The Alabama DOT estimates about a 98% chance of being involved in a motor vehicle accident in your lifetime. And based on 2016 accident data, typical drivers in Alabama, over their lifetimes, have greater than a one in three chance of involvement in an injury or fatal crash. If you have injuries or expenses due to an auto accident, it’s important to protect your claim.
What If I Have Damages in This Car Accident?
If you suffer damages in a car wreck you may have a claim against the other driver to compensate you for your loss. These are the two types of compensatory damages you may be able to claim under Alabama law:
First, you may be able to claim economic damages which include actual and future economic damages.
Actual economic damages compensate you for your actual losses such as medicals, lost wages, and repair or loss of your motor vehicle and other personal property. These can be proven by receipts and employment records.
Future economic damages compensate you for future damages. For example, if your doctor says you have a permanent leg injury that requires further care, you may have future medical expenses and future loss of wages. You will require experts to establish the amounts for future losses.
Second, you may be entitled to non-economic compensatory damages for pain and suffering, emotional distress, and loss of enjoyment of life. It is impossible to place an exact value of these losses. Generally, the amount relates to the seriousness of your injury. Your attorney will help you determine their value.
Third, in some cases, you may be able to collect punitive damages from the other driver if she acted with malice, with gross negligence, or with a BAC level of more than 1.5x the legal limit.
Alabama has placed caps limiting compensation for certain damages. The law caps punitive damages at three times the amount of compensatory damages awarded or $1.5 million, whichever is less.
Alabama’s Negligence Law May Affect Your Damage Claim.
Under Alabama law, if you file a lawsuit, you must prove that the other driver was 100% at fault. If the jury finds you were even 1% at fault (“contributory negligence”), you could get nothing. This has decreased the number of lawsuits filed and increased the number of cases settled with the other driver’s insurance company.
What Should I Do to Protect My Damage Claim?
At the accident scene:
- Do not leave the scene. Hit and run is a criminal offense.
- Call 911 to report the accident and any injuries
- If you are injured go to the hospital for care or a checkup.
- Call your insurance agent and follow his instructions.
- Get the name, contact information, and insurance company for the other driver and copy his license plate number.
- DO NOT talk to anyone about how the accident happened
- DO NOT apologize or admit fault to anyone, including the police.
- Try to get the names and contact information of any witnesses.
After the accident:
- Complete and submit a Safety Responsibility Accident Report with 30 days of the accident to DOT’s Driver’s License Division.
- Keep all your receipts for accident-related expenses, such as medical bills and vehicle repairs.
- If you have been injured or want to make a claim, as soon as possible contact an experienced motor vehicle accident attorney who can answer your questions and help you gain a fair settlement from the insurance company. Insurance companies are looking to protect themselves, so don’t just accept a quick settlement before speaking with an experienced car wreck attorney like those at Clay, Massey & Associates, P.C. Call us today at 251-433-1000 to schedule a FREE initial consultation or click the Live Chat link on our site to chat instantly!