If you were in a car crash today, would you know all the steps you need to take to recover a fair settlement and get the compensation you need to pay for your damages and injuries? If not, you may want to read up on the timeline of an Alabama car crash.
Understanding Fault in Alabama
Before diving into the specific steps to take after a car accident, we need to address Alabama’s insurance law. While most states have at-fault or no-fault laws, Alabama uses something called “pure contributory negligence.”
In practice, pure contributory negligence means that the person pursuing damages cannot recover compensation if they hold any responsibility for the accident whatsoever. If insurance companies or the courts find someone even 1% responsible for the accident, the victim will have a difficult time recovering the damages they need to get back to normal.
With that in mind, anyone involved in a car crash needs to be extremely mindful of what they do before and after the wreck.
Before the Accident
Because of Alabama’s pure contributory negligence rules, drivers need to take extra precautions while driving. That means always remaining alert for potential dangers, precisely following the rules of the road, and avoiding situations that might result in a wreck
A common and avoidable cause of collisions comes from road rage and a lack of defensive driving. You may see a driver weaving through traffic at unsafe speeds. When faced with this situation, some drivers will try to “box them in” in an attempt to “punish” the other driver for their carelessness. However, if that results in a crash and damage, the victim would be just as liable as the reckless driver. For that reason, it’s always safer to drive defensively in Alabama and maintain constant awareness of your surroundings.
At the Scene
After any car crash, whether it’s a roll-over or a fender bender, the first thing you should do is check yourself and your passengers for injuries. If you feel pain or see blood, call for an ambulance.
When you meet the other driver, it’s crucial you keep your comments to a minimum. Remember, even 1% fault means that you’ll struggle to recover compensation. Saying something as innocent as “I didn’t see you coming,” could be twisted to mean that you weren’t paying attention. Exchange information, but do not talk about the accident. Stick to the facts, they crashed into you, and say no more. If they try to excuse the crash, keep notes of what they say, your attorney may find it helpful.
If you’re confident that you were not responsible for the crash, you may wish to file a police report. A police report creates an unbiased public record documenting that a crash occurred. This can be invaluable evidence when making an insurance claim.
After the Crash
Always go to the doctor immediately after a wreck. Generally, you should go from the scene to your doctor, if at all possible. A doctor can conduct a full examination that will identify any potential damages caused by the crash.
Even if there’s no blood, car crashes usually cause latent injuries. This means that the injury doesn’t have immediate symptoms, but they will worsen over time. You shouldn’t take any chances when it comes to your health, which is why you should seek a doctor as soon as possible. Going to the doctor also creates a record demonstrating that your injuries were severe enough to warrant immediate attention.
After your doctor visit, you should contact an experienced car accident attorney. An attorney will offer a free case consultation and will help you with the next steps. Once an attorney takes your case, you can rest easy knowing they’ll handle the difficult phone calls and paperwork (like reporting your accident to the department of public safety) while you rest and recover.
Making a Claim
Eventually, either you or your attorney will need to inform your insurance company about the accident. If you chose to call your insurance company yourself, it’s critical that you do not make any admission of fault. Simply tell them that a crash occurred and avoid any particulars about the case. If they request a recorded statement, politely decline, and consult your attorney.
If you ever receive a phone call from the other driver’s insurance company, do not speak to them. You have no obligation to speak to another driver’s insurance company.
It’s crucial you let your attorney handle all the talking for you. The other driver and their insurance company will do everything they can to make you seem even 1% responsible for the crash. Your attorney will fight to prevent that from happening.
If you or someone you love were involved in a serious car crash, we can help. If you’d like an experienced Birmingham accident lawyer from Montgomery Ponder, LLC to evaluate your case, please send us an email or call (205) 377-5004.