f you’ve been seriously injured, you know that it can be a stressful and complicated experience. Inevitably, you’ll be dealing with medical appointments and the bills that come with them, possible time missed from work, pain, suffering and the possibility that returning to “normal” life is never an option again.
Personal injuries are common. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports there are 92.2 million physician office visits for injuries a year and 41.6 million trips to emergency departments for injuries. When your injury was caused by someone else’s negligence, another consideration must be addressed: whether or not you should file a lawsuit.
A personal injury lawyer can help you obtain compensation for the wrongful acts of others. A Birmingham personal injury law firm like PDH will offer a free consultation, so you can see if a case is worth pursuing. Here are five signs you should, at the very least, get a consultation because you may have a viable personal injury claim.
1. Your Injuries Are Serious
What is considered a serious injury? If you have gone through any of the following, you’ve experienced a serious injury.
- You had to receive emergency treatment
- You stayed at a hospital
- Your injury required more than one doctor’s visit to treat
- Your injury resulted in long-term disability, loss of a limb, etc.
- Your injury will require some kind of treatment for the rest of your life
If your injury was caused by the negligence of another person, it’s time to contact an attorney.
2. There is Evidence to Support Your Claim
Evidence is a critical component for successful serious personal injury cases. The types of evidence that can be beneficial in a personal injury case include:
- A negligent driver was under the influence of drugs or alcohol when they caused a car accident
- A product was defective, whether it was an exploding phone that blew up in your face or an airbag that failed to deploy
- After the accident that caused a personal injury, you took photos or videos that show factors that can help prove negligence
The statements from witnesses of the accident are extremely helpful. It is crucial to file a police report after an accident resulting in personal injury. The police report will record all of the details and can be used for your case.
3. The Insurance Companies Are Less Than Helpful
Insurance companies are often difficult to deal with. They may offer you a low-ball settlement or may deny your claim altogether. Insurance companies are in business to make money, not to help victims. If the insurance company offers you a low offer, is unresponsive or denies your claim, an attorney can help.
Ideally, you should contact a personal injury law firm before contacting the at fault parties insurance company. Many times insurance companies will bombard a victim with questions in an attempt to trick them into misstating facts about the accident or even admitting erroneously admitting fault. Personal injury lawyers are adept in dealing with insurance companies, can help negotiate your settlement and prevent you from incriminating yourself.
4. Expert Witnesses Are Necessary
Testimony from expert witnesses can help some personal injury cases. For example, some types of personal injuries occur due to medical malpractice, when a physician’s negligence causes serious injuries that may be life-threatening. In cases like these, a medical expert witness can provide expert testimony that helps explain why the physician was negligent.
When you’re facing someone who caused your injury, but you’re unable to fully understand or explain why a personal injury lawyer who is experienced in cases like yours will be able to call on the right witness connections to help your case.
5. Multiple Parties Are Involved
When you’re dealing with more than one party in a personal injury case, like a car accident with multiple drivers, for example, everyone’s liability may be called into question by various parties. These types of cases may make liability unclear and will mean that gathering witness statements, evidence and possibly expert witness testimony is necessary.
To protect yourself from being accused of being negligent by other parties, when you’re really not to blame, and to go after the appropriate negligent party, you can work with a personal injury lawyer. Personal injury lawyers have experience in cases with multiple parties and will work in your best interest.
Contingency Fees Protect Your Finances
Pittman, Dutton & Hellums works on a contingency basis. This means our law firm will only take on a personal injury case they believe can be won. We’re only paid if your case wins, as well.
You have nothing to lose by contacting a personal injury lawyer for a consultation. The statute of limitation limits the time frame in which you can file a claim, so it’s best to contact one sooner than later.If you or a loved one has been in an accident our Birmingham accident attorneys will fight for your best interests and will take your case to trial if necessary, please PDH at (205) 900-4188.
Alabama traffic statistics paint a grim picture: on average, there are more than 420 car crashes a day in Alabama. That equates to more than 47,650 people who are injured a year, and nearly 1,000 people who died in car crashes in 2016. Those who drive in Alabama are twice as likely to die in car crashes compared to average Americans.
Car crashes in Alabama are largely caused by preventable causes. Driving issues like tailgating, failing to yield the right of way, improper lane change and speeding are all preventable causes of car crashes. When someone’s negligence causes a car crash that results in serious personal injury or death, the offending party may be liable for damages.
To avoid becoming a car crash offender, it’s important to be aware of and follow all Alabama driving laws. These laws are in place to keep you and other drivers on the road safe. Following them can help you avoid an accident and protect you in case you’re a party involved with a car crash.
First Thing’s First: Carry Legal Driving Documentation
Only get on the road if you are licensed to drive in the United States. Proper Alabama driving documentation identifies you to police who come to the scene of a car crash. If you drive without it, you could face fines and bigger problems if you’re involved in a crash.
If you’re going to drive in Alabama, make sure you have:
- Valid driver’s license from your home state or home country
- Driver’s insurance
- International Driving Permit if you’re from outside of the United States
It doesn’t matter if you’re coming from out of state or out of the country when you drive in Alabama. All drivers in Alabama must adhere to Alabama driving laws, detailed below.
Obey the Speed Limit
Obey all speed limit postings. On interstate highways in Alabama, the maximum speed limit is 70 miles per hour, unless otherwise marked.
Drive in the Right Lane
Using the left lane on interstate highways in Alabama is illegal unless you are using it for passing. Otherwise, long-term driving must be done in a lane other than the left lane.
Your car must have two highbeam headlights that can illuminate objects at least 350 feet away. You must turn on headlights from 30 minutes after sunset to 30 minutes before sunrise. If you’re driving in the rain, Alabama law requires the use of lowbeam headlights.
Contact Police After an Accident
Never leave the scene of an Alabama car crash. Contact law enforcement. If someone involved in an accident needs first aid, a capable driver involved should also call for emergency services.
Don’t Drive Drunk or Transport Alcohol into Alabama
Driving while intoxicated is illegal, and drivers driving under the influence of alcohol with a blood alcohol content of 0.08 percent or above may be charged with driving under the influence. Bringing alcohol into Alabama when it was purchased outside of Alabama is also illegal. Don’t carry it in your car if you purchased it from another state.
Don’t Smoke or Transport Tobacco If You’re Under the Age of 19
It’s illegal for those ages 18 years old and younger to use, possess or transport tobacco or tobacco products. If you’re underage and are caught smoking while driving or have cigarettes or other tobacco products in your car and are pulled over, you may face a charge.
Be Aware of Buses
If a school, church or other bus that is marked with flashing lights and stop signals stops in your vicinity, you are required by law to stop and wait until passengers get on or off. Even if you’re approaching the bus from a road and are not directly behind it, you must still stop and let it proceed before crossing it.
If you’re riding in the front, either as the driver or a front-seat passenger, you must wear a seatbelt, according to Alabama law. Any children under the age of 15 years old must wear a seat belt wherever they are in the vehicle or be in a child safety seat, which is mandatory for children ages 4 years old and younger.
Stop at Red
Right turns after stop signs and red lights are only permitted after a driver makes a full stop and sees that the lane is clear. If a sign is posted that forbids a right turn, the driver must obey the sign.
Put Down the Phone
Texting or using one’s smartphone to send an email while driving is illegal in Alabama. If you’re looking at your phone and cause a car crash, the victim could claim your distracted driving negligence was the car accident cause and pursue a claim against you.
Pay Attention to Emergency Vehicles
If you see an emergency vehicle with flashing lights, move as far to the right as possible, and stop until the emergency vehicle passes. If a driver in Alabama is approaching an emergency vehicle that is stopped and has flashing emergency lights activated, the motorist’s next action will depend on how many lanes there are.
If there are four or more lanes, like on a freeway, the driver must move over at least one lane or slow down to at least 15 miles per hour below the posted speed limit if moving over is not possible. If there are two lanes, the driver must move over as far as they can without exiting the lane and slow down to at least 15 miles per hour below the posted speed limit.
Follow Motorcycle Laws
If you’re riding a motorcycle in Alabama, be aware of these additional laws:
- You must wear a helmet while on a motorcycle.
- You must have a passenger seat if you are carrying a passenger.
- You must have at least one mirror on the motorcycle.
- Motorcycle handlebars must be no higher than 15 inches above the seat.
- You are not allowed to pass another vehicle in the same lane.
- You are not allowed to ride between lanes.
What to Do If Someone Breaks the Law and Causes Your Car Crash
If you are following all Alabama driving laws and someone breaks the law and causes your car crash, you may be entitled to compensation. Make sure to:
Pittman, Dutton & Hellums offers free no-obligation car accident consultations. Contact us online or at (866) 722-0250 for information on if we can help you.
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.
Pedestrians usually have the right-of-way on roads, but there are several instances where a pedestrian could be the cause of a serious car accident you’re involved in. Such times include:
A pedestrian runs out into oncoming traffic where there is no crosswalk.
A pedestrian enters a crosswalk when there is a “do not walk” signal, not a “walk” signal.
A pedestrian crosses the road at an unmarked location, when there’s a crosswalk or working crossing signal close by.
A pedestrian crosses an intersection diagonally when there is no traffic control sign directing them to.
A pedestrian is intoxicated or under the influence of drugs while walking on a road.
A pedestrian is walking on the road even though there’s a sidewalk available to walk on.
Pedestrians pose a serious danger to themselves when they don’t follow traffic laws. In 2017, pedestrian fatalities reached a 25-year high, with nearly 6,000 pedestrians killed. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports there were nearly 130,000 pedestrians who received medical help in emergency rooms for non-fatal crash-related injuries in 2015. Alabama has the eighth-highest rate of pedestrian fatalities in the country. Most pedestrian deaths occur at night, in non-intersection locations and in urban areas.
When a motorist tries to avoid a pedestrian who is breaking the law, the driver could cause harm to themselves or another motorist, all in an attempt to avoid a pedestrian.
If you are involved in a car accident where the pedestrian caused the accident, you may be able to obtain compensation for your injuries, time missed off work, car repairs and more. Here’s what you should know about what to do when a pedestrian causes your car accident.
At the Accident Scene
Whether you hit a pedestrian or swerve to avoid one and end up causing a car accident, you must stay at the scene of the car accident and wait for police to arrive. If the pedestrian is attempting to flee, do not chase after them, because you’d be leaving the scene of the accident. There might be other parties who are potentially injured, as well.
Try to take a photo of the pedestrian immediately after the accident and observe identifying characteristics of the pedestrian, like height and clothes. Note the direction they are heading in, and call police immediately.
If there are other witnesses at the scene, such as motorists who have stopped at the accident, ask them to remain at the scene until police come so they can provide an account of what happened. At the very least, get their contact information in case your legal team needs to contact them in the future.
Be honest to police about what caused the accident. Carefully detail what the pedestrian was doing and how they contributed to the accident. Tell police where the pedestrian headed if they left.
If the pedestrian is still at the scene, get their full name, phone number, email address and insurance information. Take their photo, as well.
You should also document the scene of the accident. Shoot photos of your car and any other cars involved in the accident. Take photos of your injuries. Exchange insurance and contact information with the other driver(s). Make sure any other parties involved with the accident talk to police about their account of how the pedestrian caused the accident, too.
Get medical treatment. Your shock from the accident may lead you to believe you are injury-free, but there are many injuries that might not be immediately apparent that you may have experienced. You should get emergency treatment and go to a hospital if needed, or at the very least head to urgent care to get checked out. If you don’t do so and experience painful symptoms later, another party could claim that something other than the car accident caused your injury.
After the Accident
If a pedestrian caused your car accident, you should consult with a Birmingham car accident attorney right away. It may be in your best interest to file a lawsuit against the pedestrian because their negligent behavior put you and the lives of other motorists in danger.
Create a binder where you store your evidence, medical files, a copy of the police report and documentation of your injury progression. An Alabama car accident lawyer who is versed in motorist rights and laws pedestrians must follow may be able to help you piece together a case that protects you and your finances in this distressing time.
Even though you were the one in the massive machine of a car, pedestrians must obey traffic laws that keep communities safe. Do not hesitate to contact Pittman, Dutton & Hellums for a free consultation on your case and how we may be able to help. Call (866) 722-0250, call or text (205) 900-4188, or contact us online for information.
If you’re the owner of a 2017 Ford Focus, you may have received an important safety recall notice in December 2018. In October 2018, Ford announced it was recalling more than 1.2 million of its 2012 to 2018 Ford Focus cars because of a faulty part that may cause unexpected stalling. The company discovered the problem stemming due to a stuck canister purge valve within the fuel vapor system, which can lead to excessive vacuum and cause the plastic fuel tank to malfunction. This can result in:
- An erratic or inaccurate fuel gauge indication
- An inaccurate distance to empty
- Other drivability concerns, which can all lead to an engine stall while driving
Ford says it will have parts ready for a repair by the first quarter of 2019. Owners of affected vehicles can get their cars repaired for free through Ford.
Getting a safety recall like this for your vehicle can be alarming. We use our cars for so much of our daily lives, so you might be wondering how to proceed and how to stay safe. Read on for information on when a recall is necessary and what to do if your car is recalled.
Why Do Recalls Happen?
Vehicle recalls may originate from the manufacturer or from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) when it’s determined that a vehicle component creates an unreasonable safety risk or does not meet minimum safety standards. Manufacturers have the responsibility to ensure their products are safe to use.
Vehicles are serious machines. They weigh thousands of pounds and can be deadly when they don’t work properly.
When there is a safety problem with a vehicle, it is up to the manufacturer to fix it. This may mean replacing entire vehicles or reimbursing customers for them, or repairing the problem.
How Will You Be Notified of a Vehicle Recall?
Vehicle recall notifications are sent by letters in the mail. The recall will be sent to your address that is on your vehicle registration, so you should always make sure that address is up-to-date.
You can also sign up for the NHTSA’s email recall notification system. You’ll receive automatic updates on vehicles and parts that have been recalled, including school buses, motorcycles, car seats and tires, or you can select your make and model and whatever parts you’re interested in for custom notifications.
You can also always look up possible recalls on your car here. Make sure you have your 17-digit Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) to look up the recall. You can idenfity the VIN on the lower left part of your vehicle’s windshield, on your vehicle’s registration paperwork, and possibly on your insurance information.
Even if you don’t receive a notification from the manufacturer about a recall, if your vehicle is affected, you are entitled to receive the free remedy the manufacturer is offering.
Steps to Take After a Vehicle Recall
Follow all instructions set forth in the recall notice. If dealers are ready to make repairs, schedule an appointment with your dealer as soon as possible. Bring your recall letter with you.
If your dealer refuses to make the repair according to the recall letter for free, you should notify the manufacturer. Try to gather as many details as possible, including the name of the dealership and any employees you dealt with. You can also make a complaint at www.safecar.gov.
What If Your Car Is Not Recalled, But There’s a Safety Issue?
If you’re experiencing safety issues with your vehicle, other drivers may be, too. Get it repaired and listen to your technician’s recommendations.
You can then report your vehicle or the equipment safety problem to the NHTSA here. If there are similar reports from other drivers, the NHTSA may open up an investigation that can help keep you and other drivers safe. All personal information you submit is kept private, but an NHTSA investigator may call you to follow up. The NHTSA reviews every online report it receives, and it may open up an investigation at any time, not only after it receives a certain number of reports.
What to Do If You’re a Victim of a Recalled Vehicle
If you are seriously injured in a car accident due to a recalled vehicle or recalled vehicle part, you should contact a Birmingham car accident lawyer as soon as possible. Manufacturer negligence can result in serious injuries or even death. Your rights as a consumer deserve to be protected.
Contact the Pittman, Dutton & Hellums car accident attorney team for a free, no-obligation consultation. We only take on your case if we think we can win, and you don’t pay unless we do.