According to the latest data from the U.S. Department of Transportation, there were nearly 6.3 million car crashes in the United States in 2015, a number that was the highest it had been in more than 10 years. Out of those crashes, there were 32,166 fatalities and more than 1.7 million injuries. Nearly one in three car crashes will result in a serious injury or fatality. If you drive, you should be prepared to take steps to protect yourself if you are in a car crash, and that includes gathering the proper records and evidence in case you decide to pursue a car accident claim.
If you were in a car accident caused by the negligence of another party, and you pursue a car insurance claim or personal injury lawsuit against them, the success of your claim or lawsuit will depend on your ability to prove fault and the extent of your damages. Having proper paperwork helps your case.
Car accidents can be jarring and stressful. Make sure you keep these records so that you have peace of mind you have all the documents you need, should you decide to pursue legal action if the negligence of another made you a car accident victim.
1. Police Report
If you’re seriously injured in a car accident, it’s always a good idea to call 911. Police can file a formal report of the scene of the accident, as well as interview witnesses and the other parties involved. A police report is a document that holds major clout in the eyes of insurance companies and in court.
When talking with police, be honest about what happened, but do not make statements that place fault or blame on you if you are a victim. In the stress of the car accident environment, sometimes victims offer an apology, even when they did nothing wrong. Don’t do this.
As you talk to police, be sure to point out:
- Any traffic violations the other party carried out
- Any suspicious behavior you observe in the other party, such as the smell of alcohol or marijuana
- Anything the other party said, such as admitting guilt
If there are witnesses of the car accident, ask them to stay at the scene until police arrive, so police can question them, as well. At the very least, ask for the name, driver’s license number and phone number/email address of witnesses, so they can be contacted for statements later.
Get a copy of the police report by contacting the police department that came to the scene. Give your name and the names of any other drivers involved, as well as the name/badge number of the officer who came to the scene, and the date and location of the accident. You’ll want to take note of all this information at the accident scene.
In addition to the police report, it’s helpful to document your own evidence of the car accident. Shoot photos or videos of the damage to your car, as well as damage to any other vehicles involved. If property was harmed in the accident, take photos and videos of that. If there are signs of a car accident like skid marks, take photos of those, too.
You can also document any physical injuries to you or other passengers. If you hear questionable statements from any party, write them down in addition to telling police about them. If your injuries prevent you from gathering evidence at the car accident scene, ask someone for help in doing so, including from police.
After the accident, you may also want to contact businesses close by, who may have had video surveillance and footage of the accident. A video of the accident while it occurred can be extremely helpful.
3. Medical Records
It’s essential to keep all records of medical treatment you receive. It’s helpful to create a binder dedicated to housing all records from your car accident, so you have everything organized in one place. Make sure to keep all your bills in addition to treatment documents. Treatment documents include treatments received, diagnoses, prescribed medications and any other files that contain medical recommendations.
Your medical treatments may last months or more. Gather records that range from emergency medical services you receive at the scene of the accident, all the way to physical therapy that occurs weeks or months after the accident. Verbally request these at your appointments, or call the medical/billing department at your healthcare provider to obtain them.
If you have to miss time off work due to your injury, you’ll want to quantify how much money you’ve lost by showing proof of income. To do this, gather any pay stubs and/or tips records that show your income.
If you receive any documentation from your employer, keep those records, too. If your injury prevents you from returning to work altogether, keep any documentation that shows those losses.
5. Vehicle Repairs and Damage
As you get your vehicle repaired after the accident, keep all records documenting repair work. If your vehicle was totaled, you’ll want to get documentation that shows the estimated value of your car before it was destroyed. If your vehicle was towed away from the scene, contact the towing company and ask them to keep the vehicle intact until it can be examined and documented.
You can consult with several auto body repair shops to get an accurate estimate of damages. Your car insurance company will likely play a prominent role in assessing damages, as well, so retain all documents sent from them.
6. Personal Account
Because you may not file a claim or lawsuit until well after the car accident has occurred, the more details you can remember and have access to, the better. Keep in mind, though, that the statute of limitations for filing a personal injury lawsuit in Alabama is two years, which means you must file a lawsuit within two years of your accident.
To keep the details of your accident fresh in your mind, keep an accident journal. This will help especially when you provide testimony in your case. It will also be of great assistance to your legal team.
Begin your journal on the day of your accident. In your journal, document everything that happened at the scene of the accident and how your injuries progress. Also, note vehicle repair chronology. A journal can help you see how the severity of the accident impacts your life, from the medical treatment you have to receive, to how it affects your work. Make sure to date each entry and write about how you’re feeling physically, mentally and emotionally.
Contact a Birmingham Car Accident Lawyer for Help
If you are a car accident victim, the Birmingham car accident attorney team at Pittman, Dutton & Hellums can help. We offer no-obligation, free consultations and will only take on your case if we believe we can win. You don’t pay unless your case is successful.
If you’ve compiled records like those mentioned, those are helpful in how we determine what your case is worth. Contact us for a free consultation today.
You’ve had the unfortunate experience of being seriously injured, and you know the injury was caused by the negligence of another party. You need a personal injury lawyer to get you compensation for your medical bills, time missed off work and other costs associated with your injury. Now the question is, how do you choose the right personal injury attorney to work with?
Many personal injury lawyers work on a contingency basis. This means the lawyer only gets paid fees if you win your case. Also, many personal injury attorneys, like the Pittman, Dutton & Hellums team, will offer a free consultation to learn about your case, before they even offer to work with you. Because of the contingency model, many lawyers will not take on a case they don’t think they can win.
As a personal injury victim, you are in control of working with a lawyer you’re completely comfortable with, one who will fight for you and do everything possible to win your case. During any consultation with a personal injury lawyer, be sure to ask these nine questions to find the right match.
Enquire about experience working with personal injury cases, as well as overall law experience. You should ask about cases the potential lawyer has worked on that have dealt with personal injuries similar to yours. For example, if you had a slip and fall injury, but the lawyer you’re talking to has only worked on car accidents, that may be an issue for you.
2. Who will be working on my case?
The lawyer you hire may not always be the one doing the majority of the work. Some large law firms hand off work to interns or legal aides. If you want to have a solid relationship with the lawyer you’re working with throughout your case, ask about what items of your case they will work on directly, and which ones may get passed off.
3. What is my case worth?
Some lawyers you talk with may offer similar contingency fee percentages. If you’re deciding between a few good candidates, what the potential lawyer thinks your case is worth may be a considerable factor.
4. Are you prepared to take my case to trial?
Lawyers that are prepared to take your case to trial and who have experience doing so are vital to have in your corner. The difference between settling and fighting a case in court can be substantial for your compensation. Not all personal injury cases will go to trial, but you should hire a lawyer who can handle the work if it’s needed.
While a contingency fee basis means you won’t have to pay your lawyer up front, sometimes there are other fees associated with a case that the client will have to pay. These can include court reporter fees, expert witness fees and other fees. Some firms will have the client pay these fees immediately or after the case has concluded. Depending on your financial situation, you’ll want to know this information and how it may affect you.
6. May I speak to a past client?
Trustworthy law firms should be able to provide prospective clients with testimonials, as well as referrals to past clients. Speaking with a past client about how their case was handled can give you insight into what to expect and confirm you’ll get an ally in the attorney you hire.
7. What lawyer associations do you belong to?
In addition to certifications, it’s wise to work with a lawyer who is an active participant in lawyer associations that relate to personal injury law. You can research these associations to gauge what meaning they have to you and how experience in one may benefit your case. You can also ask about awards and accolades the lawyer has received.
8. What will my role in the case be?
This question can help a victim understand what type of client-lawyer relationship there will be in a case. A personal injury lawyer should learn everything about your injury and prep you on what to expect during your case and how you’ll be participating. If you want to be heavily involved or would prefer to be hands-off, make sure the lawyer you’re interviewing aligns with your goals.
9. Why should I work with you?
Use this question to gauge a lawyer’s interest in and confidence in your case and how they can contribute to get you the compensation you deserve. Your personal injury lawyer should have the time, energy and dedication to make your case a success. This open-ended question can provide the insight you need to make a decision.
400,000 Nissans Recalled Due to Potential Fire Hazard
A braking system defect is causing Nissan to recall nearly 400,000 vehicles in the U.S. The defect can cause the brakes to catch fire.
4 U.S. Nissan models are affected by the recall
- 2015 – 2018 Nissan Murano SUVs
- 2016-2018 Maxima Sedans
- 2017-2019 Nissan Pathfinder SUVs
- 2017-2019 Infinity QX60 SUVs
Nissan is advising owners of the above vehicles to park their cars away from structures if the anti-lock brake warning light comes on for more than 10 seconds.
According to Nissan, manufacturing variations may cause the affected vehicles to have an oil seal with inadequate sealing performance. The high-temperature environment of the braking system, coupled with leaking brake fluid can create a potential electrical short in the actuator circuit and lead to a fire.
Owners of the affected vehicles were sent a notice on 12/02/2019 advising them to park their vehicles outside and to contact Nissan or INFINITI Roadside assistance if their ABS warning light is displayed for 10 seconds or longer. In the event of an ABS warning display, the automaker can install a newly designed ABS actuator.
Nissan anticipates having the additional remedy parts available in the summer of 2020 and will notify owners via a second notice to bring their vehicles into their dealer for repair at no cost. The automaker’s letter to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration did not make it immediately clear if there were current owners whose vehicles caught fire. However, a quick glance at current complaints indicates several known incidents have occurred.
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.
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.
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.