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.
2. Car Accident Evidence
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.
4. Lost Wages Proof
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.
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.
2. Prevent Over-Indulgence
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.
4. Get Extra Protection
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.
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:
Headaches and dizziness
Neck and shoulder pain
Numbness and tingling
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 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
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.
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