Accidents happen when we least expect them. Most people are able to walk away from these accidents with minor injuries, but not all are as lucky. Those who disregard the rights and safety of others deserve to pay for their actions, and Birmingham law firm Mann & Potter, PC holds them responsible. Our experienced personal injury lawyers have a history of success representing people throughout Alabama and the Southeast who have suffered serious and catastrophic injuries due to another party or entity’s negligence, recklessness or wrongful action.
Our firm fights for the rights of those harmed in:
— Car accidents/DUI accidents
— Motorcycle accidents
— Truck accidents
— Brain injuries
— Pedestrian Accidents
— Catastrophic Injuries
— Bicycle Accidents
— Boating Accidents
— Environmental Injuries
THE PROCESS OF A PERSONAL INJURY CLAIM
STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS
Each state has laws regarding the statute of limitations for a personal injury case. In Alabama, you must file a case within two years of the date of your accident. If you miss this deadline, you will be unable to recover compensation. If your claim is against the government, you must meet even stricter deadlines. A claim against a municipality has a six-month statute of limitations, and a claim against a county has a one-year statute of limitations.
WHAT TO DO AT THE SCENE
At the scene of the accident, it’s important to stay calm as much as possible and think about what you can do to lay the groundwork for a personal injury case. Do not speak to the other person(s) except to exchange contact information and insurance information. You do not want to unintentionally accept liability for the accident. Take pictures of your vehicle, the product, your injuries, and the scene of the crash. Get video footage and photos from multiple angles if possible.
GETTING MEDICAL TREATMENT
Seeking medical treatment is crucial if you want to build a strong personal injury case after an accident. Not only could you have life-threatening injuries after an incident, you need to prove that any injuries you sustained were caused by the accident. If you go to the doctor a week or two after the accident, for example, the other side could argue that your injuries weren’t really all that serious or they were not related to the accident. They can’t do that quite as easily if you go to urgent care or the emergency room immediately after an accident. Once you begin receiving medical care, keep all of the documentation and bills you receive. Follow your doctor’s treatment recommendations and do what you can to mitigate the severity of your injuries. Ignoring your doctor’s treatment recommendations can seriously weaken your case.
PROTECTING YOUR RIGHTS IMMEDIATELY
Once the other person’s insurance company gets notified about the incident, they want to settle the claim and protect themselves legally as quickly as possible. If it is obvious that their client is to blame, you can expect to hear from them very quickly after an accident. However, do not talk to them until you have an attorney. It doesn’t matter how nice they sound, how much sympathy they seem to have for your injuries, or that they want to give you money right now. If you accept their initial offer, it is extremely likely that you will get less than you deserve. Hiring an attorney should be the first item on your to-do list after you have gotten checked out by a medical professional. They can begin gathering evidence, investigating your accident, and building a case for you. Additionally, they can take over communication with the insurance company, taking one more item off your plate during this difficult time.
MISTAKES TO AVOID WHEN FILING YOUR CLAIM
Waiting Too Long
The longer you wait to file a personal injury claim, the less evidence you have at your disposal. It’s best to meet with an attorney right after your accident so they can investigate, gather evidence, and move forward with your claim.
Going Public with Your Injury
Whether you post about your accident on social media or go to the news about it, you could be seriously damaging your case by going public. While it may be difficult, limit your discussion of your claim to your attorney until it is settled.
Not Knowing the Terms of Your Settlement
If you do negotiate a settlement, make sure you completely understand its terms. Victims will sometimes take a settlement, and then try to go back to the liable party to ask for more compensation. This is almost guaranteed not to happen.
In some cases, victims underestimate their damages. When trying to calculate medical bills, they might look at the bills coming from the insurance company and simply calculate them that way. They don’t realize that the other party’s insurance company may have to pay the whole bill, not just the part that their health insurance doesn’t cover. They forget to calculate in the cost of going to and from doctors’ appointments, medication expenses, ambulance bills, and other expenses. This is one reason you should work with an attorney during this process.
Ignoring Medical Advice
If you are seeking compensation for your injuries, there’s an expectation that you have a vested interest in having your injuries healed. If you go to the doctor but fail to attend follow-up appointments, skip physical therapy sessions, or don’t do your range of motion exercises, it may appear to the other side that you are dragging out your injury just to get more money out of them.
Not Hiring an Attorney
This is easily the most expensive mistake that accident victims make. People skip hiring an attorney for a number of reasons. They might be worried about the cost, which isn’t an issue because most personal injury attorneys work on a contingency basis. They may worry about the stress of going to court, which isn’t an issue because the vast majority of personal injury cases are settled out of court.
DEFINING COMMON PERSONAL INJURY TERMS
Assumption of Risk
Assumption of risk refers to the fact that every activity comes with some level of risk. If you choose to engage in that activity, you are essentially accepting that risk. The level of risk for an indoor trampoline park, for example, is different than the level of risk that comes with going for a walk around the block.
Compensation is money paid from a negligent party or a negligent party’s insurance company to a victim of their negligence.
This refers to any type of loss you have suffered as the result of an accident caused by someone else’s negligence. For example, your damages might include lost wages from time off of work, medical bills from your injuries, and property damage. You will need to document damages to get compensation.
If someone has a duty or duty of care to someone, they have an obligation to limit damage to them. A good example is the duty of care a driver has when they are on the road. They have a duty of care to everyone else on the road, so if they text while driving or drive drunk, they are violating that duty.
When someone violates their duty of care, it is considered gross negligence if they blatantly and recklessly disregard the other person’s health, wellbeing, or property.
Liability refers to a legal obligation one has. In personal injury law, it typically refers to one person’s obligation to pay for damage caused in an accident.
When you decide to move forward with a lawsuit, you are engaging in litigation. This isn’t always the end result of a personal injury claim, since many claims are settled during negotiations.
When someone violates their duty of care to another person, they are engaging in negligence. Many people use this term to refer to the carelessness shown by one individual in an accident.
Wesley McClain, Personal Injury Client
"I would like to say, I would recommend this law firm to anyone who needs help, they did a sensational job for me."
Angela Hamilton, Personal Injury Client
"This firm is hands down the best I would highly recommend Mann and Potter. They are professional and on point with everything you will not be disappointed!!!"...from Google Reviews
Justin Huckabee, Personal Injury Client
"Mr Steven Cole took my wife's case after I had been denied by other law firms. Very professional and kept us in the loop every step of the way. I would highly recommend this law firm for your personal injury or insurance case. I can't thank Mr Cole enough."