Five Things You Need to do Right After a Car Accident - Jones & Associates

 The Five Things to Do Immediately After a Car Accident

Being involved in an auto accident is one of the most unsettling experiences drivers go through. As soon as the other vehicle makes impact with yours, you experience an extreme state change. Your heart rate increases, and your mind begins to race in all kinds of different directions. At this point, it is important to take a deep breath, calm down, and collect your thoughts. Next, go over your mental (or better yet paper) checklist of what to do after a car accident.

After a motor vehicle accident occurs, there are five things you should do right away:

  1. Remain at the Scene

Never leave the scene of an accident, even a minor fender-bender. If you leave the scene, you could face severe criminal charges, particularly if there are injuries or fatalities. If your car is drivable and you are not seriously injured, keep your hazard lights on and move it over to the shoulder or side of the road. If you have flares, set them up around the vehicles involved to further protect the scene.

  1. Call 911

Before you assess the damage to the vehicles, check to make sure everyone is okay. If anyone appears to have even minor injuries (including yourself), call 911 right away so those who are hurt can get immediate medical attention. Internal bleeding and other internal injuries are not always readily apparent, but they can be life-threatening. Your call to 911 will also summon the police. The police should be notified even if there are no serious injuries, so there will be an official accident report on record.

  1. Document the Incident

Assuming again that you are not seriously injured, you should obtain as much documentation as possible to verify what happened. Write down important facts such as the time of day, the directions and speeds each vehicle was moving, what caused the vehicles to crash into each other, etc. Take multiple photos of the scene from as many angles as possible, and if you have a dash cam or similar device (highly recommended), make sure you retain the footage going back to at least a couple minutes before the accident occurred. You will also want to speak with witnesses, document what they saw, and get their contact information if possible.

  1. Exchange Information

Calmly and courteously exchange information with the other driver. Do NOT make any apologies or other statements about what happened to the other driver. Provide the other driver with the required information and ask the same from them, then move on to the next step.

  1. Contact your Insurer

If you are able, it is best to report the incident to your insurance company while you are still at the scene. Your insurer should be able to tell you what to do next. From here, file the necessary police reports, continue to seek medical care as needed, and document everything that occurs throughout the process.

What NOT to do After a Car Accident

The five things to do immediately after an auto accident are all vitally important, but just as important is what NOT to do. Here are three things you should NOT do after a car accident in Alabama:

  1. Do Not Admit Fault

Whenever discussing the accident with the other driver, the police, the insurance adjuster for the other driver, or anyone else involved, NEVER admit liability of any kind. Remember, Alabama uses the “contributory negligence” standard for personal injury cases. This means that if you are found to even be slightly at fault for the accident, you will not be eligible to collect damages.

  1. Do Not Give a Recorded Statement to the Other Party’s Insurer

The insurance company for the other driver may contact you looking for a statement about the accident. Do not let them pressure you into giving any type of recorded statement, signing a medical release, or signing a general release. Politely inform them that you are considering hiring an attorney, and when that happens, your attorney will be in touch with them.

  1. Do Not Accept a Low Settlement Offer

Insurance companies are notorious for giving accident victims lowball settlement offers in an attempt to wrap the case up quickly and make it go away. Do NOT accept any type of settlement offer without first having it reviewed by an experienced Alabama personal injury attorney.

Injured in a Car Accident?

If you or someone close to you has been injured in an auto accident in Alabama, you may have the right to compensation for your injuries. Make sure to follow the guidelines in this article, then get in touch with our office right away. At Jones and Associates, our Alabama car accident attorneys have extensive experience with even the most complex personal injury cases, and we have a strong track record of success going up against the large insurers and their expensive attorneys. For your free, no-obligation case evaluation, contact us today at (334) 699-5599.

Trucking Accident Law Firm - M. Adam Jones & Associates

How to Avoid an Accident with an 18-Wheeler

According to the Alabama Department of Motor Vehicles, a typical driver in the Yellowhammer State has greater than a one in three chance of being in an auto accident involving injuries or fatalities. Though commercial truck accidents account for a relatively low percentage of the overall vehicle crashes in the state, colliding with an 18-wheeler can be especially dangerous and deadly, particularly for drivers and passengers in the other vehicle (or vehicles) involved.

What Causes 18-Wheeler Truck Accidents?

Countless large trucks drive through Alabama each day transporting goods to various destinations. Because 18-wheelers occupy so much space on the road and have larger blind spots than other vehicles, the risks of an accident are higher when you are driving near a commercial truck.

There are a number of reasons 18-wheeler accidents occur, some of the most common include:

  • Aggressive Driving:Trucking companies often place unreasonable and unrealistic deadlines on their drivers. The pressure to deliver their cargo on time can lead to aggressive driving tactics, such as speeding, tailgating, and running a red light. These types of traffic violations can endanger everyone that shares the road with an 18-wheeler.
  • Driver Fatigue:Unreasonable and unrealistic deadlines cause many truck drivers to be on the road for too many consecutive hours. This can lead to drivers becoming tired and fatigued, which often results in poor driving decisions and  drivers falling asleep at the wheel.
  • Driving while Intoxicated (DUI/DWI):Some truck drivers choose to get behind the wheel while under the influence of alcohol, illegal drugs, or prescription drugs. In some cases, this is simply careless and reckless behavior on the part of the driver. In other cases, the driver may be taking prescription drugs to relieve their pain or help them stay awake. In either case, driving while intoxicated inhibits the driver’s ability to operate the vehicle in a safe manner.
  • Distracted Driving:Texting while driving, looking up addresses, or any other activity that causes a driver to take their eyes off the road poses a serious danger to everyone around them. In fact, the Alabama DMV reports that a texting driver is 23 times more likely to get into an auto accident than a non-texting driver. Despite the obvious danger, distracted driving is a growing problem among drivers of all types of vehicles, including commercial trucks.
  • Jackknifing:When an 18-wheeler is poorly maintained, has faulty equipment, is driving in poor weather conditions (such as slippery or icy roads), or the driver is making poor decisions on the road, it can lead to serious mishaps. One of the scariest occurrences is when a commercial truck skids and is pulled in two different directions, giving the appearance of a folding pocket knife. This is known as “jackknifing”.

How to Avoid Commercial Truck Accidents

According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, the number of fatalities resulting from large truck crashes is on the rise. In 2016, (the most recent year on record) just under 4,000 people were killed in large truck accidents, which was 27% higher than in 2009. 66% of those killed in truck accidents were occupants of cars and passenger vehicles, and 16% were motorcyclists, bicyclists, and pedestrians.

Commercial truck accidents can be avoided if motorists are proactive and take certain precautions to ensure their safety when driving near a large truck. Here are five steps drivers of passenger vehicles should take to avoid an accident with an 18-wheeler:

  1. Stay Out of Blind Spots

18-wheelers have four blind spots; up to 20 feet in front of a truck, up to 30 feet behind a truck, and one blind spot that is adjacent to each side mirror. Some large trucks are now equipped with more specialized mirrors to help reduce the size of their blind spots. Whether a truck has this equipment or not, it is best to stay out of areas where the truck driver may not be able to see you.

  1. Keep Your Distance

Remember that large trucks cannot make turns and slow down/stop the vehicle as easily as passenger cars. For this reason, it is best to keep a safe distance when sharing the road with an 18-wheeler. Avoid tailgating commercial trucks, and if they are tailgating you, move to another lane when it is safe to do so and let them pass. Also remember to give trucks plenty of room when they are making a turn.

  1. Do NOT Pass a Large Truck on their Right

Large trucks have blind spots on both sides, but the blind spot on their right side is larger. For this reason, it is a good practice to avoid passing a truck on their right. If you want to pass a truck, only do so if there is a left lane available.

  1. Avoid Sudden Stops

When you are driving in front of a large truck, always try to avoid slamming on the brakes and making a sudden stop. Remember again that the truck behind you cannot slow down as quickly as you, so stopping suddenly can create a dangerous situation.

  1. Stay Attentive

It is always good practice for drivers to stay alert and aware of what is going on around them while on the road. This is especially true when driving near an 18-wheeler. Be attentive and avoid any distractions such as texting or talking on your cell phone. Always be aware of what the truck is doing, so you are ready to react accordingly and maintain your safety.

Injured in an 18-Wheeler Accident? 

Accidents happen, even after drivers take every possible safety precaution. If you or a loved one was recently injured in a trucking accident, it is important for you to understand your rights and options. Contact Jones and Associates today at (334)699-5599 for a free consultation with one of our experienced and skilled Alabama personal injury attorneys.

slip and fall attorney in dothan al

Do I Have a Slip and Fall Case?

Everyone has slipped and fallen at some point in their lives. Most of these incidents are minor and are the result of the injured party simply not paying attention or not being careful. There are times, however, when someone slips, trips, or falls because of the carelessness or negligence of another party. Many of these incidents occur while on public property or a private commercial establishment. In such cases, those who are injured often wonder if they have a slip and fall case.

If you suffered injury due to a slip and fall on the property of another party, you may be able to file a personal injury claim based on the legal theory of premises liability and/or landowner negligence. In order to successfully recover damages in such cases, you must prove the following:

Duty of Care: The property owner owes the highest duty of care to invitees and lawful visitors. Trespassers are owed a limited duty of care – the owner must only refrain from causing willful and wanton harm to someone who unlawfully enters their property.

Breach of Duty: The owner and/or caretaker breaches their duty of care when:

  • They fail to take reasonable steps to ensure that the property is safe;
  • They fail to clearly warn visitors of known dangers;
  • Their actions purposefully create a potentially hazardous condition.

Causation: But for the breach of duty, the visitor would not have suffered injury, and this breach (not other factors) is the proximate cause of the injury.

Damages: Some type of injury occurred resulting damages (e.g., physical, financial, emotional) to the victim.

To help determine whether or not you might have a slip and fall case, a few basic questions should be answered:

  1. Did an Unsafe Condition Exist on the Property?

Simply falling down and hurting yourself on someone else’s property is not enough to bring a slip and fall case. The incident must be the result of an unsafe or hazardous condition on the property. Examples may include:

  • Wet and/or slippery floors;
  • Cracked sidewalks, potholes in the parking lot, or uneven pavement;
  • Loose or broken railings or steps;
  • Torn or frayed carpet;
  • Loose debris;
  • Collapsed floors;
  • Inadequately secured areas.
  1. Was the property owner and/or caretaker aware (or should they have been aware) of the hazardous condition? 

The owner or caretaker must have been aware that a hazardous condition existed on the property, or you should be able to demonstrate that they should have been aware of the danger. Owners are allotted a reasonable amount of time to learn about a dangerous condition on their property. For example, if some milk was spilled on the floor of a grocery store and the slip and fall occurs a couple minutes later, the owner may not be held liable. If, however, a hazard existed for several days, you may have a stronger case. The timeline can often be established by surveillance video of the area, if available.

  1. Did the owner post a warning of the dangerous condition? 

If an owner becomes aware of a hazard on their property and cannot immediately rectify the situation, they are usually required to post a clear warning of the danger. For example, when employees are mopping the floor, they typically post a “Caution Wet Floor” sign or something similar.

How Contributory Negligence Affects Slip and Fall Cases in Alabama

The state of Alabama is one of only a few states that does not follow “comparative negligence” rules. Under comparative negligence, the amount of damages awarded in a personal injury case is reduced according to the percentage of fault the plaintiff shares in the incident. Alabama follows the far more difficult standard known as “contributory negligence.” Under this rule, if a plaintiff shares any fault at all (even less than 1%), they cannot recover damages for the injury.

Under contributory negligence, the burden of proof is much higher for plaintiffs trying to recover damages in a slip and fall claim. If the property owner can find some reason to put even a small amount of the blame on the injured party, they can prevent the victim from recovering any compensation at all. For example, an owner might claim that the hazardous condition should have been obvious to a reasonable person, or that you were not paying attention to where you were walking.

If you suffered a slip and fall injury, it is important to consider carefully if any of these types of defenses may be used against you, and how you would counter them. It is also important that you retain as much documentation as possible. For example, make sure to report the incident immediately to an employee or staff member, take multiple photos of the area where you were injured, and retain the contact information of anyone who may have witnessed the incident. The more favorable evidence you have, the better the chances of proving your case.

Injured in a Slip and Fall Accident?

Premises liability and landowner negligence cases in Alabama are complex and challenging to pursue. However, if you have a solid case and strong legal representation in your corner, you have a far greater chance of success. If you or someone close to you suffered a slip and fall injury resulting from the negligence of another party, it is important to understand your rights and options. Contact Jones and Associates today at 334-699-5599 for a free case evaluation.