PERSONAL INJURY FAQ’S
I was in an automobile accident in Alabama, what should I do?
Call 911. Get treatment immediately if you are injured? If capable, talk to the police before you go to the hospital. You want to tell them your side of the story first. If you are in pain, go to a medical doctor, chiropractor, urgent care or ER as soon as possible. If you wait too long, the insurance adjuster will try to make it look like your injuries are not from the accident. Do not delay! 2) Call your insurance company and tell them about the accident. When you get the police report make a claim with the other drivers insurance company. Do not give them a recorded statement before talking to an attorney. The insurance company is not there to help you, even your own. You are not obligated to give the other company a statement. If you are injured at all, talk to an attorney. 3) Call Ferguson & Ferguson for a free consultation.
What to do after a personal injury accident?
- Take photos of your injuries and car if an auto accident.
- Make a report as soon as possible.
- Get medical treatment.
- Write down a narrative of what happened and keep a diary.
- Make a list of witnesses and their contact information if you know it.
- Do not talk to the insurance company.
- Follow any additional instructions from your attorney.
How do I know if I have a case?
After you’re injured in an accident, an the shock wears off, the first question you have is usually, do I have a case. If the other driver was at fault for the accident, and you were injured, you have a case. What the case is worth depends on a lot of different factors. There are a lot of factors that go into determining whether you have a case.
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
- Wages lost
- Disfigurement (scarring)
- Medical expenses
- Loss of earnings
- Loss of consortium
Do I need a lawyer if I’m injured in an accident in Alabama?
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. Too often accident victims try to handle the insurance companies on their own, only to find out too late that they messed up their case. If the insurance company is trying to offer you a settlement, wants you to give a recorded statement, or is giving you the run-around, you need a lawyer.
What if I Can't Travel to Your Office?
If you were injured in an accident and need help from an attorney, you may not be able to make it to our office. You may be in a hospital, in a rehabilitation facility, or stuck at home. If you can’t make it to us, we’ll come to you or talk to you via Skype, Facetime or zoom.
What if I Can't Work?
If you were injured in an accident and can’t work, the liable parties insurance company will pay you for your time away from work. Usually that is not paid until the case settles. If you need money, we work with companies that can provide short term loans until you recover.
Do I still have a claim if my health insurance paid my medical bills?
You are entitled to the full value of your medical treatment, not just your out of pocket expenses. Do not let the insurance company offer you a small settlement and to pay your bills. You will always lose when they offer to pay the bills. We can get the bills reduced and put a lot more money in your pocket.
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.
Can a hospital or health insurer file a lien against my case?
Yes. In Alabama most medical facilities are required to bill BC & BS of Alabama if you have that medical insurance. If you have any other insurance such as Medicaid, Medicare, or another health insurance, they can place a lien instead of filing with insurance. It is all about money. They think they can get a lot more of your money if you had a car accident. If your bill is $10,000.00, your health insurance may pay $1,000.00 or less depending on the company. When they put a lien on you, they are betting they can get $4,000.00 or $5,000.00 or more for the same treatment. You or your attorney have to settle the lien before you can settle your case. Sounds unethical, but its legal in Alabama. Your health insurance also has a right to subrogation in most cases.(to get paid back from your settlement) Some group plans do not allow subrogation. Our attorneys will determine if your health insurer is entitled to reimbursement and if the hospital lien is valid and will request a waiver or negotiate reduced payment of the lien. Everything is negotiable in these cases.
The insurance company said I don’t need an attorney—is that true?
The insurance company is never on your side in your case. They do not like paying out claims. You should always seek an opinion from a Alabama personal injury lawyer to get an unbiased legal opinion regarding your case. At Ferguson & Ferguson we offer free consultations on all cases.
What Is the Average Settlement for a Personal Injury Case?
There is no such thing. It all depends on your injuries and the insurance available. The majority of cases settle from $5,000-$75,000 in Alabama. There are million dollar cases, and there are thousand dollar cases. There are also cases where you will not win and get anything.
What Is the Average Payout for Whiplash case in Alabama?
Whiplash cases are the most difficult cases to prove, since you cannot see whiplash on an x-ray or MRI. The average settlement can be $1,000-$15,000, depending on the medical treatment you received. If you went to a hospital after the accident, the value is greater than if you only went to a family doctor or chiropractor. If you have whiplash plus broken bones, the value is much greater. It’s important to seek medical attention as soon as possible.
Does Pain and Suffering Include Medical Bills?
In an accident, you get one settlement for your injuries. It includes medical bills, pain and suffering, lost wages and any other damage you suffered. The insurance offer includes your pain and suffering compensation and your medical bills normally, unless they are medicals outside of the settlement.
What Is Fair Compensation for Pain and Suffering?
There is no way to fairly determine pain and suffering. Everyone is different, and deals with pain differently. The more severe and permanent your injuries are from the accident, the greater the pain and suffering compensation. If your suffering is lifelong, your damages will be greater. Often times there is a big disagreement between you and the insurance company, since you cannot see pain and suffering on an x-ray or MRI.
How Long Does an Insurance Company Have to Settle a Claim in Alabama?
There is no time limit at all in Alabama. Some states have time deadlines, Alabama does not. You have two years to file a lawsuit.
How Long Does a Personal Injury Lawsuit Take to get a Settlement?
I have had cases settle in one week. I have had cases go over five years. It all depends on the type of case and how bad the injuries sustained. Further, it depends on the insurance company involved. Most car accident cases take from 3-9 months to finish. The more complicated your case, the longer it takes to settle.
What if a person dies before bringing a personal injury lawsuit?
In Alabama that is referred to as a wrongful death. Spouses, domestic partners, parents, children, siblings, and grandparents can have a claim for wrongful death against the responsible parties. Only an administrator of an estate , appointed by the probate court, can bring a wrongful death case. The relationship with the decedent will dictate who receives anything from the lawsuit. If the case is filed before the death it is a personal injury case. If filed after the death, it is a wrongful death case. Punitive damages are the only thing you can recover in Alabama in a wrongful death case. Make sure you hire an experienced personal injury attorney to recover the just compensation you deserve. We have handled wrongful death cases for over thirty years.
Is it possible to sue a county or city in Alabama?
Yes. Cities and counties are liable for their negligent acts. there are different filing requirements. You should consult an attorney as soon as possible since some claims have a 180 day filing requirement.
Will the information I share with you be confidential?
Yes. All information you share with us is protected by the attorney-client privilege and will remain confidential.
What should I bring with me for my meeting with a lawyer?
You should bring your police or incident report, any medical records or bills you have received, your car insurance information, your health insurance information, any statement or photos of your vehicle, any correspondence from the insurance companies, estimates and repair records and receipts for your automobile, receipts for towing and car rental, any liens, and any wage loss information.
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.
Who brings a claim on behalf of children that are hurt or killed in an accident?
Usually it is the parents or guardians of the child who brings the claim.
I don’t want to go to court, can you still help me?
Don’t worry. In fact, 97% of accident cases in Alabama do not go to court. We always do our best to come to a reasonable settlement before filing a lawsuit.
How do you determine the value of my claim?
That is the most common question we receive. We review your medical records and bills, liens, co-pays, injuries, subrogation and wage loss information to determine the value of your case. It is based on a consideration of the totality of your circumstances. We have successfully negotiated thousands of claims in Alabama and throughout the United States.
Do I have to pay for my initial meeting with Ferguson & Ferguson?
Never. All client consultations are absolutely free.
What is negligence?
Negligence is the failure to use reasonable care to prevent harm to others. A person is negligent if he or she does something that a reasonably careful person would not do in the same situation or fails to do something that a reasonably careful person would do in the same situation.
What is contributory negligence?
It means, if you are at fault at all for your injuries, you cannot recover anything. Insurance companies try to avoid paying you by saying you were partially at fault for your accident. Unless the parties reach an agreement, it’s up to the jury to decide if you were partially at fault.
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 slip and fall 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 personal injury 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.
Who Pays My Medical Bills?
If the other party has liability insurance, and they are at fault, their insurance will pay your damages. If you have health insurance, use your medical insurance first, and let your attorney negotiate with the other driver’s insurance company and your health insurance company. If the other driver’s car insurance pays your bills, you will get a lot less money in your pocket, and the hospital will get a lot more than they deserve. Lastly, do not use your medical payments coverage unless you have to, it has to be paid back under most circumstances.
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.