Mobile Car Accident Attorneys
Car accidents don’t just happen. They are the result of drivers making careless decisions, which places our community in danger. Our firm believes that every car crash is the result of someone making a bad decision and not following the Rules of the Road. When a client hires our firm, our #1 goal is to hold careless drivers accountable for causing our client’s injuries and damages.
To hold negligent drivers accountable, our firm utilizes the Rules of the Road. Every State has passed safe driving laws that are commonly known as “Rules of Road.” For instance, most everyone knows it is unsafe to text while driving – but this is actually a state law. If a person violates this safety rule, we use this fact to hold the negligent driver accountable.
What should you do after a car crash? First, call 911. Then seek medical treatment immediately. We then suggest you contact an experienced personal injury attorney to help you navigate and negotiate your case with the insurance company for the negligent driver.
Hedge Copeland limits its practice to representing injured Plaintiffs – that is all we do. Russ Copeland and Robert Hedge have almost 60 years of combined experience representing people injured in auto crashes, and families of fatal accident victims. We know the law. We know how to deal with the insurance companies. And if necessary, we know how to present your case to a jury so that you receive all of the compensation you are entitled to due to your injuries.
When we accept a case, we go to work immediately on behalf of our clients. Whether the accident was caused by a drunk driver, a distracted driver, or an exhausted trucker, we will work to investigate the cause and understand the extent of the damage. When needed, we will also call on top specialists to lend expert testimony, so we can accurately evaluate and document the full extent of your losses.
In many cases, it is in our client’s best interests to negotiate a settlement that fairly compensates them for their losses. If the other side is not willing to negotiate in good faith, however, we are fully prepared to take your case to trial. Many times, the possibility of litigation provides the motivation necessary for the other side to make a reasonable offer.
Common Causes of Alabama Car Accidents
Each year, there are approximately 150,000 motor vehicle crashes in Alabama, and these crashes result in hundreds of deaths and tens of thousands of serious injuries. Sadly, most of these accidents are preventable and caused by some type of driver negligence.
Some of the most common reasons auto accidents occur include:
Distractions have quickly become one of the leading causes of motor vehicle accidents. Although motorists have always had distractions, our electronic age has made this problem far worse. Texting while driving and similar activities distract drivers in three ways; visually, manually, and cognitively. The end result is that the driver’s complete focus is taken away from the road, increasing the likelihood of an accident. Distracted driving accidents are most common among teens and other inexperienced drivers.
This behavior kills an average of nine Americans every day, and it is quickly becoming one of the leading causes of motor vehicle accidents and injuries. Mobile devices are involved with nearly 2 million auto accidents each year, and drivers who are distracted are nine times more likely to get into a crash than those who are not.
Alabama Distracted Driving Laws
The state of Alabama prohibits the use of cell phones for drivers who are 16 years of age and those who are 17 years old and on an intermediate license because they have been licensed for six months or less. All other drivers are prohibited from texting or any other forms of electronic messaging while behind the wheel. These are “primary enforcement” laws, which means a driver can be pulled over and receive a ticket for any of these violations even if they are not violating any other traffic laws.
Although texting while driving is illegal, the penalties for breaking the law are pretty minimal. The first violation carries a fine of $25, while a second violation is $50, and a third or subsequent violation is $75. The driver also receives two demerit points on his/her driving record.
If a driver causes an accident while in the process of breaking a distracted driving law, an injury victim may have an easier time arguing that the driver was negligent. That said, most distractions (other than electronic messaging) are not illegal; and in addition, a driver might not readily admit that they were distracted when the accident occurred.
In cases like these, an extensive investigation would be necessary in order to determine what caused the crash. This might involve pulling the driver’s cell phone records to find out if any texts were sent or opened around the time of the accident. Our Mobile distracted driving accident attorneys will thoroughly review your case to determine what will be needed in order to prove negligence on the part of the driver who might have been distracted.
It may come as little surprise to learn that speeding is the number one cause of fatal car crashes in Alabama. When a driver is exceeding the speed limit or going faster than is safe considering the road conditions, they have far less time to react when a problem arises. Collisions at higher speeds also produce a more powerful impact, increasing the possibility of death and serious injuries.
Excessive speeding is one of the most common forms of reckless driving, and it is a major contributor to many auto accidents. Other forms of reckless driving may include weaving wildly back and forth between lanes, straddling the center line in the road, making sharp or illegal turns, making dangerous or illegal passing maneuvers, running red lights or stop signs, tailgating, street racing, and playing “chicken”. People who drive recklessly put themselves and our community in much greater danger.
Although the dangers of driving while intoxicated have been well documented and we have been the subject of several decades of high-profile public awareness campaigns, drunk driving is still a contributing factor in thousands of car accidents in Alabama annually. Chemically impaired drivers have impaired motor skills and slower reaction times, and they tend to make very poor driving decisions.
Did you know that driving while drowsy is considered “Driving while impaired”? A surprising number of motorists get behind the wheel without having enough sleep. Driver fatigue is said to be a factor in somewhere between 2,000 and 3,000 Alabama auto accidents each year. Drowsy driving is particularly common among commercial vehicle drivers who drive for long periods of time, often during evening and overnight hours.
How Often do Americans Drive while Drowsy?
Drowsy driving is a lot more common than most people realize. The CDC reports that drowsiness is responsible for more than 70,000 crashes and 44,000 injuries each year. They also state that 800 deaths a year are due to drowsy driving, but these are just the official numbers, and they believe that up to 6,000 fatal crashes annually may be caused by drowsy drivers. The discrepancy occurs because drivers who get into accidents are unlikely to admit that it happened because they were sleepy or fatigued, so this often does not show up on a police report.
Anyone who does not get an adequate amount of sleep is at risk for drowsy driving, but there are certain segments of the population in which this behavior is more common. These include:
- Shift workers – those who work long shifts that usually run into the evening and overnight hours.
- Commercial drivers – those who drive commercially for a living, such as bus drivers, tow truck drivers, and long-haul truckers.
- Drivers with untreated sleep disorders such as sleep apnea.
- Adults (more often in males than females) between the ages of 18 and 29.
- Adults with young children in the household.
- Drivers who take certain medications that are known to make them sleepy.
Tips for Preventing Drowsy Driving
One of the things that makes drowsy driving so dangerous is that many motorists do not realize when they are about to cross the line between drowsiness and falling asleep. But that said, there are some signs to look out for that indicate it is time to pull over and rest. These include:
- Yawning frequently.
- Eyes that are tired, heavy, and/or increased blinking.
- Trouble remembering the last few miles of driving.
- Missing a road sign or exit where you were supposed to turn.
- Drifting out of your lane or straddling the center line or shoulder.
- Trouble maintaining your speed.
- Feeling like you are ready to doze off.
The best tip for avoiding drowsy driving is to get an adequate amount of rest before you start out on the road. But if you notice any of these or similar signs, find the nearest rest stop, truck stop, or hotel to pull in and rest for a while.
Damages Recoverable from Alabama Auto Accident Claims
When a person is injured in a car crash due to the fault of another, the law allows them to recover damages to compensate them for their losses and injuries. For instance, our clients are entitled to recover for lost wages, medical bills, physical therapy costs, and other out of pocket expenses. Additionally, our clients are able to recover damages for intangible, but very real losses – (1) past and future pain and suffering, (2) past and future mental anguish and emotional distress, physical disfigurement, permanent injuries, and other losses such as diminished quality of life.
In cases involving reckless conduct, the Court will allow a jury to award punitive damages. Punitive damages are intended to (1) Punish the defendant, and (2) Send a message to other drivers that the type of conduct that caused your injuries are not allowed, in an effort to prevent future harm to others in our community.
Steps to Take Immediately After an Auto Accident
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.
Why Hire Hedge Copeland for your Car Accident Case?
Our firm has successfully represented thousands of people in car crash cases. We know the law. We know how to investigate your case and collect the facts. And we know how to deal with the insurance companies – and their Lawyers.
Recovering compensation from a car or truck accident is more challenging in Alabama because we have what is called the “contributory negligence” defense. Under contributory negligence, if the insurance company can prove a person injured in a car crash is even 1% at fault, then the law states that the injured party is prevented from recovering damages ANY compensation.
To counter this defense, we work closely with our clients preparing them for their testimony, so that our client can explain that they were following the Rules of the Road at the time of their crash, and therefore, not at fault. This is one of many reasons you want to be sure to work with attorneys who have the experience and proven ability to secure favorable outcomes for their clients in these types of cases.
Talk to An Attorney As Soon As Possible After an Auto Accident
After a car or truck wreck accident, it is important to talk to a lawyer as soon as you can to make sure you have the best chance of receiving the compensation you need.
We always offer a free consultation. In fact, we never charge a fee or expenses unless we recover damages for you.
To learn more, or to talk with Russ Copeland or Robert Hedge, call our office anytime, at 251-432-8844, or send us a message through our online form. We will be happy to personally talk with you about your case.