Every car accident is a stressful experience. Car accidents that cause personal injury can be traumatic and even life changing. Regardless of accident severity, there are steps all victims should take following an accident.
It’s easier to say than do, but staying calm after an accident is very important. Keeping a level head will help you make good decisions. The minutes and hours after your collision is a nerve-racking time. Your body will most likely be in flight-or-fight mode. It is a physiological reaction to a harmful experience or threat. Your endorphins and adrenaline levels will be elevated. As a result, you will feel excited and possibly jittery, anxious, or aggressive. Your body may also be blocking pain, so even if you feel fine immediately after an accident, it does not mean that you are.
After an accident, your immediate concern should be safety. If possible, move your vehicle out of traffic lanes. It is better to move to the side of the road, rather than into the median. This way you will have more room to inspect the vehicles and talk to the other drivers without fear of getting hit by passing cars.
It is crucial that emergency responders are contacted if there has been an injury, or if you even suspect an injury. Again, victims may think they are okay, but often are not. It is best to err on the side of caution and get immediate medical attention. What’s more, medical attention after an accident also serves as evidence to support your claim or case.
Collect Information at the Scene
At the scene of the accident do not make comments that admit guilt. This includes apologizing. Anything you say that implies that you were at fault for the accident can jeopardize your claim.
Also, be sure to collect as much information at the scene as possible. This includes the other drivers’ names, addresses, driver’s license number, and insurance information. If you can, take photographs. You should document your surroundings, damage to your car, or anything else that may strengthen your case. Do not limit it to one or two shots. Take several pictures from every angle, and be sure to take close-ups and long distance shots.
It is also important to take detailed notes about the accident while it is still fresh in your mind. Be sure to get a police report too. Maintaining a clear head while gathering all of the information listed above at the scene will help to strengthen your claim.
Track Information Relating to Your Case
At each stage of your recovery from the accident, you should take care to keep good records and detailed notes. This is especially important relating to your injuries and medical treatment. Copies of receipts and medical reports will help with reimbursement from insurance companies. This will also provide good documentation during legal proceedings. You should:
- Save all medical receipts, including medications or medical assisted devices like crutches
- Track travel expenses related to medical care
- File away correspondence with medical professionals, including emails and phone calls
- Keep a daily journal of your injuries and medical care, and be as specific as possible about how you feel
- Track the the names, addresses, dates and details of any or all medical visits
- Record lost wages and financial strain, including days missed from work
When to Seek Medical Attention
You should seek medical care if you feel any of the following immediately after an accident, or in the days following one:
Remember: if you wait too long after the accident to receive medical care, you may compromise your health. It will also be more difficult to prove that your injuries were related to the accident.
Auto Accident Injuries with Delayed Symptoms
Some car accident injuries do not show right away – especially soft tissue damage or concussions. It’s a good idea to stay vigilant for these signs.
Soft Tissue Injuries
Many drivers and passengers endure soft tissue injuries during a car accident. A soft tissue injury is damage to the muscles, tendons, and ligaments that are connected to bones.
Even at low-speeds, car accidents generate a great deal of force. Drivers and passengers are jolted around, and in that instant of impact, the soft tissues are put under an incredible amount of pressure. One of the most common soft-tissue injuries is “whiplash.” This is when the neck muscles are strained due to the head suddenly and forcefully being thrown forward and then back.
Soft tissue injuries typically involve discomfort, swelling, and reduced mobility. These symptoms may not be evident right away. They can take days, even weeks, to show-up. Additionally, soft tissue injuries are not visible on an X-ray. This can make them challenging to diagnose and document for legal purposes. This is yet another reason why getting proper medical treatment right away is so important.
Your brain is protected by your skull. When you are jolted or strike your head during a car accident, your brain may strike the inside of your skull. This is what causes a concussion.
Concussions can be deadly serious, and the symptoms can take time to manifest. Sometimes symptoms are obvious but can be subtle as well. Be sure to seek medical help right away if you have any of these concussion symptoms:
- Clouded thinking
- Poor memory
- Inability to concentrate
- Sleeping too much or too little
Do Not Sign a Release Form
The other driver’s insurance company may pressure you to sign a release form. They may even offer you money to sign. Don’t do it.
That release form waives your legal right to pursue compensation. Wait until a medical professional has evaluated you before even considering signing anything. You should also wait long enough to be sure that all injuries from the car accident have had time to show symptoms. Your doctor can determine how long this should be. If you do sign a release form and an injury shows up after, the insurance company will not pay for your medical treatment.
Contacting a Personal Injury Attorney
If you have sustained an injury from an auto accident, you should consider hiring a personal injury lawyer. These attorneys are experienced in dealing with auto accident injury cases. They can help you protect your rights and get the greatest value for your claim. Insurance agencies are in the business of protecting their interest. They have vast experience and resources to find ways to not pay your claim. The best chance you have against these corporate giants is to have an experienced attorney fight for you.
To learn more about Pittman, Dutton & Hellums’ expertise in personal injury law, and motor vehicle accidents, please contact us today!
For their exceptional legal services and client advocacy, Pittman, Dutton & Hellums has earned the designation “Best Law Firms” in 2016 from U.S. News – Best Lawyers®. The firm has been recognized as a Tier 1 Firm for Personal Injury Litigation Plaintiff and Tier 2 for Commercial Litigation in Birmingham, AL.
A Top Honor in the Legal Industry
The “Best Law Firms” designation is widely respected in the legal industry as a sign of exceptional professionalism. This honor recognizes firms for the highest levels of expertise and client services. It is granted based on tens of thousands of client evaluations and peer reviews. Clients provide feedback on the firm’s skills, knowledge, responsiveness, cost-effectiveness, rapport with clients, and whether clients would refer the firm to other people. Lawyers vote on similar factors, as well as on the integrity of the firm and if they are a good competitor. The purpose of the “Best Law Firms” rankings is to help referring lawyers and clients find appropriate legal advice.
This is the sixth year of the “Best Law Firms” rankings. This year’s list is based on the highest number of client ballots and participating firms since the rankings began. To be eligible for the “Best Law Firms” designation, a firm must have a lawyer listed in The Best Lawyers in America®. This honor recognizes the top four percent of practicing attorneys in the U.S. for outstanding legal representation.
The Best Lawyers in America®
Pittman, Dutton & Hellums has two founding partners, Lee Pittman and Tom Dutton, named in The Best Lawyers in America® for the last several years. Like the selection for “Best Law Firms,” recognition in The Best Lawyers in America® involves a rigorous evaluation process that includes collecting client evaluations and reviews from leading attorneys.
What Sets Us Apart
For nearly twenty years, Pittman, Dutton & Hellums has been one of the most prominent plaintiff firms in Alabama. Our attorneys have extensive experience representing clients in personal injury, auto accidents, medical malpractice, dangerous and defective products, commercial litigation and business torts. From 2002 through 2005, our firm tried more cases than any other plaintiff’s firm in the state of Alabama. We also received two of the top ten verdicts in Alabama in 2002 and 2009, winning tens of millions of dollars for our clients.
Our clients rely on our personalized, compassionate advocacy both in and out of the court room. We truly put clients and their needs first. The goal of our work, regardless of the type of case, is to help clients and their families heal and get their lives back on track.
For more information about our practice areas and the honors we have received, please visit our About the Practice page or contact us today.
We all want to be as safe as possible during our commute. Yet we often take for granted the inherent dangers of driving. There are many factors that contribute to traffic incidents. Stalled vehicles, spilled loads and collisions congest our roads, wreak havoc in our daily lives and sometimes result in tragedy. Rarely are we prepared when the worst happens.
According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety Highway Loss Data Institute (IIHS) there were over 30,000 fatal car crashes in the U.S. in 2013. The state of Alabama accounted for some 852 deaths alone. The bitter irony is the very same highways that allow for our economy to thrive are where most incidents occur. In Alabama, the most dangerous roadways are those that connect our cities to the rest of the country: Highways 280, 231 and I-565.
Clear and Present Danger
In October of 2015, a baby boy was rescued from the wreckage of a Honda CRV in Shelby County. An 18-wheeler traveling down Highway 280 had crushed the car and taken the life of the child’s young mother. This is truly heartbreaking for all involved. And frustrating, because locals living and working in the area attest to frequency of collisions on this stretch of road.
The woman responsible for rescuing the baby told investigators,
“It’s difficult to slow a large vehicle coming down the hill and if there’s any mechanical problems, you know, it’s a recipe for danger.”
The trouble spot responsible is a blind downhill curve leading to a stoplight.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHSTA) reported that for Jefferson and Shelby counties, there were 537 fatal crashes on Highway 280 between 2007 and 2011. If you are traveling this road, please use caution when entering either East or West-bound, remember the oncoming blind curve and slow down for the stop-light.
Life in the Fast Lane
U.S. Highway 231 starts in Indiana and slices through Alabama before ending in Florida. As of October 2015, the Accident Data Center reported about 180 accidents in the Huntsville-Decatur section of Highway 231. Commuters from the surrounding 14 counties travel on the 231 daily. A total of 6 accidents left victims injured or killed in Huntsville. The highest number of them occurred in Madison County.
Home to Alabama Agricultural & Mechanical University, students in Madison County frequently hear they can “Start here, go anywhere.” Early into the Fall semester, two students were involved in car accidents. When the student body held a candlelight vigil for their fellow bulldogs, they shed light on the need for commuters to be vigilant in promoting safe driving habits in young men. This is because young males account for 71% of all fatal crashes across the nation. Of all the places our children can go, an early grave is never one we want to send them.
I Can Drive I-565
Interstate 565 is another highway responsible for a high number of car accidents. It’s hard to imagine such a small stretch of roadway – 22 miles- causing so much calamity. In September of this year, two young women from Birmingham were injured in a crash in Cullman County. The accident was fatal, occurring at 1 am on a Sunday morning. Neither of the two were wearing their seatbelts, which means both genders are just as likely to be involved in an auto accident.
The Alabama Department of Transportation (ALDOT) reported in 2012 that Alabama drivers have a 98% chance of being in a crash during the course of their lifetime. Most fatal crashes occur between Friday and Sunday, within 25 miles of the driver’s residence. The incident in Cullman County is proof of this trend.
Safety is the Key to Saving Lives
No matter where you travel to in Alabama, practicing safe driving habits is the best way to avoid the potential devastation a car accident can cause. Some general safe driving tips include:
- Never drive under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
- Always wear your seatbelt.
- Reduce speeds when traveling downhill.
- Look out for pedestrians.
- Obey the speed-limit when traveling at night or through hazardous weather conditions.
Highways 280, 231 and I-565 are proven danger zones no matter the actual condition of the road. We encourage all residents to use caution while traveling through our beautiful state. The ALDOT is continuously working on improving our roads, and we can help them by using awareness while driving.
Who We Are
Pitman, Dutton & Hellums is a Birmingham personal injury law firm with a solid record of success in handling Alabama motor vehicle accident cases. We understand how difficult life can be after a car crash and we’d like to help. If you or a loved one has been injured in a car crash, contact us at (866) 515-8880. Consultation is always free and at no cost to you.