Personal Injury Questions and Answers

Call The Odum Firm. If you’ve been injured, you may want a lawyer to make sure you receive a fair settlement from the insurance company. Also, proving to another driver’s insurer that its policyholder caused the accident might require the services of an attorney.

Automobile & Eighteen Wheeler Accidents

What is the “Golden Rule” of personal injury?

Never, under any circumstances, settle with an insurance company before contacting The Odum Firm.

What should I do if I am involved in an accident?

Stop. If you get in a crash, you must stop. If you leave, that’s known as a “hit and run,” and might be a felony. This includes hitting property, animals or pedestrians. Also, stay calm.

Call for help. If someone is injured, call 911. If not, your first call should then be to the police. The police will advise as to whether the crashed vehicles should be moved out of traffic, and will take statements from the drivers and passengers involved.

Call your insurer. As soon as you are able, call and file an accident report. You should also notify the other driver’s insurer of the accident.

Don’t sign anything. If an insurance adjuster shows up at the scene, don’t give any statements and don’t sign anything.

Gather information. Get the names, addresses and phone numbers of everyone at the scene, especially witnesses.

Go see your doctor. You may have injuries of which you’re unaware. If you are examined by a doctor, make sure you are specific in explaining how the accident happened and any and all injuries and problems you sustained as a result.

Call THE ODUM FIRM. If you’ve been injured, you may want a lawyer to make sure you receive a fair settlement from the insurance company. Also, proving to another driver’s insurer that its policyholder caused the accident might require the services of an attorney.

Who is liable for paying for my physical injuries as well as any personal property damage?

The driver(s) who caused the accident’s liability insurance pays for your car damage and personal injuries. If you are at fault for the car accident, your liability insurance will pay the other driver(s) for property damage and personal injuries up to your policy’s limits.

Should I take the settlement my insurance company is offering me?

You should not take any settlements offered by an insurance company without first speaking with an experienced Alabama auto accident lawyer. Insurance companies typically offer a minimal amount of money in return for your signature stating that you will not sue them. Never take an insurance check without first consulting an attorney.

What if I cannot afford to pay my medical bills?

If you suffer injuries from a car accident, you will likely have medical bills from physicians, hospitals, physical therapists, and other health care providers. Under Alabama law, you are primarily responsible for paying your bills, regardless of the cause of your injuries.

The at-fault person’s liability insurance carrier is responsible for paying you reasonable compensation for damages incurred, which includes medical bills, but the insurance carrier is not responsible for paying your doctors, hospitals, and other providers. Sometimes the amount the insurance company is willing to pay is far less than the actual amount you owe.

When will my personal injury claim be resolved?

Personal injury claims can be resolved in a matter of a few weeks or months. However, they can take up to several years depending on the complexity of the case. It is best to speak with an experienced Alabama personal injury attorney about your specific case.

What is a permanent injury?

A permanent injury is an injury that will be with you for the rest of your life or for some period beyond the settlement of the claim. In most cases, the injured party is entitled to compensation from the at-fault party or their insurance company for all medical bills incurred to date and into the future for all injuries caused by the accident. This includes future pain and suffering.

I did not feel pain at the scene and refused medical treatment. Now, a few days later I am in pain. What should I do?

You should immediately consult your medical provider regarding any pain, discomfort or possible injuries from a car accident, even if you think they may be only minor injuries. Even if you did not complain of injuries at the scene of the car accident, you may be entitled to payment of your medical bills, compensation for pain and suffering, lost wages, loss of earnings capacity, and emotional anguish due to personal injuries. You should consult an experienced Alabama car accident attorney to discuss whether you need representation on your claim.

What sources of compensation can I expect after an auto accident?

After an accident and depending on who is at fault, you may pursue compensation for medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, future medical expenses and future pain and suffering.

What is negligence?

Negligence is the failure of the person to act as a reasonably prudent person would act under like or similar circumstances.

Should I contest an accident-related traffic citation?

If you were not at fault for the accident, you should seek to contest any accident-related traffic citation.

What if the driver was not wearing a seatbelt at the time of the accident? Can damages be recovered?

Alabama law does not bar a victim’s right to compensation just because they were not wearing a seatbelt.

My son was rear-ended and the other driver claimed my son caused the accident. How does the law decide what is being rear-ended?

A rear collision is where one vehicle collides into the rear of another. Typically, the person who hits the vehicle in the rear is at fault. However, a vehicle that is rear-ended may still be responsible for the accident. If the person stopped suddenly or had improperly working brake lights or turn signals, he/she could be held responsible or partially responsible for the accident. If someone else is driving your vehicle, as long as that person had your expressed or implied permission, your insurance coverage will cover the accident. You could be held liable for the accident along with your friend if your friend was operating the vehicle for your benefit or you negligently entrusted the vehicle to your friend.

What is uninsured and underinsured motorists coverage?

Uninsured motorists coverage covers damages an individual suffers as a result of a motorist who fails to carry the required insurance on his/her vehicle. Underinsured motorists coverage covers a person for damages whose injury claim value exceeds the insurance coverage the at-fault owner/driver carried.

What is the purpose of obtaining uninsured or underinsured motorist benefits?

Having uninsured motorist coverage protects you from the irresponsible driver who drives without insurance. Underinsured motorists coverage helps protect you when you have serious and significant injuries.

If I get injured in a car accident but do not have insurance, can I still sue and recover for my injuries?

You can recover from a third party who is responsible for your injuries even if you do not have insurance. However, if the third party responsible for the accident does not have insurance then you may not be able to recover for your injuries

How do insurance adjusters operate?

Insurance adjusters work for the insurance company and are not necessarily working for your best interest. They are licensed by the state and are required by their companies to follow guidelines and procedures set out by the state and their company. Most insurance adjusters will want a statement from you, their insured, a police report, and any witness information before deciding to pay a claim.

I gave a recorded statement to the insurance company of the woman who hit my car. Now I'm thinking about getting legal representation. Is there a problem?

You may still seek and obtain legal representation after giving a recorded statement. Any statement you make can be used later against you.

I injured somebody in an accident. The insurance company refused to settle within my policy limits. The jury awarded damages in excess of my policy limits. Must I pay the excess instead of the insurance company?

If your insurance company failed to settle the claim within your policy limits when the other side would have agreed to settle, you are liable for the excess verdict. However, your insurance company’s action may have risen to “bad faith”. If the insurance company acts in “bad faith” then the insurance company ultimately could be responsible for paying the excess judgment/verdict. I was injured in a crash where a truck driver was at fault. Can I receive money for time I missed at work? You can recover lost wages when you have missed time from work due to injuries from the accident. In order to recover the lost wages, you need to have doctor’s verification of the time missed along with verification from your employer for the time you missed including what amount of money you earned.

Eighteen Wheeler Accidents

What are some of the common causes of tractor trailer accidents?
  • Aggressive drivers
  • Unrealistic schedules
  • Failure to inspect tires, brakes and lights
  • Tailgating
  • Long work-shifts
  • Driver fatigue
  • Cell phone use
  • Failure to install blind spot mirrors
  • Jackknifing
  • Speeding and ignoring reduced truck speed limit

Added hazards include the absence of rear and side bumpers and high front bumpers that punch into automobile passenger compartments. Together, these factors account for the high percentage of serious injuries and deaths in these crashes.

Are there any state or federal regulations governing truck drivers?

There are many regulations, both state and federal, that trucking companies are required to follow. Some of those laws include the following: • Trucking companies are required to follow the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA) regulations concerning equipment and hours of service.

  • Truck drivers are required to maintain a driver’s log.
  • Federal regulations require commercial trucks to carry certain levels of insurance coverage depending on the nature of the materials hauled. These regulations protect victims of large truck crashes from truck owners who may not have the financial resources to pay damages out-of-pocket.
  • The Commercial Motor Carrier Safety Assistance Program requires that individual states and other political jurisdictions unify to develop and implement programs that will ultimately improve motor carrier, CMV, and driver safety and establish a safer and more efficient transportation system.
  • Commercial driver’s license standards are federal regulations in place to reduce or prevent truck accidents and resulting injuries and/or deaths by requiring drivers of certain vehicles to obtain a single commercial motor vehicle driver’s license.
  • Both Alabama and / or federal law, depending on whether the truck was involved in intrastate or interstate transport may govern truck accidents.
Why should a lawyer be hired as soon as possible?

The major trucking companies will immediately have lawyers hired and working for them. The scene must be secure. Photographs and statements must be taken as soon after the accident as possible. Many important pieces of evidence helpful to you can be lost, misplaced or be purposely destroyed.

What are the “hours of service” rules?

Under federal “hours of service” regulations, which took effect January 2004, interstate commercial drivers are not allowed to drive more than 11 consecutive hours or drive after 14 hours on duty until they have had a 10-hour break. In addition, according to federal regulations, commercial truck drivers cannot drive after accruing 60 work hours during a 7-day period or 70 work hours during an 8-day period. Violation of these regulations are a serious cause of many commercial truck accidents.

How do I deal with trucking companies or their insurance carriers after a truck accident?

The best advice is NOT to deal with them! The first thing you should do is contact an expert truck accident lawyer. The last thing you want to do is personally negotiate with a trucking company about your semi truck accident or semi rig injury. Most trucking companies are highly skilled at semi truck accident investigation and claims. Anything you say or sign may be held against you further down the road. When in doubt, refer to The Odum Firm “Golden Rule.”

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