Guest Passenger Statute

Recently, I was asked to review a case where the potential client’s mother was killed in an automobile accident in which her uncle was driving. The uncle was at fault in the accident and the potential client wanted to know if she could bring a claim for wrongful death for her mother’s estate.

Unfortunately, as I told her, Alabama has what is called the guest passenger statute. Alabama is the last state in the nation to retain a guest passenger statute. Basically, under the guest passenger statute, passengers are limited to suits against drivers based on gross negligence, recklessness, or intentional misconduct. In other words, in a car accident case the person who caused the accident is usually legally negligent and therefore responsible for the injured party’s damages.

But under Alabama law, a passenger in the vehicle must prove that the driver was not only negligent, but also grossly negligent or reckless in some way. Most drivers on the road, absent some extraordinary circumstances such as drunk driving, are merely negligent if they cause an auto accident. Unfortunately, for this potential client’s case, I had to tell her that the circumstances surrounding her mother’s death simply didn’t give rise to a claim and that she was barred under Alabama law.

There are exceptions to this statute, though. Had the uncle been a taxi driver or had he been paid to take her mother somewhere, that would have changed the status. But as a general rule of thumb, if you are getting a free ride, under Alabama law your driver is immune to the ordinary duty of care that most drivers would have with respect to you.

Delay in Treatment by the VA

By now you've probably heard about the delays in treatment that our veterans have been the victims of at the hands of the VA. One report that I saw said that more than 1000 veterans may have died in the last decade because of malpractice or lack of care from Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Centers.

Sadly, many of the victims of medical malpractice and their families never realized they could have filed a claim against the VA. Many people believe that the VA is immune from lawsuits because it is controlled by the government. This is not the case. Under the Federal Torts Claims Act, the Federal government can be forced to compensate victims of wrongs. Unfortunately, the time frame for making a claim under the Federal Torts Claims Act is very short, so you must prepare your claim as quickly as possible.

As everyone in our office has served in the military, the treatment of our fellow veterans is near and dear to our hearts. We stand ready to help you right the wrongs that the VA is perpetrating against veterans. Give us a call if you or someone you love has been a victim at the hands of the VA.

I was just in a multiple car accident. How do I know who was at fault?

Multi-car pile-ups happen more frequently that many people realize, and the complexities of this type of case can be very difficult to navigate. Each of the drivers’ insurance companies typically will try to place blame on you or one of the other people involved in the accident for their injuries. This makes it confusing to know who is truly responsible for which expenses. Because no insurance company wants to pay for another driver’s negligence, proving fault can be very difficult, but there are some things you can do to help determine who was truly at fault.

  1. Taking pictures of the accident – Taking pictures of the accident can show things such as where the cars ended up as well as weather conditions, the condition of the road, etc. These pictures can show a lot about how the accident occurred and this will help you with your claim.

  1. Writing down what happened during the accident – Writing down what happened during the accident as soon as it happened can help you determine what happened. Typically, you may not be questioned about the accident by an insurance company or an attorney for days or even weeks. In that meantime, a lot of the details can become a little fuzzy. So to help you remember those details, write down as much as you can about the accident right after the accident occurs. Anything can help, from the speed you were going to what you saw around you.

  1. Talking to the police – At the scene of an accident, the investigating officers are trying to find out exactly what happened, and they are taking statements from everyone involved as well as maybe some witnesses who might have seen the accident as well. Talking to them and letting them know what you saw and what you experienced can help them create the most accurate report they can. Giving them your side of the story so they make sure to put it in their report also goes a long way with putting together the complete picture.

  1. Talking to an attorney – An attorney can help you navigate the complex insurance claim process. The attorneys in our office, for example, are very familiar with the insurance companies and their tactics and, for many cases, have dealt with the same adjuster on multiple cases. An attorney is also familiar with things such as contributory negligence and many of the mechanics of an accident.

At the end of the day, having as much information as possible is the key. If you have been involved in a multi-car accident, please feel free to give us a call.

Who is responsible in an accident that involves a drunk driver?

People who drive while drunk put the lives of everyone who is on the road at risk. In cases where a drunk driver causes injuries to someone, sometimes the drunk driver is not the only person you could potentially collect from. Of course the driver is the person who made the decision to drink and get behind the wheel when it wasn’t safe, so you can typically collect from the driver.

Also, if the driver had been drinking at a bar or club or other place that serves alcoholic beverages, the bartender who served the drinks may also be liable for the injuries that the driver actually caused. Many times the bartender is in the best position to know if someone has had enough, and many times those bartenders knowingly serve alcohol to someone who has already had enough and then let them drive away. If a bar or bartender does this, then they may also be held accountable.

Sometimes you may not know if the person had come from a bar or bartender; however, the police investigation or an experienced attorney can in many cases find out those facts and allow you additional avenues of recovery. If you have any questions or have been injured as a result of a drunk driver, please feel free to give us a call.

What does $25,000/$50,000 mean anyway?

As all drivers in Alabama should know, Alabama requires minimum liability coverage on their automobiles. In Alabama, the minimum is $25,000/$50,000. But what does this mean?

The first number is the bodily injury liability for one person injured in an accident. The second number is the bodily injury liability maximum for all injuries in one accident. Basically, the policy is telling what coverage is available for a person injured in the accident and what total coverage is available for any one accident.

So, if you have the minimum liability in Alabama, which is $25,000/$50,000 coverage, each injured person would be covered up to $25,000, but the total coverage available for the accident is only $50,000. If 5 people are hurt in the accident, the most any one person would be paid is $25, 000, but all 5 people would have to share the total of $50,000. In this situation, if any one person’s damages exceed $25,000, or if the entire claim of everyone that was in the accident exceeds $50,000, you would be personally responsible for what the policy did not pay.

This puts a lot of people at risk in Alabama as most people in Alabama purchase the minimum required by the law. The Insurance Information Institute has recommended that you carry at least $100,000 of bodily injury protection per person and $300,000 per accident written as $100,000/$300,000.

While most people just think about the premiums that they have to pay, when faced with a lawsuit and being sued, their entire livelihood is put at risk. Hospitals and doctors are not cheap, and depending on the damages in the car accident, that minimum amount can easily be used up.

If you still have questions about the coverages that your policy has, feel free to give us a call and we will be happy to look it over for you.

What's the difference between a contingency fee, a flat fee, and an hourly fee?

Many people come into my office every day wondering how exactly an attorney gets paid for the work they do. There are three main types of fees that attorneys charge in order to get paid. These types are the contingency fee, the flat fee, and the hourly fee.

In all of these types of fees, costs may or may not be included. So a question that someone speaking to an attorney needs to ask is, "Am I going to be responsible for costs on top of your fee?"

A contingency fee means that the attorney does not get paid unless he collects for you. You hear of these a lot of times on commercials during late night TV and see them on attorney websites and in the Yellow Pages. A contingency fee is the type most-used in a personal injury case.

The second type of fee is the flat fee. A flat fee is where the attorney charges a flat amount to represent you in your legal problem. This takes some of the guess work out of how much you are going to owe the attorney for his services. Again, you need to ask if costs are included because those can be a surprise when you see them on your bill.

The third type is an hourly fee. An hourly fee is where the attorney charges a certain rate per hour that he works on your case. This could be a little, or this could be a lot depending on the amount of work involved, so it could be a big surprise when you get a bill for more than what you think it should be.

There are variations on these three types of fees, but these are the main types of fees that attorneys charge. The important thing to remember is that before your retain an attorney, have them explain to you exactly how their fee is going to be calculated and how much you are going to owe for representation.

Which insurance company do I use if I have been in an accident?

This week, a potential auto accident client called our office with the question, "I have been in an accident and have medical bills. What insurance company do I submit the bills to?"

This is a question that we get all the time with people in our office. You don’t feel like your health insurance should cover it with your deductibles because it's the other guy's fault.

The reality is that when you are hurt in an accident, you need to seek treatment as soon as possible. If you have health insurance, it is wise to use your health insurance to pay your medical bills as they come up. In the long run, you end up paying less that way as well. Your health insurance company has a contracted rate with your medical providers so that the insurance company only pays a portion of the amount billed, and the rest is written off or discounted by your doctors. When your claim is settled, your health insurance company will have the right to be reimbursed for the amount they actually paid, the contracted rate, to your doctors. So basically, if you use your own health insurance, more of the settlement monies in the case will go directly to you rather than all of your doctors.

You already have a lot to deal with after an auto accident. You are receiving medical treatment, you are missing work, and you are trying to get your car fixed or replaced. It can relieve a little bit of stress off of you by having your health insurance worry about paying your medical bills and you can take time to recover.

Help! The Doctor Treated Me Badly. Do I Have a Case?

I receive calls regularly about what people think is a medical malpractice case. In many of these cases, they can't put their finger on what it was, but they know that they were treated badly, whether by the nursing staff or by the doctors themselves.

Unfortunately, cases like these are not always medical malpractice cases. In a vast majority of cases the conduct only amounts to bad bedside manner. Unfortunately, even outrageously poor bedside manner cannot be considered when determining if a doctor committed malpractice in treating you. Sometimes the doctor is a jerk and they basically just treat you badly. Many times they may use foul language or slurs towards you. Unfortunately, that just doesn't matter when it comes to a medical malpractice case.

For a malpractice case, we have to prove that the doctor was careless in the actual treatment of you and breached the medical standard of care. To do this, we have to have other doctors testify that what they did was wrong and was up to the standard of care, not just bad bedside manner.

That’s not to say that where there is smoke there is no fire. Many times the bad bedside manner can be a symptom of the same types of issues that give rise to medical malpractice. So if you have a bad feeling, it never hurts to contact an attorney to see if you might have a case.

What Does an Attorney Do for You in a Personal Injury Case?

People always wonder what an attorney can do for them in a personal injury case. While every case is different, here is a list of many of the things that we do for our clients in a personal injury case.

  • Initial interview with the client
  • Educate you about personal injury claims
  • Gather documents and evidence including police reports and medical records and bills
  • Analyze your insurance policy to see if there are any coverages you have that may pay all or a portion of your medical bills or your claims pending
  • Interview known witnesses
  • Collect other evidence such as photographs and facts of the scene and car
  • Analyze legal issues such as contributory negligence, assumption of the risk, and the last clear chance doctrine
  • Talk to your doctors or obtain written reports from them so we can fully understand your condition
  • Look at your health insurance policy to find out if any money that they spent to pay your bills must be repaid - this is called subrogation
  • Look to see if any liens on the case are valid
  • Contact your insurance company to let them know about the claim
  • Decide with you if it's best to negotiate with the insurance company or file suit
  • Prepare yourself, witnesses, and doctors for deposition if a suit is filed
  • Prepare written questions and answers and take the depositions of the other side and their witnesses
  • Produce to the other side all important information that they need such as medical bills and medical records
  • Prepare for trial and/or settlement
  • Prepare you and witnesses for trial
  • Organize medical exhibits for trial
  • Organize demonstrative exhibits for trial, i.e. video, PowerPoint, and big boards
  • Prepare for any mediation
  • File briefs and motions with the court to eliminate any surprises that may come at trial
  • Try the case in front of a judge or jury
  • When the verdict comes back, we look at it to see if it gives us good grounds to appeal the case
  • Make recommendations to you about whether or not to appeal the case

These are just some of the things that we do for our clients throughout the negotiation and litigation processes.

What Is a Personal Injury Case?

You hear commercials on late-night and daytime TV with lawyers saying they do personal injury cases, accident cases, or wrongful death cases. But what does this actually mean? Well, a personal injury, or accident case is any type of claim where a person has been injured due to someone else's carelessness. A wrongful death case is any type of claim where a person was killed due to someone else’s carelessness.

If you were in your car at the time of the accident and your car has been damaged but you are okay, then you might have a property damage case for your car, but you do not have a personal injury case. In our office, we don't handle property damage cases. We only handle personal injury cases. So if you are hurt, we can help you. If not, while we do not handle your type of case, we know many lawyers that do. You can give us a call and we can help you find someone who can help you.

If someone's negligence causes someone to die, then that is a wrongful death claim. Wrongful death claims have different laws which separate them from your typical accident case. When speaking with an attorney, make sure the attorney understands the differences between them.

5 Mistakes People Make When It Comes to Doctors after an Injury

Most people make some mistakes that can impact their case or legal claim when it comes to going doctors and other healthcare providers after being injured. While this is not all inclusive, here are five of the more common things that we see in our office.

  1. Not going to the doctor right after the accident or injury. Many people don't realize that they are responsible for proving that they were actually injured when they bring a claim or file a lawsuit. Sometimes people themselves don't think they were really hurt bad enough to go to the doctor after an accident. Unfortunately, many jurors think the same thing. By not going to the doctor after sustaining an injury or being in an accident, the person is jeopardizing their case.

  1. Not telling the doctor your full health history. Doctors use this history to help accurately diagnose and treat your symptoms. If you don’t tell the doctor the information he needs to treat you, it can lead to mistakes. Also, hiding information from your doctor or giving false information can hurt your legal case. Rest assured, Insurance companies will find out about your history and they will use any omission or mistruth to discredit you in the eyes of the jury. The insurance company is looking for anything that can destroy your credibility; don't let that happen. Tell your doctor everything they need to properly care for you.

  1. Not telling your doctor if your injury is hindering your ability to work. If you are having pain that is preventing you from doing your job at work, you should let your doctor know. This way it can be in the records and whenever your case is filed or a demand is made, it will be documented that your injury is affecting your work. Insurance companies and juries do not just take your word for it when you say that you couldn't go to work because you were injured. Most jurors have the notion that you should basically suck it up and drive on. At the same time, with most jurors if it is documented in the records that you are having the problems, those problems are viewed as more legitimate. Your credibility is given a boost because what you say is reflected in the doctor’s records.

  1. Failing to follow the doctor's orders. If a doctor tells you to take certain medication and you don't take that medication, a juror's or insurance company's initial impression is that you must not be as bad off as you say you are because you didn't even take your medicine. While you may have some legitimate reasons why you didn't take it such as you couldn't eat or the side effects were unbearable, let your doctor know and usually they can switch you to another drug.

  1. Failing to make sure that their pain is documented in the medical records. Juries don't always take your word for it when you tell them how much pain you are in. Insurance companies are the same way. Having the pain documented in your records is a way to give credence to your claims that you are in pain. While all the actual tests done can give a pretty good idea as to the amount of pain that will be involved in an injury, having details about your pain written in your file will definitely help your case. Sometimes the best way is to write out beforehand how much pain you are in and give it to the doctor just to place in your file. Later, they will be transcribed into the doctor's notes. Don't exaggerate; if you exaggerate, you could ruin your case or your relationship with your doctor.

Although there may be other factors in your case, making sure not to make the above mistakes can greatly help you in your legal claim. You should discuss with your attorney any questions you have about how your medical care can affect your case.

Traffic Fatalities

Recently the Early Estimate of Motor Vehicle Traffic Fatalities for the First Quarter of 2012 was released by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. These statistics showed that from January to March of 2012, an estimated 7,630 died in motor traffic crashes. This number was the largest estimate of fatalities in the first quarter of any year since 2008 and is a 13.5% increase from what was reported last year. On the surface this may look like just statistics, but put into context, more people died from January to March of 2012 in motor vehicle traffic crashes than all the United States losses in over 10 years in both Iraq and Afghanistan combined.

Typically, the amount of people killed in auto accidents is at its lowest in the first quarter of the year. So while the report does state that it is too soon to speculate on how the rest of the year may turn out, I would say be careful, be vigilant, and be safe on our roadways.

Deferred Action for Young People

On June 15, 2012, The Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Janet Napolitano announced Deferred Action for Young People who are low enforcement priorities. This is to allow DHS to focus its enforcement resources on the removal of individuals who pose a national security or public safety risk. Only those individuals who can prove through verifiable documentation that they meet these criteria will be eligible for deferred action. Those individuals that meet the following criteria will be eligible for an exercise of discretion, specifically deferred action, on a case by case basis:

  1. Came to the United States under the age of sixteen;
  2. Were present in the United States on June 15, 2012 AND have continuously resided in the United States since June 15, 2007;
  3. Are currently in school, have graduated from high school, have obtained a general education development certificate, or are honorably discharged veterans of the Coast Guard or Armed Forces of the United States;
  4. Have not been convicted of a felony offense, a significant misdemeanor offense, multiple misdemeanor offenses, or otherwise pose a threat to national security or public safety;
  5. Are not above the age of thirty.

Those individuals who meet the criteria for deferred action and are approved will be eligible to receive deferred action for a period of two years, subject to renewal, and will be eligible to apply for work authorization. Deferred action requests are decided on a case by case basis. Not all applicants will be granted. Those individuals who are granted deferred action do not obtain any immigration status at this time. Deferred action does not allow individuals to apply for citizenship or any other type of immigrant status.

Those individuals who are already in removal proceedings and have already been identified as meeting the eligibility criteria for deferred action will be offered deferred action immediately for two years, subject to renewal. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) will review these cases and decide who meets the criteria. The Department of Homeland Security will begin implementation of the application processes within sixty days. We will keep you posted as the procedures are made and stand ready to help those of you who qualify apply for deferred action. Contact our office if you believe you may qualify.

What is contributory negligence and what can it mean to my case?

Recently, I was talking with a current client and a previous car accident they had was brought up. Their attorney at the time had taken the case, looked at it, and then declined the case on the grounds of contributory negligence. He said that it was a bar to recovery and declined their matter, but he never actually explained to this client what contributory negligence was.

As I explained to the client, contributory negligence basically means that if you are even 1% at fault and if the other guy is 99% at fault, that 1% is enough to stop you from recovering anything. Contributory negligence is often seen as unfair because someone who may not be the primary person that caused the accident can still suffer from the effects of someone else's actions.

For this reason, most states do not follow contributory negligence; unfortunately, Alabama is one of those states that does. So if you are in an accident in Alabama and you are even a little bit at fault for an accident, then you are barred from recovery. Now there are ways around contributory negligence, but all of those are case specific and need to be discussed with an attorney to assess your particular facts.

Regardless of whether or not you think you may have been a little bit at fault or not, you need to speak with an attorney after having an accident because you may fall in one of those exceptions, or you may just think you are at fault and the reality is that you aren't. So if you have any questions, contact a personal injury lawyer at Traylor & Davis for more information.

What is subrogation?

The scenario happens all the time: a person gets into a car accident, they go to the hospital, and they use their health insurance to cover the medical costs, whether it be BlueCross BlueShield, United Healthcare, or one of many others. They hire an attorney to cover their personal injury claim or represent their rights in the auto accident, and the attorney negotiates a settlement or takes the case to trial for a verdict and wins.

The person looks at their distribution sheet when it's all over and they see costs being paid to BlueCross BlueShield, United Healthcare, or whoever their health insurance provider may be. They wonder, "Why is this? It's my money. I pay my premiums, why should I have to pay them back?" This is what's called subrogation and the amount that the health insurance provider is entitled to is called a subrogation lien.

While they are contractually bound to cover you, the insurance company is also entitled to get back from the wrongdoer who caused your accident any money they paid as a result of the accident. So the money isn't really coming from you. It's coming from the other person; it's just going through you.

Many times, the attorney and client forget about subrogation liens when negotiating a settlement. This is an important thing that needs to be remembered because it may influence how much you are willing to settle for. While these lien amounts sometimes can be negotiated by an experienced attorney, the insurance company has a right under the law not to have to pay as a result the wrongdoer’s conduct. This is in the same way that you have a right not to suffer as a result of that wrongdoer. So that is subrogation in a nutshell. If you have any questions, contact a personal injury attorney at Traylor & Davis today.

Starting a Business

So you want to start a business. Congratulations! Everyday people take a chance on obtaining part of the American dream, owning a business. Owning a business is one of the big ways that we can strive for a more secure and brighter future for our families. Whether it is selling crafts out of your home, selling makeup to your friends, cutting grass, or producing a new innovative product to be sold by the major retailers, you will have to face certain basic issues in forming your business, all of which have legal dimensions. Some of these dimensions are:

  • What will you call your business?
  • What type of business do you need? Do you need to be an LLC, S-Corporation, C- Corporation, Partnership, etc.?
  • What will your website domain name be?
  • Do you need any permits or licenses?
  • Do you have any unique ideas that you need to protect from potential competitors? Do you need to apply for a trademark or patent?
  • Should you have an office in your home?
  • Should you lease or buy space, and where will you be located?
  • Do you need any extra capital? How can you get it?
  • Is zoning an issue?
  • What risks are there in the day to day operation of your business?
  • What liability do you have personally for things?
  • Do you need insurance?
  • What must you do to hire employees?
  • What taxes must you pay?

Owning a business can be an exciting and profitable adventure that leads to a satisfaction in making your mark. Proper planning and information can lead to maximizing the success of your business. Sometimes people don’t even know they are a business. The housewife who gives piano lessons at home to make extra spending money is still considered a business and must comply with tax, licensing, and other regulations.

These are only a few of the legal issues surrounding businesses. If you have, are considering starting, or think you may be a business, do not hesitate to contact a Business Services Attorney at Traylor & Davis for advice.

Disclaimer: This information is provided as general information regarding an emerging legal question issue and does not constitute legal advice or create any attorney-client relationship. Consult with legal counsel regarding your particular facts and circumstances.

In modified form first Appeared in Sports and Family Magazine http://www.sportsandfamilymag.com/

How to Get Foreign Workers for Farming and Agriculture

The other day as I was driving to work, I heard a farmer on a local radio show talking about how he could not get U.S. workers to pick his crops and that his crops would be spoiled. The host of the show brought up the guest worker program. This program is one that may be of interest to many business owners.

Now, many types of worker visas apply to the guest worker program. For simplicity sake, we will talk about the one for farmers. The type of visa is called an H-2A visa and applies to any alien seeking to perform agricultural labor or services of temporary or seasonal nature in the United States. So basically if you have peak seasons where crops have to be planted, picked, etc., then you can apply to have temporary foreign workers come in if there are no U.S. workers to fill the void. To qualify, the job has to be temporary or seasonal in nature; the employer has to demonstrate that there are not enough U.S. workers who are able, willing, qualified, and available to do the work; the employer has to show that employment of these foreign workers will not adversely affect the working conditions of U.S. workers that are similarly situated; and finally, they have to obtain a labor certification from the U.S. Department of Labor.

So let's say I am a farmer who needs some foreign workers because there are not enough U.S. workers who are willing, able, qualified, or available to do my type of work. The first thing I have to do is submit a temporary labor certification application to the U.S. Department of Labor. In Alabama this is done through the Alabama Department of Industrial Relations. So I go to the State of Alabama, I get my certification from the state, and then submit that to the U.S. Department of Labor. After receiving approval of my temporary labor certification, I request H-2A workers from USCIS (U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services). After approval of my request, workers outside the U.S. can apply with the U.S. Department of State at a U.S. embassy or consulate for an H-2A visa, and they apply with U.S. Customs and Border Protections for admission to the United States.

Now these H-2A visas can only be approved for people of certain countries. The list is pretty long, so talk to an attorney if you want more information on this. H-2A visas can only be authorized for year; however, anything longer than ten months draws the scrutiny of USCIS. Also under the H-2A visa, any spouse or child under 21 may come under an H-4 classification, but they cannot work. Employers employing these foreign workers have to pay the workers the same rate as U.S. workers; they have to provide transportation for the workers because they do not have drivers licenses and cannot drive; they have to provide housing for these workers because they are temporary; and unless the job requires that US workers purchase their own tools, the employer must provide the tools and supplies necessary to carry out the work.

This is just some basic information about the H-2A visa which is a temporary seasonal work visa available to employers to bring help when there is a shortage in the U.S. work force. If you are a business owner that believes that your company has peak seasons or needs temporary work, do not hesitate to contact an immigration attorney at Traylor & Davis for advice.

Disclaimer: This information is provided as general information regarding an emerging legal question issue and does not constitute legal advice or create any attorney-client relationship. Consult with legal counsel regarding your particular facts and circumstances.

In modified form first Appeared in Sports and Family Magazine http://www.sportsandfamilymag.com/

What to do if you are in an auto accident

One of the main questions that people ask me on a daily basis is, "What do I do if I am involved in a car wreck?" The first thing I tell them is that if you are in a car wreck and are hurt, get medical help. Your life and your well-being is the most important thing after a car wreck.

After that, it is extremely important to document everything related to the auto accident, including injuries, time off work, how you feel in the morning - everything. In addition, the accident has to be reported to the DMV. The state of Alabama has a form for you to fill out to report the accident. If you don't report the accident, you could lose your license.

Also, do not admit responsibility to anyone and for the most part, do not discuss your accident with anyone other than your attorney. While you don't have to hire an attorney, it is always in your best interest to at least consult an attorney. The insurance company on the other side has a very experienced adjuster or attorney negotiating for them, and you need someone on your side. Remember, it is in the insurance company's best interest to pay you as little as possible for your accident.

Some other helpful hints if you are involved in an automobile accident are:

  • Write down names, addresses, phone numbers, and license plate numbers of everyone involved in the accident, including any witnesses to the collision, along with the date, time, weather conditions, makes and models of all of the vehicles involved.
  • If you have a camera or camera phone, take pictures of the accident scene, the vehicles involved, or other important things. Also take photographs of any injuries you have.
  • Exchange insurance information and driver's licenses. Copy all of the information from both the license and the insurance card.
  • Write down what everyone else says. After an accident, it is common for people to check on those involved to see if they are hurt, and then everybody starts talking about what they saw. Write this down. It could come in handy later when negotiating with an insurance adjuster or even if you have to go to court.
  • If you are involved in an accident in the state of Alabama, you have 2 years from the date of the accident to file a claim, but the sooner you consult an attorney to get legal advice, the better. Insurance companies have people working soon after the accident; you need to have someone working on your side as well.
  • Do not give statements to anyone other than police officers. If you are involved in an accident, report the accident to your insurance company as soon as possible.
  • If you are injured or sore, make sure to see a doctor. Many times, even if you feel like you are fine, some injuries aren't felt until days later.
  • Report the collision to the Alabama Department of Public Safety.
  • And most importantly, do not admit fault even if you think you might be responsible for the accident. Sometimes, once an investigation is through, you might not be at fault even thought you thought you were.

If you are involved in an accident, consult a car accident attorney at Traylor & Davis to see what your rights are and to have someone look out for you so you can focus on recovering and putting your life back together. The car accident attorneys at Traylor & Davis have experience helping people just like you navigate the pitfalls that come with a car accident.

Disclaimer: This information is provided as general information regarding an emerging legal question issue and does not constitute legal advice or create any attorney-client relationship. Consult with legal counsel regarding your particular facts and circumstances.

In modified form first Appeared in Sports and Family Magazine http://www.sportsandfamilymag.com/

Lawbreaking Collectors

It's happened to many of us: we're sitting down at 6:00pm, about to enjoy dinner with our family when the phone rings. Nobody moves. It goes to the answering machine. Over the speaker, everyone hears, "Mr. Smith, this is ABC Debt Collection (or attorney) calling regarding your outstanding balance to 123 Company. Please give us a call at…" You know the drill. You're embarrassed, you're upset. This scenario plays out over and over again in households across America. But what most people don't realize is that what that caller did is illegal. Under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, debt collectors are required to not do some things. Some of those things include:

  1. Disclosing your information to a third party, as what happened in the example above
  2. Threatening criminal prosecution for your debt, saying "You could go to jail for this"
  3. Calling over and over again
  4. Threatening to garnish your wages without going through the Court system
  5. Threaten to sue when they don’t intend to file suit
  6. Not tell you that they are a debt collector

These and other things are violations of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, and you can recover as a result. Damages imposed on these in many instances are up to $1,000.00 per call or instance that they break the rules set by the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act and your attorney's fees paid by the lawbreaking collection agency. No one is disputing the rights of someone to collect a debt that is owed, but there is a right way to do it and a wrong way to do it. When someone does something that is the wrong way, then that violates the law. If you may be a victim of abuse under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, contact a Credit Harassment attorney at Traylor & Davis today to see what your rights are.

Disclaimer: This information is provided as general information regarding an emerging legal question issue and does not constitute legal advice or create any attorney-client relationship. Consult with legal counsel regarding your particular facts and circumstances.

In modified form first Appeared in Sports and Family Magazine http://www.sportsandfamilymag.com/

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