An automobile collision can be a devastating and traumatic experience, especially if you were seriously injured. Even though you have insurance, it may not adequately cover all of the expenses that you might incur due to injuries and damages. Those who are responsible for causing the crash should be liable for any costs associated with them. Many times, a car accident victim needs to take legal action to obtain the compensation that they need to pay for their medical care and other expenses caused by the crash. It is helpful to understand how car accident settlements work in Mobile, Alabama, before you proceed with any action.
Alabama Contributory Negligence Laws
Every state determines the law regarding how personal injury claims are to be handled. Alabama uses the pure contributory negligence doctrine, which stipulates that a person who contributed to an accident cannot collect damages. Alabama is the only state that still utilizes strict contributory negligence rules. Most other states have adopted an approach that allows those with some negligent contribution to collect proportionately for their damages. Some states allow those involved in accidents the ability to be compensated for damages even if they are more than 50% responsible.
The strict contributory negligence doctrine in Alabama means that only those who are not responsible for accidents can prevail in legal claims. Those who are even partly negligent for a crash cannot collect partial claims. The first step towards a successful resolution after a car accident in Mobile, AL, is to determine which driver or drivers were negligent. Typically, the insurance company will review the details of the accident and determine which driver or drivers were at fault.
Determination of Negligence
Negligence in the legal sense means that a person knew or reasonably should have known that their actions or lack of actions could result in an accident or injuries. For example, when a driver travels at a speed that is higher than the posted limit, he is likely negligent. If an accident occurs due to speeding, he could be considered negligent because he knew that driving faster than the limit could be dangerous.
Determination of negligence in a car accident is not always simple. The police conduct an initial accident investigation. They interview the drivers and take statements from witnesses, while also assessing the position and damage of the vehicles involved. They may take photos of the crash scene and the vehicles. If the accident was severe, the police the police may conduct a reconstruction.
What to Do After a Car Accident in Mobile, Alabama
After you are involved in a serious car accident in Mobile, Alabama, the first thing you need to do is get medical treatment for any injuries you suffered. If you can do so, take pictures of the crash scene if the area is safe. Call the police immediately to report the accident and receive emergency care. Sometimes injuries worsen over time, so it is best to have an examination as soon as possible.
At the accident scene, obtain the name and contact information of the other driver along with his or her insurance data. If the police are on site, they will complete an accident report. If not, you must file an accident report with the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency. Do not apologize for the accident, even if you feel you were responsible. It is up to the police and insurance company to make a determination as to how the collision occurred and assign negligence to either party.
Talking to the Insurance Company
It is likely that following an accident in Mobile, a representative from the negligent driver’s insurance company will contact you. They may ask to discuss the accident with you and may want you to provide a statement. It is usually advisable to speak with an attorney before you speak with an insurance representative. Remember that anything you say will be recorded and could be used against you later.
Therefore, it is helpful to carefully consider your conversation before you meet with the insurance company. If the accident was the other driver’s fault, the insurance company would likely offer you a quick settlement, which is typically not even close to half the value of your case. They may offer you compensation based on the initial findings of the accident and that would be all compensation you will receive, excluding you from taking any further legal action. By accepting the check from the insurance company without first consulting an experienced auto collision attorney, you may be severely limiting your rights to compensation.
Unfortunately, an initial offer from the insurance company may be too low to cover the expenses and damages that you incurred. Instead, you should take some time to review the offer as well as examine all of your medical bills and other expenses to make sure that the offer is fair. An experienced Mobile auto accident attorney will assist you in reviewing the information and providing the guidance you need to get the most out of your claim.
Statute of Limitations
It is important to know that the law limits the time to file a personal injury case in Alabama. An Alabama citizen has up to two years from the date of the accident to file a claim. It is essential to file a claim within this period, or it will not be allowed. The period of time is designed to ensure that documentation, medical records, and other information are available and that any witnesses are still able to remember details of the incident.
How an Mobile, AL, Car Accident Attorney Will Help
After your accident, you should consult with an attorney as soon as possible. Your lawyer will gather documentation and evaluate your case. Negotiations with the insurance company will resolve many of these types of cases. To make sure your negotiations are successful, you will require help from a lawyer. Every aspect of your accident will be reviewed to ensure that you receive the best possible settlement. In some situations, a settlement does not resolve the case. If not, the case will proceed to court where a judge will resolve it.
If you are suffering damages from any car accident in Mobile, AL, you might have questions and concerns about your legal options. Contact Charles McCorquodale Law to discuss your case today.