Car Wrecks

On average, drivers in America are involved in at least three car wrecks during their lifetime. Thousands of people are seriously injured each year on the roads in Alabama, and there are about 1,000 car wreck fatalities annually in the state. If you were injured or you lost a loved one in a car wreck, you may be entitled to compensation for injuries and other damages arising from the accident.

Personal Injury Claims

The auto insurance laws in each state influence the amount of compensation that can be awarded as a result of a car wreck. There are several different legal concepts that may apply, including the following:

  • Fault-based system. The injured party must prove that the defendant negligently or wantonly caused the accident to recover for losses, including medical costs, lost wages, and vehicle damages.
  • Contributory negligence. Alabama is a contributory negligence state, therefore accident victims may be barred from recovering damages for their injuries, even if they were only one percent at-fault for the accident.

Other states follow no-fault systems, where injured parties may recover some damages, even if they are at-fault. Because insurance laws vary by state, it is important to seek qualified legal representation from an experienced personal injury lawyer who is familiar with all applicable laws in your state. In Alabama, it is even more crucial to obtain legal guidance when you are involved in a car wreck as these states follow fault-based systems, where financial responsibility for losses is determined by allocating fault.

Determining fault is not a scientific process. Rather, assigning liability hinges upon one’s ability to negotiate with an insurance company or persuade a jury or judge. That is why it is critical to seek the services of a seasoned trial lawyer who knows the courts and has experience negotiating with insurance company representatives. Skillful representation can help injured victims obtain maximum compensation for their medical bills, lost wages, and other related expenses.

Wrongful Death Claims

When someone dies due to the wrongful act, omission, or negligence of another, that person’s estate may bring a wrongful death suit against the party who caused the death. If your loved one died in a car wreck, you may be able to file a wrongful death claim if the other driver is found to be at-fault.

In Alabama, a wrongful death suit must be filed by the persons representing the deceased’s estate. Unlike other states, which allow family members to collect compensation for losses, such as medical expenses, lost financial support, and funeral costs, Alabama restricts recovery in wrongful death suits to punitive damages. Such damages are not designed to compensate surviving family members, but rather to punish defendants at-fault.

Should I Settle with the Insurance Company?

Oftentimes, insurance companies approach car wreck victims with offers of financial compensation. Think twice before accepting any offer. Insurance companies typically offer injured parties amounts that are far less than victims deserve by law. Insurance companies may also try to pressure injured parties to settle quickly or delay making payments.

If you were injured in a car wreck, it is in your best interest to seek legal advice from a qualified lawyer in your area to ensure that your rights are protected. An experienced lawyer who knows the insurance laws in your state can advise you of your rights and explain all of the terms in your auto insurance policy. Even if you decide to go with the offer from your insurance company, you will be prepared if you speak with your lawyer first.

Statute of Limitations in Alabama

If you are thinking about filing a personal injury claim due to a car wreck, it is important to know the legal time limits that apply. The statute of limitations in Alabama for personal injury claims is two years from the date of the accident and two years from the date of death for wrongful death claims. If you are running out of time to file a claim, contact an experienced lawyer as exceptions may be made, depending upon the circumstances.

What is the Risk of Getting into a Car Wreck?

Your risk of getting into a car wreck depends upon the state in which you live, how old you are, and what time of day you were driving. Statistics indicate that male drivers between the ages of 16 and 30 are much more likely to get into accidents. The most dangerous time to drive is between midnight and 3:00 a.m. on the weekends, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). That is also the time when crashes are more likely to occur due to driving under the influence (DUI).

Other factors that influence the frequency and severity of car wrecks include road conditions, traffic laws, and speed limits. Calculating road fatalities by state is another way of estimating risk. Two ratios that are often used include the following:

  • Traffic fatalities per 100,000 people
  • Traffic fatalities per 100 million miles traveled

In both of these categories, Alabama has one of the highest traffic fatality rates in the country, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). The number of deaths per 100,000 people average about 19.5 in Alabama. Heavily populated states tend to have much lower automobile fatality rates per capita, including New Jersey at 6.3 and Washington, D.C. at 4.4. Regarding the number of miles traveled, Alabama registered 1.34 deaths per 100 million miles traveled.

Congested areas may appear to be more prone to serious car wrecks, however, nearly half of all motor vehicle deaths in America during 2018 occurred on rural roads. In Alabama, that percentage is near 60 percent.

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All of these statistics appear to indicate that there are substantial comparative risks of being involved in a car wreck when driving on the roads and highways of Alabama.

What Cars are Safest to Drive?

Each year, various car magazines and independent entities issue reports regarding the safety of various models of cars. The NHTSA issues five-star ratings to various makes and models of vehicles each year. The NHTSA also conducts three tests to determine the safety rating of each vehicle. Frontal, side, and rollover crashes account for the majority of accidents in the U.S. In 2020, the NHTSA selected 50 different makes and models of vehicles for crash testing, and another 21 models for crash avoidance verification testing.

Types of Car Wrecks

There are many ways in which a car wreck can occur. Some involve only one driver running off the road or hitting objects, such as trees or electrical poles, while others are multi-vehicle collisions involving more than three drivers. Common types of car accidents include:

  • Head-on car wrecks
  • Intersection accidents
  • Rollovers
  • Rear-end collisions
  • Sideswipes
  • T-bone/Side-impact crashes
  • Low-speed collisions

Head-on collisions often result in the most catastrophic injuries because drivers and front-seat passengers often suffer trauma to the head, neck, and spine. At intersections, drivers making turns may not see pedestrians, motorcycles, or bicycles in their path, causing injury to those outside the car. Injuries to those within cars are likely when drivers attempt to beat the red light and crash into oncoming vehicles. When that occurs, it is often referred to as a T-bone crash, which may result in shattered windshields and victims suffering severe cuts, lacerations, and broken bones.

In a rear-end collision, vehicle occupants are thrust forward violently, resulting in injuries such as whiplash and traumatic brain injury. Rollovers are common when roads are slippery and/or vehicles are traveling at high speeds. Speeding is a common cause of single-vehicle crashes. If a driver takes a turn while going over the speed limit, they can lose control and hit a road barrier or tree.

While low-speed collisions tend to cause fewer injuries to those inside a car, they result in property damage. However, children or pets outside the car may be victims of low-speed collisions, even if the driver or passengers are not hurt. Drivers may then be held liable. There is a high risk of injury anytime a car hits a pedestrian.

Car Wreck Injuries

Those who are injured in car accidents may be entitled to compensation for their medical bills, lost wages, and other related expenses. Our lawyers have helped clients recover for various injuries, including:

  • Amputations
  • Back injuries
  • Traumatic brain injuries
  • Broken bones
  • Burns
  • Chest injuries
  • Internal injuries
  • Neck and whiplash injuries
  • Paralysis
  • Whiplash

While all of these injuries may be serious, many catastrophic results occur when there is trauma to the brain, or the spinal cord, caused by sudden, violent blows. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), nearly 1.5 million people in the U.S. experience traumatic brain injury annually, and nearly 50,000 will die. More than five million Americans now live with a permanent injury due to traumatic brain injury.

Car wrecks are the leading cause of spinal cord injury, which can lead to paralysis and death.

How Can I Best Avoid a Car Wreck?

Given that that the results of a car wreck can be devastating physically, emotionally, and financially, what can drivers do to avoid an accident? Some accidents are due to defective automobile parts or other unforeseen circumstances. However, because so many accidents are due to driver error, there is a lot that you can do to avoid a car wreck. The following tips may prove helpful:

  • Obey traffic laws. Many accidents happen because people are speeding.
  • Keep calm. Road rage causes many accidents.
  • Stay alert while driving at night. Always make sure your headlights are on after sunset. Keep your eyes open for any traffic changes on the roadway.
  • Go slow at intersections. Never try to beat the light and use caution when making left turns. Watch for pedestrians or cyclists, or oncoming vehicles that may try to beat the red light.

The time you save by going slower and paying attention could mean the difference between a car wreck and safe trip home.

What Should You Do If You are in a Car Wreck?

The jolt of a car wreck is a very frightening experience. When this happens, the first thing you need to do is turn off your vehicle, take a deep breath, and turn on your hazard lights. Although difficult, the best thing you can do at this point is to stay as calm as possible. Check around to see if anyone is injured or if your car is badly damaged. If people have been hurt, call 911 and report the wreck to the police.

If it is just a fender-bender and no one is hurt at all, you may be able to speak with the other driver and exchange contact information. However, if you have any questions, it is best to call 911 and wait for the police. If it is safe to do so, move your car off the road. When the police arrive, do not volunteer any information about who or what caused the accident. Stay calm and provide the information required by Alabama state law, which includes the following:

  • The names and addresses of the driver and all passengers
  • Driver’s license numbers
  • Vehicle registration numbers

When asked, provide factual information about the accident but do not make comments about who might have caused the accident or whether you think you are hurt. It is best to go to the hospital and let medical professionals evaluate your condition, as many injuries, such as sprains and whiplash, may not surface until later. Also, wait for the police to arrive before getting into conversations with the other drivers involved. The value of your personal injury claims could be affected by anything you say at the scene of a car wreck. If it is safe to do so, take pictures of the accident scene with your phone, then move your vehicle off the road.

Causes of Car Wrecks

Car accidents are typically caused by driver error, according to the NHSTA. Common causes of car wrecks include:

  • Distracted driving: The CDC reports that distracted drivers injure more than 1,000 people per day.
  • Drugged/Drunk driving: According to the CDC, approximately 10,000 people are killed in drunk driving accidents each year.
  • Speeding: On average, 10,000 people in 2017 were killed in accidents in which a driver was speeding, according to the NHTSA.

Vehicles with design or manufacturing defects in the tires, brakes, seat belts, transmission, or other auto parts may also cause car wrecks.

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Huntsville Car Wreck Lawyers at Hodges Trial Lawyers, P.C. Represent Victims Injured in All Types of Car Accidents

If you were injured or you lost a loved one in a car wreck, contact an Alabama car wreck lawyer at Hodges Trial Lawyers, P.C. Our experienced attorneys can help you receive the compensation you deserve. Located in Huntsville and Athens, Alabama, we represent clients throughout North Alabama, Madison County, Limestone County, Marshall County, Jackson County, Morgan County, and Lauderdale County. For a free consultation, please complete our online contact form or call us at 256-539-3110.

A Message to Our Clients About Coronavirus COVID-19:
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A Message to Our Clients About Coronavirus COVID-19

At Hodges Trial Lawyers, P.C. we view the safety and well-being of our clients, staff and business partners as our highest priority.

The situation regarding the COVID-19 virus is continually changing, and we are following all recommended guidelines to stay healthy.

Currently, our law firm is remaining open and working to serve your legal needs. We are, however, limiting in person meetings to comply with social distancing recommendations.

We are happy to arrange for phone or video consultations should you have any concerns about keeping your scheduled appointments with us. We are also able to exchange documents via secure drives or email. We will continue to diligently represent our clients, even if we have to do so remotely.

Should you have any concerns, please contact us online or call/text us at 256-539-3110.

Thank you and stay safe.