Pedestrian Accidents May Increase During COVID-19 Shutdowns

The coronavirus pandemic has most of us working out of our homes these days. Essential workers are still going out, but the rest of us are telecommuting. This has reduced vehicle traffic, which should result in fewer auto accidents. On the flipside, however, more people being at home means more people going out for walks. We also have some people going out for drives just to get out of the house.

The increased number of people walking of course heightens the risk of pedestrian accidents, and these accidents can result in some of the most serious and catastrophic injuries. Unlike vehicle occupants, someone who is out walking does not have a steel cage to protect them, so when they are struck by a car or truck, there is not much that separates their body from hitting the pavement. To make matters worse, with fewer cars on the road, those that are out there will be traveling at higher speeds, which increases the likelihood of deadly collisions.

Tips for Preventing Pedestrian Accidents during the Coronavirus or Anytime

Both motorists and pedestrians need to be aware of the heightened danger of a collision when there are more people walking:

For Pedestrians

  • Be Seen: Do everything you can to stay visible, so drivers on the road can see you. If you are walking during the day, put on brightly colored clothing. If you are walking at night, put on lightly colored or reflective clothing. Walk in well-lit areas whenever possible, and always try to make eye contact with drivers before you walk across the road in front of them.
  • Be Predictable: Be familiar with all of the traffic laws and rules wherever you are walking and follow them. For example, do not cross the road in places where it is illegal, dangerous, or unexpected. Stick to designated crosswalks and places where it is safe and legal, and always make sure that traffic is clear before you cross.
  • Be Alert: Pay attention to where you are walking and do your best to avoid unnecessary distractions. Most of us like to stay connected using our smartphones, but it is not a good idea to send and receive electronic messages while you are walking. If you need to send a text, stop walking and resume walking when you are done. Also, if you are listening to music, keep it low enough so you can still hear vehicles that are passing nearby.
  • Be Sober: Alcohol is a factor in approximately half of all pedestrian accidents. Most of these accidents are caused by a drunk driver, but about one-third of them involve an intoxicated pedestrian.

For Motorists

  • Be Aware: Be mindful of higher pedestrian traffic, especially when you are driving around in your own neighborhood.
  • Be Lawful: Follow all of the rules of the road. Avoid excessive speeding and other forms of aggressive or reckless driving, such as running stop signs, going through red lights, making dangerous turns, and not yielding the right-of-way.
  • Be Awake: A surprising number of motorists drive while they are drowsy or fatigued, and this behavior is most likely to happen during the late evening or early morning hours. Drowsy driving can result in a motorist falling asleep at the wheel, which can cause deadly consequences for themselves and others on the road. But even if this does not happen, a sleepy driver still tends to make poorer driving decisions.
  • Be Alert: Walking while distracted by a smartphone can be dangerous, but distracted driving is even worse. Texting while driving and other forms of electronic activity on a smartphone distract drivers in three ways; manually, visually, and cognitively. The end result is that the driver’s entire focus is directed on their phone and away from the road. This can cause drivers to miss important details, such as someone crossing the road in front of them.
  • Be Sober: Alcohol and driving never mix well. Numerous studies have shown that driving while intoxicated greatly increases the risk of causing an accident, and there have been countless tragic and senseless deaths over the years because of drunk driving. Stay sober when you drive – for your own safety and the safety of everyone else on the road.

Injured in a Pedestrian Accident in Alabama? Hedge Copeland is Here to Help

If you or a loved one suffered injury in a pedestrian accident that was caused by someone else, you may be entitled to compensation. After seeking medical attention, the next step should be to speak with an experienced attorney to evaluate your case and discuss your legal rights and options.

During this difficult time for our country, we here at Hedge Copeland want you to know that we are still open and fully operational. We are taking all the precautions and following all the social distancing guidelines, but we have the technology and resources to continue providing the skilled personalized representation our clients have always received.

For a free consultation with one of our attorneys, message us online or call us today at 251 – 432 – 8844. We are ready to serve you!

What Kinds of Compensation can I Recover from a Personal Injury Claim?

When someone suffers an injury that results from the negligence or reckless actions of another party, they deserve to be compensated. This can happen because of a car accident, a slip and fall injury at a retail store, an injury at work, or any number of other events. These injuries could be minor and only last for a short period of time, or they could be moderate to severe, with the effects being felt for an extended period of time.

Compensation from a personal injury is meant to help restore the victim as much as possible to the condition he/she was in before the injury occurred. Of course, this cannot always be accomplished.

Clearly, no amount of money can bring back a loved one who was killed because of someone else’s negligence, and no amount of money can give you back the quality of life you enjoyed before suffering a permanent injury. That said, monetary compensation is the only mechanism our legal system has to make the victim whole in cases of civil wrongdoing.

Types of Compensation that are Available in Personal Injury Cases

The legal term for compensation in a personal injury case is known as “damages”. Compensatory damages can be broken down into two general categories:

Economic Damages

Also referred to as “special damages”, economic damages are those that are meant to compensate the victim for direct monetary losses that were incurred because of the injury. These types of damages are unique to each individual case, and they will vary widely from one case to another.

Some common examples of economic damages include:

  • Hospitalization costs;
  • Costs for surgeries and other procedures;
  • Rehabilitation and retraining expenses;
  • The cost of ongoing medical care (in the case of a debilitating condition);
  • Lost earnings;
  • Loss of future earning capacity;
  • Property damage.

Noneconomic Damages

Also referred to as “general damages”, noneconomic damages are losses that are real but more intangible. These damages address what generally happens to someone who suffers a personal injury.

Examples of noneconomic damages may include:

  • Physical pain-and-suffering;
  • Emotional distress;
  • Loss of enjoyment;
  • Disfigurement;
  • Permanent injury;
  • Loss of consortium;
  • Loss of companionship, guidance, and support.

There is another category of damages that is not technically considered “compensation.” These are known as “punitive damages” or “exemplary damages”.

Although they are awarded to the injury victim, punitive damages are not meant to make the victim whole, but rather to “punish” the party responsible for the injuries when their actions were willful, malicious, fraudulent, or grossly negligent. The purpose for awarding punitive damages is to ensure that those responsible for especially egregious actions are held fully accountable, and that they (and others) are highly discouraged from engaging in this type of behavior in the future.

In most standard personal injury cases, punitive damages are not likely to be awarded. However, if someone engages in exceptionally reckless behavior, such as driving while intoxicated far beyond the legal limit and causing a serious accident, they may be warranted. It should also be noted that in an Alabama wrongful death case, punitive damages are the only type of monetary award that is available to help compensate the victim’s family.

Recovering Compensation from an Alabama Personal Injury

While an injured party may be entitled to damages when their injury was caused by someone else, recovering these damages is not always an easy task. This is especially true in a state like Alabama, where they apply the “contributory negligence” legal doctrine to personal injury cases. Contributory negligence means that if an injured party is found to have “contributed” in any way to the underlying accident, even 1%, they can be barred from recovering any damages at all.

When pursuing a personal injury claim, you are usually dealing with the insurance company for the party responsible. And the larger the claim, the harder they tend to fight it. With cases like these, you can be sure that the other side will look for any reason they can to pin at least some of the blame on you, so they will not have to pay out any compensation. For this reason, it is extremely important to get an experienced attorney involved as early as possible. Otherwise, your right to recover compensation could be jeopardized.

Suffered a Personal Injury in Alabama? Contact Hedge Copeland for Legal Help

If you or someone close to you suffered injury through no fault of your own, you need strong legal counsel by your side fighting hard to get you the full and fair compensation you deserve. If the injury occurred in Alabama, contact Hedge Copeland for assistance. Call our office today at 251 – 432 – 8844 or message us online to schedule a free consultation with one of our attorneys.

Steps to Take Immediately After an Auto Accident

Getting into in a car crash can be a traumatic experience. Your heart starts racing, emotions run high, and your mind begins processing everything that just happened. The fact that you just got into a collision can be very unsettling, and you may be in a bit of a state of shock wondering what to do next.

The first thing to do is take a deep breath and collect your thoughts. The actions you take right after getting into an auto accident will greatly impact your health and well-being, and your legal right to compensation if you are injured.

Here are some of the most important steps to take if you have been involved in a car accident:

Remain at the Scene

Never leave the scene of an accident until it is appropriate to do so. If you leave the scene right away and there are others involved who were injured or killed, it could be considered a “hit and run” and you may face criminal charges. No matter what the circumstances, always stay at the scene of the crash and exchange contact and insurance information with others involved.

Call for Medical Help

The first priority after any type of auto accident is to make sure everyone is okay. If any of the people in your vehicle or the others involved are hurt, call 911 to bring an ambulance to the scene. It is important to note that even with minor collisions such as fender-benders, injuries can still happen. In addition, some injuries are not noticed right away because they are masked by the adrenaline rush that happens when you get in a collision. If there is any possibility at all that someone might be injured, call for medical help just to be on the safe side.

Call the Police

If there are injuries, fatalities, and/or significant property damage, the police should be called to the scene as well. The police will be able to help secure the scene and regulate traffic, and they will also produce an official accident report. This report will be an important piece of evidence in helping to determine the cause of the accident in the event that a legal claim ever needs to be filed.

Create your Own Accident Report

Even though the police will have an official accident report, you should also create a report of your own. If you are able, right down in as much detail as possible what happened while everything is fresh in your mind. If you do not have anything to write with or you are unable to write, use the voice recorder in your smartphone to create an audio report that can be transcribed later. Finally, when the police report is available, ask to review it for any inaccuracies so corrections of any mistakes can be made right away.

Speak with Witnesses

If there are any individuals nearby who saw what happened, speak with them and obtain their contact information. In addition, ask them if they would be willing to provide a statement. Sometimes, a witness may allow you to record a video or audio statement at the scene, which you can add to your accident report file. Memories fade and stories can change later on, so if you are able to get statements from witnesses right away, this would be ideal.

Follow through on Medical Treatment

If you sustained any injuries, be sure to follow all the recommendations you are given by the health professionals involved. Go in for follow-up doctor visits and do everything your doctor tells you to do. For example, you may want to get back to work as soon as possible, and that is understandable. But if your doctor says you need a few extra days or even weeks to recover, do what he/she says. Remember, you have a legal obligation to mitigate your losses if you are injured in an accident. And if you try to return to work early and you end up aggravating your injury, the other side may argue that you did not live up to this obligation.

Speak Cautiously about the Accident

Whomever you are dealing with, whether it be the other driver, the police, witnesses, or your insurance company, NEVER apologize or admit any kind of fault for the accident. Alabama is a contributory negligence state, meaning that if you are found to have “contributed” in any way to the underlying accident (even 1%), you may be barred from recovering compensation for your injuries. Be courteous and polite; but leave the determination of fault to the experts.

Along the same lines, be very careful what you say to other people about the accident, particularly what is said in electronic form. Keep in mind that there is no expectation of privacy with social media posts, and anything you post about the accident is discoverable by the other side. Even if you set the most secure privacy settings, these posts still have a way of surfacing. The ideal thing would be to disconnect altogether from social media for a while as your injury claim progresses. But if that is too much for you, just be sure not to talk about the accident electronically.

Contact a Seasoned Car Accident Lawyer

If you have sustained injuries from the accident, you must realize that the insurance company is not looking out for you, and their interests are not aligned with yours. Their goal is to pay out as little as possible for your injury, and there are numerous tactics they may use to accomplish this goal. With so much at stake, you need an experienced advocate in your corner who is looking out for your interests.

If your auto accident occurred in Alabama, contact the season personal injury attorneys at Hedge Copeland. We have nearly half a century of combined experience successfully representing individuals who have been injured in motor vehicle accidents, and we have the knowledge, skills, resources, and commitment to help ensure that our clients obtain the most favorable result possible.

Call our office today at 251 – 432 – 8844 to schedule a free consultation and case assessment with a member of our legal team. You may also send us a message through our web contact form or stop by our Mobile office in person at your convenience.

The Hidden Dangers of Sun Glare Accidents

You are driving along one day – maybe you are going to work or dropping off your child at school, and everything seems fine. Suddenly, a blast of bright sunlight penetrates your windshield. You lower your visor to try to block it out, but the glare from the sun is blinding. And as you drive along, you tread carefully hoping and praying that you do not crash into anyone or anything because you could not see very well in front of you.

Sun glare can pop up when we least expect it, and it can make what starts out as an easy and routine drive far more challenging. This becomes a much bigger problem during the late fall and winter months when the days are shortened, and sunrise and sunset tends to coincide with our morning and evening drive times. If you are not careful, bright sunlight can quickly result in disastrous consequences.

How Common are Sun Glare Accidents?

It is difficult to determine the exact number of accidents that are caused each year by sun glare. The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) puts the official number at around 300, but AAA and other organizations believe it is much higher. The challenge is that bright sunlight is not usually listed as a cause of accident on a police report, because drivers are very hesitant to admit to being blinded by the glare of the sun.

A 20-year study from 1995 to 2014 by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) gives us a better idea of just how dangerous sun glare can be. According to the study, bright sunlight is a contributing factor in approximately one-third of all auto accidents that occur during daylight hours. The results of this study suggest that sun glare is a far greater hazard for drivers than most people realize.

Am I At Fault for a Sun Glare Accident?

There is no doubt that bright sunlight can severely disrupt your driving, and it can make it far more difficult to notice cars that hit their brakes and slow down in front of you, pedestrians and bicyclists that cross the street in front of you, and vehicles and objects that enter your blind spot. But since this is all caused by the sun, some people wonder if they would be considered at fault if the disrupting sun glare caused an accident. After all, isn’t bright sunlight “act of God”?

Unfortunately for the driver, “act of God” is not a valid defense for causing a sun glare accident. When we talk about “acts of God”, we are talking about extraordinary natural events that could not have been foreseen and could not have been avoided. Examples may include earthquakes, mudslides, or a deer jumping in front of your car.

Although the sun shining is a natural event, it is also an everyday occurrence that is very predictable. The sun rises and sets at certain times each day, and anyone can find out when that will happen by simply watching a weather report. For this reason, it is our responsibility to exercise reasonable care to prepare for the possibility of bright sunlight, just like we would with any other predictable event.

How to Prevent Accidents Caused by Bright Sunlight

There are several things you can do to make sure you are prepared in the event that you suddenly encounter sun glare:

  • Clean your windshield and make sure it is free of marks and streaks before driving;
  • Be sure you have functional wiper blades and plenty of washer fluid, so you can keep your windshield clean as you drive;
  • Where polarized sunglasses whenever you drive to help reduce the glare;
  • Consider purchasing sun visor extenders that will help you block out more of the sun as you drive;
  • When bright sunlight hits your windshield, drive slowly and allow plenty of space to deal with any problems that may lie ahead;
  • If possible, modify your driving route and drive time to do less East/West driving and minimize your exposure to sun glare;
  • As always, avoid unnecessary distractions such as making phone calls and texting on your cell phone while driving.

Injured in a Sun Glare Accident in Alabama? Contact Hedge Copeland for Assistance

In spite of our best efforts, we cannot control the negligent actions of others. If you or a loved one suffered injury in a sun glare accident that was caused by another driver, you deserve to be fully compensated. If the accident occurred in Alabama, call Hedge Copeland today at 251 – 432 – 8844 or message us online for a free consultation and case assessment. We will meet with you to thoroughly evaluate your case and advise you of your legal rights and options.