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.
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.
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
5 Pittman, Dutton and Hellums Attorneys Named in 2020’s Top Lawyers in America
Birmingham, AL., August 15, 2019 – Best Lawyers® awarded five attorneys from the prestigious Alabama Law Firm, Pittman, Dutton & Hellums:
Chris T. Hellums was recognized and awarded as the Lawyer Of The Year for mass tort Litigation & class actions as well as being recognized and awarded as one of Americas Best Lawyers for his accomplishments in litigating anti-trust cases.
W. Lee Pittman was awarded with 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 Best Attorneys dating back to 1991.
Thomas E. Dutton was the recipient of the Americas Best Lawyers Award for his work in:
In 1986, Lee Pittman and Tom Dutton founded The PDH firm to be unique in its passionate representation of people who need help. Their reputation for integrity has helped them grow to be one of the most successful plaintiffs’ firms in Alabama. Their firm also serves clients nationwide, handling mass tort cases that range from pharmaceutical drug cases to medical device recalls. Their litigation and personal injury attorneys are highly skilled in handling contentious matters for clients. They have substantial experience in jury trials and in alternative dispute resolution procedures, including arbitrations and mediations.
If you’ve ever needed a ride somewhere, you may have used Uber, the most-recognizable, largest rideshare service on the planet. Current statistics of the usage are staggering. The convenience of ordering a ride on an application and getting one within mere minutes is tantalizing for many, but every time you ride as an Uber passenger, you’re also granting your health and safety to the control of the driver. If you’re in the scary situation of being in a car accident while someone from Uber is driving you, you may be wondering what action to take.
Uber is a software application that is used by independent contractors to perform the ridesharing service. This agreement means Uber drivers are not technically employees of Uber. Uber requires that all drivers have their own insurance policies, and Uber also manages an insurance policy that complements that of the driver. This is important, because typical car insurance coverage only covers personal driving, not commercial driving for employment.
The Uber insurance policy covers:
The driver’s liability to a third party, or you the passenger
Any injuries due to an uninsured or underinsured motorist
Collision and comprehensive coverage if the driver already has such coverage on their personal insurance
Despite this insurance coverage, getting the compensation you deserve when you’re in an accident as an Uber passenger can be difficult when you’re dealing with insurance companies and multiple entities. In 2014, an Uber driver who had a reckless driving conviction struck and killed a 6-year-old girl, and the company denied responsibility because the driver was not technically logged into the app.
As a for-profit business, Uber will take the action it needs to protect its finances. That’s why it’s so vital to take as many precautions as possible immediately, days and weeks after the accident to stay protected and get the full compensation you deserve.
Immediately After an Uber Accident
Immediately after an accident in an Uber vehicle, check for any injuries you, other passengers or the driver may have sustained. If the driver is unresponsive, do not touch them or attempt to move them. Immediately call emergency services in any case. Even if there are no apparent injuries, you’ll want a police witness and a police report to help you with your claim.
If there were witnesses to the accident, and you are able to talk with them, ask them to remain at the scene of the accident until police arrive. Ask for their full names and contact information, including phone number, address and email address, in case they need to be contacted in the future.
Document the scene by shooting photos or video footage of any injuries or property damage, including to the vehicle and the surrounding area. Get the full name, contact information and insurance information of the Uber driver, as well as all the same information from any other driver or party involved. Document any signs of negligence on behalf of the driver who, like previous Uber drivers, may have been hired by Uber despite having a risky driving background.
Accept any medical services that are offered to you, because you may have experienced an injury that is not immediately apparent or that is more serious than you realize. Keep all records of medical visits safe and organized.
The Uber help site recommends to contact Uber through the app to give accident details, but in most cases when you’re in an accident with an Uber driver, you should contact a lawyer first before speaking with a representative from Uber. Never admit you are at fault, which may compromise your case.
When You’re Home from an Uber Accident
After you’ve received treatment and have gone home after an Uber accident, contact your insurance company about the accident and provide them with everything they need. You may want to contact a car accident attorney in Birmingham for guidance, especially in case you are contacted by Uber or by the driver’s insurance carrier.
If you receive a claim that you believe is too low, or you think that negligence may have been a factor in the Uber car accident, it’s essential to consult with an attorney. If the Uber driver was tired, under the influence of drugs or alcohol, or not driving safely, you may have a substantial car accident personal injury case. Also, improper maintenance of the vehicle may have been a factor that compromised your safety.
Because ridesharing is a relatively new form of transportation that has only emerged in recent years, legal aspects to car accidents involving Uber drivers can become complicated and confusing to the average passenger. An experienced car accident lawyer can help you navigate the complexities to help you build a better case that obtains you justice.
Kids are back in school, and that might mean that your teenager is hitting the road more frequently. Unfortunately, motor vehicle crashes are the top cause of death for American teens, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). In 2015, more than 2,300 teens in the U.S. were killed in crashes, and more than 235,800 were treated in emergency rooms due to motor vehicle injuries.
Teens face unique driving threats when they’re behind the wheel and as passengers with other teen drivers. Here are some dangers to talk about with your teen so they stay safe driving during this school year.
Take Extra Care with Newly Licensed Drivers
Newly licensed teens make up one of the most at-risk groups of teen drivers, reports the CDC. The fatal crash rate is nearly twice as high for 16- and 17-year-olds compared to 18- and 19-year-olds.
If you have a teen who is just starting to drive, use these tips to keep them safe:
Set a good example. Buckle up every time you’re behind the wheel, especially when your teen is riding with you. Don’t look at your phone, keep your eyes on the road, lower the music, and employ safe driving habits.
Stop your teen from texting. There are apps like LifeSaver that prevent teens from using their phones while driving.
Spy on your kid. It might sound extreme, but you could install a dash cam to monitor your teen’s driving behavior, analyze it, and deem whether or not they’re OK to continue driving without you in the car.
Keep practicing with them. Even though your teen got their license, the more hours they put behind the wheel, the more of a driving expert they’ll become. Use nights and weekends to ride along with your teen and provide feedback to make them safer drivers.
You could also set a limit on who can ride along in the car with them. If your teen gets into a car accident and someone else is injured, their negligence could result in a lawsuit against your family.
Reiterate Sober Driving
Your child is not legally allowed to drink alcohol until they’re 21 years old anyway, but most parents realize substance abuse in high school may be a temptation. As a parent, talk with your child about the dangers of alcohol and illegal drugs. Drinking before driving:
Decreases muscle coordination, which negatively impacts balance, speech, vision, reaction time and hearing
Makes it more difficult to detect danger
Impairs judgment, self-control, reasoning, memory, concentration, speed control, information processing capability and perception
If your teen is driving to and from a party, remind them not to drink, or drive them there yourself. You could even buy a breathalyzer test (although the accuracy isn’t guaranteed), and use it on your teen if you ever suspect they’re about to get behind the wheel after drinking.
Put a Cap on Speed
The CDC reports teens are more likely than older drivers to speed and maintain shorter distances between their car and the car they’re driving behind. When you add other teen passengers to the mix or distractions like loud music while driving, speeding can occur more often.
Parents can actually control the speed their teens drive at with technology like the Derive Systems X3. If your kid is just driving to and from school and isn’t hitting any freeways to get there, you can make sure they’re not speeding at 60 mph down your neighborhood road. Certain car brand services offer a similar type of speed limit setting.
Protect Your Family
Now that you know the risks teen drivers face, it’s important to realize that other drivers sharing the road with them face risks, as well. Accidents happen, and if your teen driver is in one, it’s vital you have prepared them to take the proper steps to stay safe, legal and protected. Tell them to:
Pull the car over to somewhere safe without leaving the scene of the accident
Do not admit fault in the accident
Call emergency services
Document the scene of the accident (states of the cars, any injuries)
Get medical treatment
Obtain insurance information from the other party
Obviously, your teen needs insurance before driving to stay legal. You should also warn your teen before they drive that someone else may be at fault for the accident, and that’s why it’s so important to pay attention to driving conditions and document the accident scene.
It might help to write down what to do after a car accident in a checklist your teen can carry in their glove compartment. A car accident can be scarier than a pop quiz, and as a parent, you can make sure they’re prepared.