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Keep These Records After a Car Accident

Keep These Records After a Car Accident

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.

Keep These Records After a Car Accident2. 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.

Keep These Records After a Car Accident4. 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.

9 Questions to Ask When Hiring a Personal Injury Lawyer

9 Questions to Ask When Hiring a Personal Injury Lawyer

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.

9 Questions to Ask When Hiring a Personal Injury Lawyer1. What experience do you have with cases like mine?

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.

9 Questions to Ask When Hiring a Personal Injury Lawyer5. Are there out-of-pocket fees I can expect?

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.

Need a Birmingham personal injury attorney? Pittman, Dutton & Hellums offers free consultations. Contact us.

Why You Should Visit a Doctor After Any Car Accident

Why You Should Visit a Doctor After Any Car Accident

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.

Why You Should Visit a Doctor After Any Car AccidentIf 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.

Why You Should Visit a Doctor After Any Car AccidentYou 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.

When Should You Call a Lawyer After a Personal Injury?

When Should You Call a Lawyer After a Personal Injury?

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.

How Long After a Personal Injury Should You Call a Lawyer? 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.

How Long After a Personal Injury Should You Call a Lawyer? 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 Traffic Safety Laws You Should Know

Alabama Traffic Safety Laws You Should Know

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.

Use Headlights

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.

Alabama Traffic Safety Laws You Should Know 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.

Buckle Up

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.

Alabama Traffic Safety Laws You Should Know 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) 515-8880 for information on if we can help you.

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