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
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.
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.
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.
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:
Contact police and get a copy of the police report.
Gather evidence, like witness testimony and photos of the accident and injuries.
In 2016, identity theft in the United States hit an all-time high in incidents. The 2017 Identity Fraud Study by Javelin Strategy & Research found overall fraud increased 16 percent in 2016, to affect 6.15 percent of U.S. consumers. A recent significant hack occurred as recently as a few months ago, when from May through July 2017, the personal data of 143 million people whose data had been collected by credit reporting agency Equifax, including names and social security numbers, was hacked because of a security flaw. The company only announced the breach in September, after discovering it at the end of July. Customers can find out if they were impacted by the hack by visiting the Equifax website here, where they can enroll in complimentary identity theft protection and credit file monitoring.
Card-not-present fraud, such as theft occurring online through e-commerce channels, is a significant factor that is driving up incident rates. The proliferation of personal information shared via social networks is also giving fraudsters more data to work with when they commit identity theft crimes.
If you’re an identity theft victim, a best-case scenario is catching a thief early after only a single incident. In worse cases, identity thieves may assume your identity as they live out their own lives, going to lengths such as purchasing homes in your name or even starting a family as “you”. If you discover that you are a victim of identity theft, here are steps to take to pursue action and stay safe.
Protect Against Future Identity Theft
If you have been a victim of this type of crime, you need to know how to protect yourself from Identity Theft in the future. Besides vigilantly protecting your identity online by creating strong passwords and not clicking on suspicious links, investing in a service that monitors your identity for you can help to bring you peace of mind in the future. Lifelock, Identity Force and Identity Guard are identity protection companies that offer prevention services and up to $1 million in coverage to help you recover after the identification theft has occurred.
Start with the Problem
Wherever you first notice that you are a victim of identity theft, whether it is through an odd charge on your bank statement or you’re contacted by an institution questioning you about a payment you never made, use that as a starting point to protect yourself overall. Freeze the card that was used, or completely freeze or shutdown the account to prevent more charges from being made.
Notify All Financial Institutions
You’ll also want to take a look at any other financial statements you have, so you can proactively notice more fraudulent charges. From your bank to your 401k provider, you’ll want to contact everyone you do business with to notify them that someone has stolen your identity. This enables those institutions to put an alert on your account, watch for and stop any suspicious behavior. You can also close the accounts you have all together and open new ones.
Contact a Credit Report Agency
Like the scanning of your bank and financial statements, you should also check your latest credit report to see if your score has had any drastic changes. You’ll also want to put a fraud alert on your credit report. Contact one of the three main credit reporting bureaus Experian, Equifax, or Transunion to place the alert and also make sure they alert the other two agencies about your claim.
File a Report with the Federal Trade Commission
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is a government agency that provides assistance to identity theft victims and guarantees rights such as blocking fraudulent information from affecting a credit report and stopping debt collectors from contacting you. To fill out an identity theft report with the FTC, go here. Make sure to send the report to your financial institutions and credit reporting agency.
You can also call non-emergency services to fill out a police report if your identity has been stolen. A report can serve as beneficial documentation should you take your case to court, and you can also send the report to institutions you’ve notified about the theft. Additionally, filing a report may alert police to a pattern, which can help solve your case more quickly and prevent fraud from happening to others.
Change Personal Information If Possible
If you’re not sure how the identity thief has acquired the information needed in order to unlawfully use your identity, take stock of all your online accounts and change or shield identifying information. Create new passwords, and set any profiles like social network sites to private.
Monitor Your Credit Report
You should also sign up for a free credit monitoring service and check your credit score whenever it is updated. Many banks and credit card companies now offer this a free service when you have an account with them. This is a small cost for them to pay to try and prevent bigger losses in the future and is also a benefit to you the consumer. If you do not have a banking institution that offers this service all three of the main reporting agencies offer this for a small fee. A sharp unexpected hit to your credit, new accounts, or multiple hard inquiries are all red flags that someone may be tampering with your identity, at which point you’ll want to revisit the steps here.
If there is no knowledge of dangerous behavior and the dog bite victim was trespassing on the dog owner’s property or provoked the dog, the dog owner may build a case against the victim around factors like these. When injuries are caused because of a dog bite, often hiring a lawyer is beneficial for the victim and/or the dog owner, depending on the circumstances.
How Dog Bites Commonly Occur
The CDC reports that most dog bites happen with dogs we are familiar with, with half happening at home. Children are at high risk, which is why it is essential to be vigilant of your dog when it is near any kids. Dog bites can suddenly occur in situations where a dog seems calm — they can come out of nowhere once a dog is agitated. Be wary of situations including:
Interactions with breeds that may be considered aggressive, such as pit bulls
“Playing rough” with a dog, such as getting a dog to chase a person or lightly pushing it during play time
Interacting with a dog while it is eating, sleeping or caring for puppies
Being exposed to any dog that is unfamiliar
If you encounter a strange dog, always ask the owner for permission to interact with the dog before approaching it. Let the dog sniff you before touching it. If the dog seems anxious or uneasy, do not proceed.
Be cautious around stray dogs. Dogs that are off-leash and without an owner may be aggressive or have diseases such as rabies. Nearly 20 percent of dog bites become infected and may result in sickness or death of the victim.
What to Do If You Are a Dog Bite Victim
If you are bitten by a dog, treat the wound and get medical assistance if necessary. Ask the owner for information on current vaccines, including rabies, and be sure to obtain the rabies vaccine license number and full contact information of the dog owner, since you will need this information if you file an insurance claim and decide to file a personal injury lawsuit. Depending on the severity of the wound, you may also call emergency services and have a police report filed.
If your own dog was the one who bit you or someone in your family and you sustain significant injuries, you may file an insurance claim if you have homeowners insurance that covers dog bites. If your dog attacks your children or you feel unsafe around your dog, you will want to consider enrolling the dog in behavioral therapy or removing it from your home altogether. Be especially careful when introducing the dog to others, and be aware of the risks your dog poses.
What to Do If Your Dog Bites Someone Else
It can be heartbreaking when you witness your beloved pet causing physical injury and emotional stress to someone else. You may not have realized your pet had an aggressive side to it, and you may have thought you did everything in your power to keep those around your pet safe. In the case of your dog biting someone, it is important to focus on staying calm and not letting emotions dictate your actions. Do not admit fault or compromise your innocence, but help the victim obtain the medical assistance they need.
Do not leave the scene of the dog bite until you have exchanged contact information with the victim and provided police with your account of the situation if they are called to the scene. Comply with providing rabies vaccination information — and make sure all your animals are fully vaccinated, in the first place. If you believe your dog may be in danger or you might face a lawsuit, contact a lawyer immediately for a consultation.
If you are still in possession of your dog after they have bitten someone, it is important to prevent future dog bites and keep everyone else, including yourself, safe. Do not allow your dog to be in any public situation where they may attack someone else. Consult with a dog trainer to modify your dog’s behavior. If your goal is to keep your dog after they’ve attacked someone, you should work toward ensuring an attack never happens again by properly training your dog.
Get Help for Dog Bite Personal Injuries
Dog bites are some of the most traumatic personal injuries around. They’re painful for both the victim and the dog owner. Often the dog is cherished and loved. Protecting it in a case such as this may be a top priority, and protecting others from any harm it may cause in the future is paramount.
If you are a victim of a dog bite, you are entitled to compensation for physical injuries and emotional stress. You may also want to help prevent others from becoming a victim, too. A Birmingham personal injury lawyer than handles premises liability for dog bite cases can help you get the compensation you deserve and help increase safety for others.
If you are a dog owner of a dog that bites someone else, ensuring the protection of others while allowing your dog to have a healthy and happy life going forward requires expertise. If you are facing a dog bite lawsuit, consult with a lawyer to learn how to improve the situation.
No one wants dog bites to happen, but when they do, it’s important to take lawful steps to remedy the situation. Dog bite laws in Alabama can be confusing and complicated. If you have questions, contact Pittman, Dutton & Hellums to find out how we can help.
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