Martinson & Beason has compiled a list of frequently asked questions about car accidents. We hope you find this information helpful:
Q: I WAS JUST IN A CAR ACCIDENT. WHAT DO I DO NOW?
A: If you are involved in a car accident, there are some standard things that you should do immediately after the accident.
- If you are not injured, check on others to see if there are injuries and then call 9-1-1 to report the accident.
- Exchange insurance information and ask witnesses for names, addresses and phone numbers (try to get home, work and mobile).
- Take pictures of the accident with your mobile device.
- Get the responding officer’s name and a case number.
- Do NOT leave the scene of the accident.
- Do NOT admit fault or discuss the accident with bystanders or witnesses.
After you get home, report the accident to your insurance company and file accident form SR-13. For more suggestions, click here.
Q: WHAT IS THE FORM I HAVE TO COMPLETE AFTER AN ACCIDENT IN ALABAMA?
A: The State of Alabama requires that anyone who has been in an accident where there were injuries or more than $250 in property damage complete form SR-13 to report the accident to the State. This must be done within 30 days. The form can be found here.
Q: HOW DO I GET A COPY OF MY ALABAMA ACCIDENT REPORT?
A: You will need the case number, accident date and last name of the driver(s) or vehicle owners to get the report. Depending on the accident location, some police departments have the reports available online. If your accident was in Huntsville, accident reports can be found at http://huntsvilleal.policereports.us/.
Q: I WAS INJURED IN A CAR ACCIDENT AND HAD TO GO TO THE HOSPITAL. WILL MY MEDICAL INSURANCE COVER MY ACCIDENT BILLS?
A: Alabama requires that drivers carry minimum insurance that includes bodily injury insurance. Your medical claims should be paid first under your car insurance policy with any overages paid by your medical insurance policy. Note that if another driver is at fault for causing the accident, his or her insurance should cover your medical bills.
Q: MY INSURANCE COMPANY WANTS ME TO SIGN A RELEASE BEFORE THEY GIVE ME THE CHECK. SHOULD I SIGN IT?
A: Many release forms contain a clause that states you are releasing the insurance company from any further payments in the case. If your accident involved only property damage and the payment is sufficient to cover repairs, it may be okay to sign the release. If you were injured, you want to be certain that no hidden injuries exist that might cause issues at a later date. If either case, it might be wise to have an attorney review your situation and the legal document before you sign it.
Q: SOMEONE ELSE CAUSED THE ACCIDENT AND I WAS INJURED, BUT I CAN’T AFFORD AN ATTORNEY. WHAT SHOULD I DO?
A: Most attorneys offer a free consultation and many injury attorneys will accept cases on a contingency basis. This means that they will handle your case without up-front charges. You will pay the attorney a portion of the proceeds only if they recover on your behalf. This means that if you were truly injured as the result of another persons’ negligence, you should speak to an attorney and learn your rights. It doesn’t cost you anything to explain your situation and ask if you have a case.
Q: WHAT DOES CONTRIBUTORY NEGLIGENCE MEAN?
A: Alabama law states that if you are even 1% at fault in the accident, you may not recover damages. This is one of the reasons it is so important to fully document your accident, including photos, witness contact information, drawings of the area, etc.
Q: I WASN’T WEARING MY SEATBELT WHEN ANOTHER DRIVER RAN INTO ME AND I WAS INJURED. DOES THIS MEAN I WAS NEGLIGENT AND CANNOT RECOVER DAMAGES FOR MY INJURY?
A: The rules vary on this subject on a state by state basis. In Alabama, failure to wear a seat belt is not considered contributory negligence. In other states, however, insurance companies have been successful in reducing payouts by claiming that failure to wear a seat belt contributed to the injury.
Q: THE DRIVER WHO CAUSED THE ACCIDENT DIDN’T HAVE INSURANCE. WHAT DO I DO?
A: Your insurance will cover your claim after the deductible and up to the limits you have purchased. If your policy includes uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage (UM/UIM), this would come into play. Alabama does require insurance companies who sell insurance in Alabama to provide UM/UIM coverage even if you don’t request it unless the named insured signs a written waiver rejecting UM/UIM coverage.
Q: SOME GUY RAN INTO MY CAR AND WRECKED IT. I AM OKAY, BUT REALLY MAD. CAN I SUE HIM?
A: If you were not injured and the only damage from the accident was property damage that was covered by insurance then you do not have a sound basis for a lawsuit. The current legal system is designed to handle cases where serious injury, permanent disability or death resulted from the accident.
Q: MY WIFE WAS HIT BY A DRUNK DRIVER COMING HOME FROM WORK. SHE IS STILL IN PHYSICAL THERAPY. DO WE HAVE ANY RECOURSE TO RECOVER HER EXPENSES AND LOST WAGES?
A: You may very well have sound basis for a lawsuit to recover medical bills and expenses and lost wages. In most drunk driving cases, the person who chose to drink and drive is fully responsible for the accident. It is a good idea to take all the documentation you have related to the accident and your wife’s medical treatments and meet with an attorney to understand your wife’s rights.
Q: MY SON WAS A PASSENGER IN A CAR THAT WAS HIT BY ANOTHER DRIVER. HE WAS SEVERELY INJURED AND MAY NOT WALK AGAIN. WHAT CAN WE DO?
A: Severe injuries from car accidents can result in permanent disability and the necessity of ongoing medical treatment or physical therapy. The cost of this treatment can be incredibly expensive. Because your son was a passenger, you may have several legal options to recover damages. It is a good idea to discuss the specifics of your case with an experienced personal injury attorney to understand your son’s rights.
Q: I WAS IN AN ACCIDENT AND THE POLICE GAVE ME A TICKET FOR CAUSING THE WRECK. CAN THE OTHER DRIVER SUE ME?
A: If you were at fault in the accident and the other driver was injured, then he or she can sue you.
Q: I WAS DRIVING A RENTAL CAR WHEN SOMEONE ELSE RAN INTO ME. WHOSE INSURANCE PAYS THE DAMAGES?
A: Generally speaking, when you sign the rental agreement you provide a copy of your insurance information. If you decline the additional coverage offered by the rental agency, then you would be responsible for meeting your deductible prior to your insurance paying the difference. In this particular situation, if the other driver is entirely at fault, his or her insurance should cover the damages. However, rental companies are not patient when waiting for reimbursement, so you may have to pay your deductible and then request reimbursement from the other driver’s insurance. In most cases, your insurance company will work with the other drivers’ insurer to collect payment.
Q: A HIT AND RUN DRIVER RAN ME OFF THE ROAD AND I WRECKED. THE POLICE DIDN’T FIND THE PERSON. WILL MY INSURANCE COVER MY INJURIES?
A: Yes. Your insurance will cover your medical bills and property damage up to the limits purchased. Further, you can file a claim on your uninsured motorist coverage to recover your past and future medical bills, past and future loss wages, pain and suffering, mental anguish and emotional distress.
Our Alabama car accident lawyers handle all automobile accident cases on a contingency fee basis, which means we do not charge you a fee until and unless we make a recovery for you. Click here to download our Special Report giving the five questions you must ask before hiring an attorney.
If you or a loved one has suffered a personal injury, contact our experienced and dedicated Huntsville car accident attorneys. The evaluation is free and confidential.
Email us or call us toll free at (256) 533-1667.