WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW ABOUT HIRING A PERSONAL INJURY ATTORNEY AND COMPENSATION
Car accidents are always sudden and often result in severe injuries. Not only does one experience physical injuries, but a car accident can leave the victims and their families devastated, having to deal with long-term consequences that have lasting impacts. A father of 3, who is a blue-collar worker, cannot afford to be off his job because of the mistakes and negligence of another driver on the road. Medical bills lost wages, and delayed house bills are only the beginning of what one would experience in such a situation.
While there’s no denying that you should be focused on how to pay your medical bills and worry about what you’ll do with your car and how you’ll move around, you should also be aware of your rights in this situation. As a resident of Dothan, and Alabama by extension, you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries and damage to your property.
However, you would need to navigate some legal red tape as prescribed under Alabama State Law and the best way to go about that would be through the services of a Dothan Personal Injury Attorney.
Things You Should Do After a Car Accident
Before we proceed further, you should know what you should do after you’ve been in an accident. Staying vigilant and diligent will also contribute to a successful claim. After ensuring that you and everyone else are ok, your first step would be to call the police and make an official police report. God forbid if someone is injured, then also call an ambulance immediately. Exchange information with the other drivers, including license plate numbers, names, contact info, and insurance information. Also, try to get contact information from witnesses.
You should also take pictures of all damage that has been done to the cars and any injuries that have been sustained. Also, take pictures of the entire crash scene to give an idea of the location and what direction the cars were coming and going. Once you have everything sorted, contact a lawyer immediately and begin the process of claiming for the damage and injury you’ve suffered.
Benefits of Hiring a Personal Injury Attorney
First and foremost, speaking to a personal injury attorney would give you a comprehensive understanding of your full rights under the law. They can give you an estimate of what your compensation would be for the damage you’ve suffered and, while acting on your behalf, would go a long way in saving you from further stress, as we’ll explain below. Also, despite what your friends or family might tell you, the process isn’t as simple as just filing a car accident claim and waiting for your money.
Any respectable attorney would start off with conducting a thorough and independent investigation that would be free of any undue influence, like insurance companies or authorities in some cases. It’s possible that the accident you suffered was due to multiple factors and parties other than just the other driver. An attorney’s investigation will yield such findings, which would strengthen your case and increase the amount of compensation you would be entitled to from all parties involved. An attorney would also use means that are unconventional, but within the realms of the law, ensuring your case is sound.
We mentioned car accident claims above as if they were a simple process on their own as well. The truth is that car accident claims involve a significant amount of paperwork with strict deadlines for filing. Again, it’s not just about filing paperwork and waiting for money. If further evidence or documentation is required, your attorney would be prepared or, at the very least, see it coming. As such, they’d be better equipped in any responses that are needed.
It’s also possible that your claim might require a civil lawsuit. Even if there isn’t extensive litigation like a trial, you might still need to deal with other litigation procedures like hearings and depositions.
Hiring a personal injury attorney doesn’t just mean they’re relevant if the matter goes to trial.
They can assist in the entire process from negotiating with the insurance company over claims to filing a lawsuit, carrying out investigations, conducting depositions, going to hearings, and then proceeding to trial. You could go the maverick route and litigate yourself, but there’s a decent chance you’ll end up jeopardizing your case and losing your claim in the process. Representing yourself only looks cool in the movies and, in reality, often ends with bad results.
Personal injury attorneys also have a professional network that involves people in insurance companies, the courts, and the police as well. They use this network to further the matter and expedite processes. You in your private capacity would not have the same level of access to these people. Therefore, an attorney will go a long way in saving you a great deal of time, stress, and money.
As you can see, there are obvious benefits to hiring a personal injury attorney. You would be freeing yourself from any further stress after already having gone through a traumatizing accident. You wouldn’t necessarily need to worry about paying your lawyer immediately either as attorneys also tend to work on a contingency basis. This means they would only get paid if your claim were to be successful.
There are three different types of damages that individuals may be entitled to if they have been injured in a car accident. First, there are General Damages, which do not have any assigned economic value. It’s difficult to put a number on things like mental anguish, pain, and suffering, loss of quality of life, etc.
Then there are special damages which refer to economic damages and can be proven by way of receipts and invoices. Lost income, medical and rehabilitation bills are some examples of economic damages. This would also include future losses, such as lost income and future medical therapy. Such damages can also include costs for renting a car while your car is being repaired or replaced, towing expenses, personal items damaged inside the car, and even pay for a totaled vehicle.
Finally, there are Punitive Damages but these are rarely involved in personal injury claims. If your claim involves the filing of a lawsuit and it proceeds to trial, then you could be awarded punitive damages if you can prove that the other driver acted out of malice or negligently.
Punitive damages can be quite significant, but proving for the same takes time and legal expertise.
While one can easily say that Alabama’s state laws would be favorable for victims in these situations, it should be noted that the law regarding compensation is a double-edged sword as well. If there is any sign of contributory negligence, which means that your actions also contributed to the accident, then you would no longer be entitled to compensation.
Some Additional Tips
To recap, hiring an attorney has multiple benefits. Firstly, you are able to ensure that your claim is entertained and, furthermore, the compensation you receive truly reflects the anguish and trauma that you and your loved ones have experienced. Secondly, you are no longer burdened by having to fulfill all formalities and following timelines as your attorney would be professionally and ethically bound to represent you appropriately.
Your attorney is your main source of information in this regard. Be sure to ask any and all questions you may have and address your concerns before the process starts. Your attorney is bound to guide you and that’s exactly what you’re paying them for. So, consult and seek advice from your attorney each and every step of the way.
Also, remember that there is a time restriction on filing a claim for personal injury and damages. Your attorney would be better suited to advising you on these timelines and ensuring that you meet them. Attorneys also tend to lose interest in a case if clients also give that impression, so be sure to keep your attorney on their toes by asking for follow-ups and status updates on filings and trials.
Accidents can happen anywhere at any time. Whether it’s while you’re dropping your kids at school or on a road trip with friends. God forbid anyone should get hurt, but regardless if you have suffered any damage or injury due to the actions and carelessness of another, then you should be entitled to compensation. Be sure to be vigilant and diligent from the first moment if you can, and contact the authorities and your lawyer immediately.
That being said, one should always be careful when driving and follow all the rules of the road. Don’t ever use your phone while driving, even if it’s just to “check the home screen” and don’t EVER drink and drive. A car is one of those things that if you lose control of it once, only your luck can save you. So drive safe and act smart!