If you’ve been in a serious accident where you experienced a personal injury, like a car crash or a slip and fall accident, you may be wondering about whether or not to contact an attorney. The good news is, with many personal injury lawyers, you can explain what happened and get a free consultation with no obligation to work with the attorney. This allows you to get to know many lawyers before deciding on the one you want to work with.
In general, the following are signs that you may be entitled to compensation for your case – in some cases, much more than an insurance company is willing to offer you.
- The other party’s negligence caused your injury
- The injury was serious enough to warrant a trip to the emergency room, hospital or multiple doctor’s visits
- The injury resulted in expensive medical bills, time missed off work or a permanent disability
- There is evidence and/or testimony that can demonstrate the fault of another party
If just one of these situations is present, you may have a personal injury case on your hands. What you may not know is that the statute of limitations in Alabama and in states throughout the country mandates the time period in which a victim can file a personal injury claim. Here’s what you should know.
What Is the Statute of Limitations in Alabama?
The statute of limitations in Alabama is a law that stipulates that victims of personal injury or the loved ones of victims who have died due to negligence have a specific amount of time in which to file a claim. The statute of limitations is in place so that offending parties do not have a legal issue that they may have to deal with for the rest of their lives, and so that victims start the legal process to gain compensation in a timely manner.
In Alabama, the statute of limitations for personal injury is two years. This is according to Alabama Code Section 6-2-38, which also states that commencement of actions must be brought within two years for negligence causing death, as well as actions of libel, slander, recovery of wages and property damage.
This means, if more than two years have passed since the date of an accident causing an injury, you will not be able to file a claim for damages for your injury. There are some cases, such as those involving medical malpractice that result in injuries long after the damaging actions were done, where a plaintiff may seek to extend the statute of limitations in accordance with the time the injury was discovered.
Benefits of Calling a Lawyer Quickly After an Accident
In addition to taking advantage of a free, no-obligation consultation, there are many advantages to contacting a Birmingham personal injury lawyer as soon as possible after a serious accident. These include:
A Lawyer Can Help with an Inaccurate Police Report
If the police report of your accident is inaccurate, including if it puts you at fault for the accident when you were solely the victim, contacting an attorney means you can get a headstart on rectifying the falsehoods.
An Attorney Can Protect Your Rights with Insurance Companies
The offending party’s insurance company will likely contact you quickly after the accident, and may pressure you into saying something you don’t want to or shouldn’t. A lawyer can prepare you for this. Also, often insurance companies will settle for far less than the victim deserves, or not offer a settlement at all. When you have significant medical bills or are missing time off work because of an injury, getting a case started with a lawyer can help you get compensated more quickly.
Working with a Lawyer Prepares You for Dealing with the Other Party
Depending on the other party that caused the accident, you may be facing a business with a full team of lawyers, or even a government entity with the funds to fight you. Victims can be pressured into giving away information or providing inaccurate information that helps the other party, or be bullied into taking a low settlement. Knowing what your case is worth increases your chances of getting the compensation you deserve.
When you can work with a personal injury lawyer that works on a contingency basis, like the team at Pittman, Dutton & Hellums, you have the peace of mind that the attorney is working in your best interests, since they don’t get paid unless you do. If you’ve been in a serious accident and experienced an injury, don’t delay. Contact the personal injury team at Pittman, Dutton & Hellums today for a free consultation.
Awards, Awards, Awards, Awards & Awards!
We are extremely proud to announce that 5 of our attorneys have been selected to The Best Lawyers in America and one attorney selected as the Top Lawyer in America! Less than 5% of attorneys nationwide achieve this peer-nominated, coveted distinction. We consider our selves to be not only one of Alabama’s top law firm but of the countries finest. Congratulations to the hardworking attorneys and staff that made this possible.
Chris T. Hellums was recognized and awarded as the Lawyer Of The Year for Mass Tort Litigation & Class Actions – Plaintiffs as well as being recognized and listed as one of Americas Best Lawyers for his accomplishments in litigating anti-trust cases.
W. Lee Pittman was recognized and listed to the prestigious Americas Best Lawyers for his work in
Medical Malpractice Law – Plaintiffs
Personal Injury Litigation – Plaintiffs
Product Liability Litigation – Plaintiffs
Mr. Pittman has been consistently recognized as one of Americas Top Attorneys dating back to 1991.
Thomas E. Dutton was the recognized as one of the Americas Best Lawyers in America for his work in
Personal Injury Litigation – Plaintiffs
Product Liability Litigation – Plaintiffs
Mike Bradley was the recipient of the Americas Best Lawyers Award for his work in:
Product Liability Litigation
Jon S. Mann was the recipient of the Americas Best Lawyers Award for his work in:
Mass Tort & Class Action Litigation – Plaintiffs
Lawyers named to The Best Lawyers in America© publication were recognized by their peers in the legal industry for their professional excellence in 146 practice areas. For the 2020 Edition of The Best Lawyers in America, 8.3 million votes were analyzed, which resulted in the inclusion of more than 62,000 lawyers, or approximately 5% of lawyers in private practice in the United States.
If you haven’t been involved in a fender-bender, consider yourself fortunate. According to the latest data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, in 2016, there were more than 7 million police-reported traffic crashes. More than 37,000 people died in these accidents, and more than 3 million people were injured.
Some of the most common car accident causes are preventable. These include:
- Not paying attention to other vehicles
- Failing to adapt to changing road conditions
- Following other vehicles too closely
- Ignoring blind spots
- Driving while impaired
- Allowing emotions like anger to influence unsafe driving behaviors
- Ignoring dangerous driving conditions
Defensive driving is the safest driving technique that requires that drivers stay alert and aware of their surroundings and adapt accordingly. Using defensive driving strategies helps drivers avoid problems unsafe drivers or road conditions can cause.
As we’ve learned in the cases that we’ve helped clients earn more than $800 million in settlements from, when it comes to driving, it’s always better to be safe than sorry. Here are some defensive driving strategies you can use to avoid a costly accident – not just in terms of money, but in terms of human safety.
1. Focus on Driving
Don’t text, don’t look down at your phone, and don’t turn around to talk to the passenger in the back seat. Don’t eat food or apply makeup while driving.
Keep your eyes focused on the road and changing traffic conditions. Observe speed limit changes, the state of the road and any obstacles, traffic controls and cars in front of, behind and next to you.
2. Make Safety the Top Priority
You may encounter unsafe driving behaviors that tempt you to react unsafely, as well. For example, if someone is tailgating you on a freeway, you may want to speed up to create some distance, but that just makes you speed, as well.
If another driver is swerving, following you too closely, changing speeds erratically or driving in another way that is unsafe, don’t react – avoid the driver and move away from them.
3. Assume the Worst
You may be an impeccable driver, but you can’t count on other drivers to be as safe as you. That’s why you should always follow all traffic laws, which are in place to keep motorists safe.
In addition to paying attention to unsafe driving behaviors that are happening, you should take extra precaution while driving in case something dangerous happens unexpectedly. Be sure to:
Leave at least one car length in front of you and the next driver in front of you for every 10 miles per hour you are driving, in case the driver stops suddenly or decreases speed for some reason.
Drive the speed limit.
If you need to change lanes, do so early and check your blind spots before merging, so you can avoid a driver speeding up and preventing you from doing so safely.
Use turn signals and obey all traffic controls.
Even if you have the right of way, yield for drivers when it appears they won’t yield for you. Remember that some reckless drivers will run red lights or fail to let you pass in front of them.
Constantly scan your surroundings to identify any unsafe behaviors you want to avoid. Don’t just look directly in front of you. Be aware of conditions down the road to anticipate how to react to them.
4. Never Drive While Impaired
Alcohol, illegal drugs and even some prescription drugs can all impair your ability to drive alertly. Follow all directions to avoid driving after taking certain prescription drugs. Never drive while intoxicated, because that will slow down your reaction time.
You should also avoid driving while sleepy. As we’ve covered, drowsy driving is a significant hazard to you and other motorists.
Avoid driving while your emotions are heightened, as well. Anger could cause you to drive aggressively, while even a positive emotion like euphoria could make you feel more confident in using reckless driving behaviors.
5. Maintain Your Car
Finally, one of the easiest ways to increase the safety of your driving is to make sure your car is in perfect working condition. A car that breaks down in the middle of the freeway can cause car accidents. If your windshield wipers don’t work, and it starts raining, your visibility will suffer. Proper car maintenance goes hand-in-hand with safe driving behaviors.
Are You a Victim of Someone’s Unsafe Driving?
If another driver’s aggressive or unsafe driving habits caused a car accident where you were seriously injured due to their negligence, you may be entitled to compensation. Contact the Birmingham car accident attorney team at Pittman, Dutton & Hellums for a free car accident consultation.
Business owners who are hosting holiday parties for their employees must consider one serious factor when planning: alcohol. Employees who get drunk at a party might drive off and get into an accident. You don’t want to face a lawsuit from an employee or someone they hurt, and you definitely want to keep your employees safe and sound after any work party where alcohol is served.
Excessive alcohol use contributes to more than 88,000 deaths a year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. With Christmas right around the corner, if you plan on serving alcohol at your work holiday party, read this guide to help employees stay safe and prevent drunk driving after holiday parties.
1. Set Guidelines Before the Party
If you’re going to serve alcohol at a holiday party, let employees know beforehand. This way, they can plan for transportation to and from the event.
Make it clear that the party is not about drinking. Highlight all the non-alcohol entertainment you’ll have at the party, whether it’s games, food, music or dancing. This can help to lessen any pressure employees may feel to drink, and make the purpose of the party one that’s not about alcohol.
State consequences for employees who engage in destructive behavior because of drinking. You may want to add these to your employee handbook and outline that:
Your business is not responsible for damage an intoxicated employee causes to any property.
Your business will enforce punishments for inappropriate behavior, whether a work event is held on-site or not.
Employees are responsible for their behavior at all times.
You may even want to create a written contract to hand out to employees before they attend, where they agree that they are responsible for their actions, even when fueled by alcohol. This can discourage excessive drinking.
2. Prevent Over-Indulgence
One way to avoid over-serving employees alcohol is to employ trained bartenders at your event and instruct them to not serve alcohol to anyone who is visibly intoxicated, or host the event at an establishment with a liquor license.
You may also consider handing out a set number of free drink tickets for the night, like one or two per person. Forcing employees to pay a cash bar for additional drinks may discourage them from drinking too much.
Serving mixed drinks, like holiday punch, or drinks that are made with various types of liquor, can make keeping track of how much you’ve imbibed more difficult. You may want to just serve beer or wine, so it is easier for employees and their guests to track how many drinks they’ve had throughout the night.
You should also serve food at any event where alcohol is served. This can help to give employees a non-drinking activity to participate in (eating), and help to prevent employees from getting drunk as quickly as they would on an empty stomach.
3. Provide Easy Access to Transportation
Ideally, you’ll host a holiday party close to public transportation. If not, you could partner with a ride-sharing service to provide holiday party ride codes to employees, so they have a free ride home if they’re intoxicated.
Think about how much each of your employees is worth, and what kind of hit your business will experience if you lost one due to an injury or even death. Adding free rides to your holiday budget, whether it’s a party bus or ride-sharing credits, can keep everyone safe. At the very least, have the numbers of local taxi cab companies available for attendees to call.
You could also host a party near a hotel, so that attendees have a place to stay afterward without having to worry about driving home.
4. Get Extra Protection
At any event where you’ll be mixing alcohol with employees, you might want to get extra insurance to protect you. You may face the risk of being sued by a victim of an employee who drives while drunk, so covering your bases with insurance and signed contracts by party attendees may help protect you.
Also, make sure you have some party attendees who agree to be sober drivers for the night. These people can be the ones to do last-minute errand runs or trips to get an item that is running low or has run out of stock. You might also consider offering a bonus to employees who volunteer to be sober designated drivers for their coworkers, so that there are lots of sober driving options available.
Host a Safe Holiday Party This Season
At Pittman, Dutton & Hellums, we wish you, your business and your employees a very merry holiday season. Make employee safety a priority at any event where alcohol is served, so you protect employees and your business.
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.