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6 Tips for Driving Safely in a Work Zone

6 Tips for Driving Safely in a Work Zone

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.

6 Tips for Driving Safely in a Work Zone 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
  • Detour
  • 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.

6 Tips for Driving Safely in a Work Zone 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.

Signs a Car Accident Injury Is Delayed

Signs a Car Accident Injury Is Delayed

Vehicles are driving more miles in the United States, and that means the risk of car accidents is higher, too. According to the latest data from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the number of vehicle miles traveled on U.S. roads in 2016 increased 2.2 percent year-over-year, and the fatality rate increased 2.6 percent.

If you’ve been in a car accident and feel fine afterward, you may be tempted to assume you have zero injuries and that the accident was minor. Unfortunately, you may have sustained serious injuries that just aren’t apparent yet. The shock or adrenaline you’re feeling after an accident may mask pain or injuries.

Delayed symptoms can lead to life-long ailments if they’re not treated. Ignoring the potential for injuries could also damage your chance of success if you decide to pursue a car accident lawsuit later. Here’s what to be aware of.

Signs a Car Accident Injury Is DelayedWhat Is Whiplash?

Whiplash in car accidents can cause serious bodily damage. According to Mayo Clinic, whiplash is a neck injury due to forceful and rapid back-and-forth neck movement, occurring most often during rear-end car accidents. Whiplash can cause chronic neck pain and life-long complications. If whiplash occurs in someone who has reduced mental or physical abilities, it can lead to increased social isolation.

The following are some signs that you’ve experienced an injury from a car accident, even if you experience any of these days or even weeks after the accident. If you can get medical help immediately after any car accident you’re in, that’s best to protect your health. But you should also be aware of these symptoms that may emerge later. Even if they seem minor, they could be indicators of serious problems.

Back Pain

Back pain can be a sign of whiplash, which can cause serious injuries like muscle damage and soft tissue injuries, pinched nerves, a herniated disc or a sprain. Watch out for tingling and numbness and any back pain that is more severe than you’ve experienced in the past.

Headaches and Dizziness

Headaches caused by car accidents may be a result of whiplash, concussion, a neck injury, a brain injury or a blood clot. Dizziness may occur due to neck instability or a concussion. You may also experience headaches or dizziness as a result of emotional stress from the accident, as serious as post-traumatic stress disorder.

Neck and Shoulder Pain

Neck and shoulder pains are a sign of whiplash and could also indicate a herniated disc or other spinal injury, or ligament sprains, muscle sprains or damage to nerves, joints or bones. Neck and shoulder pain may occur in isolated areas or may radiate down a shoulder to affect the entire arm and hand. Other delayed symptoms include neck stiffness or a reduction in range of motion.

Abdominal Pain

Stomach pain can arise several days after an accident and indicate damage to internal soft tissues.

Deep Bruises

Bruises that develop or worsen in color over time may be an indication of internal bleeding.

Signs a Car Accident Injury Is DelayedNumbness and Tingling

Tingling and numbness may be signs of nerve damage, which can occur due to a herniated disc. Unusual sensations throughout the body should also be monitored. Any tingling, numbness or weakness that radiates throughout a body part, like an arm or shoulder, can be a serious sign.

Vision Problems

A concussion or nerve damage can cause blurry vision or impaired vision.

Jaw Issues

Problems speaking, swallowing, yawning or chewing may be indicators of a jaw injury or injury to the esophagus or larynx.

Ringing Ears

Tinnitus is a ringing or buzzing in one or both ears that may occur from whiplash. Injuries like a brain injury, nerve or vascular damage, or jaw injury may cause tinnitus, too. Stress may be another cause of tinnitus.

Mental Health Issues

Lingering pain in the body may show up as a symptom when it affects mental health. Anger and increased irritability, sadness and depression, trouble concentrating, fatigue and sleep problems are all signs of mental health issues like post-traumatic stress that may be a result of the accident.

Stay Protected If Delayed Car Accident Symptoms Arise

Because many pain symptoms may occur after you leave the scene of a car accident, you should avoid saying anything like, “I feel fine,” right after an accident. In some cases, an admission of zero pain after an accident may hurt your ability to prove delayed pain was caused by an accident. Another attorney could claim your pain arose because of a factor not related to their client’s negligence.

You should also avoid signing a release of liability form right after an accident, and definitely not until you’ve seen a medical professional. The sooner you can get a medical consultation, the better protected you’ll be. Even if your doctor gives you a medical evaluation that is positive, you should still stay vigilant of the warning signs mentioned above and get further treatment if any occur.

Avoid settling a claim before you have reached “maximum medical improvement,” which means a condition has stabilized, and further improvement is unlikely. At this point, you’ll have an idea of the true scope of your injuries.

In any case where someone else’s negligence is to blame for a serious car accident you’re in, you should contact a Birmingham personal injury lawyer to stay protected. The Birmingham car accident attorney team at Pittman, Dutton & Hellums provides free no-risk consultations. Your health and finances deserve protection. Contact us for a free consultation.

What to Do If Your Car Insurance Claim Is Denied

What to Do If Your Car Insurance Claim Is Denied

If you’re one of the more than 2.35 million people in the United States to be injured in a car crash this year, you may run into more bumps on the road than just the crash. When it comes time to be compensated for your injuries, even when they were caused by a negligent party, your insurance claim may be denied.

The stress and burden of having your claim denied amid working through serious personal injuries are unfortunately common. Let’s take a look at some reasons why a car insurer may deny a claim, and what you can do if your car accident claim is denied.

What to Do If Your Car Insurance Claim Is DeniedReasons Why a Car Insurance Claim Is Denied

After you’re seriously injured in a car accident where the other driver was at fault (or there were multiple negligent parties involved), you will hopefully have taken the following steps:

  • Received medical attention
  • Documented the scene through photos, including license plates and damage
  • Gathered names, addresses, telephone numbers, insurance company names and policy numbers, witness statements and contact information
  • Called the police and had a police report filed

When you return home after the scene, the next step is to contact your insurance company about the damage. You’ll give your insurer the information of the other insurance company. In the best-case scenario, the negligent party’s insurance company will compensate you for your injuries and damages. In other cases, they’ll give you a low-ball offer or will deny your claim completely. Here are some reasons why.

There Is No Police Report

A police report is usually crucial for securing adequate compensation. Without one, it’s one person’s word over the other’s, unless you’ve taken the time to gather witness statements and documented the scene and damage. In cases where an insurer believes your claim lacks merit, it could be denied.

What to Do If Your Car Insurance Claim Is DeniedYou Didn’t Get Immediate Medical Attention

If you don’t get medical attention for injuries immediately after an accident, an insurer may suspect that any medical attention you received after may have been from non-accident-related injuries. It’s vital to get treatment immediately after and accept any emergency services that are offered.

You Incriminate Yourself

When you talk to your insurer in a stressed state after a car accident, you may unwittingly paint a guilty picture around your actions. For example, you might accidentally admit guilt, even though the accident wasn’t your fault, or you might say you weren’t too badly injured despite the future hefty medical bills to come. Because of this, you should never give a recorded statement to an insurance company.

If you’re not completely calm and sure about the details of your case, you may want to talk with a car accident attorney before talking with your insurer, though you should report your accident to your insurance company as soon as possible.

You Didn’t File a Claim in Time

Serious car accidents must be reported within a certain amount of time in order to be eligible for coverage. If the other party’s insurer isn’t notified in time, your claim may be denied.

Your Driving Wasn’t Covered

There are a few driving scenarios that might hurt your chances of coverage. For example, if you’re driving someone else’s car, or if you’re driving your own car for a side business that you never told your insurance company about, there may be complications with getting compensation.

The Cause of the Accident Is a Policy Exclusion

Some insurance policies will exclude certain reasons from being eligible for compensation. For example, natural events like heavy rain or a dust storm may be an act that is excluded. If this occurred during your accident, the insurer may say that the natural act caused the accident, not another negligent party.

The Other Party’s Policy Has Lapsed

Even if you see insurance information from a negligent party, it’s possible that their insurance coverage has lapsed due to a failure to pay insurance premiums. In this case, you may file an uninsured motorist claim. If you don’t have this type of coverage, you may choose to sue the negligent party.

Actions to Take After Your Claim Is Denied

After any accident, you should be keeping organized records of all medical attention you’ve received, including bills. Also, keep all evidence and witness statements intact, and make sure you have a copy of the police report from the accident.

Most personal injury attorneys, including the Birmingham car accident lawyer team at Pittman, Dutton & Hellums, will offer free consultations and will not take on your case if they don’t believe they can win. If your insurance claim is denied, you have nothing to lose by contacting a lawyer. You may be able to secure compensation and get what you deserve.

When you work with an attorney, the attorney may send a demand letter to the insurer. This is an action the insurer may take seriously, because fighting your case in court can be costly. At this stage, you may receive partial or full compensation. If an insurance company has a formal appeals process, your attorney may be able to negotiate a settlement.

In cases where it is suspected that the insurer denied the claim without conducting a reasonable investigation, the case against the insurer may strengthen, since the insurance company may be breaking the law.

If your attorney has contacted the insurer, and the insurer still denies the claim, the next step may be to file a lawsuit against the insurer. The more evidence you have, and the more serious the damages, the better chance a law team has to secure compensation. When you consult with an attorney, let them know all the information you have, so they can make a better decision about whether or not to pursue legal action.

Have Questions After a Serious Car Accident?

Even if you have insurance, the scary fact is that sometimes your claim will get denied, even when an accident wasn’t your fault. That’s why uninsured motorist coverage is so valuable, and why you should take care to document every detail of the accident for your protection.

If you’ve been in a serious car accident and had your claim denied, contact Pittman, Dutton & Hellums for a free consultation.

Carpool Accidents: What Parents Should Know

Carpool Accidents: What Parents Should Know

It’s back-to-school season, and that means juggling school lunches, sports schedules and carpool routines. Collaborating with other parents on a way to get your brood and theirs off to school can save time and hassle. But if your kids or the kids you’re driving are in a serious car accident, the stress you tried to avoid can turn into something bigger – maybe even a lawsuit.

Carpools are common, and accidents happen. You may imagine horror stories of being sued if you’re the driver in an accident where someone else’s kids are involved, but there are ways to stay protected. You can keep the carpool going, take steps to stay safe, and make sure your finances are safeguarded even after a carpool accident.

Carpool Accidents: What Parents Should Know First, Never Drive Without Insurance

Driving without insurance in Alabama is considered a misdemeanor and violates the Mandatory Liability Insurance Act. If you are a parent who is considering letting your kids ride in the car of another driver, you should make sure the driver has insurance first. As kids get older, and teenagers start driving, this becomes more of a consideration.

When you intend to drive others, liability coverage is essential. This helps cover the expenses of other passengers involved in a car accident where you are the driver. You should check that any driver who will drive your child also has liability coverage in case your child is injured in an accident.

If your child will be riding with another driver, underinsured motorist coverage also protects your finances. If the at-fault driver does not have liability insurance, you may have to pay the extra expenses to cover medical bills and damages that are not covered by the other driver’s insurance. In the case of a carpool, the underinsured driver may be the one driving your child, or another driver who causes a carpool accident.

Remove Distractions from Your Car

Distracted driving is a major problem with U.S. motorists, especially teenagers. Distracted driving is to blame for about 25 percent of all motor vehicle crash fatalities, reports TeenSafe. It’s responsible for more than 58 percent of teen crashes, and teens are the largest age group that has been distracted while driving in fatal crashes. Know these stats before you let your child carpool with a teenager. Take precautions to reinforce non-distracted driving standards for those who drive your kids.

In your own car, make sure you stay safe as a driver by barring distractions from your passengers. Do not allow kids to use electronic devices with sound on – and consider banning them from the car altogether. Make sure everyone is buckled up before you take off, so there’s no need to scramble once you’re on the road. You could even create some sort of quiet game that rewards passengers for staying calm during the ride.

What About Carpool Contracts?

Carpool contracts or liability waivers aren’t likely to mean much after an accident. A person who signs a waiver is not promising acceptance of negligence. Examples of negligence that may contribute to a carpool accident include:

  • The driver is using technology while driving
  • The driver is intoxicated or under the influence of drugs
  • The driver is distracted in another way, such as by taking their eyes off the road to face a passenger
  • The driver takes a call while driving
  • The driver uses unsafe driving behaviors, such as speeding or aggressively driving

Someone who signs a waiver would not be granting the driver permission to act with negligence. A waiver is more of a sign of goodwill that in the case of an accident, an insurance claims process would be pursued, with damages being handled that way. But a waiver is never a guarantee, and it won’t be held up in court.

Carpool Accidents: What Parents Should Know What Happens After a Carpool Accident?

Actions to take after a serious carpool accident depend on whether you are the driver or your child is the passenger.

If You Are the Driver

If you are the driver of a carpool, first consider extra steps to stay protected as a driver. If you intend on driving safely but want to protect yourself from being accused of negligence, you could use a body camera or car camera to record you while driving. If someone accuses you of negligence, you then have video proof of your safe driving behavior.

After a carpool accident where kids are your passengers, make sure kids are in a safe position, and call emergency services. All minors should get check out for possible medical issues, since some may not be able to fully express pain and injuries they have.

Give an honest statement to police, and ask any witnesses at the scene to remain to also talk with police. Document the scene by taking photos of the vehicles and any injuries the passengers have.

Exchange insurance and personal information with the other motorists. Call the parents of the children, let them know what happened, and share the insurance information you have gathered with them. Get a police report number you can share with other parents.

If You’re the Parent of an Injured Child

If you are the parent of an injured child, talk with the parent driver about everything that occurred with the accident. Document the details yourself. Ask for a copy of the police report. Make sure your child gets all adequate medical attention, and keep organized medical records. Ask your child for details about what they can remember that happened before the accident, and document what they say.

If your child is seriously injured or dies while in a carpool vehicle, you should contact a Birmingham car accident attorney. Carpool accidents can get complicated. Even if your friend was the one driving the car, their negligence may have contributed to a serious injury that results in great pain and suffering for your child, plus costly medical bills for your family.

In some cases, a carpool driver may claim it was a child’s fault for the accident, such as accusing the child of distracting them, throwing something on them, spilling something on them, etc. The driver in a carpool accident may even pursue compensation your own family if they want to protect themselves and claim your child was the cause of the accident.

Serious accidents involving your close contacts are rarely a simple, straightforward situation. When serious injuries or even death is involved, contact a lawyer to stay protected.

What to Do After an Accident with a Driver from Another State

What to Do After an Accident with a Driver from Another State

If you live in Alabama, we probably don’t have to tell you all the reasons why our great state is a tourist destination for people from around the world. AL.com reports Alabama has set records in the number of visitors coming to Alabama and tourism expenditures for seven years in a row, reaching an all-time high in 2017 with 26 million travelers. White-sand beaches, gorgeous state parks and some of the tastiest food available are just a few factors driving tourism to Alabama.

More tourists means more people on Alabama roads, especially during the summer. Being in a car accident at any time can be a scary experience, but when you’re in an accident with someone who doesn’t live in the state, you might be wondering how to handle the accident. Is anything different? What steps should you take to protect yourself? What things should you be aware of? Here are some answers to the question of what to do after an accident with a driver from another state.

What to Do After an Accident with a Driver from Another State What Driving Laws Apply?

With any car accident, typically the state in which the car accident occurs determines which driving laws must be followed. This means, if you’re in an accident in Alabama with a vacationer who is not from Alabama, they must still be following Alabama driving laws. If they’re not, that could affect a car accident claim.

Some interesting Alabama driving laws residents may not even be aware of include:

  • Going down a hill in neutral is illegal.
  • Driving over a fire hose in the street is illegal.
  • It is illegal to drive while blindfolded.

If you’re in a car accident with a driver who is exhibiting illegal driving behaviors like these, it’s important to let the police who come to the scene know about them. Documenting evidence at any car crash is essential to help increase a claim’s likelihood of success. Even factors like dark window tinting may be illegal, so it’s important to note everything about the other driver’s vehicle and driving behavior after an accident.

What to Do After an Accident with a Driver from Another State Steps to Take When You’re in an Accident with a Tourist

After you’re in any car accident, you should take the following steps, whether it’s with someone who lives in Alabama or with someone who is in from out of town.

Move Out of Danger

Move the vehicles to the side of the road, unless there is threat of fire or an explosion. In that case, flee from the vehicle as far away as possible. If you are seriously injured and can’t move, ask for someone to dial 911.

Call Emergency Services

Even if you are not obviously seriously injured immediately after the accident, it’s wise to call emergency services. Before they arrive, note details about the other vehicle(s), including license plate number, state, and vehicle make and model, in case the other parties in the accident flee the scene. Police can document the accident and gather information from the other driver. You may have injuries that aren’t immediately apparent, so consider taking medical services offered, too.

Document the Scene

For the police report and for your own records, take photos of the vehicles and any injuries you have. Note what state of mind the other driver is in and anything they mention, such as an apology or an admittance of guilt. Be aware of any forms of negligence that may have contributed to the accident, such as a driver driving while intoxicated or while looking at directions on a smartphone. Be honest with what you communicate to police.

Gather Information

Make sure you get the full contact information of the other driver(s), including driver’s license number, license plate, insurance company and policy number, and vehicle description. If there were witnesses at the accident, also ask for their names and contact information, and point police to talk to them.

Don’t Incriminate Yourself

A common first instinct in car accidents is to apologize. Avoid doing this, because it can hurt your claim. Also, never sign anything that is not given to you by police or your insurance company. For example, if the other driver wants you to sign some sort of proof of the accident before police arrive, do not.

Contact a Birmingham Car Accident Attorney

Insurance companies will want to pay as little compensation as possible for an accident. The company that represents the other driver(s) will especially want to work on their clients’ behalf, which could mean less for you.

If you’ve had serious injuries while in a car accident with someone from another state, before talking with your insurance company, you should contact a Birmingham car accident lawyer. You may even experience a case where the out-of-state driver doesn’t have proper car insurance, or where the driver is not properly licensed. In instances like these, protection is vital.

A lawyer will be able to navigate the complexities of the insurance system and protect you so you get the full compensation you deserve. Dealing with another party who doesn’t even live in the same state as you can get complicated. An attorney will be your advocate and work on your behalf.

Pittman Dutton and Hellums

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