dealing with insurance after personal injury

Dealing with Insurance after a Personal Injury

When an individual is injured because of the negligence or reckless actions of another party, they should receive damages for their injuries. Unfortunately, it is almost never as simple as asking the responsible party to compensate you for your losses. In the vast majority of cases, the negligent party will deny fault or, at the very least, try to downplay or minimize what they’ve done or even argue that the injured party was partly to blame.

In most types of personal injury cases, there is an insurance company involved. This is especially common with incidents such as automobile accidents, truck accidents, motorcycle accidents, product liability, and premises liability cases. When there is an insurer involved, you generally no longer deal with the responsible party directly. Instead, you are now dealing with an insurance adjuster.

Most of the time, this adjuster will be for the other party’s insurer. One notable exception to this is when the other party does not have insurance or is underinsured, in which case you may be dealing with the adjuster for your own insurer, or possibly the adjusters for both companies.

Who is the Insurance Company Working For?

When dealing with an insurer after a personal injury, it is very important to understand that they are not looking out for your best interests. Insurance companies are for-profit entities, and what is most important to them is their bottom line. This means that, at the end of the day, the primary concern of the insurer is the company’s bottom line, not your financial well-being. With this in mind, you need to be very careful how you deal with insurance carriers after an auto accident or any other type of personal injury.

Here are some guidelines for how to handle your insurer and the insurer for the other party:

Dealing with Your Own Insurer

In many cases, such as with motor vehicle accidents, you will need to report the incident to your own insurance provider. Carriers want you to contact them within a reasonable period of time after the accident. This usually means within about 72 hours. When you call your insurer, be ready to present all the basic facts of the case and nothing more. If they ask about your injuries, do not give them any details. Instead, tell them you want to wait until you have an extensive medical report, so you have a more accurate assessment to provide.

The most important thing to keep in mind when talking to your insurer or anyone else about the accident is do NOT admit any fault whatsoever for the incident. In Alabama, it is very difficult to pursue a personal injury claim because our state uses a legal doctrine known as “contributory negligence”. Under this doctrine, negligent parties are barred from recovering compensation, even if they are only 1% at-fault for the accident.

Your words can be used against you, even by your own insurance company. Do not engage in any casual conversation about the accident; and, in particular, refrain from speculating about who did what. Hopefully, you have already collected multiple photos (and perhaps video footage) from the accident, there is a police report on file, and you have some eyewitnesses that saw what happened and have already provided statements to the police. There is no need to say anything further than what is already documented.

Dealing with the Insurance Company for the Other Party

Within a few days or so after a personal injury occurs, you will most likely be contacted by the adjuster for the other party’s insurer. Keep in mind again that this is the person representing the party that injured you, and their ultimate goal is to pay nothing or as little as possible in damages.

In many cases, one of the first things the adjuster will do is ask to record your conversation and/or for you to make a recorded statement. They may even try to imply that this is required and that the case cannot proceed without it. This is not true and, in fact, you are under no obligation to say anything to the other party’s insurance adjuster. When they call, let them know that you have nothing to say, and that your attorney will be in touch with them.

Contact a Skilled Personal Injury Lawyer ASAP

When you are injured due to someone else’s negligence or reckless acts, you should not go through this alone. Even before the insurance adjuster for the other party calls, it is best to speak with a seasoned personal injury attorney. Once you retain an attorney, they can deal directly with insurance, putting their experience to work to ensure that your rights and interests are fully protected.

At M. Adam Jones and Associates, we have seen the ways insurance companies try to evade responsibility for their clients’ actions. We know their tricks, and we are not intimidated by the games they play. We work closely with our clients to put together a rock-solid case that will stand up at trial and, in most cases, compel the other side to negotiate a reasonable settlement.

For a free consultation with one of our attorneys, call our office today at 334-699-5599 or send us a secure and confidential message through our online contact form.

 

Expert Witness - Medical - Jones & Associates

The Role of an Expert in an Injury Case

In a personal injury case, the burden of proof is on the victim to show that they have a right to compensation. Winning an injury case in Alabama is even more difficult than most other states because the state uses a legal doctrine known as “contributory negligence”. Under this doctrine, plaintiffs are unable to collect damages if they are determined to be partially at fault for the incident.

Most states use a more plaintiff-friendly doctrine known as “comparative negligence”. Under “comparative negligence”, a plaintiff can still collect damages if they share fault, but the damages are reduced in proportion to the percentage they are determined to be at fault in the case.

Because of the high burden of proof in Alabama injury cases, it is important to collect as much evidence as possible. Evidence can come in many forms; accident reports, multiple photographs of the scene, medical records, video footage of the incident, statements from eyewitnesses, and statements from expert witnesses. While all forms of evidence are helpful in proving an injury case, the testimony of expert witnesses can often be a deciding factor.

What is an Expert Witness?

An expert witness is distinguished in his/her area of specialty because they have achieved a high level of education, knowledge, skills, and training. Expert witnesses are almost never eyewitnesses to the incident. Their value to the case is in their credibility and ability to speak authoritatively regarding a particular factor (or set of factors).

There are numerous professionals who may serve as expert witnesses in an injury case. Some of the most common include:

  • Accident Reconstruction Experts
  • Surgeons
  • Physicians
  • Medical Examiners
  • Dentists
  • Rehabilitation Specialists
  • Pain Management Professionals
  • Dentists
  • Mental Health Professionals
  • Financial Professionals
  • Life Care Planners
  • Vocational Experts
  • Phone Records Specialists
  • Forensic Evidence Experts
  • Manufacturing Specialists

The Role of Expert Witnesses in Alabama Injury Cases

Expert witnesses are called upon to lend their scientific, technical, or specialized knowledge to a case. This level of expertise allows them to clarify certain facts and evidence in a case and put it in proper perspective for the judge or jury.

There are two ways expert witnesses are typically used in injury cases:

Consulting Experts

A consulting expert works behind the scenes to review certain facts and evidence, provide advice, assist with the legal strategy, and provide other types of support for the legal team. Unless the consulting expert is later converted to a testifying expert, the other side may never know that they were consulted in the case.

Testifying Experts

A testifying expert is a specialist who the attorney is prepared to call and testify in front of a judge or jury. Testifying experts must be disclosed to the other side, and for this reason, they must be chosen carefully. This type of expert typically has strong communication skills and the ability to make complex factors understandable for the average layperson. They also tend to have in-depth experience testifying in a courtroom.

Testimony from injury victims, family and friends, and eyewitnesses can all be helpful, but their testimony may be viewed as biased by those deciding the case. And because they are usually not experienced on the witness stand, it may be easier for the other side to poke holes in their testimony during cross-examination. Testifying experts tend to speak with authority and confidence, which makes their testimony more credible to a judge or jury.

It is important to note that not all testifying experts are called to the stand. In fact, a large percentage of injury cases are settled before they ever get to trial. That said, a strong legal team will be well-prepared to aggressively litigate the case at trial and upon appeal. Having expert witnesses on the team that are highly reputable and are ready to provide testimony that will help shed a favorable light on the client’s case is often enough to compel the other side to seek a reasonable settlement.

Speak with a Skilled Alabama Personal Injury Lawyer

The use of expert witnesses can be critical in proving fault and securing full damages in an injury case. This is one of many reasons it is important to work with a seasoned attorney who is not afraid to bring in experts when needed. At M. Adam Jones and Associates, we have in-depth experience successfully litigating even the most complex personal injury cases. We have relationships with numerous reputable professionals whom we routinely call on to bolster the credibility of our clients’ cases. Our firm has the skills, resources, and dedication to ensure that our clients receive the strong representation they need and deserve.

If you or a loved one has been injured due to the negligent or reckless actions of another party, contact our office today at 334-699-5599 for a free consultation.

avoid school bus accidents

How to Avoid Accidents with School Buses

Fall is upon us and school is starting again for most Alabama students. We all hope for a fun, productive, and safe year for the kids, and this all starts with their ability to travel safely to and from school. The school districts in Alabama operate more than 7,000 buses that travel approximately 150 million miles each year. With the kids going back to school, this is a good time to focus on school bus safety and what we can all do to avoid accidents with school buses.

Though school bus accidents are not as common as other types of motor vehicle accidents, they can result in some of the most catastrophic injuries. Buses are large vehicles that are usually transporting several children inside. When one of them crashes, kids inside can suffer serious harm. While it is impossible to prevent all accidents, it is important that we do our part to keep the streets safe for our school kids.

Here are five things we can do to avoid accidents with school buses:

  1. Watch for Kids Walking and Biking to School

School safety awareness starts from the moment we back out of our driveway in the morning. While many kids take the bus to school, some walk or ride their bikes. As you begin your morning commute, watch out for children that are walking or biking to school or walking to the bus stop.

  1. Be Mindful of Kids When Approaching Bus Stops

Children are not only vulnerable to being injured when they are inside a school bus, they are also at risk when they are walking to the bus stop or waiting for the bus. We all know that children can be unpredictable, especially younger kids. Many times, you see them darting across the street and running furiously to catch the bus with little awareness of nearby vehicles and other dangers. It is up to us to be aware of these potential hazards as we approach bus stops.

  1. Slow Down when you are Behind a Bus

For most of us, it is not our favorite thing to get stuck behind a school bus, especially when we are late for work or in a hurry to be on time for an important obligation. Though we might not enjoy it, the best approach when driving behind a bus is to accept the fact that you will need to drive slower for a while, similarly to when you hit a traffic jam.

  1. Give the Bus Plenty of Room

Buses tend to drive much slower than other vehicles, and they also make frequent stops to drop off and pick up children. Buses are also required to come to a complete stop at all railroad crossings. One of the most important ways to avoid an accident with a school bus is to give the bus plenty of space when you are traveling behind it. To ensure that everyone remains safe, it is best to stay at least 10 feet behind buses at all times.

  1. Never Pass a Bus Illegally

In most cases, motorists are not allowed to pass a school or church bus in Alabama. In addition, motorists who are driving behind a school bus are required to stop when the signal arm comes up and remain stopped until the signal arm is lowered. You are also required to stop when the signal arm is up when you are approaching the bus from the opposite direction, unless you are driving on a divided highway with four or six lanes and there is a barrier or unpaved area between the directional lanes.

Illegally passing a school bus is not only unsafe, it can also result in hundreds of dollars in fines (even for a first offense) and points on your driving record that can lead to a license suspension and higher insurance rates. A new Alabama law that went into effect in 2016 also gives school districts the option to install stop-arm cameras on their school buses. In buses where the camera is installed, motorists can receive a $300 ticket if they are caught on video passing a bus illegally.

What to Do if You are Involved in a School Bus Accident

Even if you do everything right and take all the safety precautions, it is still possible to end up in an accident with a school bus. This can happen because of negligence or carelessness on the part of the bus driver, mechanical failures, vehicle part defects, poor driving conditions, and many other factors. If this occurs and you are seriously injured, you need skilled legal counsel in your corner to ensure that your rights and interests are protected.

At M. Adam Jones and Associates, we have extensive experience with even the most complex accident injury cases, including those involving school buses, 18-wheeler trucks, and other commercial vehicles. We are strong advocates for our clients, and we fight hard to obtain maximum compensation and to ensure that responsible parties are held fully accountable.

For a free consultation with one of our attorneys, contact our office today at 334-699-5599.

what conditions automatically qualify you for disability

What Conditions Automatically Qualify for Social Security Disability Benefits?

The Social Security Administration (SSA) publishes a list of debilitating impairments which describes the physical and mental impairments that make applicants automatically eligible for Social Security Disability (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits. Individuals who are able to meet the medical criteria for one of the listed impairments automatically qualify for benefits and are usually approved during the initial application process.

SSDI and SSI Qualifying Medical Impairments

The following conditions are listed as qualifying impairments in the Social Security Administration’s adult “blue book”:

  • Musculoskeletal Conditions: Includes major joint dysfunctions, spine disorders, amputations, tarsal bone fractures, upper extremity fractures, and soft tissue injuries.
  • Respiratory Conditions: Includes many chronic respiratory disorders, asthma, cystic fibrosis, chronic pulmonary hypertension, and lung transplants.
  • Cardiovascular Conditions: Congenital or acquired disorders that affect the functioning of the heart or circulatory system. Examples include chronic heart failure and coronary artery disease.
  • Special Senses and Speech Problems: Includes visual disorders such as statutory blindness and loss of hearing.
  • Digestive Disorders: Includes gastrointestinal hemorrhaging, chronic liver disease, inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), and short bowel syndrome (SBS).
  • Genitourinary Problems: Includes chronic kidney disease and complications resulting from this condition.
  • Hematological Disorders: Includes hemolytic anemias such as sickle cell anemia and bone marrow failure disorders.
  • Skin Conditions: Includes ichthyosis, bullous diseases, dermatitis, and other chronic infections of the skin or mucous membranes.
  • Endocrine Disorders: Hormonal imbalances that lead to complications in various parts of the body.
  • Neurological Disorders: Includes cerebral palsy, multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, and Parkinson’s disease.
  • Mental Disorders: Includes anxiety, depression, autism, schizophrenia, and intellectual disability.
  • Cancer: Includes most types of cancer affecting numerous areas of the body.
  • Immune System Disorders: Includes HIV/AIDS, rheumatoid arthritis, and lupus.
  • Multi-Body System Congenital Disorders: These are congenital disorders (disorders that were present at birth) that affect multiple body systems.

These are the conditions listed in the SSA’s blue book as of 2018. The blue book is updated annually to include new debilitating conditions as the SSA becomes aware of them. The SSA also publishes a children’s blue book, but it is mostly the same as the adult book. The one medical condition that is covered for children under age 18 that is not covered for adults is growth impairment.

What if My Condition Does Not Appear in the SSA Blue Book?

If you have a debilitating condition that does not appear on the SSA’s list of qualifying medical impairments, you are not alone. The majority of applicants do not have a qualifying match initially. The good news is that this does not mean you cannot ultimately become approved for SSDI benefits.

Individuals who do not satisfy the exact requirements for a listed medical impairment can become approved if they convince the SSA that their condition is “medically equivalent” to one of the impairments that appears on the list. This may occur if your condition is similar to one of those listed in the SSA blue book and/or you have multiple conditions that are medically equal in severity.

Even if you do not have a condition that is similar to one listed in the SSA blue book, you may still be able to get approved for benefits. If the condition is “medically determinable” and it reduces your residual functional capacity (RFC) to the point where you can no longer work, you may be eligible for benefits. The key is to follow the steps in the application process in proper order and stay persistent even when you run into seemingly insurmountable roadblocks.

Speak with an Experienced Alabama Social Security Disability Attorney

Applying for Social Security Disability (SSDI) benefits is a long and complicated process. In Alabama, only about 30% of applicants are initially approved for benefits. Much of the reason for the high rate of denials has to do with the confusing nature of the process and the difficulty applicants have in navigating its complexities. If you have a debilitating condition and need to get approved for benefits, it is best not to fight this battle alone.

At Jones and Associates, we have extensive experience and in-depth knowledge of the Social Security Disability (SSDI) approval process. We are skilled, compassionate, and dedicated to ensuring that our clients receive the guidance necessary to become approved for the benefits they need and deserve. We provide free consultations, and we take all SSDI cases on a contingency basis, so you only pay attorney fees if we secure benefits for you. For a free, no-obligation case analysis, contact our office today at (334) 699-5599.

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.