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.
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.
Alabama Airbag Recall
Officials are reporting that over 200,000 Alabama residents are driving with defective airbags. Approximately 700,000 airbags were originally identified as defective in Alabama. As of August 2019, roughly 35% of these airbags remain unrepaired.
According to the U.S. Department of Transportation National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), roughly 41.6 million vehicles are equipped with defective Takata airbags. The airbags are under recall due to the fact they can explode during deployments, causing serious injury and death.
The NHTSA strongly urges all vehicle owners to:
Why this recall is particularly important for Alabama residents
Over time, exposure to high heat and humidity increases the risk and potential of a serious injury, or even death during an airbag deployment. The NHTSA considers Alabama to be a “Zone A” region – the most dangerous and time sensitive designation.
Alabama residents should also be aware, certain 2001-2003 Honda & Acura vehicles, as well as 2006 Ford Rangers and Mazda B-series trucks are at a far higher risk of a life threatening airbag explosion.
The vehicles below are on the NHTSA’s “Do not drive list” and should be repaired immediately.
2001-2002 Honda Civic
2001-2002 Honda Accord
2002-2003 Acura TL
2002 Honda CR-V
2002 Honda Odyssey
2003 Acura CL
2003 Honda Pilot
Certain 2006 Ford Ranger (Ford advises do not drive)
Certain 2006 Mazda B-Series (Mazda advises do not drive)
New test data on the defective Takata airbag inflators in these vehicles show a far higher risk of ruptures during air bag deployment than for other recalled Takata air bags.
If you have identified your vehicle to have a defective air bag, it is imperative you have the repair done as soon as possible. Recall repairs are 100% free and parts for high risk vehicles are in good supply in Alabama Dealerships. Many are offering free towing and even a loaner vehicle to assist affected owners.
Vehicle manufacturers are making several outreach efforts to alert and help Alabama vehicle owners schedule their free recall repairs. Examples of these efforts include:
- In September, the National Safety Council and several manufacturers hosted the Airbag Recall Repair Month in Alabama. Participating dealerships are standing by ready to repair your vehicle for free. Several Dealerships are extending their hours and offering alternative transportation.
- General Motors is working to ensure that the 3,300 unrepaired owners residing in Alabama are made aware that their vehicle has an open urgent airbag safety recall. GM continues to communicate to these owners through a variety of channels: direct mailings, emails, live phone calls, automated phone calls, text messages and online/social media advertisements. GM vehicles affected include: 2007-2008 Chevrolet Silverado HD; 2007-2008 GMC Sierra HD; 2003-2010 Pontiac Vibe; 2008-2009 Saturn Astra; 2005-2006 Saab 9-2X; 2006-2011 Saab 9-3; and 2006-2009 Saab 9-5.
- Manufactures, in partnership with the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency (ALEA) mailed recall letters to more than 200,000 affected vehicle owners using the ALEA emblem to encourage owners to schedule their FREE airbag repair at a local dealership. An example from Volkswagen can be found here.
For more information about these and other efforts by affected vehicle manufacturers, please visit:
If you are a loved one have been seriously injured or killed by a defective airbag, our attorneys are ready to help. Call Pittman, Dutton & Hellums today for a free case evaluation.
You never think it’s going to happen to you.
You’re on your way to the grocery store, thinking about buying groceries for your family.
You’re running late for an appointment, an exercise class, maybe even a date, trying to maintain your focus on the speed limit.
You’re headed across town (or across the country) to visit a loved one, imagining the smile breaking out across their face as you emerge from the car.
If you had any inkling that today might be the day that your car collided with another vehicle—the day that sends you into a tailspin of physical, financial and legal turmoil—you would have had no trouble focusing on the road for signs of possible danger.
But you didn’t know. You didn’t think. Because nobody thinks it will happen to them, until it does.
Don’t Navigate Your Recovery Alone
In the aftermath of a car accident, your brain and body kick into high gear over one crucial issue: survival. Anything that doesn’t involve you getting out of the vehicle and out of danger will fade away into a distant blur. You may find yourself sitting by the side of the road, staring into space, unable to decide whom to call or to answer questions about where you were going or what happened in the crash.
This brain fog is normal to feel, and it will often persist for days or even weeks after the crash. Unfortunately, it can be a huge disadvantage when communicating with law enforcement or insurance companies about the accident. Many car accident victims have trouble remembering the pertinent details of their collision. Guesswork on the part of the victim means guesswork on the part of authorities. And that, in the long run, usually means that the victim is left to navigate their recovery alone.
It’s precisely for this reason that your first call, after having a car accident, should be to a good attorney.
After the initial impact, a car accident brings a labyrinth of consequences. Navigating them requires research, documentation, and a thorough knowledge of state law. When you’re in the midst of recovering from the trauma of a car accident, these are the last things you want to have to deal with. And yet dealing with them is essential to your future health, both physical and financial.
Here are the main areas that a good car accident lawyer can help with:
The biggest and most obvious effect of a car accident is the damage to your vehicle. The insurance company will be first in line to assess the damage, decide how much to pay for repairs, and which of the two parties’ coverage will pay.
When you’ve been the victim of a car accident, it’s very difficult to wait through the process while these decisions are being made. Even worse, though, is the discovery that your insurance company’s claim offer is insufficient to fully cover your repair or replacement costs.
Arguing with your insurance company and pressing for your rights is not something that you should have to do while you are recovering from an accident. Having a good car accident attorney is essential to getting a fair estimate of the damages and making sure that your claim is fully honored.
It’s not uncommon for victims of a car accident to walk away feeling more or less unhurt. In all but the very worst cases, victims will often refuse the help of an ambulance because they feel merely “shaken up.” This is rarely a reliable state of mind; the truth is that they are in shock, and the survival reaction of adrenaline is fueling them through the moments and even hours after the accident. It’s only later, after the victim has had a chance to rest, that the true extent of their injury will reveal itself.
At this point, it may be too late to seek redress. Insurance companies will usually call within a few hours of the accident to begin assessing the damages. It’s not an easy thing to get back to your insurer 24 hours or more after the fact and change your story from “I’m not hurt” to “My ribs are bruised and I’m having migraines.”
Even if you are able to specify your injuries, it’s all too common for victims to receive pushback on their claims. It’s standard procedure for most insurance companies to avoid paying more than absolutely necessary; many of them will press the victim to admit that the injuries are less serious than originally stated.
What this often leads to is long-term physical damage, because the victim will avoid the doctor/chiropractor because they are afraid they cannot pay for it, and believe that the condition (whiplash, recurring headaches, etc.) will go away on its own.
A car accident attorney has experience working with insurance providers to make sure car accident victims receive the full amount they are owed. A car accident attorney will also let you know exactly how to keep records of all expenses involved in crash-related injuries (including doctor’s visits, medicine, sometimes even commuting) so that you don’t wind up in the position of paying for your own injury.
On top of all this, if injuries from the accident prevent you from moving on with your life—for instance, mental anguish that affects your ability to do your job, or a long-term physical impairment that impacts your entire life—a car accident attorney will be able to help you in receiving compensation for the accident’s effect on your future.
One of the biggest questions in the aftermath of a car accident is “Whose fault was it?”
Believe it or not, determining fault is not always an either/or between the two vehicle drivers.
For example, many car accidents can be traced back to a defect or a malfunction in the vehicle, one that the driver may never have been aware of. A car accident lawyer will know exactly how to follow up with the authorities and with the car manufacturer.
At other times, the road condition is to blame for a vehicular accident. Things as small as an unlevel paving job or poor signage can have huge consequences for cars. If your accident is caused by poorly maintained roads, a good lawyer can call the proper governmental agency to account for your accident.
Act Within Your Window of Time
Federal, state and local law leave a very narrow window for claims to be filed in the aftermath of a car accident. This time limit is called the statute of limitations, and it varies from one state to another. That’s why it is important to have a number on file and know exactly whom you will contact in case of a car accident.
Remember, calling a lawyer after your car accident does not necessarily mean initiating a lawsuit. It is simply an opportunity to consult an experienced professional and find out what your rights are. Too many car accident victims are unaware that they even have rights, and that they may be entitled not only to the insurance payout to fix their vehicle, but to resources that will help them recover.
Be assured that a lawsuit is very rare in cases of car accident. The fact is that having a lawyer on your side is often all that is needed when dealing with insurance companies and other parties to make sure that negotiations are fair and that you receive the compensation you deserve.
The Bottom Line
What car accident victims feel, more than anything, after surviving a collision is gratitude to just be alive. While this is indeed important and a cause for profound gratitude, don’t forget that you deserve not only to live, but to recover the life that you had before this accident happened to you. Hiring an experienced attorney can make all the difference between tragedy and true healing.