Car accidents can result in serious injuries in Alabama and elsewhere. If you are in a car accident, the first thing you should do is check on everyone involved in the accident. You should also take photographs of injuries and property damage. These photographs may be useful in a subsequent lawsuit for damages.
Drivers involved in a car accident must remain at the scene. It is a felony to commit a hit and run, or flee the scene of an accident in which an injury or death occurs. Under Alabama Code section 32-10-2, a driver involved in an accident resulting in injury, death, or property damage must give his or her name, contact information, and registration number to someone who is struck. He or she must also show a driver’s license if requested. In addition to providing information, drivers are required to render reasonable assistance to those who are injured. This includes making arrangements to get victims transported to a doctor or hospital for medical care if it’s obvious that help is needed or the victim asks.
You should call the police in accidents involving injuries, death, or significant property damage. Evidence gathered by the police and a police report can be useful in a civil claim. Later, you can get a copy of the accident report from the office that investigated.
Regardless of what you believe about whose fault a car accident was, you should not say the accident was your fault or partially your fault, or apologize to anyone. Statements you make against your own interest at an accident scene can be construed against you in a civil claim for damages. Alabama is a pure contributory negligence state. This means that an injury victim cannot recover any damages even if he is only 1% at fault for an accident.
Suppose, for example, you are driving to work and sipping your coffee when a car runs a red light and T-bones you. You are hurt. However, the other driver is filled with road rage and starts yelling at you about the sandwich, even though he ran a red light and caused the accident. Some people in this situation may be tempted to apologize out of politeness. If you sue the other driver and go to trial, the jury may assess the total damages and then assign a percentage of fault to you and to the other driver. If the jury decides that you admitted some fault by apologizing and assigns you 10% of the fault, you will not be able to recover any damages, no matter how serious your injuries are.
You are required to report an accident to the Alabama Department of Public Safety within 30 days when there is more than $250 in property damage or anyone was hurt or killed. Accident report forms can be found at the local police office, the sheriff’s office, or the state trooper’s office. You should also report the accident to your insurance company.
Alabama is a “fault” state, meaning that after a car accident, you can file an insurance claim or a personal injury lawsuit against the other driver. If you are filing a personal injury or property damage lawsuit in Alabama, you only have two years from the date of the accident to file a complaint. Those who do not file before the two-year deadline will likely lose their ability to have a court hear the case.
What if the other driver is uninsured or only carries the minimum car insurance of $25,000, and your accident was serious? In Alabama, you can file an uninsured motorist coverage claim with your own insurer. This type of coverage is mandated by law, unless the person buying the policy declines the coverage in writing.
If you are hurt in a car accident, you should consult an experienced Alabama personal injury attorney. Call Jinks, Crow & Dickson at 888-297-9592 or via our online form.
Other Blog Posts
Law of Defamation; October 15, 2015
Alabama Lemon Law Basics; September 18, 2015