After a car accident, you might feel completely shocked or angry or scared about the situation. That’s all normal, but you shouldn’t let the jarring experience of a car accident affect whether or not you take care of yourself.
You might be tempted to avoid calling police, or you might want to leave the scene quickly because you need to get on with your life. You might view the car accident as minor, and not realize that you need medical treatment. As we’ve covered, there are dozens of injuries that can have delayed symptoms but result in life-long injuries. Just a few signs a car accident is delayed include:
- Back pain
- Headaches and dizziness
- Neck and shoulder pain
- Abdominal pain
- Deep bruises
- Numbness and tingling
- Vision problems
- Jaw issues
- Ringing ears
- Mental health issues
Not going to see a doctor after a car accident can also seriously affect your ability to successfully pursue a car accident claim in the future, if another driver’s negligence was to blame for the accident. Here are some reasons to get medical attention after any car accident you’ve been in.
If You Delay Treatment, the Cause of Pain May Be Questioned
Say you are in a car accident, and a few days later, you experience back pain that was caused by the accident. You get medical treatment and decide to file a claim against the other driver.
Having waited, the defendant can claim:
The back pain was caused by something else, anything else, that happened in-between the car accident and the doctor’s visit. It’s more difficult to prove that the pain was caused by the accident, when you could have tweaked your back making a sudden sharp movement, performing a work duty, exercising or a whole host of other behaviors you did after the accident.
The pain was always there, and the car accident did nothing to exacerbate it. If you’ve seen a chiropractor in the past or visited a doctor for back issues previously, the defendant could point to previous pain as the cause.
You’re making up the pain. If the pain is so bad now, why didn’t you go to a doctor immediately after the car accident? The defendant could argue maybe you decided to try and file a lawsuit, but you never really had severe pain to begin with.
For your own legal protection, you should visit a doctor after a car accident to get a medical opinion and to show that you were serious enough about any possible pain or injury to get treatment. If emergency services are offered to you at the scene, take them. At the very least, visit an urgent care office or your primary physician as quickly as possible right after the accident.
You Could Suffer More Severe Injuries
After a shocking event like a car accident, it’s common for the body to go into a fight-or-flight mode that is powered by endorphins and adrenaline. These hormones may mask pain to prepare the victim to stay safe and alert in a dangerous or high-pressure situation. For example, there are many cases of professional athletes breaking bones but continuing to finish a game without noticing their injury. These hormones could affect you after a car accident, too, making you feel physically fine but really covering up an injury that will only get worse with time.
A doctor will be able to feel your body for broken bones, perform an X-ray if they think that’s wise, and see symptoms of injuries that may not be noticeable to you but that are apparent to medical professionals. You might blame your dizziness for feeling anxious due to the car accident, but it could be an early sign of a brain injury. Waiting days or weeks for treatment can cause an injury to develop into something far worse that doesn’t respond as well to treatment.
Even if a doctor concludes you aren’t injured at your initial visit, you can get advice for symptoms to watch out for. If those do develop, you can revisit your physician for treatment.
A Doctor’s Visit Begins a Vital Paper Trail
Visiting a doctor results in proof that you took every precaution to get treatment for any possible injuries from a car accident. This proof can be essential if you decide to file a claim in the future. Because injuries can develop in a variety of ways, you may not decide to file a claim until several months down the road. Those doctor visit records can keep you protected and be used as evidence if you decide to file a claim.
Always review all records you receive from your doctor, and work to correct any errors you spot. You should also review your medical history. For example, if a doctor notes that you’ve had neck problems in the past, but you had never mentioned those to your doctor or received treatment for them, then make sure the record is corrected and updated to reflect the truth.
If you are in a car accident, no matter how severe it is, it is in your best interest to visit a doctor. If you feel the negligence of another driver is to blame for the accident and your injury, contact the Birmingham car accident lawyer team at Pittman, Dutton & Hellums for a free consultation for how we can help you.
Driving in a zone where there are human beings working requires extra care and vigilance. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Highway Administration, in the past 5 years, 4,400 people have died in work zone crashes – and 85 percent of those were passengers or drivers.
Work zones don’t just put you at risk as a driver. Not paying attention or driving dangerously puts construction workers at risk. Your negligence could seriously injure or even kill a worker, which could result in a personal injury lawsuit brought against you. Use these tips to stay safe and avoid harming those around you.
1. Follow All Signage
When you’re approaching a work zone, there should be ample signage alerting you about entering a work zone and providing directions for how to safely navigate one. Usually, work zone signs are orange and/or diamond-shaped. Some common work zone signs you might encounter are:
- Road work ahead
- Traffic traveling in both directions
- Lane is ending and requires merging
- Flagger ahead – a flagger is a work zone worker
- End of work zone
- Speed limit change
- Fines double
You may encounter completely different directions for work zone driving within just a minute or two. Roads and navigation may change completely, sometimes turning one-way roads into two-way traffic. Pay attention to all signs, and make sure you’re obeying each one as you drive.
2. Be Aware of Sudden Changes
“Expect the unexpected” is a wise mantra for driving through work zones. Because there are likely to be construction equipment and a multitude of workers and work vehicles in a work zone, these elements may enter your lane without warning or cause a change to your driving directions in an instant.
Pay attention to humans entering a work zone, as well as other vehicles changing lanes or stopping or slowing unexpectedly. Because sudden changes may occur, it’s a good idea to drive no faster than the speed limit that is posted.
3. Comply with Directions
As mentioned, in addition to the signage that is posted, flaggers may enter the road to give additional directions. These flaggers will most likely be wearing reflective construction garb or a uniform in neon colors, as well as a hard hat. They’ll likely be carrying actual flags to point vehicles in the direction they want them to go, or to stop vehicles.
Roll down your window in case the flagger attempts to communicate with you. Follow the direction of the flagger if it conflicts with something a sign has posted. The flagger has the most relevant directions based on what the work zone team needs to accomplish at that moment.
4. Give Plenty of Room
Because there can be sudden changes or flaggers amending driving directions, allow for plenty of room between your vehicle and the one in front of you – at least two car lengths is a good amount. The car in front of you may need to stop suddenly, or a work zone vehicle may enter your lane, or you may need to come to a stop to pay attention to a flagger. Without ample room, you could ram into the vehicle in front of you and set off a dangerous chain of events.
As soon as you see the first “road work ahead” construction sign, start to slow down, and increase the distance between you and the vehicle in front of you. If you need to change lanes, make sure there is also plenty of room to do so before moving.
5. Don’t Drive Distractedly
As we’ve covered, driving distractedly is one of the most dangerous forms of driving behaviors. Add work zone equipment and workers to the mix, and the likelihood of harming someone or another vehicle increases. According to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, not looking at the road for more than 2 seconds doubles crash risk.
You should never attempt to do anything else besides driving while you are behind the wheel. In work zones, this is even more important, since someone could walk into the road or change the driving directions in an instant. Put down your phone, keep both hands on the wheel, and make sure your eyes are only on what’s in front of you when driving through a work zone.
6. Have a Positive Attitude
Road rage is a major risk factor for vehicle accidents, motorists, passengers, pedestrians and construction workers. According to the Insurance Information Institute, aggressive driving plays a role in more than half of fatal crashes. When you’re about to enter a work zone, take a deep breath, stay calm, and be grateful for the beautiful new roads those workers are helping to create and maintain.
Don’t get angry at slow drivers, or at workers for doing their job. Be patient and rational. Follow all driving laws, and don’t let a bad attitude turn into a deadly driving situation.
If you neglect to follow work zone signs and directions from flaggers, you are putting yourself and others at risk. Your negligence could result in someone else getting seriously hurt or dying. You could also make yourself vulnerable to a personal injury lawsuit. Next time you see a construction zone, make safety your top priority.
Last week, this expert opinion article written by Pittman, Dutton & Hellums attorney Austin Whitten was featured by Law360, a national, prestigious legal publication.
The answer to the question posed by the headline is probably still a resounding “no” in most areas of the law. However, recent case law suggests that the Eleventh Circuit is arguably the most favorable venue for plaintiffs with consumer protection lawsuits that are based on statutory violations where no “actual” damages are alleged.
As most folks in the class-action arena are aware by now, complaints filed for alleged statutory violations of the Fair Credit Reporting Act, Telephone Consumer Protection Act, Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act, and Video Privacy Protection Act, among others, are now routinely being met with motions to dismiss for lack of Article III standing. Specifically, defendants argue that the plaintiff(s) fails to allege any “concrete injury” suffered due to the statutory violations. This tactic has become popular since the U.S. Supreme Court issued its decision in Spokeo Inc. v. Robin in 2016.
In Spokeo, the plaintiff alleged violations of the FCRA by the defendant but no actual damages in addition to the violation of the statute. The Supreme Court restated that Article III standing requires an injury-in-fact that is both concrete and particularized, and the court held that the Ninth Circuit had failed to thoroughly analyze the concreteness of the plaintiff’s alleged injuries. The court went on to clarify that the term “concrete” means “‘real,’ and not ‘abstract,’” but also that an injury does not have to be tangible to be concrete and that “Congress may ‘elevat[e] to the status of legally cognizable injuries concrete, de facto injuries that were previously inadequate in law.’” Since then, there has been little uniformity in the application of Spokeo and many district and circuit courts across the country have agreed with defendants’ arguments and affirmed dismissal of the consumers’ complaints.
On Oct. 3, 2018, the Eleventh Circuit took another crack at interpreting and applying Spokeo in Muransky v. Godiva Chocolatier Inc. In its opinion, the court left little doubt that the bar for what constitutes a concrete injury in the statutory violation context is very low within the Eleventh Circuit. This precedential opinion does not seem to have received the attention it deserves, likely because the case was not originally appealed as a standing question.
In Muransky, the plaintiff sued Godiva for violations of FACTA, which requires merchants to mask all but the last five digits of a customer’s payment card number, as well as the expiration date, when providing printed receipts to their patrons. Muransky sued after Godiva provided him with a receipt showing the first six and last four digits of his credit card. However, this all occurred pre-Spokeo, so Godiva did not attempt to dismiss due to an alleged lack of concrete injury. Instead, Godiva eventually agreed to a class-wide settlement. The settlement was approved by the district court, but a few class members filed objections to it based on an alleged insufficiency of notice to the class, the amount of Austin Whitten attorneys’ fees, and the incentive award to the class representative. One of the objectors then raised the Spokeo issue of the class representative’s Article III standing for the first time at the fairness hearing. The district court overruled the objections, ignored the standing issue and approved the settlement. The objectors appealed.
On appeal, the Eleventh Circuit took it upon itself to analyze the plaintiff’s standing and ultimately determined that the plaintiff did in fact suffer multiple concrete injuries when he received a receipt in violation of FACTA. The Muransky court focused its analysis on two of the Supreme Court’s guiding principles from Spokeo: the judgment of Congress and whether the harm from the statutory violation at issue has roots in any common law causes of action.
First, the court examined “the duties imposed and the rights conferred by FACTA,” as well as its structure and history, because Congress “is well positioned to identify intangible harms that meet minimum Article III requirements.” They reached the conclusion that, because Congress had articulated a clear duty of care for merchants to uphold and also made willful violations of FACTA actionable even in the absence of actual damages, “Congress conceived of the of the harm as happening when the merchant provides a customer with an untruncated receipt.”
The court’s analysis then turned to “whether the intangible harm that results from the statutory violation bears a ‘close relationship’ to harms that have ‘traditionally been regarded as providing a basis for a lawsuit in English or American courts.’” They concluded that the harm from a defendant’s violation of FACTA is akin to the harms that provided basis for two separate common law torts: breach of confidence and breach of an implied bailment agreement. The court explained that, in both of these traditional torts, a customer entrusts something to a merchant, and the customer is harmed when the that trust is violated. Similarly, a customer is harmed when he entrusts his payment card information to a merchant and the merchant violates that trust by not complying with the FACTA requirements, according to the court.
By this point in the opinion, the Muransky court had already made clear that the plaintiff suffered a concrete injury just by receiving the violative receipt from the defendant and had standing to pursue his lawsuit. However, the court then went a step further to hold that the plaintiff had also sufficiently alleged additional actual injury when he pled that he received the receipt from Godiva and has kept up with it. The court pointed out that the plaintiff had to use his time and wallet space to safeguard the receipt that contained 10 digits of his credit card number. The court held that “[t]ime spent safely disposing of or keeping the untruncated receipt is, of course, a small injury, but it is enough to confer standing.” Again, the Eleventh Circuit set an extremely low threshold for concrete injuries with this opinion.
The Eleventh Circuit’s conclusions in Muransky are in stark contrast to the conclusions of every other circuit court that has decided whether FACTA violations without actual damages result in concrete injury to the consumer. The Second, Seventh and Ninth circuits have all published opinions affirming the dismissal of plaintiffs’ complaints for failing to allege any concrete injury resulting from other FACTA violations. Consequently, the majority of district courts around the country have been following suit.
The Eleventh Circuit’s inclusive interpretation of what constitutes a “concrete injury” in Muransky should come as no surprise for those following this issue. Muransky is just the most recent of the Eleventh Circuit’s seemingly consumer-friendly line of precedence on this issue and was a logical extension of its reasoning in previous opinions. The first decision was Church v. Accretive Health Inc., an unpublished opinion decided less than two months after Spokeo was issued. The Church court held that the plaintiff had sufficiently alleged a concrete injury when the defendant violated her right to certain information created by the FDCPA. Then, in Perry v. Cable News Network Inc., the court held that the defendant’s violation of the VPPA constituted a concrete injury to the plaintiff. The court reached the same conclusion in The Florence Endocrine Clinic PLLC v. Arriva Medical LLC  for alleged violations of the TCPA, and again in Pedro v. Equifax Inc. for alleged violations of the FCRA. These decisions are all still the controlling law in the Eleventh Circuit at this point, and it’s hard to imagine an abrupt change of course anytime soon unless the Supreme Court weighs in again.
However, there is one appeal currently pending in front of the Eleventh Circuit that may test the limits of what constitutes a concrete injury. Oral arguments recently took place in Salcedo v. Hanna, et al. over whether a single, unsolicited text message allegedly sent in violation of the TCPA causes sufficient harm to confer standing upon the recipient. If the court continues its trend and concludes the Salcedo plaintiff suffered a concrete injury from receiving the text message, it will become even more difficult to argue that the Eleventh Circuit has not become one of the most “consumer friendly” circuits in this area of law.
So, whether you’re looking for a place to file a new lawsuit based on a statutory violation or you’re advising a corporate client that’s considering challenging a plaintiff’s standing, you must bear in mind that district courts in the Eleventh Circuit are going to be applying some of the most consumer-friendly precedence in the country — even if that’s only true in regards to the narrow, threshold issue of concrete injury in an Article III standing analysis.
 Spokeo, Inc. v. Robins, 136 S. Ct 1540 (May 13, 2016).
 Id. 136 S. Ct. at 1548-1549.
 Muransky v. Godiva Chocolatier Inc ., 2018 U.S. App. LEXIS 27980 (11th Cir. Oct. 3, 2018).
 The court also thoroughly discussed the other issues originally raised by the objectors and created guiding precedent in those areas as well, ultimately confirming the terms of the settlement.
 Id. 2018 U.S. App. LEXIS 27980 at *11
 Id. 2018 U.S. App. LEXIS 27980 at *16
 Id. 2018 U.S. App. LEXIS 27980 at *11
 Id. 2018 U.S. App. LEXIS 27980 at *18
 Bassett v. ABM Parking Servs. Inc., 883 F.3d 776 (9th Cir. 2018); Katz v. Donna Karan Co., 872 F.3d 114, 116 (2d Cir. 2017); Crupar-Weinmann v. Paris Baguette Am. Inc., 861 F.3d 76 (2d Cir. 2017); Meyers v. Nicolet Rest. of De Pere LLC, 843 F.3d 724 (7th Cir. 2016).
 Church v. Accretive Health Inc., 654 Fed. Appx. 990 (11th Cir. July 6, 2016)
 Perry v. Cable News Network, 854 F.3d 1336 (11th Cir. April 27, 2017)
 Florence Endocrine Clinic PLLC v. Arriva Med. LLC, 858 F.3d 1362, 1366 (11th Cir. 2017)
 Pedro v. Equifax Inc., 868 F.3d 1275 (11th Cir. 2017)
 While the Eleventh Circuit concluded the plaintiffs had standing in all these opinions, it must be noted that the court went on to affirm dismissal of some of them for other reasons.
 The Supreme Court may weigh in on the issue sooner rather than later: on Nov. 6, 2018, the justices called for additional briefing on the issue of the plaintiffs’ standing in Frank v. Gaos, S. Ct. Docket No. 17-961, a class-settlement appeal that was recently argued.
 Salcedo v. Hanna, 11th Cir. Docket No. 17-14077
Pittman, Dutton & Hellums is honored to receive five 2018 regional rankings in the U.S. News – Best Lawyers® law firm rankings for Birmingham compilation. Our firm has received regional recognition as follows:
- Tier 1 in Medical Malpractice Law – Plaintiffs
- Tier 1 in Personal Injury Litigation – Plaintiffs
- Tier 1 in Product Liability Litigation – Plaintiffs
- Tier 2 in Commercial Litigation
- Tier 2 in Mass Tort Litigation / Class Actions – Plaintiffs
The U.S. News – Best Lawyers® ranking takes into account 14,000 law firms across the United States. We are thrilled to receive these distinctions, as we strive to provide the very best service to all our clients. These include those in both the Birmingham, Alabama, area, as well as clients we represent throughout the country. We have settled or gone to trial for hundreds of million-dollar lawsuits.
In addition to the recognition our law firm has received, we are proud to have four lawyers on the Best Lawyers® ranking, as well.
- Thomas E. Dutton: Commercial Litigation, Medical Malpractice Law – Plaintiffs, Personal Injury Litigation – Plaintiffs, Product Liability Litigation – Plaintiffs
- Chris T. Hellums: Mass Tort Litigation / Class Actions – Plaintiffs, Product Liability Litigation – Plaintiffs
- Jonathan S. Mann: Mass Tort Litigation / Class Actions – Plaintiffs
- W. Lee Pittman: Medical Malpractice Law – Plaintiffs, Personal Injury Litigation – Plaintiffs, Product Liability Litigation – Plaintiffs
Honors like these continue to inspire our firm to hold only the highest of standards in our work and our relationships with our clients. If you need a personal injury attorney, product liability lawyer, commercial litigation attorney, medical malpractice lawyer or a lawyer who will fight for your rights, please contact the Pittman, Dutton & Hellums law firm.