Determining Liability for Workplace Explosion Accidents

Industrial accidents can be catastrophic for everyone involved, often leaving multiple workers dead or injured. These accidents also tend to get substantial media attention, often leading to a public outcry for accountability. Unfortunately, while this may push companies to correct the errors that led to the explosion, it doesn’t always help injured workers get the compensation they deserve.

If you or someone you love has been injured in a workplace explosion, you may be entitled to compensation. Set up a consultation with Hedge Copeland by calling us at (251) 432-8844.

Damages in an Explosion Accident

If you’re seeking compensation after a workplace explosion accident, be aware that damages in these types of accidents tend to be very high. Depending on the injuries you’ve sustained, you could be spending months or even years away from work. Family members of workers who die in an explosion may be entitled to compensation for their loved one’s death. However, before you can figure out which types of damages you can recover, you have to figure out who is liable.

Parties That May Be Liable

A wide range of parties may hold partial or full liability after a workplace explosion accident. Possible liable parties include:

  • Plant manager or employer: Per OSHA, employers are required to take reasonable steps to make sure employees have access to a safe work environment. The onus is on plant managers to keep their work environment safe, particularly due to the high level of risk in industrial work settings. They are required to provide proper training, give access to machines that are maintained properly, give employees proper safety equipment, and limit access to toxic chemicals. If they cut corners, they could be liable for subsequent explosions.
  • Equipment manufacturers: If a piece of machinery explodes, liability could lie with the designer, manufacturer, or marketer of the machine. A lot depends on where the error in creation occurred.
  • Property owner: If the owner of the property is a separate party from the employer, they may be liable for an explosion if they did not take proper steps to ensure that their property was safe for workers.
  • Company that manages operations: In many large industrial projects, there are companies hired to manage the daily operations of a job. If this company fails to exercise due caution or protect workers from injury, they could be held liable for subsequent injuries.
  • Third party contractor: Industrial and commercial work settings often have a substantial number of third-party contractors onsite. Consider, for example, a company that does the electrical work at a worksite. If their work is not up to standards and causes an explosion, the contractor could be responsible for the explosion.
  • Other related parties: Depending on the details of your claim, other parties may also have some liability. Consider a situation where the gas company marks the location of gas lines to ensure that workers do not hit them. If the gas company’s employee mismarked the lines and employees later hit gas lines and caused an explosion, the gas company could have some liability.

Seeking Compensation After an Explosion Accident

If your explosion was caused by your employer or a coworker, you can probably only get compensation through the workers’ compensation program. This allows injured employees to get some reimbursement after an accident while protecting companies from personal injury lawsuits. This is typically limited to a portion of your average weekly wages and all medical bills for treatment related to your injuries.

If another party was responsible for the accident, you may be able to seek both workers’ compensation and a third-party claim. This may be an option if a third-party contractor, equipment manufacturer, or outside company is liable for the explosion. This would allow you to pursue much greater damages, including full wages, pain and suffering, disfigurement, and property damage.

Turn to Hedge Copeland to Talk About Your Options

The complexities of a workplace injury can be difficult to navigate, especially if you’re healing from serious wounds. The team at Hedge Copeland can help you understand your options and pursue the compensation you are entitled to. Take the first step now by calling us at (251) 432-8844 or contacting our team online to set up a consultation.

Can Insurance Companies Spy On Me During an Accident Injury Claim?

If you have been injured in an accident and you are involved in the claim against the responsible party’s insurer, you might start to get a nagging feeling that you are being watched. In some instances, this feeling might turn out to be more than just paranoia.

If you are asking yourself, “can insurance companies spy on me after I get hurt in an accident?”, the answer to that question is, yes they can, and sometimes they do.

It is not illegal for insurance companies to perform surveillance on accident injury victims, as long as they do not violate your privacy or break any other laws in the process. In general, this means that whenever you are doing anything that is within the public sphere, the insurance company might be watching you.

Why Would the Insurance Company Perform Surveillance on Me?

There are several reasons why an insurer might be watching you if you have filed an accident injury claim. First and foremost, the primary goal of the insurance company is to minimize the amount in damages they have to pay for the actions of their insureds. This is just business, and it is only natural that an insurer would want to protect their bottom line.

One way that an insurance company keeps their losses to a minimum is by aggressively combating insurance fraud. Unfortunately, there are those who exaggerate their injuries in order to get more compensation than they deserve, and insurance carriers frequently use surveillance in order to uncover fraudulent claims.

The problem is that insurers are skeptical about nearly all claimants, and they often operate with the general assumption that a claimant might be trying to defraud them. Now, they do not have the resources to employ heavy surveillance in every claim, so as you might guess, they are far more likely to spy on a claimant when there is a larger settlement at stake.

How Do Insurance Companies Spy on Accident Injury Claimants?

There are some different ways that insurance carriers may perform surveillance on injury claimants:

  • Electronic Surveillance: The most common way that an insurance company might spy on you is through digital searches and websites where you may have posted something about your case. For example, they may search your Facebook and Instagram profiles for comments you have made regarding your accident and/or photos you have posted. Even photos that may not be directly related to your accident could be used against you, such as pictures of you having a good time on vacation with your family and friends.
  • Passive Surveillance: In some cases when fraud might be suspected, an insurer might hire a private investigator to follow you and take photos of you in public places, such as going to the grocery store or walking around in a public park. An investigator may be looking for proof that you are exaggerating your injuries by showing that you are able to carry groceries into and out of your vehicle, for example.
  • Active Surveillance: If an insurer suspects fraud in a higher value case, the surveillance might become more aggressive. This might include contacting colleagues, neighbors, and even friends and relatives to find out what these people know about your accident and your current health condition.

What Can I Do about Possible Insurance Company Surveillance?

If you think the insurance company is spying on you, there is no need to panic. As long as you have been honest about your injuries, then you will probably be okay. But that said, insurers can still take things out of context and try to paint you in the worst possible light in order to damage your claim.

Here are some ways to protect yourself from the possibility of insurance company surveillance:

  • Follow your doctor’s recommendations. If your doctor has put restrictions on your activities, do not push yourself and try to do more than you should before you have given yourself enough time to heal. If you have been told not to go back to work until a certain period of time has passed, do not go back early. In addition, refrain from any other activities that might re-aggravate your injury.
  • Limit your social media activity. While you have an ongoing injury claim, you should do as little as possible on social media. Do not make any posts or comments of your own, make sure you have the strictest privacy settings, and in particular, make sure none of your friends can tag you in any of their posts.
  • Contact the authorities if you feel harassed. If an investigator enters your property without your consent or violates your privacy in any other way, contact law enforcement. Insurance companies can surveil you in public, but they are not allowed to stalk, harass, or threaten you.
  • Retain experienced legal counsel. If you have been injured in an accident, recovering compensation can be a complicated process, and insurance companies will do whatever they can to undermine your claim. The best way to protect your rights and secure maximum compensation is to retain a skilled and knowledgeable attorney who is committed to looking out for your best interests.

Injured in an Accident in Alabama? Contact Hedge Copeland for Legal Help 

If you or a loved one suffered injury in an accident that was someone else’s fault, Hedge Copeland is here to help. Message us online or call our office today at (251) 432-8844 to schedule a free consultation and case assessment with one of our attorneys.

When Does it Make Sense NOT to Hire an Attorney for a Car Accident Claim?

If you have recently been involved in an auto accident, you may be wondering if you really need to hire an attorney to handle your claim. After all, attorneys will take a percentage of the compensation you recover (generally about one third), so is it really worth it to hire one?

The short answer is, “not always”. Now this answer may surprise you coming from a law firm blog, but the truth is that there are a number of cases in which hiring a lawyer is simply not necessary. That being said, it is always a good idea to at least talk with the lawyer about your case.

Nearly all personal injury lawyers provide free consultations, so all it will cost you is a little bit of your time to have your case reviewed and find out where you stand. You never know if there might be complicating factors (in your case) that you were not aware of, and a case assessment from a legal professional will allow you to make the most informed decision about how you wish to proceed.

When Would it Make Sense Not to Hire a Lawyer for my Auto Accident?

Here are some instances in which hiring an attorney might not be necessary:

There were No Injuries

Generally, if no one was hurt in the accident and all you are dealing with is property damage, then you probably do not need an attorney. In a case like this, your potential for recovery is much lower, and it would not be worth it. One word of caution, however. There are some cases in which there are no visible injuries, but injuries are discovered later on. This can happen when there is a delayed onset of symptoms, which is common with some types of auto accident injuries. Before concluding that there are “no injuries”, be sure to get checked out by a qualified medical professional.

Injuries are Minor and Without Complications

Maybe you are a little banged up, but your injuries seem minor and you do not expect to miss more than a couple of days of work because of them. This is another case where the potential settlement amount is low and giving a third of it to an attorney probably doesn’t make sense. But as we talked about in the previous point, be careful not to conclude that your injuries are minor without a full medical exam.

Some injuries only appear to be minor, but complications arise later on, and it turns out they are much more serious than you first thought. If you settle a claim like this too quickly with the insurance company, you could end up being stuck with additional medical bills and more time missed from work and no way to get compensation for it.

You Believe Your Settlement Offer is Fair

Maybe you have received an offer already from the insurance company to settle your claim, and you believe the offer is fair. For example, you have minor injuries without any complications, and you have been fully checked out by a medical professional. And after all of this, you are presented with an offer from the insurer.

This would appear to be a case where you can take the settlement offer and move on with your life. But as we talked about earlier, it never hurts to at least run it by an attorney to make sure everything is in order.

At Hedge Copeland, our attorneys are happy to give you an honest assessment and let you know if it is a good offer or not. If we don’t think we can do any better than what they are offering (based on all of the factors in your case), then there is no reason for us to get involved.

When You Might Need an Attorney

There are a lot of cases in which having an attorney is crucial in order to make sure your legal rights are protected, and you are in the best possible position to recover maximum compensation. Here are some instances when you would definitely want to consider hiring an attorney:

  • You suffered moderate to severe injuries.
  • You are likely to miss several days or more from work because of your injuries.
  • Your injuries may require ongoing care.
  • Your injuries have had a significant impact on the quality of your life.
  • There is a question over who was at fault for the accident.
  • There are multiple parties that could be responsible for the accident.
  • The insurance company is treating you unfairly.

If these or similar complications exist, then you are probably going to want legal representation. Your attorney will deal directly with the insurance company and negotiate the best possible settlement on your behalf, and they will be ready to take your case to trial if necessary.

At Hedge Copeland, we have no qualms about litigating the case when the other side is not acting in good faith. Sometimes, just filing the lawsuit alone is enough to show the other side that you are serious and bring them to the negotiating table.

If you or someone close to you was injured in an auto accident in Alabama, we invite you to contact us for a free consultation and case assessment. To get started, message us online or call our office today at (251) 432-8844.

Should I Give a Recorded Statement to an Insurance Company?

When someone gets injured in an auto accident or sustains some other type of personal injury, they will usually be dealing with an insurance company when they file a claim for damages. And in most cases, it will be the insurance company for the responsible party. There are some instances, however, when you may be dealing with your own insurer – such as if the driver that hit you did not have insurance or was underinsured.

After an accident, it is not unusual to get a phone call from an insurance company representative within a day or two. They are usually very friendly and polite, and they will present it as a courtesy call to find out how you are doing and reassure you that you are going to be taking care of.

During the call, you might start to believe that the insurance adjuster or representative is really on your side. And once they have convinced you of this, they might make a seemingly innocuous request – to provide them with a recorded statement to give your version of what happened during the accident. The adjuster or representative will make it seem like giving a recorded statement is just a formality and something that is needed in order to process your claim more quickly.

So, are you required to give the insurance company a recorded statement? And if not, should you give them a recorded statement?

The answer to the first question is, in most cases, you are not required to give a recorded statement to an insurance company after an accident. The only exception is if you are dealing with your own insurer and this requirement is part of the terms and conditions of your policy. Otherwise, there is no law that compels you to give it to them.

The short answer to the second question is, no you should not give the insurance company a recorded statement until you have spoken with an attorney. This is not to say that you should not provide the statement at all, but the timing of it is very important, and you need to be prepared before you give it.

When is the Right Time to Give the Insurance Company a Recorded Statement?

There is a good reason why insurance company representatives typically contact injury claimants within just a couple of days after an accident. They want to speak with you and gain your trust before you have had a chance to collect your thoughts, contact an attorney, and find out what your legal rights and options are.

It is during these early hours that they seek to build rapport and convince you that it is in your best interests to cooperate with them and give them a recorded statement right away. Keep in mind, however, that no matter how friendly and courteous they are, the insurance company representative is looking out for their employer’s bottom line, and that is only helped by paying out as little as possible in compensation for your claim.

Since the insurance company’s interests are not aligned with yours, you should be skeptical of what they tell you. And when it comes to giving a recorded statement, you not go on the record too early.

One of the major reasons you should not give them the statement right away is that you probably do not know the full extent of your injuries yet. For example, you might just have a few minor aches and pains right now, but these pains could worsen in the coming days and weeks. If you said or implied that you only had minor injuries in your statement, then you might appear to contradict yourself if you discover more serious injuries later on.

Another reason it is not a good idea to provide a statement immediately is because of what we talked about earlier, you may not have had a chance to collect your thoughts yet. Before you go on the record, you should take time to review the police report and any notes you took to make sure that you are absolutely clear on what happened.

It is always best to look to your attorney to determine the time and manner in which you should give your recorded statement. Usually, this will involve having your attorney present for questioning. Insurance company representatives sometimes ask tricky and misleading questions that are designed to trap you into giving answers that might harm your claim, and your attorney will not let them get away with asking these types of questions.

Skilled Legal Guidance from Experienced Alabama Personal Injury Attorneys

If you have been injured in an accident and you have been contacted by an insurance company, remember that you are well within your rights to speak with an attorney before dealing with the insurer. If your injury occurred in Alabama, contact Hedge Copeland for a free consultation and case assessment. To get started, message us online or call our office today at (251) 432-8844.

Can Returning to Work Too Soon Hurt Your Personal Injury Claim?

With many auto accidents and other personal injuries, it is necessary to miss some time from work in order to physically recover. With more serious injuries, the injured person might need to be out of work for several weeks or even months or longer.

Most people do not enjoy being out of work for an extended period of time. Usually, they can’t wait to get back into their regular routine of going to work, socializing with co-workers, and earning money again. In other words, they are looking for a return to normalcy.

Wanting to get back on the job as soon as possible is understandable, but what if it is too soon? If you go back to work before you should, how will it impact your personal injury claim?

When is the Right Time to Go Back to Work after an Auto Accident?

The right time to go back to work after a car accident or any other type of personal injury is only after your doctor clears you (to return) and you feel physically able to do your job again. Returning to work too early could be a big mistake for a couple of reasons:

You Might Re-Aggravate Your Injury

Although you may want to get back to work as soon as possible after an auto accident injury, your first priority should be your physical health and well-being. With this in mind, you do not want to start working again if there is a chance that your injury could get aggravated.

For example, you might feel pretty good right now, but you don’t know what physical movements might cause your injury to flare up again. If this were to happen, your recovery could take a major setback and you would probably end up being out of work for a much longer period of time. There is also the chance of re-aggravations that could result in long-term physical problems, which could even mean not being able to go back to your previous job at all.

It Could Complicate Your Personal Injury Claim

If you have filed a claim for damages from your auto accident, returning to work too soon can definitely hurt your claim. For one thing, the insurance company might see your return to work as proof that your injuries are not really as serious as you say they are, which could result in a significantly lower settlement offer. Remember that the insurance company is looking for ways to diminish the value of your claim and enhance their bottom line – and going back to work too soon gives them an opportunity to do just that.

If you go back to work and your injury gets re-aggravated, this could complicate things even further. As an injury claimant, you have a legal obligation to mitigate the effects of your injury, which essentially means following through on all of your doctor’s recommendations and doing everything necessary to get recovered or reach maximum medical improvement. If you return to work too soon and your condition gets worse, the insurance company might say that they are not responsible for any additional treatment that is required as a result.

What If My Doctor Clears Me to Go Back to Work Before I Feel Ready?

There are some injury victims that run into a different dilemma when their doctor says they are ready to return to work, but they do not feel like they are physically able to yet. In a case like this, the first thing to do is speak with your attorney about what options you may have. One possibility is that you could go to another doctor and get a second opinion. By getting a second opinion, you might be able to get your time away from work extended or at the very least, you might be able to get some work restrictions put into place.

Suffered a Personal Injury in Alabama? Contact Hedge Copeland for Assistance

If you or a loved one got injured because of someone else’s negligence or reckless actions, Hedge Copeland is here to help. Call our office today at (251) 432-8844 or message us online for a free consultation and case assessment with a member of our legal team.

Managing the Physical and Emotional Impact of a Personal Injury

Suffering a personal injury can be a life altering event. The financial costs of a moderate to severe injury can be staggering, with medical bills that pile up quickly and the prospect of being out of work for an extended period of time.

The financial impact of the injury is only part of the story, however, and really not even the most important part. What is much more important is the physical and emotional toll that the injury takes on the individual, which extends to the entire household.

The pain of an injury can go on for what seems like an eternity. Imagine waking up every day for weeks or months having trouble getting out of bed, trouble moving around, and not knowing how bad the pain is going to be from one day to the next.

Related to this is the stress and anxiety that the injury causes. Injury victims typically spend many sleepless nights worrying about when they will be able to return to work and how they will be able to provide for their family in the meantime. And what if they can’t go back to work at all? What happens then?

Ways to Manage the Physical and Emotional Effects of a Personal Injury

Dealing with the physical and emotional effects of an injury can be a major struggle, but there are some ways that you can better cope with these issues:

Dealing with Loss of Independence

One of the struggles that many accident victims face is the short-term or long-term loss of independence. Even if your injuries are minor, you’ll likely need help from family members or loved ones as you recover. For those who suffer more serious injuries, long-term assistance may be required. This allows accident victims to focus on rehabilitation and healing. For many, this is not just a physical challenge, but a mental one as well. Suddenly being dependent on caretakers may make you feel helpless or even angry, so don’t try to ignore these feelings.

Pain Management

Pain management is another crucial part of your physical healing after an injury. Treating pain as it occurs can leave you consistently on edge, waiting for relief and worrying that your pain is about to get worse. That’s why it’s important to follow your doctor’s treatment recommendations. They may recommend that you take your medication at regular intervals to stave off pain and give your body the rest it needs to heal. Additionally, keeping your pain levels low can actually help you perform better during physical and occupational therapy.

Rehabilitation

Don’t be afraid to get the therapy you need to get back to normal after a personal injury. This often includes both physical and occupational therapy, depending on the severity of your injuries. Victims may put off both of these options because of the cost associated with them, but getting therapy is one of the most reliable ways to heal quickly and fully after an accident. If cost is a concern, you should realize that his cost should be reimbursed by the party responsible for your injury. Your attorney will help see to it that this happens.

Emotional Challenges

On top of the physical difficulties of a personal injury, you may also have emotional challenges to address as well. Don’t ignore these issues or downplay them. Your mental health is just as important as your physical health after a personal injury, and it’s likely that you have some trauma to work through because of your accident. Of course, you may find it helpful to open up to friends and family members while recovering from your injury. On top of that, however, you may also want to seek professional assistance.

Be Open with Your Family

Some people who suffer a personal injury have a hard time talking about it with others in their household. They might not want to burden their spouse too much, and they don’t want their kids to worry about them. While this way of thinking understandable, it is probably not the best approach.

When your family is kept in the dark, they can become even more stressed because they feel like they don’t know what’s going on or how they can help. It is better to be open with them and let them know what is happening, what you are struggling with, and what your recovery plan is. When your family is better informed, it will help set proper expectations and provide a good source of support and encouragement as you work to get healthy again.

Lean on Your Friends and Relatives

In addition to your immediate family, your trusted friends and relatives can be another good resource for you. Oftentimes, they will be there to talk about issues you are dealing with and be willing to assist you with tasks that you have a hard time doing yourself.

Follow your Doctor’s Recommendations

It is very important to heed the advice of your doctor and other health professionals during the recovery process. Be sure to keep all of your appointments and follow through on the recommended treatments. This includes doing the exercises that are prescribed by your physical therapist, even on days when you don’t feel like it. There might also be some dietary changes that you should make, so do not ignore these recommendations either.

Finally, don’t be afraid to reach out for counseling and other types of mental health therapy. Many people struggle with the psychological aspects of a personal injury, and there is no shame in asking for help with these issues.

Be Good to Yourself

It is human nature for someone who gets injured to try to blame themselves for what happened. It is not uncommon to replay the events in your head and think about what you could have done differently to prevent the injury from happening. Try to spend as little time as possible thinking about past events that you cannot change. The past is the past, and if your injury was caused by someone else’s negligence, there is no sense blaming yourself for it. Be good to yourself; and focus your energies on what you can do going forward to get recovered.

Let an Experienced Attorney Handle Your Legal Claim

If you suffered an injury that someone else was responsible for, you deserve to be fully compensated. But pursuing an injury claim can be very stressful if you try to handle it all yourself, especially when you should be focused on your recovery. Insurance companies will not make it any easier as their goal is to minimize the amount of compensation that they give you. At this critical time, it is best to have your claim handled by a skilled and knowledgeable personal injury lawyer.

Let Hedge Copeland Assist You with Your Personal Injury Claim

If you are someone close to you suffered a personal injury in Alabama, Hedge Copeland is here to help. For a free consultation and case assessment with one of our attorneys, message us online or call our office today at (251) 432-8844.

Liability for Ridesharing Accidents in Alabama: What you Need to Know

Rideshare companies like Uber and Lyft are becoming increasingly popular, especially in metro areas like Mobile, Montgomery and Birmingham. In 2018, the Alabama legislature approved ridesharing statewide, allowing these companies to operate in any part of the state. As a result, this method of transportation is quickly replacing taxicabs for those who need to get from one place to another.

The convenience of ridesharing makes it preferable for many, because it leverages the latest technology to bring drivers and passengers together. Through an app on your smartphone, you can summon a ride and pay for everything electronically. But as with any new transportation system, there are some issues that those who use it may have to deal with.

One area that is very confusing is what happens when a rideshare driver gets into an auto accident. Whose insurance covers the accident, and how does an injured party go about filing a claim?

The short answer to this question is, it depends. Specifically, it depends on who is at fault for the accident (this is always the case), and what status the driver was in when the crash occurred.

Liability for Alabama Ridesharing Accidents

Uber and Lyft drivers are required to have their own auto insurance, and they are supposed to tell their insurer that they are driving for a rideshare company. This might not always happen, however, and it could cause an issue if you end up injured and need to file a claim against a ridesharing driver. The insurance company might claim that they did not know their insured was driving for one of these companies, and in this case, they could try to refuse coverage for the accident.

Beyond the insurance coverage that the rideshare driver has, Uber and Lyft offer some additional coverage as well. However, how much they cover depends on what the driver was doing at the time of the crash.

Coverage from ridesharing companies is broken down into three “periods” or “statuses” that the driver was in:

  • Driving App Turned Off: When the ridesharing driver does not have his/her app turned on, it is assumed that they are off duty, and Uber and Lyft do not extend any coverage during this period. If someone is injured in a rideshare accident when the Uber or Lyft driver is at fault but they do not have their app turned on, they would need to file a claim with the driver’s personal auto insurer. If, as we discussed earlier, the insurer denies coverage for whatever reason, then they may need to look to the uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage in their own policy, or consider a personal injury claim directly against the at fault driver.
  • Driving App On with No Passenger: If the Uber or Lyft driver has their app turned on, then they are considered to be working and available to pick up passengers. If an accident happens while the driver does not have a passenger in the car (e.g., they are waiting for a fare or on the way to pick up a passenger), Uber and Lyft provide liability coverage of $50,000 per person and $100,000 per accident, as well as $25,000 in coverage for property damage.
  • Driving App On with a Passenger: When an accident occurs while there is a passenger in the car, Uber and Lyft both provide up to $1 million of total liability coverage.

It is important to note that the coverages listed apply to injured rideshare passengers, injured drivers and passengers of other vehicles, and injured pedestrians, bicyclists, and motorcyclists. However, this coverage is not extended to the Uber or Lyft driver if they were to get hurt. In a case like this, the injured driver would have to look to the at fault party’s insurer, or if they do not have insurance, the uninsured/underinsured coverage within their own auto policy.

Injured in a Ridesharing Accident in Alabama? Contact a Seasoned Auto Accident Lawyer

If you or someone close to got injured in an accident that involved a Lyft or Uber driver, you may have a right to significant compensation. But because of the nuances involved with claims like these, it is highly recommended that you work with an attorney who has an in-depth understanding of this area of the law, and the various legal avenues that you may have available.

If your rideshare accident happened in Alabama, contact Hedge Copeland for assistance. To schedule a free consultation and case assessment with one of our attorneys, message us online or call our office today at (251) 432-8844. We look forward to serving you!

Delayed Injuries from a Car Accident

Millions of auto accidents happen every year, and in a large number of cases, it appears that those involved only suffer minor injuries, if any. You are very fortunate if you can walk away from a car accident without any broken bones or other severe injuries, but just because you don’t feel anything right away, you should not assume that you are unscathed.

For many people involved in car accidents, the injuries they sustain are not felt immediately. This is largely due to the adrenaline rush that we experience when we are involved in a traumatic event. The adrenaline produced by a high impact crash, for example, will often mask the pain associated with the injury, and it won’t be felt until later on.

For this reason, it is always best to get immediate medical attention if you get into a car accident, even if you do not feel like you need it. The sooner you get checked out, the sooner the doctor will be able to effectively treat any injuries you may have sustained before they get any worse. In addition, it is a very good idea to get in touch with an attorney right away to review your case.

Delayed Injuries that May Occur after an Auto Accident

Here are some of the most common delayed injuries that car accident victims may sustain:

Whiplash

Whiplash is a soft tissue neck injury that is very common in car accidents. This type of injury occurs when the head and neck are thrown back and forth in a rapid movement that resembles the cracking of a whip. Whiplash happens frequently to the lead driver in a rear end crash, because they are caught off guard and have no time to brace for the collision.

Whiplash damages the victim’s nerves, joints, and muscles in the affected area, and it is characterized by a number of different symptoms, including:

  • Headaches
  • Dizziness
  • Blurred vision
  • Ringing in the ears/tinnitus
  • Neck, shoulder, and upper back pain
  • Numbness, tingling, or loss of feeling
  • Sleep disruptions

Symptoms of whiplash often do not show up until at least 12 to 24 hours after a car accident. In some cases, it might take up to a week before the victim starts to feel anything. A mild case of whiplash might require chiropractic treatment and/or physical therapy, which may help the symptoms to subside within about a month or so. Moderate to severe whiplash injuries take a lot longer to heal, and in some cases, there may be permanent damage to the affected areas.

Head/Brain Injuries

The impact of a collision could produce an injury to the head and brain, commonly referred to as a traumatic brain injury (TBI). TBIs usually happen from a blow to the head, which is a frequent occurrence during car accidents. Concussions are the mildest form of TBI, and they are characterized by symptoms such as:

  • Headaches
  • Disorientation/loss of balance
  • Mood swings
  • Irritation
  • Significant changes in eating patterns

Mild concussion victims can usually recover within a couple of weeks, but more serious TBI’s can have long-term and even permanent effects.

Internal Injuries

Internal bleeding or other types of damage to internal organs is a very serious injury that is not always felt right away after a car accident. Sometime later, for example, you might start to feel abdominal pain from internal bleeding that could progress later into dizziness and fainting. This type condition is life-threatening and requires immediate medical care as soon as it is discovered.

PTSD

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a psychological condition that frequently occurs after a traumatic event. PTSD is commonly associated with members of the military who return home after being involved in combat and later experience the effects of it, but the same thing can happen to car accident victims, abuse victims, and others who have experienced some type of trauma.

Some common signs and symptoms of PTSD include:

  • Nightmares and flashbacks about the event
  • Anxiety
  • Sleepless nights
  • Mood changes
  • Depression
  • Risky or reckless behavior

Contact Hedge Copeland for Assistance with Auto Accidents in Alabama

If you or a loved one suffered injury in a car accident in Alabama, you may be entitled to compensation – even if the symptoms showed up later. However, in a case like this, the other side might try to argue that your injuries were from a pre-existing condition or otherwise not caused by the accident. Before speaking with the representative for the other side, contact Hedge Copeland to discuss your claim. We will provide a free consultation to thoroughly assess the specifics of your case and advise you of your legal rights and options.

To get started, message us online or call our office today at (251) 432-8844. We look forward to serving you!

Safe Driving Tips for Holiday Travel

The holiday season is one of the most joyous times of the year. This is the season when we try to take some extra time of to relax, refresh, and spend quality time with our loved ones. In a typical year, millions of Americans would be traveling by car, bus, plane, or another mode of transportation to get together with family and friends.

Travel might be scaled back some this year because of COVID-19, but a lot of people still plan to visit relatives and friends and try to make the most out of the circumstances we are in. This could mean driving across town or driving or riding to the airport to catch a flight, or it could mean going on a long holiday road trip.

If you are one of those who is planning to take a trip and drive a significant distance this holiday season, it is important to take steps to prepare for a safe journey:

Get your Vehicle Inspected and Serviced

Before you go on a long road trip, you should always make sure that your vehicle is in good repair. Here are some important things you should do to make sure your vehicle is ready:

  • Change the oil and top off all of the other fluids.
  • Make sure your tires are properly inflated and have plenty of tread depth.
  • Have your battery inspected to make sure it is charging properly, and clean off any corrosion that has built up within the terminals.
  • Make sure your wiper blades are in good working order and replace them if they are damaged or worn.
  • Check your spark plugs to see if you are due for a tune up.
  • Have your brakes inspected to ensure that there is plenty of wear left on them.

Prepare a Vehicle Emergency Kit

Put together some items that you will need in case you have an emergency such as the car breaking down. Consider the following items for your emergency kit:

  • Water and snacks
  • Jumper cables
  • Blankets
  • Warm clothing, hats, and gloves
  • A flashlight
  • A first-aid kit

Pack Plenty of Hand Sanitizer

When you stop off to eat, fuel up, or for restroom breaks, you will be touching a lot of surfaces that have been touched by others. We have obviously heard a lot about the risks of contracting COVID-19, but keep in mind that it is also flu season during the winter months, and the flu is very contagious as well. To help keep yourself and those traveling with you healthy, make sure everyone cleans their hands frequently with antibacterial sanitizer.

Plan your Route Ahead of Time

It is always good to know where you are going and how you are going to get there before you start out. It is also important to know some alternative routes in case you encounter road construction, a road closed, or a major traffic slowdown because of an accident. Look at two or three different routes before you leave and load them into your navigation system, so you will be ready to adjust your route if necessary.

Prepare for Adverse Weather Conditions

Check the weather report ahead of time for the areas in which you will be traveling. If you are staying in the Southeastern US, you are not likely to run into any heavy snowstorms, although it has been known to happen. But you could encounter heavy rain, high winds, or even freezing rain. And if you are traveling to one of the northern states, then you could easily run into any type of winter weather. Be prepared for inclement weather if it is in the forecast, and be ready to slow down and drive very carefully when you encounter it.

Get Plenty of Rest Before Heading Out

Before you head out for a full day of driving, be sure you have enough sleep the night before. For an average adult, this means roughly seven hours of sleep. Driving long distances can get very tiring, but you need to have enough rest to stay alert and drive safely. If you do start getting tired, pull into a rest stop or gas station to take a nap.

Keep your Cell Phone Fully Charged

You never know when you might have a problem on the road, and the last thing you want is to have your phone run out of battery. Before you leave, make sure your phone is fully charged, and it is also a good idea to have it plugged into a charger in your car as you are driving. On a related note, do NOT use your phone to send a text or do any other type of electronic messaging, let one of your passengers handle that (if you have passengers).

Review your Roadside Assistance Information

If your car breaks down in the middle of nowhere, you will want to have an emergency roadside assistance service available to come and help you. If you do not already have this service, purchase it from your insurer or through an outside company like AAA. Finally, locate the phone number for your roadside assistance and load it into your contact list on your cell phone. Having this phone number readily available will save you from a lot of stress and anxiety if you end up needing it.

Happy holidays from all of us at Hedge Copeland! Stay safe out there and enjoy this most wonderful time of the year with those closest to you.

Important Tips for Avoiding a School Bus Accident

The return to school has been a little different this year for Alabama students. Because of safety concerns over COVID-19, many school districts are doing a hybrid approach in which there is some distance learning combined with in-person classes a couple days a week. In some cases, parents are choosing to keep their kids home at least for the first couple of months to do distance learning exclusively.

These modifications have forced school buses to shuffle their schedule around as well. Because of the staggered student schedules, there are not as many buses on the road each day as there would be in a normal year. But even with these changes, there are still well over 100,000 Alabama students that are riding the bus to and from school every day.

School buses are generally considered among the safest ways for a child to travel. Buses are massive vehicles that provide plenty of protection for passengers, and there are fewer fatalities (per hundred thousand miles traveled by bus) than most other modes of transportation.

Although school bus travel is generally pretty safe, accidents do happen, and some of those accidents result in serious injuries and fatalities. Perhaps the greater concern for kids, however, is the exposure to hazards when they walk to the bus stop in the morning, wait for the bus to arrive, and walk home after being dropped off in the evening.

With school back in full swing (or as close as we are going to get while dealing with a global pandemic), it is a good time to go over some safety tips to help avoid school bus accidents:

FOR CHILDREN

Leave for the Bus Stop Early

Parents, make sure your school-aged kids get out the door early and in plenty of time to make their bus. The last thing you want is for your child to be running to the bus stop at the last minute to avoid missing it. When this happens, there is a much greater risk of injuries from slipping and falling, or being hit by a vehicle as they are dashing across the street. A good rule of thumb is to make sure they get to the bus stop five minutes before the scheduled arrival.

Be Careful while Waiting for the Bus

Teach your kids to behave and avoid horseplay while they are waiting for the bus to arrive. For example, if they are wrestling around with other kids and one of them tumbles over the curb and into the street, they could end up in the face of oncoming traffic. Teach your kids to stay at least 10 feet away from the road, so they don’t risk falling in the street, and so that the bus driver can see them when he/she pulls up.

Board the School Bus Carefully

When the bus arrives, instruct your kids to wait for it to come to a complete stop and for the driver to open the door before proceeding on board. Board the bus slowly and use the handrails to maintain balance. Once in your seat, fasten your seatbelt and remain seated until you reach your destination.

FOR MOTORISTS

Drive Slowly near School Buses

Whenever you see a school bus, slow down and proceed cautiously. When there are buses around, this means there are children nearby as well. In this type of situation, you want to make sure to drive slowly and give yourself enough time to react to something unexpected, such as a child running across the street.

Give the Buses Plenty of Space

When driving near buses, always give them enough space to perform their tasks safely. Buses frequently stop to pick up and drop off kids, and they are required to come to a complete stop at all railroad crossings.

Stay Free of Distractions

Motorists should avoid texting while driving in all circumstances, and especially when driving around school buses. When you are in a school zone, you should also avoid other distractions as much as possible, so you can stay focused on the road. Common distractions that could make it more hazardous to drive near school buses include eating, drinking, grooming, reading a GPS, and talking on the phone.

Follow Alabama School Bus Traffic Laws

It is very important to understand the Alabama laws around school and church buses, and follow them. In most situations, motorists are not allowed to pass a stopped bus. When driving behind a bus, drivers must stop when the signal arm is raised and remain stopped until it is lowered. The same rules usually apply if you are approaching a school or church bus from the opposite direction, unless you are traveling on a 4 or 6 lane highway in which the directional lanes are divided by a barrier or unpaved area.

Bear in mind that a growing number of Alabama school districts have installed stop arm cameras on their buses. This means you could be ticketed if there is video evidence that you are violating state traffic laws.

Injured in a School Bus Accident in Alabama? Contact an Experienced Auto Accident Attorney

Even if you follow all of the best safety practices for avoiding a school bus accident, you cannot control what others on the road will do. If you or someone close to you got injured in a vehicle accident that was someone else’s fault, Hedge Copeland, P.C. is here to help! For a free consultation with one of our attorneys, message us online or call our office today at (251) 432-8844.