(1)(a).
- Commercial Motor Carriers U.S. Department of Transportation
- If carrying goods for interstate commerce either $750,000, $1,000,000 or $5,000,000 depending on the nature of the goods being transported
- If carrying people as passengers $1,500,000 for vehicles carrying 15 or fewer passengers, and $5,000,000 for vehicles carrying 16 passengers or more.
How long does a car accident lawsuit last?
Each of us are different, and so are our injuries. A reasonable timeframe for your claim to resolve is in the 9-18 month range, however, settlement is a possiblity as soon as you reach Maximum Medical Improvement (MMI). You typically have to file a lawsuit within two years of the date of your injury.
Even after your lawsuit is filed, there are still several stages for the average car accident claim.
Your Medical Treatment - Maximum Medical Improvement
The first thing that needs to take place is your medical treatment. Maximum Medical Improvement, or "MMI", is a term that indicates that your medical situation has stabilized. It doesn't mean you are fully healed, it means that you have healed as much as you are going to heal. You have reached a plateau, and we can glean a clear picture of how your work-injury has permanently affected you. We know how much you healed, and how much you didn't. Only after you complete your medical treatment can we start to talk about how much money you are due in compensation for your permanent damages.
The car accident lawsuit starts when we file a Complaint. It doesn't have to be after you reach MMI, but it does need to be within two years of your injury. Here's a rough outline of the car accident lawsuit process:
- Complaint: we start by filing a complaint in the appropriate court. Probably whatever county you were in when you suffered your injury.
- Answer: The defendants then have 30 days for their lawyers to file their response, which is called and answer. They are answering our complaint.
- Discovery: Each side has to swap evidence, and answer written questions about the lawsuit. Each side gets 30 days to do that.
- Subpeonas: If additional evidence is available, and neither party has it (like medical records) then we have to issue subpoenas for the records. Those take at least 30 days to complete.
- Depositions: Once the document evidence is gathered and reviewed, we start to schedule depositions. It typically takes a month or two after all of the evidence is gather for both parties to prepare for depositions. We will speak with available witnesses and your doctors. During a car accident deposition, both lawyers appear and are given an opportunity to ask questions of the witness, who must testify under oath in response.
- Mediation: At this point, many car accident lawsuits attempt a formal settlement procedure known as mediation. The lawyers for both sides of the car accident lawsuit appear at an office along with you and the defendant, and an additional person known as a mediator. With all lawyers and parties present, the mediator attempts to facilitate a settlement.
- Informal negotiations: The lawyers for both sides continue to attempt to reach an agreement through email and phone conversations.
- Trial: if mediation and negotiation is unsuccessful we go to trial. Car accident trials can last anywhere from 3 days to 3 weeks, depending on the complexity of your situation, such as how many defendants there are, and how many witnesses are required to testify about either the nature and extent of your medical injuries, or the facts and events of the car accident itself.
Mediation- car accident claims often settle through either negotiations of the parties through their lawyers, or through a process known as Mediation. Mediation is a formal settlement meeting. It is usually done in an office. I will be in one conference room with you, and the defense lawyer and his or her client will be in another conference room. A third party known as a Mediator goes back-and-forth between the two conference rooms and communicates offers from one party to another.
Mediators are a paid service. We split the cost with the defense, although many times we can get them to agree to pay for the mediator if a settlement is reached. Mediators are knowledgeable about car accident laws, and can help to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of both parties involved in the mediation.
- We tell the Mediator why we think our case is strong and the defense's case is weak
- The defense tells the Mediator why their case is strong and ours is weak.
- The Mediator goes back-and-forth between the two parties and tries to help us reach an agreement through this method.
Mediation is voluntary, even if participation is mandatory. We cannot force a defendant to pay anymore money than they are willing to pay at mediation. That is what trial is for. Mediation is an attempt to reach a voluntary agreement. Each party has a degree of control: The defendant controls how much money they are willing to offer; the plaintiff controls the "Yes" or "No."
Negotiation- At any point in the process your workers comp claim can settle. If you claim cannot settle prior to filing a lawsuit, then you typicall don't get full settlement value unless we proceed at least through the point of your deposition, and often times further. On average that is somewhere around 9-18 months. But, everyone's claim is different, many take longer than 18 months, and there are ways to make it go faster than 9 months if things work in our favor. Your claim certainly does not have to be average. To tell you more about your particular claim, I would have to know more about your case. You are invited to call me: (205) 335-4190 or complete one of my contact forms and I will reach out if I think I can help you.
Car Accident Attorney Fees
Fees for car accident lawsuits are handled on contingency fee basis. The rate is set on a case-by-case basis. The good news is that you don't have to pay me anything out-of-pocket. The only way you pay me is out of your recovery.
In a Contingency Fee situation, I usually will pay case expenses on the front-end on the condition that you agree to pay me back out of any recovery from your claim. Expenses commonly include:
- Filing Fee: to file your claim into court
- Records Fee: copy fees to gather your records
- court reporter appearance fee
- transcript fees
- doctors typically charge between $1,000 and $1,500 for a one-hour deposition.
- Accident Experts: It is not uncommon to require an expert to testify at your trial to help prove your case to the jury. In cases that require expert testimony, the costs associated with hiring and retaining experts can reach $50,000 to $100,000. Situations where a car accident lawsuit might require an expert:
- Expert witness engineers may be required to study the mechanics of what happened in your accident, and scientifically "reconstruct" the events of your accident to testify why it was a particular defendant's fault.
- Expert witness doctors may be required to review your medical records and give medical opinions on how the permanent damages of your injury are going to impact the rest of your life.
I try not to incur fees on your behalf unless they are necessary, but, you can see how car accident claims that go to trial can incur tens of thousands of dollars in fees.
Free Initial Strategy Session
All Initial Strategy Sessions are Free. If you would like to discuss your options, you are invited to fill out one of the Contact Forms. I will attempt to contact you if I think I can help you.
During your Initial Strategy Session, I will asist you in creating a strategy on how to best pursue your claim, whether it be the result of a Car Accident Claim, 18 Wheeler Injury, or, Alabama Workers' Compensation Claim. At your Initial Strategy Session, you will receive the following:
- First - I will listen to your story. You will have a chance to tell everything to someone who wants to hear what happened to you.
- Based on the information that you provide, I will give you my best advice on both what claims you have, and the next steps you should consider to proceed with your claim(s).
- If your claim is something that I think I can help you with, I will explain the services that I can provide for you, and what the next steps are that we should take. We will start working immediately.
- If your matter is something that I do not think I can help you with, then I will attempt to put you in contact with another lawyer that might be able to help you.
- Either way, what should happen is we will put to rest some of the unkowns that you may be experiencing. We will start to shed some light on what you can expect, and how to best pursue the benefits you deserve.
Don't delay getting the recovery you deserve!
Contact us today for your free Strategy Session!