If you have been injured in a car accident in the Birmingham area, it’s critical to understand your rights and what must be done to protect your interests. A personal injury lawsuit can be a complicated, uphill battle which requires knowledge and expertise. The team of Birmingham personal injury attorneys at Norris Injury Lawyers is dedicated to ensuring that you don’t have to fight your battle alone.
Understanding Negligence in a Birmingham Auto Accident
Birmingham follows a rather draconian legal theory when it comes to one’s ability to receive compensation following a car accident. Under the theory of “contributory negligence,” a person who has been injured in an accident will be barred from recovering damages from the other driver if he or she was even the slightest bit at fault in the accident. Say, for example, that you were critically injured by a person who slammed into you because he was texting while driving, and that this driver was determined to be 95% at fault in your accident. The 5% of fault that was attributed to you, although minuscule, will prohibit you from receiving any compensation from the other driver.
The first step in a successful personal injury lawsuit for your car accident, then, is proving that you had nothing to do with the accident. The other driver’s insurance company will inevitably try to attribute a portion of fault to you in your accident in order to keep you from recovering any compensation for your injuries. The insurance company’s main goal is protecting its bottom line and paying out as little as possible. They will be highly motivated to prove that you bear a portion of the fault for your accident, thus barring you from recovering compensation from them.
Once your attorney proves that you were not at fault in your car wreck, his or her job is to prove that the other driver was negligent and that this negligence caused both the accident and the injuries that you are suffering.
Elements of Negligence
Negligence is comprised of four elements, and your attorney must prove all of them in order for your case to be successful:
- Duty: your attorney must prove that the person who caused your accident owed a duty of care to you as a fellow driver.
- Breach of duty: after establishing that the other driver owed a duty of care to you, your attorney will have to prove that the driver breached that duty. Breach of duty can be shown by proving that the person who caused your accident was driving while texting or otherwise distracted, speeding, driving under the influence, or otherwise driving in a manner that is improper.
- Causation: it’s not enough that the other driver is proven to have been driving in an improper way; your attorney must also prove that the person’s actions caused the accident.
- Damages: in a personal injury case, damages are often the easiest element to prove; these are your physical injuries, property damage, and financial hardship following your accident.
Possible Compensation from a Personal Injury Case
Following a car accident, an inoperable vehicle can be the least of your concerns–you may be facing a mountain of medical bills and indescribable pain. If the other driver was at fault in the accident, you may be entitled to recover financial compensation for the physical and financial trauma that you have faced as a result of your accident. By hiring an experienced personal injury lawyer and taking legal action against the at-fault driver, you may be able to recover compensation–known in the legal world as “damages”–for:
- Medical bills that you incurred as a result of emergency treatment, hospital stays, prescription medication, or medical supplies needed to treat your injuries;
- Costs of physical therapy or other rehabilitation to recover from the injuries you sustained;
- Costs of long-term care if you are unable to fully recover from your accident;
- Income that you lost from being unable to work due to your injuries;
- Physical pain that you experienced during and after your accident; and
- Emotional anguish that you suffered because of your accident, such as anxiety or depression.
In rare cases, the person who caused your accident may have been acting so recklessly that a jury feels he or she should be punished for the actions which led to the accident. In these cases, you may be awarded additional compensation in the form of “punitive” damages. This compensation is not meant to reimburse you for any of the expenses or trauma that you faced; rather, the purpose of punitive damages is to make an example out of the at-fault driver and deter similar conduct in the future.
Steps to Take Following an Auto Accident
- Seek immediate medical attention: above all else, it’s critical to obtain treatment for your injuries following your accident. Don’t try to shirk off your injuries or make out like your injuries are not as bad as they actually are; seek prompt medical attention to treat your injuries.
- Don’t talk to the insurance company: following a car accident, one of the first calls that you will probably receive is a call from an insurance company, whether it be the other driver’s company or your own. The representative on the line may act like you are their only concern, but don’t be fooled–the job of an insurance representative is to give you a false sense of security so that you slip up and say something that helps their case. Even if you have already spoken to an insurance adjuster, don’t settle under any circumstances without first speaking with an attorney. Settling early on will only lead to a subpar settlement amount that might not even cover the expenses that you have incurred to treat your injuries.
- Obtain legal representation as soon as possible: whatever you do following your accident, don’t try to handle your case by yourself. For insurance companies, an unrepresented accident victim is a slam-dunk victory, as there is no one that is representing his or her best interest and advising as to what steps to take after the accident.
Injured in a Car Accident? Count on a Team Who Cares
If you’re suffering injuries sustained in a car accident in or around Birmingham, it’s important to enlist the help of a team of competent attorneys who are ready to fight for the justice you deserve. Personal injury cases aren’t a beast that you should try to take on alone–the stakes are high in a personal injury lawsuit, and you shouldn’t leave your case in the hands of anyone but a professional. The attorneys at Norris Injury Lawyers are dedicated to fighting on your behalf to receive the compensation you deserve for the injuries you never should have suffered. To take the next steps toward quality representation, fill out an online case evaluation form or call our car accident lawyers at (800) 477-7510 today.
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