ALABAMA PERSONAL INJURY QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS
Ferguson & Ferguson
Attorneys at Law
How much is my accident claim worth in Alabama?
The first question I am normally ask by a client is what is my accident case worth? I can normally give you a broad range of the value of your case at the first meeting. An injured party can be compensated for the following:
- Physical pain and suffering
- Mental or emotional pain and suffering
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Disfigurement (scarring)
- Medical expenses
- Loss of earnings
- Loss of consortium
Do I need a lawyer if I’m injured in an accident?
You should always talk to an attorney if you have had an accident. If you are injured in the accident, you should probably hire a personal injury attorney. You should never pay for a consultation with a personal injury attorney. Experienced personal injury lawyers never charge to talk to you about an accident.
What do you pay a personal injury attorney?
Almost all personal injury lawyers work on what is called a contingency basis; that is, they are paid contingent upon the recovery they make for their client. This is usually based upon a fraction of the recovery, such as one-third. If there is no recovery, then there is no fee.
How long will it take to settle my case?
Every case is different. Generally, we cannot start any settlement negotiations until after we have received all of your medical records from your medical providers. It can take two to four weeks to get your medical records once you finish your treatment. Insurance companies can take two weeks to several months to make an offer on your case. The bigger the case, the more time it takes to settle. If your case cannot be settled, it could take a few years to get to trial, depending on how crowded the court dockets are in that county.
What should I do if I’m injured in an automobile accident?
If you are involved in motor vehicle accidents in Alabama, there are a number of things you can do to protect yourself. Do the following:
1. Call the police immediately.
2. Move the vehicle if you can safely move it and know one is hurt.
3. Record the other driver’s name, address, phone number, license number, registration, and proof of insurance.
4. Gather the names, addresses and phone numbers of any witnesses who can be contacted by your attorney at a later date; and try to convince them to remain at the scene until the police arrive. Beg if you have to!
5. Seek medical attention as soon as possible even if you “don’t feel that bad”. (Even the most serious injuries, such as traumatic brain injury, may not be immediately apparent.)
6. Report the accident to your insurance company.
7. Cooperate with your insurance company, but do not volunteer any theories about the circumstances leading up to the accident.
8. Do not discuss the accident with the other driver’s insurance company before you consult a lawyer.
9. Document your injuries with photographs. Some injuries such as bruises and cuts heal quickly. As a result, the visual record can be critical to your case.
10. Take pictures of the vehicles, interior and exterior.
11. Consult with an attorney experienced in the practice of personal injury law before you attempt to recover your losses.
What if the driver at fault doesn’t have insurance?
If the driver at fault has no liability insurance, then you will have to make a claim against your insurance policy. If you have uninsured motorist coverage, then your company must pay your medical bills, lost earnings, and pain and suffering, just as it would if you had injured another motorist.
Is a store owner responsible if I get hurt in their store?
Yes, if your injury is the result of a dangerous condition caused by the store or about which the store owner knew or should have known.
What is a dangerous or hazardous condition in Alabama?
Property owners are responsible for keeping their property in a safe condition. The amount of responsibility depends on your status on the property. Property owners can be held liable for injuries that occur as a result of a dangerous or hazardous condition on their property that they knew about, should have known about, or caused. Further, the hazard may be open and obvious or hidden. The condition can be permanent or temporary.
Examples of hazards include, but are not limited to:
- Standing water
- Uncleared snow
- Broken and crumbling curbs
- Inadequate lighting
- Defective flooring
- Improperly secured mats
- Stairways and steps
- Uneven pavement
- Hidden drop offs
- Concealed holes
- Liquid or and solid grocery items spilled or dropped on floors
In general, an owner will be considered to have knowledge of a dangerous or hazardous condition if it is permanent. In the case of food or spills, the length of time that the condition existed before the accident occurred is important. Knowledge is not necessary if the property owner caused the spill.
Is it okay to allow the business owner or manager to fill out an incident report in Alabama?
It is always a good idea to document a slip-fall incident. Always report the accident and have a report completed. Questions on these forms are frequently worded to make victims provide statements that may minimize the legal responsibility of the business in question. Further make sure you have witnesses’ names, addresses and phone numbers on the incident report. Make sure you receive a copy of the report.
Should I give a recorded statement to the insurance company?
Yes and no. You should never give a recorded statement until you have talked to or retained an attorney. The purpose of the recorded statement is often to get information from you to justify the insurance company denying your claim. After you get an attorney and understand the law, you then can give a recorded statement to the adjuster for the insurance company.
Does my purpose on the property at the time of the incident affect my rights in a claim for damages?
Yes. Invitees, licensees and trespassers all have different rights under the law. The greatest duty is owed to an invitee.
What kinds of damages are recoverable?
In general, the following damages may be recovered:
- Medical bills and expenses incurred as a result of the incident, which include future medical bills
- Lost income for time taken off from work to recover
- The fair value of any clothing and/or property damaged in the incident
- Compensation for pain and suffering, scarring, disability as a result of the incident and general damages.
How much is my accident case worth?
Each slip-and-fall accident is unique. There is no way of determining what your case is worth without having all of the medical records, bills and facts related to the case. The actual value of a claim often is not known until an extensive investigation is conducted and your medical treatment is complete.
How long do I have to pursue a slip-and-fall accident or injury in Alabama?
Generally, you have two years from the date of a fall to resolve the claim or start litigation. If your claim is against a government entity, a city or county, for example, you may have to file a notice or claim in a shorter period of time.
Will insurance cover my injuries from a accident?
Much depends on the property owner’s insurance. Homeowners and commercial insurance policies often protect against loss from a slip and fall. Most companies and individuals have medical payments coverage on their policies. This coverage will provide medical payments up to a certain amount of coverage, regardless of fault.
What if I’m partially at fault for the accident?
In Alabama , if you are at fault at all for your injury, you are not entitled to any recovery, regardless of how seriously you were hurt.