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You do not need to make this decision on your own. Consult a plaintiff lawyer to review your situation in detail.  We can help you understand what you might expect to recover, based on the facts of the accident and Alabama law. In most situations, a case is made when someone acted carelessly under the circumstances and caused your injuries. Applying this standard is more complicated than it sounds, however, which is why it is important to consult an attorney.

Yes.  There are several reasons you may not feel hurt at the accident scene.  The biological response to a traumatic situation like an accident sends a rush of adrenaline through the body, which can temporarily reduce sensations of pain. Significant discomfort, pain or other issues may emerge over time. Even if the accident does not leave you with immediate, excruciating pain – the smart move is to see a doctor.   

This depends. The statute of limitations – or deadline – varies from state to state for various categories of claims.  Alabama has a time limit of two years to file a personal injury case, but other states may run from one to four years.  The type of claim, location, and type of defendant are all important factors.   It is essential to understand the statute of limitations in your state and the state where the alleged wrongful conduct took place.  Don’t accidentally waive your rights.  From a practical standpoint, you should consider a claim as soon as possible while evidence is still fresh. Your ability to prove liability and scope of damages will improve.  The best bet is to seek legal advice promptly.  

You should not speak with an insurance adjuster for someone else involved in the litigation. They may seem friendly and sympathetic, but they are almost certainly trying to coax statements from you that would reduce or eliminate the liability of their insured. Tell the insurance adjuster to contact your attorney, if you have retained an attorney, or contact your insurance company, if you do not have an attorney. The same points apply if an attorney for someone else contacts you.

The main type of damages is known as compensatory damages, which is further divided into economic damages and non-economic damages.   Economic damages are based on tangible, relatively objective costs and losses, such as your medical bills, lost income and earning capacity, property damage, and the costs of future treatment. Non-economic damages are more subjective, covering items such as pain and suffering, mental anguish, and lost enjoyment of life. Damages must be reasonably quantifiable to be awarded, rather than being speculative. If the defendant has acted in an especially egregious manner, you may be able to recover punitive damages in addition to compensatory damages. These are meant to punish the defendant and deter this type of conduct. Punitive damages are rarely awarded but can be substantial, although there are constitutional limits on how much they can exceed compensatory damages.

Your case will depend on several factors and cannot be determined until thoroughly investigated.  You may ask a personal injury attorney for a rough estimate based on similar cases they have handled but be aware an attorney is prohibited from promising they can recover a certain amount or predict the outcome of a case. If they do, move on!  The worth of your personal injury claim and a wrongful death claim will depend on the location of the accident, the age of the plaintiff, the type of defendant, the extent of injuries, the amount of available insurance and other assets, your own insurance, the type of wrongful conduct, and many other factors.  

You can still get damages from someone else who was at fault for the accident.   The amount may be reduced to reflect the pre-existing condition, but you can hold another person or entity accountable for aggravating the condition. Someone who interacts with you takes you as they find you, so the question of whether someone without your condition would have been injured is irrelevant. That said, these cases tend to be more complex and may require the assistance of experts, so hiring an attorney may be especially important.

That depend state to state. Even if you were partly responsible, most states still allow the ability to recover damages. Other states use a contributory negligence law, meaning you cannot recover damages whatsoever if you were at all at fault.  The amount you receive is usually proportionate to your degree of fault. Clearly, these are complicated cases, so you should consult an attorney for further guidance.

Very few personal injury cases go to trial. The overwhelming majority end in a settlement with the defendant or an insurance company. Unfortunately, the time it takes for settlement is hard to predict and can vary dramatically. Generally, a claim that involves substantial injuries and a significant amount of money will take longer to settle because the insurer will fight harder over it. If the case is complex or liability is unclear, a settlement also may take longer to reach. Hiring an attorney sometimes can motivate an insurer to make a fair offer earlier in the process, since they know that they are less likely to take advantage of you.

A release is a document that you sign in exchange for receiving your settlement. Basically, it provides that you release all your legal claims against any defendant and their insurer based on this accident. You should be aware that a release usually covers claims not only against any defendant whom you sued or who paid a settlement but also any other potential defendant, including a party that was not involved in the litigation. If you are married, your spouse may need to sign the release too.

The check should be in the mail promptly. Most insurers want to close out case files efficiently, so they will send out the check within a week or two of signing the settlement agreement.   Once you get the check, if you have an attorney, they will put together a settlement statement:  the total amount of money collected minus the attorney’s fee, court costs, reimbursements to your insurers, and any other necessary deductions. You will review and sign the settlement statement, and then the attorney will send you a check for the remainder.

You will need to cover your expenses initially, since the defendant’s insurance will not pay bills until liability is established.  You may be able to use Personal Injury Protection (PIP) coverage after a motor vehicle accident.  Health Insurance coverage, Medical Payments coverage, or workers’ compensation benefits can all apply after any type of accident.  Keep in mind, your insurance company will have the right to be reimbursed from the proceeds of any eventual settlement that you receive.  

The insurance for the at-fault party will not pay for your lost wages in the immediate aftermath of the accident. You can use PIP coverage if you were injured in a car crash, or you may be able to get short-term or long-term disability benefits through your employer. These insurers usually will need to be reimbursed when and if you get a settlement. If you have vacation time, sick time, paid time off, or other forms of “comp” time through your employer, you can use these as well.

If you were hurt on the job, you may have multiple options for compensation. In most situations, you will be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits through your employer. These benefits will cover your medical bills in addition to a portion of your lost wages. Workers’ compensation also may provide vocational rehabilitation assistance and lump sum payouts for certain types of injuries or disabilities. You may have an additional claim if a third party contributed to your injury claim, as in the case of defective workplace equipment.  You may still need to reimburse workers’ compensation but pursuing a defective workplace equipment claim against a manufacturer may be a smart strategy as those settlements are typically more than you might receive from workers’ compensation alone.   

Not always. If your injuries are minor and did not require medical care, you likely can handle the situation on your own. For example, perhaps you were in a rear-end collision in which the rear driver was clearly at fault, and in which neither driver was severely injured. Typically, you can resolve this claim fairly by negotiating with the insurance companies.   If you suffered significant injuries that required hospitalization, substantial medical treatment, or the at-fault party is contesting liability, you should engage a plaintiff attorney.   If your case requires expert testimony – as most medical malpractice and product liability cases do – you most certainly will need legal representation.    

You should not be worried that you do not have the money to pay for a lawyer. Almost all personal injury attorneys take cases at no charge, collecting their fee as a percentage of any settlement or judgment that they obtain for you. Thus, if you get nothing from the case, neither does the attorney. This is known as a contingency fee arrangement.  


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