Car wrecks are one of the leading causes of injury and death in the United States. More than three million people in the U.S. sustain injuries in car wrecks every year. Thousands more never walk away from these tragic collisions. On the busy roads of Birmingham, AL, drivers are often in danger. Others drivers pose the greatest threat – people under the influence, distracted, drowsy, or operating a vehicle recklessly all risk the lives of other road users. If someone else’s bad decision led to injuries or death, our Birmingham wrongful death attorneys at Powers Injury Law are here to help.
Birmingham and Alabama Car Accident Statistics
In 2015, there were 15,723 motor vehicle crashes in Birmingham, resulting in 3,424 injuries and 40 fatalities. This accounted for more than 10 percent of the total crashes in Alabama, but only 4.7 percent of fatalities and 7.7 percent of total injuries. Does this mean that Birmingham roads are safer than other Alabama roads? The answer is not exactly.
Birmingham accounts for just over 4.3 percent of the population of Alabama, yet nearly 11 percent of all accidents occurred within the city limits. The discrepancy between total crashes and fatalities and injuries is a function of where these severe accidents more frequently occur. That is, with fatal accidents in particular, on rural areas. In fact, nearly 60 percent of motor vehicle fatalities occurred in these rural areas.
Looking at road type, only 13 percent of fatalities occurred on city roads, the vast majority (almost 56 percent) happened on county and state roads.
Drinking and Driving
Drinking and driving don’t mix. Alcohol impairs the senses, slowing reaction time and altering judgment. It can provide a sense of false confidence, leading drivers to do things they would not do in a sober state. Driving under the influence (DUI) in Alabama means operating a vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) level of 0.08% or more. However, a driver with any amount of alcohol in his/her system may be guilty of DUI if drinking has affected the ability to drive and make decisions.
It is illegal to drive under the influence of drugs or alcohol in Alabama, but that doesn’t stop thousands from doing so anyway. According to Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), someone sustains an injury every two minutes in a drunk driving crash. The real tragedy is that most drunk drivers in collisions are repeat offenders – on average, a drunk driver has driven intoxicated more than 80 times before his/her first arrest. While a DUI crash typically results in criminal charges, it can also result in a civil lawsuit to compensate victims.
After a collision involving a drunk driver has happened, police will conduct sobriety tests and/or order a BAC test. If the driver has been drinking, the investigation will lead the officer to conclude the driver is more likely than not under the influence of alcohol (and/or drugs). At this point, the officer has probable cause to make an arrest. The officer’s report of the investigation can serve as critical evidence in your case against an intoxicated driver. Always call the police after any vehicle wreck in Alabama, major or minor. It is important to get an official record of events on file.
When do car accidents and car accident fatalities occur in Alabama?
Naturally, collisions and fatalities peak during rush hour – particularly in the early evening. However, a much greater share of collisions are fatal in dark conditions.
Nothing good happens after 12 a.m., the saying goes – and it holds true with deadly car crashes. From 12 a.m. to 3 a.m., the share of total collisions in Alabama is right around three percent. Almost 11 percent of fatalities occur in this three hour stretch.
Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Crashes
In Alabama, it is illegal to drive without the minimum vehicle insurance coverage. Yet there are hundreds of uninsured motorists (UM) and underinsured motorists (UIM) currently on AL’s roadways. If you get into a crash with a driver who does not have enough insurance to cover your damages, what do you do? Here are the steps we recommend to most clients in this situation:
- Gather as much information as possible about the other driver. This includes his/her name, contact information, license plate number, and vehicle description. If possible, take photos of the scene of the collision.
- Call the police and report the incident. When the police arrive, give as many details as possible about how the crash occurred. The officer will help you gather important information such as eyewitness statements. He/she will also issue a citation to the UM/UIM if appropriate.
- Call your insurance company. You’ll be happy to know that in most cases, your own car insurance plan will cover your damages after a wreck with a UM/UIM driver. Let your insurance company know you need to file a UM/UIM claim.
- Your insurance company will either cover what the underinsured motorist’s company does not, or provide full coverage. Ask your insurance agent whether your plan includes UM/UIM insurance, and how the company will handle your claim.
- Contact an attorney. In some cases, you may need to partner with an attorney to fight for the compensation you deserve. This may be the case if your insurance company denies your claim, or does not cover all your damages.
When in doubt, speak to Powers Injury Law. We offer free consultations so you can receive sound legal advice at no risk or obligation. Our team can advise you on what actions to take following a collision with a UM/UIM driver, and take over communications with your insurance company on your behalf. These cases can be complex, but you don’t have to worry with our Powers Injury Law by your side. We’ll walk you through every step of the process, keeping you updated during the entire process.
All drivers have a duty to stay at the scene of a vehicle collision, to make sure no one sustained injuries or serious property damage. State law requires uninjured drivers to alert emergency services to injured parties, as well as to inform the police. A hit-and-run crash occurs when a driver disregards these duties, driving away after striking another vehicle, bicyclist, or pedestrian.
In a hit-and-run civil injury lawsuit, you can likely recover punitive damages – those available in cases involving someone recklessly or intentionally causing harm. These damages are in addition to any recovery you may receive for your medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering. This is only possible, however, if an investigative team finds the hit-and-run driver. It is imperative to call an attorney immediately after a hit-and-run incident. Your lawyer must dispatch an investigator right away to optimize the chances finding the at-fault driver.
At Powers Injury Law, we will use all tools available to find the driver who caused your injuries and fled the scene. This may include gathering images of license plate information, video evidence from the scene, eyewitness testimony, or hiring experts. In the event that we cannot find the driver, we will help you file a claim and collect compensation through your own insurance policy. You would make a UI/UIM claim as if the driver did not flee the scene, but simply did not have any or enough insurance.
A hit-and-run driver takes an already devastating car crash and makes it even worse for victims. As a victim of hit-and-run, you probably feel confused and angry. You may not know how you’ll ever receive compensation for injuries and damages when the at-fault driver flees the scene. Luckily, the personal injury attorneys at Powers Injury Law have experience handling hit-and-run cases throughout Alabama. Contact our team as soon as possible after a collision to increase your chances of bringing a claim against the responsible party.
What to Do After a Car Wreck
The aftermath of a crash can be frightening and confusing. One of the best ways to protect yourself after a car wreck is to know what actions to take. Keep this list in your glove compartment to help you remember what to do. We sincerely hope you never have to use it, but if the worst happens, you’ll have a checklist to help you keep things in order. Here’s what to do after a car wreck:
- Stay on the scene. Do not flee the scene or assume it’s okay to leave, even after a minor collision. The law obligates you to pull over and make sure no one has an injury.
- Prevent further collisions. Set up triangles, flares, or cones around your vehicle if you have them, and put your flashers on. Wait for police in a safe location, out of the roadway.
- Call the police. Report your wreck, even if there are no serious injuries. Police can file an official report of the incident and gather important details, such as the name and contact information of the other driver. Your insurance company may also require a police report.
- Make an accurate record. Speak to the police and give all the details you can about the incident. Do not admit fault, guess, or speculate. If you aren’t sure whether or not you’re injured, say you aren’t sure if you are injured. If you discover an injury later, a police report stating otherwise can hurt your chances of receiving compensation.
- Collect information. Make a record of your own, writing down the name and contact info of the other driver. Record his/her license plate information and insurance card number. Get the information of any eyewitnesses to the incident. Police should gather statements from witnesses.
- Take photos. Nowadays you likely have a mobile device that takes photographs. If so, take pictures of your damaged vehicle, any other cars on scene, injuries, traffic signs, the roadway, and anything else that’s pertinent. Capture wide-angle shots to get the entire scene.
- Report the incident. Call your own insurance company and report the crash as soon as possible. Give accurate, detailed information. Again, do not admit fault. Most insurance companies require immediate reporting. Your insurance agent will give you important information about your policy and directions for what to do next, such as bringing your damaged vehicle to a shop or submitting incident-related medical bills.
- Seek medical attention. If you suffered major injuries and could not stay on the scene, ask a friend or family member to complete the prior steps leading up to this one. If your injuries are minor or you’re not sure whether you’re injured, seek medical attention immediately. Tell the doctor that you were involved in a car accident. Even if you don’t feel injured, visit your doctor. Damages such as concussions and some spinal cord injuries may not show themselves for days or even weeks after a crash. The sooner you see a doctor, the better your outcome will be. Should you need to pursue a claim, the defense can use the fact that you delayed seeing a doctor as evidence that your injuries were not serious.
- Keep a file. Gather all relevant information about the incident into one neat and organized file. This includes your copy of the police report, photos of the scene, the other driver’s information, medical bills, scans or X-rays, missed work forms, receipts from rental cars, your insurance claim number, and any other documentation related to your crash.
- Call Powers Injury Law at (205) 582-2723. Do not give a statement to an insurance claims adjuster or accept a quick settlement before speaking to an attorney about your incident. We offer completely free consultations, and will meet with you in a hospital or elsewhere if need be. We do not expect you to work around our schedule. Talking to a lawyer can help you understand and protect your rights after a car accident.
Insurance claims adjusters work for the insurance company, not for you. It is their job to get you to settle for as little as possible to save the company money. After a wreck, you need someone to take your side during complicated negotiations and settlement agreements. Jessica Powers will work for you and with you. Powers Injury Law puts people first. When you need sharp, reliable legal advice and a team of people looking out for your best interests, come to our firm in Birmingham.
Why Trust Powers Injury Law with Your Car Wreck Case?
Our team will fight hard to get you the results you deserve, taking the pressure off your shoulders and letting you focus on healing instead of complex litigation. We pride ourselves on making the claims process as stress-free as possible for our clients, taking care of the red tape, communications with insurance companies, and claims filing on your behalf. We’ll give you a detailed review of your rights and legal options for recovery, and keep you up to date on the status of your case. Jessica personally returns every call, so you’ll never have to wonder about what’s going on with your case.
Birmingham wrongful death lawyers at Powers Injury Law, know how to convey our clients’ injuries and damages in a powerful, poignant, and touching manner, ensuring that a judge and/or jury will fully understand your case. We can recreate a collision, secure witnesses, and use additional testimony and evidence to bolster your case. Our experience, education, and previous legal battle history make us well prepared for anything your car wreck case may involve. We want to help you excel in and out of the courtroom, relentlessly representing your case throughout the claims process. When you need lawyers with decades of experience, a passion for personal injury law, and a commitment to giving power to the people, come to Powers Injury Law. Contact us today to schedule your free consultation.