motorcycle accident attorney in dothan alabama

How to Avoid Blind Spot Motorcycle Accidents

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) has designated May as Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month. We all know that motorcyclists lack the protection and safety features that occupants of other motor vehicles have, and this makes them inherently more at risk of serious injury when they are involved in an accident. In fact, according to the NHTSA, motorcyclists are actually 27 times more likely to die in a crash than other motorists.

As part of Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month, we want to highlight one of the factors that plays a primary role in many motorcycle accidents; failure of motorists to see motorcycles that enters their blind spot. Because motorcyclists have a smaller profile, it is very easy for drivers of other vehicles not to notice them in their blind spots, especially if they are not paying proper attention. 

Some of the newer vehicles are coming equipped with blind spot monitors, which should help reduce the number of blind spot motorcycle accidents that occur in the future. That said, most vehicles on the road today do not yet have these monitors, so motorists need to be extra cautious to prevent a blind spot accident.

Here are some steps motorists should take to avoid blind spot motorcycle accidents:

  • Adjust your mirrors properly: Your mirrors should be positioned so that the size of your blind spot is minimized. Make sure your rearview mirror completely frames your back window, so you can see all of it and point your sideview mirrors toward your blind spot.
  • Always signal your intentions: Drivers often make last-minute decisions to change lanes, so they do not miss a turn or for other reasons. Unfortunately, it is easy to get in the habit of making these lane changes without signaling. This could be a deadly mistake if there is a motorcycle or another vehicle in your blind spot. Be sure to always signal when you are changing lanes or making a turn, even if it is at the last minute. This will help warn anyone who may be in your blind spot to honk to get our attention and/or get out of the way.
  • Look over your shoulder before changing lanes: Even if your mirrors are properly adjusted, you might still have missed a motorcycle or vehicle that snuck into your blind spot. To be absolutely certain that you are clear to change lanes or make a turn, get into the habit of manually looking over your shoulder in the direction which you are turning.
  • Stay free of distractions: In today’s electronic age, distracted driving is a growing problem that is contributing to an increasing number of motorcycle accidents. Refrain from texting while driving or any other smartphone activity while behind the wheel. If you have to make a phone call, put the phone in “hands-free” mode. Far too many unnecessary accidents are the result of distracted driving, and it’s just not worth the risk.

There are also some things motorcyclists can do to help prevent blind spot accidents:

  • Give other vehicles adequate space: These days, bikers need to ride defensively and give other vehicles enough space to make turns and complete lane changes. One good rule of thumb is to stay about 20 feet away from other vehicles, so you have enough time to react appropriately when they make last-minute moves.
  • Spend minimal time in other vehicles’ blind spots: There are certainly times when it is unavoidable to enter the blind spot of another vehicle, such as when you are passing them up or they are passing you up. But aside from that, do not stay in their blind spot for any length of time.
  • Stay visible: When you are out riding, make it a point to wear clothing that is brightly-colored, fluorescent, or otherwise easy to see. Also be sure to keep your headlights on, even when you are riding during daylight hours.

Injured in a Blind Spot Motorcycle Accident in Alabama? Speak with a Seasoned Personal Injury Lawyer

We hope everyone follows these safety practices to avoid blind spot accidents and stay safe this spring and summer. We know, however, that sometimes even when you follow all the rules, you may still end up in an accident. If this occurs, be sure to get in contact with a skilled accident injury lawyer. Insurance companies are known for playing games and using various tactics to diminish the value of an injury claim or even deny the claim altogether. For this reason, it is important to get an attorney involved as early as possible in the process, so your right to recover compensation can be protected.

At M. Adam Jones and Associates, we have extensive experience successfully representing motorcycle accident injury victims in Alabama, and we fight hard to help ensure that our clients recover the full and fair compensation they need and deserve. Call us today at 334-581-9238 or send us a message through our online web form to schedule a free consultation with one of our attorneys.

Motorcycle Accident attorney

I was Injured in a Motorcycle Accident, do I Need to Retain an Attorney?

With the arrival of spring, more and more motorcyclists will be hitting the roadways. The warmer weather allows bikers to get out and enjoy the scenic rides on the open roads. But riding season also means an increased risk of a motorcycle accident, and motorcyclists who are involved in a crash with another type of motor vehicle are inherently more at risk of a serious injury. 

If you have been injured in a motorcycle accident, you might wonder whether or not it is worthwhile to retain an attorney. Maybe you have already been contacted by the insurance company for the other party with a settlement offer to cover your injuries and property damage, and you don’t see the need to hire a lawyer and give them a percentage of the settlement.

There are some circumstances in which it might be okay to take the settlement offer and move on with your life. For example, if you sustained minor injuries and property damage, the facts of the case are straightforward and not in dispute, and the insurance company has given you an offer that you are satisfied with, then accepting the offer might be the right choice.

Even in a scenario like this, however, it is still a good idea to at least talk to a lawyer to review your case and discuss your legal rights and options. This way, you can make the most informed decision on which way you want to go with the case.

If there are any complicating factors in your case, then you should definitely consider retaining skilled legal counsel. Some examples include:

  • There are disputes regarding who was at fault for the accident;
  • An investigation is required to uncover key facts in the case;
  • The motorcycle accident involved multiple parties;
  • You sustained moderate to severe injuries, the extent of which are not yet fully known;
  • Your injuries are likely to keep you out of work for an extended period of time;
  • There is a possibility that your injuries could be permanent and debilitating.

Dealing with the insurance company on your own is a confusing process that is full of potential pitfalls, and if there are complicating factors such as those mentioned above, you may not end up receiving full and fair compensation for your injuries. In fact, you could end up without any compensation at all.

This is especially true if the motorcycle accident occurred in Alabama. Alabama is one of just a handful of states that applies the “contributory negligence” legal standard. Under contributory negligence, an injured party can be barred from recovering compensation if they are found to be even 1% at fault for the underlying accident. For this reason, if there is any question at all about who was at fault in your case, it is absolutely essential to get an attorney involved as early as possible in the process, so your legal right to recover compensation can be preserved.

What is Causing my Neck & Back Pain after a Car Crash?

Auto accidents, and the force that accompanies them, can be very hard on the neck and back.  This is true even with lower impact accidents that happen at reduced speeds, such as rear-end collisions. A lower impact rear-end accident, also commonly known as a “fender-bender”, typically does minor damage to the vehicle. But even when there is minimal property damage, you may still end up with injuries that are more than just a minor inconvenience.

Neck and back injuries are not always immediately apparent after a car crash. Sometimes, it can take several hours or even a few days before you start to feel the effects of the crash. This is largely due to the adrenaline rush those involved in an accident typically experience. After the crash, your heart rate increases, and your mind starts going in different directions as you focus on dealing with the situation. The adrenaline often masks the pain associated with various injuries, which can deceive people into believing that they were not really hurt by the accident.

Reasons for Neck and Back Pain after a Vehicle Crash

After some time passes following a car crash, the pain of neck and back injuries eventually shows up. This is often the sign of a condition known as “whiplash”. The sudden, jerking motion of a vehicle crash, even one that occurs at a low speed, can throw the body rapidly back and forth, similarly to the motion of a horse whip.

Whiplash injuries are especially common in rear-end crashes, and occupants of the lead vehicle are the most susceptible to this type of injury, because they are usually not able to brace for the collision.

A whiplash injury can also vary in severity, depending on the specific circumstances of the accident, such as the speed in which the vehicles collided, the angle at which the collision occurred, the position of the drivers and passengers who were hurt, and many others. In some cases, the effects of the injury are fairly minor and will only be felt for a couple weeks or so. In other cases, however, the effects of the injury can last for several months or even years.

Whiplash is a severe sprain or strain in the neck that produces general neck and back pain. Other symptoms of this condition may include:

  • Neck stiffness;
  • Limited range of motion in the neck;
  • Increased pain with neck movement;
  • Severe headaches;
  • Dizziness or blurred vision;
  • Numbness or tingling in the arms;
  • Pain or tenderness in the shoulders, arms, and upper back;
  • Lower back pain;
  • Difficulty with focus and concentration;
  • Muscle spasms;
  • Tiredness and fatigue;
  • Anxiety and depression.

Whiplash is one possible cause of neck and back pain after a car crash, but this type of pain could also be an indication of another condition, such as:

  • Spinal cord injury (SCI)
  • Herniated disc
  • Thoracic spine injury
  • Lumbar spine injury

What to Do if you are Feeling Neck and Back Pain from a Car Crash

If you are experiencing neck or back pain or any other type of physical pain after a motor vehicle accident, this is not something to be taken lightly. If you ignore the pain, it will probably not go away on its own. If anything, it is likely to become worse over time and possibly even become permanent and irreparable. As soon as you feel any symptoms at all, it is important to seek immediate medical attention. The sooner you see a medical professional, the sooner you can get an accurate diagnosis and ensure that your condition is properly treated.

Another reason you want to get medical help is to help establish a legal connection between the auto accident and your injuries. If the accident was the fault of another party, you may have the right to compensation. However, if you wait too long, the responsible party and their insurance company will likely claim that the injury is not from the accident and/or you did not do everything you could to minimize the effects of your injury. So, get immediate medical help, then get in touch with a skilled car accident lawyer to discuss your legal options.

Experienced Neck or Back Pain after an Auto Accident? Contact the Experienced Alabama Personal Injury Attorneys at M. Adam Jones and Associates

If you were injured in a vehicle crash in Alabama, call M. Adam Jones and Associates at 334-581-9238 for a free consultation. We will meet with you to fully assess your case and advise you of your rights and options. You may also message us through our online contact form or stop by our Dothan, AL office in person at your convenience.

commercial truck accident attorney in little rock

Truck Accidents: Avoiding an Accident with an 18-Wheeler

Trucking accidents have been on the rise in recent years. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) reports that more than 4,100 individuals were killed in accidents involving large trucks in 2017, a 30% increase from 2009. And of those who were killed in these types of accidents:

  • 68% were occupants of cars and other passenger vehicles;
  • 17% were large truck occupants;
  • 14% were motorcyclists, bicyclists, and pedestrians.

It comes as very little surprise that most of those who are seriously injured or killed in truck accidents are those who collide with big rig trucks. Large tractor-trailers that are fully loaded typically weigh up to 80,000 pounds or more, and the sheer force of colliding with a vehicle this size makes those who share the road with 18-wheelers especially vulnerable to severe injuries and fatalities.

Given the heightened risks motorists face when they are driving near a large commercial truck, it is important for drivers to be proactive and take extra precautions to ensure their safety. Here are five things you should do to help avoid an accident with a semi-truck:

Stay Out of Blind Spots

Big rig trucks have more and larger blind spots than a typical passenger vehicle. 18-wheelers have two blind spots on each side of the vehicle, which are commonly known as “no zones”. If you are in one of these “no zones”, it means the truck driver cannot see you, which could result in an accident if they try to change lanes or make a turn. In general, if you cannot see the driver in his/her rearview mirror, this means he/she probably cannot see you either. Do your best to stay out of truckers’ blind spots for any length of time. 

Keep your Distance

A loaded semi-truck requires 20% to 40% more braking distance than a regular vehicle, and this percentage is increased when there are wet and slippery roads or other adverse road conditions. By following a large commercial truck too closely, motorists are much more vulnerable to accidents resulting from sudden stops and slowdowns. Other potential hazards that can result from driving too close to a big rig truck include tire blowouts, brake line failures, and your vehicle being struck by materials or debris falling out of the truck.

Be Careful when Passing or Merging with 18-Wheelers

There are times when you may need to pass up a large truck or merge into traffic when you are driving alongside them. When you pass a truck, always make sure there is plenty of space in front of you to complete this action safely. Be especially careful on two-lane roads and undivided highways where you need to pass the truck using the oncoming traffic lane, or when you are passing a truck while going uphill or downhill. And when you are merging into traffic, again be sure you have enough space if you decide to pull in front of the truck.

Lower your High Beams

Most motorists are aware that they need to turn their brights off when there is a vehicle approaching them from the opposite direction. With large commercial trucks, however, you should also keep your brights off if you are driving behind them at night. Big rig trucks have larger mirrors, and they can be blinded by another vehicle’s high beams.

Avoid Distractions

Texting while driving and similar forms of electronic activity are very dangerous practices that you should never engage in while you are behind the wheel. If you are trying to send a text while driving, for example, it takes your attention completely off of the road. Always avoid distracted driving, and especially when you are driving near a large truck.

Injured in an 18-Wheeler Accident in Alabama? Contact an Experienced Truck Accident Lawyer

Sometimes, you do everything right and still end up in an accident with a big rig truck. This can happen because of driver negligence, negligence on the part of the trucking company, a faulty vehicle part, or a combination of these and other factors. Trucking accident cases are complicated because of the numerous laws and regulations that govern the industry, and the fact that there are several potential parties that could be responsible.

If the accident occurred in Alabama, things are further complicated by the state’s defendant-friendly “contributory negligence” legal standard. Under contributory negligence, a plaintiff who is found to be even 1% at fault for an accident can be barred from recovering damages. For this reason, it is absolutely essential to obtain strong legal counsel as early on as possible in the process, so your right to recover compensation is not jeopardized.

At M. Adam Jones & Associates, we have successfully represented countless individuals who have been injured in truck accidents and all other types of motor vehicle accidents in Alabama.  We know the common tactics trucking companies and their insurers use to avoid responsibility in these types of cases, and we put our extensive experience to work to aggressively pursue full and fair compensation on behalf of each client we serve.

For a free consultation with one of our skilled personal injury attorneys, call our office today at 334-581-9238, or send us a message through our web contact form.

Head Injury

5 Most Common Causes of Traumatic Brain Injuries

Traumatic brain injury (TBI) usually results from a sudden or rapid blow, jolt, or bump to the head that disrupts the functionality of the brain. This condition can also be caused by an object that penetrates the skull, such as a bullet. Not everyone who is struck in the head suffers from TBI, but this condition is far more widespread than most people believe.

According to the Centers for Disease control and Prevention (CDC), approximately 2.5 million individuals who are brought to the emergency room and more than 250,000 individuals who are hospitalized in the United States are diagnosed with TBI each year. Here are some additional statistics from the CDC:

  • TBI contributes to about 30% of all injury related deaths;
  • TBI contributes to the deaths of nearly 50,000 individuals each year, and approximately 153 individuals die each day from this condition;
  • Approximately 80,000 to 90,000 individuals experience the onset of a TBI-related disability each year.

TBI ranges in severity from milder forms (commonly known as concussions) that last just a few hours or a few days, to the more serious types that can last a lifetime. Each individual case is unique, which can make it difficult to properly diagnose and treat the condition.

There are numerous symptoms associated with traumatic brain injury, some of the most common include:

  • Severe and lasting headaches;
  • Dizziness;
  • Loss of consciousness;   
  • Nausea and vomiting;
  • Problems with memory;
  • Problems with focus and concentration;
  • Difficulty with speech;
  • Mood changes or mood swings;
  • Fatigue;
  • Depression and anxiety;
  • Agitation an irritation;
  • Impulsive and risky behavior;
  • Seizures;
  • Dementia.

Most Common Causes of TBI

There are countless incidents that may cause a traumatic brain injury, here are some of the most common:

Falling

Nearly half of all TBI-related injuries occur because of falling. People fall down all the time, and most of the time, they get back up and think nothing more of it. However, when someone falls head first and/or slams their head hard against the ground, there is a greater risk of suffering from this condition. Children ages 14 years and under and the elderly are more susceptible to TBI due to falling.

Being Struck by or Struck against an Object or Surface

Struck by/struck against events are the second leading cause of TBI in the United States. This could mean being struck in the head by a loose or falling object, or having your head slammed into a hard surface. TBI from this type of event is more common at certain workplaces in which individuals work with heavy equipment and machinery in a fast-paced environment. Examples include construction sites, manufacturing facilities, and warehouses.

Traffic-Related Accidents

Motor vehicle accidents and related events are the third leading cause of TBI in the United States. This may include car accidents, truck accidents, bus accidents, motorcycle accidents, boating accidents, bicycle accidents, and pedestrian accidents. The force of a collision at impact can swiftly and severely jolt the head, resulting in head trauma. Symptoms of TBI among vehicle accident victims are not always noticeable right away. Sometimes, it can take a few days before they show up. This is why it is always best to seek medical attention immediately after a vehicle accident, even if you do not feel hurt.

Violent Events

Violence is the fourth leading cause of traumatic brain injury in the US. The various types of violence that may result in a TBI-related injury include gunshot wounds, domestic violence, and intentional self-harm. Domestic violence/assault disproportionately affects children ages 4 and under, who sometimes suffer TBI from being shaken back and forth (this is commonly known as “shaken baby syndrome”).

Other Causes

There are several other events that can cause TBI, these may include fires and explosions (this is especially common among soldiers in combat and in some workplaces), head injuries from high impact sports (e.g., football, hockey, boxing), and head injuries from extreme sports (e.g., skiing, cliff diving, or skydiving).

Suffering from Traumatic Brain Injury? Seek Experienced Legal Guidance

If you or someone close to you has TBI and it was caused by the negligence or reckless actions of another party, you may be entitled to compensation. If this is the case, it is important to protect your legal rights. Failure to take prompt action can make it more difficult to preserve important evidence to prove a legal claim. And if you are in Alabama, the standard of proof is very high, and there is only a two-year statute of limitations for most personal injury cases. For this reason, it is important to speak with an attorney as soon as it is convenient.

At M. Adam Jones and Associates, we understand that traumatic brain injuries can take a major physical, emotional, and financial toll on victims and their families. Our goal is to make the legal process as smooth and seamless as possible. We have extensive experience successfully pursuing compensation for personal injury victims in Alabama, and we can sit down with you to review your case and go over your legal rights and options. For a free consultation with one of our skilled Alabama personal injury attorneys, call our office today at 334-581-9238 or send us a message through our online contact form.

Rear-End Accident

Should I Seek Medical Attention after a Rear-End Collision?

Rear-end accidents are some of the most common that occur on the roadways. While some of these collisions occur at high speeds and result in severe and even catastrophic accidents, many of them are minor and are often referred to as “fender benders”. Being involved in a minor accident can seem like just an annoyance and a waste of time, and some people often wonder whether it is even worthwhile to seek medical attention.

We all lead busy lives, and when we are involved in a “fender bender” the temptation is to just exchange information with the other party and move on. After all, if I don’t feel hurt, or I just have a few minor aches and pains, why should I bother getting checked out?

Not seeking medical attention after a rear end collision could be a very big mistake, however, and here are some reasons why:

Some Auto Accident Injuries are not Discovered Right Away

There are times when those injured in a car accident do not notice that they are hurt when they are at the scene. This is largely due to the adrenaline rush that occurs when you are involved in a motor vehicle accident. Your heart is racing, and your mind starts moving in a million directions.  Your main focus is to resolve the situation, and this can sometimes mask the pain. This is particularly common with soft tissue injuries such as whiplash. You may not feel anything at the scene of the accident, but the next day, you might wake up with neck, shoulder, and back pain. These aches and pains are most likely related to the accident.

Some Unknown and/or Delayed Injuries can be Serious

There are some injuries that, although not noticed right away, can be far more serious than most people believe. For example, a rear-end collision can throw your body back and forth in a rapid motion, which can cause damage to the neck, back, shoulders, and even internal organs. Some of these injuries are not only serious, they can be life threatening if not treated right away.  If you have swelling, tightness, or pain in your abdomen or any other type of internal pain, you need to get help right away.

Seeking Medical Attention helps Establish a Legal Connection between the Accident and your Injuries

If you end up with a moderate to severe injury that results from a rear-end collision, you will need to get your injuries treated in order to get on the road to recovery. During this process, you are likely to incur h medical bills, missed time from work, and various types of pain and suffering. If the collision was caused by another party’s negligence, you deserve to be compensated for your losses. However, if you cannot connect your injuries to the rear-end accident you were involved in, you will have a much more difficult time recovering damages.  By getting medical help right after the accident, you will be better able to establish the legal connection you need if you decide to pursue a personal injury claim.

You have an Obligation to Mitigate the Damages from your Injuries

Related to the last point, you have a legal duty to take reasonable steps to avoid further losses from the accident, even if it was not your fault. This means doing everything possible to minimize the extent of any injuries that you may have suffered. If you are involved in a rear-end accident, you waited several days or longer to seek medical attention, and your injuries became worse because you waited, an insurer may argue that you did not fulfill your obligation to mitigate your losses.

Injured in a Rear-End Collision in Alabama? Contact a Seasoned Personal Injury Attorney

If you or someone close to you has been involved in a rear-end accident and it was the fault of another party, get medical help right away, then get in touch with an experienced personal injury lawyer. Alabama uses the “contributory negligence” legal doctrine, meaning that an injured party can be barred from recovering compensation even if they are found to be 1% responsible for the underlying accident. This is a high standard of proof, and it is important to get an attorney involved as soon as possible in order to preserve your legal right to compensation. 

At M. Adam Jones & Associates, we have extensive experience and a proven track record of successfully recovering damages for clients who have suffered all types of personal injuries in Alabama. We know what it takes to overcome the state’s defendant-friendly legal standard, and we work closely with our clients, exploring every potential legal avenue to recover the full and fair compensation they need and deserve. For a free consultation with one of our skilled attorneys, call our office today at 334-581-9238, or send us a message through our online contact form.

Personal Injury lawyer

The 5 Most Important Considerations before Hiring a Personal Injury Lawyer

Have you been injured in an accident? If so, you may have trouble obtaining the compensation you deserve for your injuries. In Alabama, you might even be barred from recovering any compensation at all because of the state’s defendant-friendly legal standard known as “contributory negligence.” Under contributory negligence, you may not be entitled to damages if you are found to be even 1% at-fault for the underlying incident that led to your injury.

To help ensure that you are able to obtain full and fair compensation for your injuries, you will need to have strong legal counsel in your corner advocating forcefully for your rights and interests. That said, not all personal injury lawyers are the same, and choosing the right lawyer is one of the most important decisions you will make regarding the outcome of your case.

First of all, do not make the mistake of hiring an attorney based on ads alone. For example, you may have seen or heard advertisements for a firm on TV, radio, billboards, and in other places. Some of these firms are what are known as “settlement mills.”

The goal of a settlement mill is to acquire as many cases as possible and process them in the shortest possible amount of time. These firms often don’t have anywhere near the level of staff required to bring the cases they handle to trial. This means they are going to settle nearly every case with the insurance company, and the settlement may likely be for far lower then what you would be entitled to.

Important Considerations before Hiring a Personal Injury Attorney

There are several factors to consider when deciding on a personal injury lawyer to handle your case. Here are five of the most important:  

Experience

One of the first things to evaluate is the experience level of the personal injury attorney you are considering. Of course, you want someone who has been practicing in the state for several years and has in-depth knowledge of the applicable laws and statutes. It is also important to distinguish between one of the senior partners for the firm and the person who will handle your specific case. Some firms (like the settlement mills we mentioned earlier) have attorneys with experience that run the firm, but most of the cases that come through the door are handled by paraprofessionals. Be sure that the person handling your case is a licensed attorney with extensive experience in this area of the law.

Reputation

Some consumers make the mistake of believing that because a firm advertises heavily, they are a reputable firm with strong credentials. Unfortunately, this is often not the case. It is important to dig a little deeper to find out how the firm stacks up with other personal injury attorneys in the area. Client testimonials are helpful, but they should not be the sole determining factor in evaluating a lawyer’s reputation. You should also check with reputable legal rating services such as Avvo, Martindale-Hubbell, and the National Trial Lawyers Association. Recognition by peers and outside organizations is a strong indication of an attorney with exceptional legal skills.

Resources

Often, one of the deciding factors in a personal injury case is the testimony of expert witnesses. Expert witnesses are specialists from various industries (such as the medical profession) who can speak with authority on certain aspects of a case. A skilled personal injury attorney will have relationships with top experts whom they can call upon when necessary to help bolster their case. Ask the attorney you are considering if they work with expert witnesses, and how often they use them in the cases they handle.

Commitment

In order to obtain full and fair compensation for a personal injury, you need to be willing to take the case to trial. Otherwise, the responsible party and their insurer will have no incentive to negotiate a reasonable settlement. Your attorney should have extensive trial experience and the willingness to prepare thoroughly for the possibility of litigation. This way, if the other party is not willing to negotiate in good faith, you are ready and able to aggressively pursue full damages at trial.

Results

At the end of the day, what matters more than anything else is results. Does your attorney have a proven track record of success with personal injury cases? What if your case is more complicated, such as a trucking accident involving numerous governing laws and regulations and multiple parties that could be responsible? Can your attorney handle a case like that? Be sure your attorney not only has experience handling personal injury cases, but experience winning these types of cases as well.

Alabama Statute of Limitations

Time limit for Filing an Injury Claim in Alabama: Statute of Limitations

When an individual is injured because of the negligent actions or omissions of another party, they deserve to be compensated. This typically involves negotiating a settlement with the responsible party’s insurance company or filing a personal injury lawsuit. In Alabama, there is a strict time limit for filing an injury claim. This is known as the “statute of limitations.” An injured party must initiate a legal claim within the designated statute of limitations in order to recover damages for their injury.

Damages in Alabama Personal Injury Cases

Compensatory damages that may be available in a personal injury lawsuit can be broken down into two general categories: economic damages and non-economic damages. Economic damages are those which can be quantified, such as damage to personal property, hospitalization costs, cost for surgeries and other types of medical treatment, rehabilitation, lost wages, and loss of earning capacity. Non-economic damages are intangibles that are more difficult to assign a dollar value to. Examples may include physical pain and suffering, emotional distress, and diminished quality of life.

In order to recover compensation for a personal injury in Alabama, you must prove that the other party was 100% responsible. Under the state’s “contributory negligence” legal doctrine, if you are found to be even 1% at fault for the underlying incident that caused the injury, you may be barred from recovering damages.

Alabama Two-Year Rule for Personal Injury Lawsuits

Alabama Code Section 6-2-38 sets a two-year deadline for filing a civil lawsuit for “injury to the person” based on another party’s negligence. This includes incidents such as auto accidents, slip and fall accidents, medical malpractice, and numerous other types of personal injuries. In general, the two-year clock starts running on the date when the event that resulted in the injury occurs. In cases in which a plaintiff could not reasonably have known about the injury within the two-year time frame, they generally have six months from the date of the discovery of the injury to initiate a legal action.

Exceptions to Alabama’s Two-Year Statute of Limitations

There are a few exceptions to the two-year filing deadline in Alabama. For example, if an injured party was a minor or mentally incapacitated at the time of the injury, they generally have two years from the date the injured party turns 19 or is declared sane. This exception does not always apply, however; and in any case, there is an overall filing deadline of 20 years from the date of the underlying incident.

There are also exceptions for injured parties who want to initiate a legal action against a government entity. If the claim is being filed against a city or town in Alabama, you must file a written notice of claim within six months of the date of injury. If the claim is against a county, you must file a written notice within one year of the injury date.

There are some cases in which you may not be initially aware that a municipality or county is one of the parties responsible. For example, if you are injured in a car accident and the driver was a government employee who was “on the clock” at the time of the accident, you may have a claim against both the individual and their employer. This is one of the reasons it is extremely important to have your case reviewed by a skilled personal injury attorney as soon as possible after you become aware of your injury.

What Happens if I Miss the Filing Deadline?

Missing the filing deadline for a personal injury claim can be a fatal blow to your case. If you are past the deadline and you try to bring a legal action, the responsible party will almost certainly bring this up and move to have your case dismissed. The motion for dismissal will most likely be granted unless your case falls into one of the exception categories.

Allowing the filing deadline to pass can also be a problem if you are trying to negotiate an out-of-court settlement. This is often the case with accidents in which the injured party is dealing with the other party’s insurance carrier. If the parties are unable to reach an agreement during the two-year window, the injured party loses their negotiating leverage. Insurance companies know this, and one of their common tactics is to delay communications and even “go dark” for several months in hopes of running out the clock.

Speak with a Seasoned Alabama Personal Injury Lawyer

If you or someone close to you has been injured in an accident, you need to be mindful of the time limits for bringing an injury claim. As soon as possible after the incident, contact a personal injury attorney to have your case thoroughly assessed and discuss your rights and legal options. At M. Adam Jones and Associates, we have extensive experience and a successful track record with even the most complex accident injury cases, and we work closely with our clients to provide the strong personalized representation they need and deserve. For a free consultation with one of our attorneys, contact us today at 334-699-5599, or send us a message through our online contact form.

Negotiating a fair injury settlement - Jones & Associates

Negotiating a Full and Fair Settlement for your Alabama Injury Case

If you or a loved one has suffered an injury and it was the fault of another party, you deserve to be fully compensated for your losses. Unfortunately, the process of recovering compensation is almost never smooth. It is extremely rare for the party responsible for a personal injury to walk up to you and write you a check to cover your medical bills, time you missed from work, and compensate you for all the trouble the injury has put you and your family through.

In a large number of cases, the party that caused the injury will try to deny that they were at fault, or at the very least try to pin some of the blame on you. And most of the time, you will not be dealing with them anyway, you will usually be dealing with their insurer.

Negotiating a settlement with an insurance adjuster is never easy. Insurance adjusters handle claims for a living, and they are professional negotiators. From the outset, it is important to remember that this is a negotiation, and that your interests are not aligned with the interests of the insurance adjuster.

You are looking for full and fair compensation for your injuries, and since finances are most likely pretty tight, you want the case settled fairly quickly. The adjuster would also like to settle quickly, but their ultimate goal is to mitigate their losses by paying out as little as possible to get the case off their books.

The initial approach of many insurance adjusters is to try to convince you that they are really “on your side”. They often call within a day or two after the accident to ask how you are doing and wish you well. They will usually also give assurances something to the effect of “don’t worry, we’re going to take care of you” or “everything is going to be okay”. They may even go so far as to try to dissuade you from hiring a lawyer. You may hear something like, “you are totally free to hire an attorney, but whether you do or not, it won’t change your settlement amount.”

These tactics are designed to build rapport and give you the impression that the claims adjuster is looking out for your best interests. The hope is that you won’t even consider seeking outside legal counsel, because you believe they are going to take care of you. The adjuster is also hoping you will let your guard down and say something that could be used against you later on. Be ready for these tactics and keep in mind throughout that this is a negotiation between two parties with conflicting interests.

Negotiating a Full and Fair Settlement in Your Injury Case

Settling an accident injury case can take a few days up to several months or longer, depending on how you handle the negotiations and what you are willing to settle for. The first offer by the insurance company is likely to be much lower than what your claim is worth. Their hope is that you will be motivated to take the quick money and put this incident behind you.

It is almost never a good idea to accept the initial offer from the other side’s insurer. If you are handling the negotiations on your own, politely decline the offer and prepare a demand letter with a counter offer that reflects what your claim is really worth. When you calculate the value of your claim, be sure to factor in both economic and non-economic losses.

Economic losses are those you can assign a dollar figure to; such as property damage, medical expenses, lost wages, and loss of earning capacity (if the injury was debilitating and you can no longer work). Non-economic losses are ways in which you have suffered that are difficult to quantify; such as physical pain and suffering, emotional distress, and diminished quality of life.

Once you send your counter offer, a series of back-and-forth negotiations will likely ensue. At this point, the insurer may try to poke holes in your claim by saying you are not injured as badly as you claim or that their client is not totally at-fault.

If your injury occurred in Alabama, the insurer could use the state’s “contributory negligence” legal doctrine as a basis to deny your claim. For this reason, it is extremely important to never admit any type of fault to the other side or their insurer, because even if you are found to be 1% responsible for the incident, you could be barred from recovering compensation.

Negotiations may go back and forth for a while, and it is important to be patient during this process. One common tactic an insurer may use is to delay responding or even stop responding altogether. Bear in mind that Alabama has a two-year statute of limitations for which to file a personal injury lawsuit. Once that two years is up, you lose your ability to take the case to trial, which takes away a lot of leverage during the settlement negotiations.

How a Skilled Attorney Can Help with the Negotiation Process

Negotiating a full and fair settlement for your injury case can get complicated, and there are pitfalls that you could fall into that may cause you to lose out on any compensation at all. Because most people have never been through a settlement negotiation before, it is a good idea to at least talk with an experienced personal injury lawyer before the process begins.

During the initial consultation, an attorney can thoroughly review the case and advise you of your rights and legal options. If nothing else, this will give you the proper mindset and allow you to make more informed decisions as you begin negotiating with the insurance adjuster.

If you decide to have an attorney represent you, they will handle the legal process from A to Z, so you can focus on your recovery. Your attorney will negotiate directly with the insurance adjuster, putting their extensive experience to work toward obtaining a full and fair settlement. There are several ways your attorney can help during negotiations:

  • Your attorney will properly value your claim based on a thorough investigation of the case and their in-depth knowledge of other cases like yours;
  • Your attorney will advise you on whether or not the settlement offer and subsequent counter offers from the insurance company are fair;
  • Your attorney can help fight a claim denial by your insurance company;
  • Your attorney can bring in the testimony of expert witnesses (if needed) to help substantiate your claim;
  • If the other side is unwilling to negotiate in good faith, your attorney can file a lawsuit to recover full damages in court. The proven ability and determination to litigate the case if necessary often encourages the other side to seek a reasonable settlement.

Contact the experienced Alabama personal injury attorneys at Jones & Associates today so you can begin the healing process and put our firm to work fighting for the damages you deserve. Contact our office at (334) 699-5599 or through our website contact form.

Why you should never hire a billboard advertising lawyer - Jones & Associates

Why You Should Never Hire a Personal Injury Lawyer from a TV Ad or Billboard

It has been over 40 years since Bates v. State Bar of Arizona, the U.S. Supreme Court case that struck down bans on commercial advertising by attorneys. Bates was a landmark case that paved the way for the current glut of personal injury attorneys who run endless television ads and have bigger-than-life pictures on billboards in metro, suburban, and even rural areas all over the country. Consumers are inundated with these ads on a daily basis, and they are often the first ones that personal injury victims call when they are looking for legal representation.

It is easy to understand why so many injury victims call the firms that do the heaviest advertising. Many consumers have no experience dealing with a lawyer; and, consequently, they do not know anyone in the legal profession. Therefore, they often assume that a firm with a large advertising budget has the most experience, expertise, and resources to help them obtain full and fair compensation for their injuries. Sadly, in many cases, the exact opposite is true, as many of these firms are what have come to be known as “settlement mills”.

Why the Settlement Mill Business Model is Bad for Your Business

Settlement mills are high-volume personal injury firms that advertise aggressively (especially on TV, radio, and billboards) and process mass volumes of claims in as short a time as possible. Many of these firms have advertising budgets that are well in excess of $1 million annually, with some spending ten times that amount. In order to cover these large advertising bills, they need to get as many cases through the door as possible, all while spending as little time as possible on each case. This is basically a “churn and burn” approach, and most of these firms are not all that interested in repeat business. The end result is that the client’s case is often settled for far less than if they had opted to work with a skilled attorney who provides more individualized service.

There are several disturbing characteristics of settlement mills that consumers should be aware of, including:

High Volume Processing: As mentioned earlier, the business model of a settlement mill depends on volume. They blanket the airwaves with advertising, hoping to pull in as many cases as possible to cover advertising costs.

Clients Obtained from Aggressive Advertising: Nearly all of the clients that settlement mills sign come from their massive volume of advertising, as opposed to more traditional firms who may tend to receive most of their clients through referrals from other lawyers or people within the community. Settlement mills know that a large segment of the population is not familiar with the legal profession, and they count on bringing in consumers through their slick TV, radio, and billboard ads.

Very Little Involvement by an Attorney: Because of their high volume of clients, most of the actual work performed on each case is done by paraprofessionals rather than attorneys.

Lack of Personalized Representation: Settlement mills tend to advertise all over the region and, with some firms, throughout the country. In fact, we have several in Alabama that advertise massively here and in neighboring states like Tennessee, Georgia, Florida, and Mississippi. This type of firm will usually not have a local office near you, and you will rarely ever meet an attorney face-to-face.

Cases Almost Never Go to Trial: Perhaps the worst characteristic of a settlement mill from the standpoint of an injured party is the fact that they settle nearly all of their cases and rarely, if ever, take a case to trial. These firms need to process high volumes of cases quickly, and going to trial is simply incompatible with their business model. The consequences of settling high numbers of cases without going to trial are twofold. First, it is obviously bad for injured parties, who are often entitled to far more compensation (for their injuries) under the law than what was accepted out of court. Second, this is bad for other injured parties as well, because these cheap settlements drive down case values and make it more difficult for other plaintiffs who suffer similar injuries to recover full damages.

Injured in an Accident? Contact an Attorney Who Truly Cares About your Well-Being

If you or a loved one has been injured due to the negligence or reckless actions of another party, don’t settle for less than you deserve. Rather than hire an attorney in a slick TV ad wearing a ridiculous costume, speak with an attorney who has a proven track record and who can provide the strong personalized representation you need and deserve.

At M. Adam Jones and Associates, our team of award-winning lawyers is here to serve your needs. We have an “AV Preeminent” rating from Avvo.com (the highest possible rating), and we have been listed among the Top 100 Trial Lawyers in Alabama every year since 2007. We routinely go up against well-funded adversaries such as large corporations and their insurance companies in personal injury cases, and we always work hard to secure full compensation for our clients. If the other side is not willing to negotiate in good faith and offer a fair and reasonable settlement, we are always ready and able to aggressively advocate for your rights in court.

Toschedule a free consultation with one of our skilled personal injury attorneys,call our office today at 334-699-5599, or send us a messagethrough our online contact form.