Alleviate Your Concerns With These Answers to Common Injury Questions
While some degree of uncertainty is inevitable, the stress of the unknown associated with a personal injury case can be frustrating. Here, experienced injury attorney Ben Crittenden draws from his years of experience and knowledge of the law to address many of the most common concerns and questions. Find out what to expect from the legal system, how long your case will take, what type of compensation you may be able to obtain, and much more. Don’t see your question? Reach out to Ben today! Take a moment to fill out our online contact form to find the answers you need.
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Am I eligible for workers’ compensation benefits if I was responsible for the accident that caused my injury?
Before the adoption of the workers’ compensation system, work injuries could be a nightmare for both employees and employers. While workers struggled to get the medical care they needed, employers were left short staffed and faced negligence lawsuits. To help both sides move forward as smoothly as possible, the workers’ compensation system evolved on two main tenets: workers could not sue their employers, but would get medical and lost wage benefits regardless of fault.
When You Are Responsible for Your Injuries
Workers’ compensation benefits are provided much like no-fault insurance. If an injury occurs at the workplace, regardless of whose actions are to blame, the injured worker can obtain benefits. As long as the injury results from the course of employment, there is no issue with fault. Injuries commonly occur when employees plan improperly, fail to adhere to safety guidelines, or simply lose focus. These behaviors will not typically keep an injured worker from receiving the medical care and wage replacement benefits they need to recover as fully as possible.
Exceptions to the No-Fault Workers’ Compensation Rules
There are, however, certain situations in which an injured worker’s behavior can negatively affect his eligibility for benefits. In Alaska, there are two key exceptions to the no-fault rules. Workers may be denied benefits if the injury is caused by either:
- The worker’s intent to willfully injure or kill another person.
- The worker’s intoxication by drugs or alcohol.
Learn More About Your Rights as an Injured Alaska Worker
Too many times, injured employees fail to even file for the benefits to which they are entitled because they worry their role in the injury will be an obstacle. This is typically not the case and attorney Ben Crittenden helps Alaska workers understand their rights and find the most effective way forward after a work injury. Even if you aren’t sure if you are eligible for these benefits, contact Ben today to discuss your unique situation. He can help you determine what to do next and provide the guidance you need to be successful during this difficult time. Call his Anchorage office or take a moment to fill out the contact form on this page to get in touch directly with Ben, and take the first step to as full a recovery as possible.
How do I know if the driver who caused my accident was asleep at the wheel?
All drivers know there are certain dangerous behaviors that are important to avoid. Drunk and distracted driving have received a lot of attention, and safety campaigns have been launched to promote awareness and encourage safety. One common behavior that can cause just as much damage, but that doesn't always receive as much attention is drowsy driving. Fatigued driving is a major problem on U.S. roadways, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). One CDC study reported that 1 in 25 adult drivers had reported falling asleep at the wheel in the 30 days prior to the study. With more than 530,000 licensed drivers traveling Alaska’s roads, there’s a good chance that you or someone you love has encountered a sleepy driver recently, whether you realized it or not.
The Dangers of Drowsy Driving
A study by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety compared sleep-deprived drivers to drunk drivers and found that drowsy driving is a bigger safety issues than national estimates may show. Drowsiness can:
- Prevent a driver from paying attention to traffic and road conditions
- Slow reaction to changing conditions
- Affect a driver’s ability to make good decisions
The Warning Signs of a Tired Driver on the Road
Feeling tired is a common complaint of many adults, but when does it cross the line into dangerous driving behavior? How do you know if you should stay off the road or if another driver may be exhibiting signs of drowsy driving? Very young and older drivers, shift workers, commercial drivers, and those who take medication that can cause sleepiness are most likely to cause drowsy driving accidents. They can happen at any time, however, and some common warning signs include:
- Drifting from the lane
- Yawning or blinking frequently
- Difficulty remembering the past few miles
- Missing or barely missing exit signs or other road signs
Drowsy Drivers Can Be Held Accountable for Accidents They Cause
All drivers have a responsibility to make choices and operate their vehicles in a manner that promotes the safety of all who share the road. When a driver fails in that duty, such as when they fall asleep driving or even drive drowsy, they can be held accountable. While it can be difficult to prove another driver was tired or asleep, it is possible. Anchorage attorney Ben Crittenden helps injury victims investigate their accidents and ensure they are able to obtain all the compensation they deserve for medical bills and lost wages.
If you or someone you love has suffered injuries in an accident with a drowsy driver, call Ben today. Learn more about your rights and how Ben can help you obtain and protect the compensation you need to move forward successfully.
Should I see a doctor after a crash even if I don’t think I’m injured?
Luckily, many car accidents are minor. Drivers traveling at low speeds are often involved in fender-benders that leave little or no damage to vehicles, and passengers feel fine after the crash. In these situations, those involved may wonder if it’s necessary to see a doctor. It may seem like an unnecessary expense or a waste of time. However, it is important to seek medical care after any car accident, even seemingly minor ones.
Any Car Crash Prompts a Natural Response From the Body
Even in a minor crash, the human body responds in a manner to protect itself. It will generate adrenaline and endorphins, chemicals triggered in stressful situations that prepare the body for a traumatic event. When this happens, heart rates increase, and people find themselves with a burst of energy or strength. Even when the threat has ceased—the crash is over and the immediate danger has passed—it takes time for the body to return to its normal state. During this time, pain and injury can be masked by this natural “high.” Accident victims may not be able to fully feel or appreciate the existence or extent of an injury.
Soft Tissue Injuries Are Common Even in Minor Car Crashes
Any car accident generates a great deal of force that is exerted on the drivers and passengers. This makes soft tissue injuries quite common in any crash. A soft tissue injury affects muscles, tendons, and ligaments, and commonly includes:
- Muscle sprain
- Muscle strain
These types of injuries can range in severity, and the recovery time can take weeks or even months. Common treatments include rest, immobilization, anti-inflammatory medications, physical rehabilitation, and more.
Only a Medical Professional Can Determine the Extent of Injury
While soft tissue injuries are common crash-related injuries, accident victims can experience a wide variety of injuries, including concussion, broken bones, lacerations, and more. Only a doctor can determine the severity of your injuries, including determining the likelihood that any future complications will develop.
In some cases, serious injury can result that can require significant care. Accident victims do not have to bear the burden of these injuries alone. It is possible to obtain compensation for medical bills, lost wages, and more. However, victims must seek care both to protect their health and any legal claim.
If you or someone you love has suffered injuries in a car accident, Anchorage attorney Ben Crittenden is here to help your voice be heard and your rights protected. He has provided compassionate legal guidance to many Alaska accident victims. Subscribe to his newsletter to learn more about Ben, his legal work, and your rights as a personal injury victim.
How common are car fires after a crash, and what are the warning signs?
Across the United States, fire departments respond to a highway vehicle fire about every three minutes. While many car fires are caused by some type of mechanical defect, nearly three of every five are started because of a collision or a rollover accident. Directly after an accident, it’s natural for victims to be confused and frozen, but it’s important to recognize the signs of an imminent fire and know what to do when faced with that situation.
Common Causes of Car Fires After an Accident
Many car fires are caused by faulty wiring or leaky fluids. Crash-related car fires, however, are a little different. While the most flammable parts of a car are shielded as much as possible from an impact, the force of a crash can be great enough to cause damage that can start a fire, including:
- Ruptured batteries
- Broken fuel lines
- Damaged fuel tank or engine
- Electrical short circuit
- Cracked radiator
Signs of a Fire After an Alaska Car Crash
Cars don’t typically erupt in a ball of flames after a collision like they do in movies. There are warning signs that a fire is imminent, and drivers and passengers can prevent serious injury by identifying the risks and taking action. Some of the warning signs include:
- Leaking fluid
- Smell of burning rubber or plastic
While many fires do start near the engine or gas tank, these are not the only places where a fire can spark in a vehicle. They can ignite near the wheels, under the dashboard, under the vehicle, or even in the passenger compartment. So, it’s important to heed any warning signs from any area of the car and move away from the vehicle as quickly as possible.
Even careful drivers can find themselves facing unavoidable burns and other injuries from fires. These injuries can be severe and life-changing, and victims will need help to make as full a recovery as possible. Attorney Ben Crittenden helps accident victims obtain the medical care and compensation they need to move forward by fully investigating the accident, pursuing legal action against the responsible party, and protecting victims’ compensation from those who may seek to take advantage of them. Call Ben in his Anchorage office today or take a moment to request a free copy of his book, A Guide to Car Accident Claims in Alaska, to learn more about your legal rights and options.
How are truck rollover crashes different from other accidents?
Any traffic accident has the potential to cause severe, life-changing injuries to those involved. The risks are even higher, however, when a large truck is involved, especially for the drivers and passengers in the other vehicles. In 2016, nearly ¾ of those killed in large truck crashes were other drivers, passengers, pedestrians and cyclists. The size and weight of commercial vehicles mean they typically cause more destruction when involved in accidents.
While commercial trucks are involved in a wide range of accidents, rollover crashes are one of the most dangerous. According to national data, while these types of accidents are not common, they do have high fatality rates.
Rollover Crashes and Why They Occur
A rollover crash occurs when a vehicle tips onto its side or rolls onto its roof. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration describes these crashes as particularly violent and notes that taller vehicles are more susceptible to this type of accident. Some of the most common factors that contribute to rollover crashes include:
- Road conditions
- Driver distraction
- Uneven cargo
- Alcohol use
Types of Rollover Crashes
Rollover crashes are divided into two categories based on the initial cause of the rollover. The two types are:
- Tripped. In a tripped rollover, the vehicle leaves the road. The truck may hit soft soil or strike an object, such as a guardrail. The force generated by these changes causes the vehicle to flip.
- Untripped. These accidents are less common, but they do occur when uneven weight in the truck results in a rollover. When the driver makes a turn or attempts to maneuver the truck, the undistributed weight can pull the vehicle into a rollover.
How Truck Rollover Accidents Are Different
In either case, when a large truck rolls over, it can create a wide path of destruction. When the wheels leave the road, the driver has no control of the truck. It can slide unpredictably, striking anything in its path. The large size and heavy weight combine to create a dangerous situation.
More than 8,000 people were killed in rollover truck accidents across the U.S. in 2016, and countless more were injured. Alaskans can be especially vulnerable to these crashes given the high number of rural roads, weather conditions, and wildlife.
If you or someone you love has suffered injuries in a truck rollover accident, you may be facing a lengthy recovery and mounting medical bills. Attorney Ben Crittenden can help you understand your rights to compensation and work to help you obtain what you need to make as full a recovery as possible. Call Ben at his Anchorage office today to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation or request a free copy of his book, A Guide to Car Accident Claims in Alaska, to learn more about your options.
How do I know if the driver who caused my accident was drunk?
Even those who would never consider drinking and driving can find themselves involved in a drunk driving accident. Despite the known risks, some drivers repeatedly make the poor decision to climb behind the wheel when they are under the influence of alcohol. In 2016, Alaska law enforcement made 3,063 impaired driving arrests, and that same year drunk driving caused 36 percent of all fatal accidents. While it is often clear that the at-fault driver was drunk, it is sometimes difficult to know when a driver may be impaired.
Most Common Signs of a Drunk Driver
Impaired drivers often exhibit the same kinds of behavior on the road. Take notice of these warning signs to help you avoid a drunk driver or to report to law enforcement if you are involved in an accident:
- Drifting across the road. When impaired, it’s difficult to concentrate on the task at hand. Impaired drivers will often drift across their lane or even into other lanes.
- Driving too slowly. At times, drivers know they are impaired and should not be driving. They may overcompensate by driving slowly, thinking that only driving above the speed limit will be noticeable to law enforcement.
- Overusing the brakes. Lack of concentration and diminished motor skills may lead an impaired driver to brake frequently, at any perceived issue on the road.
- Improper signaling. Using the right blinker when turning left or leaving the turn signal on for a long period of time may indicate that the driver is impaired. They could be confused or simply not notice.
- Hugging the center line. Similar to slow driving, when drivers know they are under the influence, they may drive close to the center line in an attempt to keep their vehicle straight.
- Obvious, serious driving violations. Sometimes, seriously impaired drivers will make gross errors on the road, such as driving the wrong way or on the wrong side of the road.
Make Your Concerns Known and Get Help From an Attorney
It’s important to note that while these are common warning signs, these behaviors may not be proof positive that a driver has been drinking or taking drugs. If you are involved in an accident, report your suspicions to the police at the scene if possible. They can investigate further and administer the proper tests. If you are unhurt or you have a passenger who is capable, take photos or videos of the scene. Do not attempt to engage the other driver, though, as they may behave unpredictably.
An experienced attorney can help accident victims determine the true cause of the accident. Often, distracted or fatigued driving behavior is similar to that of drunk driving. Either way, when another driver behaves irresponsibly behind the wheel, he can be held accountable for the damage he causes. At The Law Office of Ben Crittenden, attorney Ben Crittenden helps Alaska accident victims obtain the compensation they need to recover as fully as possible and move forward with their lives. Call Ben in his Anchorage office today or take a moment to fill out the form on this page to connect directly with Ben and learn more about how he may be able to help.
What is Uninsured Motorist Coverage, and Do I Need It?
Drivers in Alaska are required by law to carry auto insurance, which provides compensation for bodily injury and property damage for those who suffer injuries in an accident. This insurance coverage can be vital for crash victims, helping them to obtain the care and compensation they need to recover as fully as possible. In addition, it can be used to repair or replace the vehicle involved.
Unfortunately, not all those behind the wheel follow the law. According to the Insurance Information Institute, about 15 percent of Alaska drivers are uninsured. When these drivers are responsible for a car accident, what happens to the injury victims? While it can be possible to sue the at-fault driver directly, this is typically ineffective. Most drivers who do not have auto insurance do not have the money to pay the expenses related to an accident out of pocket. Instead, injury victims are forced to foot the bill themselves or look to their own insurance policy using coverage known as ininsured motorist (UM) coverage.
What Is Uninsured Motorist Coverage?
Uninsured motorist coverage is an additional part of your auto insurance policy that pays for your accident-related expenses when an uninsured driver causes a crash. Uninsured motorist coverage typically provides compensation for:
- Property damage
- Medical bills
- Lost wages
It can also cover injuries sustained by drivers and passengers in a hit and run accident, bicycle accident, or pedestrian accident.
Should Drivers Purchase Uninsured Motorist Insurance?
If you’re involved in a car accident, you may be facing serious injuries, a difficult recovery, and significant time away from work. The last thing you should have to worry about is finding a way to pay your expenses during such a difficult time, especially when the person responsible has failed to uphold their duty to be a safe, lawful driver. UM coverage can provide injury victims with vital benefits for typically just a few dollars a month.
If you have suffered injuries in an accident with an uninsured motorist, you may need help to obtain the medical care and compensation you deserve to move forward. Even if you carry uninsured motorist coverage, it may be necessary to negotiate with your own insurance company to obtain a fair settlement. Attorney Ben Crittenden helps Alaska accident victims be successful after a car accident, making sure they obtain all the tools they need to recover as fully as possible. Call Ben in his Anchorage office today to learn more about your rights and how he may be able to help.
How do I know if I have a concussion after a crash and what should I do?
Concussions have been the subject of a lot of media attention in recent years. Sports-related concussions are a hot topic, and those in charge of youth and professional sports alike have been seeking ways to reduce the risks of these head injuries to athletes. So, it may surprise you to know that sports-related concussions are actually relatively rare. Car accidents are one of the leading causes of concussions in the U.S., along with falls and striking an object. Together, those groups represent about 75 percent of all concussions each year.
What Is a Concussion?
A concussion is a traumatic brain injury cause by a jolt, bump, or blow to the head. It can also be caused by violent shaking of the head or upper body. The injury occurs when the force of the blow is so strong that the brain bumps back and forth inside the skull, striking the inner wall. While people can experience a wide range of symptoms, some of the most common include:
- Difficulty remembering recent events
- Headache that will not go away
- Irritability or nervousness
- Sleep disturbance
- Difficulty with bright light or loud noises
- Loss of consciousness
- Slurred speech
Treating a Concussion After a Car Accident
In most cases, rest is the main course of treatment after a concussion. The brain needs time to heal without many common stimulations, including physical exertion, television screens, reading, computer work, and similar activities. For many, symptoms will resolve with days or weeks, though it is not uncommon for concussion victims to feel effects of the injury even longer, especially those who have suffered a concussion in the past.
Seek Medical Attention for Your Injuries Right Away
Even slow speed crashes or fender benders can cause a concussion, and the symptoms may be difficult to diagnose. It is important to seek medical attention right away if you or someone you love has been involved in a car accident in Alaska. Only a medical professional can evaluate the symptoms to determine the extent of the injury. Left untreated, a concussion can have lasting and serious consequences for all aspects of your life.
Attorney Ben Crittenden understands these injuries can be complex, and he works hard to help concussion victims all across Alaska obtain the care and compensation they need to heal as fully as possible after a car crash. Call his Anchorage office today to speak directly with Ben or take a moment to fill out the contact form on this page to learn more about he may be able to help.
What can I do if another driver has a medical emergency behind the wheel and causes a crash that injures me?
A medical emergency can happen at any time. These sudden events don’t wait until a person is close to a hospital or has someone nearby to aid them. They strike quickly at home, at work, and sometimes even behind the wheel of a car. Those situations can be scary and dangerous for both the ill driver and others on the road, as the affected driver may be at least temporarily unable to control his vehicle and could cause a crash.
While accident victims likely have sympathy for the other driver and are understanding of the cause of the accident, they may find themselves also facing serious injury and a demanding road to recovery. It’s a natural hesitation to shy away from pursuing a legal case against an ill person. However, it is possible to obtain compensation from the driver’s insurance company to cover the expenses associated with your injury.
Common Medical Emergencies Behind the Wheel
While crashes caused by medical emergencies are relatively rare, they do happen. Most often, these accidents are related to:
- Diabetic reactions
- Heart attack
The symptoms of these events may come on suddenly and impair the driver either physically, cognitively, or both. For example, a person may be unable to steer from arm pain and/or concentrate on the road from dizziness, both common symptoms in those who suffer a heart attack.
Obtaining Compensation to Protect Your Future After a Crash
You may be hesitant to pursue legal action against a person who has recently suffered from a medical emergency. However, it is most often the insurance company who provides the compensation that will help you make as full a recovery as possible from your injuries. Automobile insurance can help accident victims with:
- Medical bills
- Lost wages
- Property damage
Additionally, these drivers are not always blameless. A study from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reported that many drivers who experienced a medical emergency and caused an accident were aware of their condition before getting behind the wheel. Just as a driver should not take to the road after drinking or taking drugs, neither should a driver who knows his physical or mental health could endanger those who are sharing the road.
If you or someone you love has suffered injuries in a vehicle crash, you may have rights to care and compensation. At The Law Office of Ben Crittenden, attorney Ben Crittenden is dedicated to helping victims’ voices be heard and obtaining the compensation they need to move forward. Call Ben’s Anchorage office today or request a free copy of his book, A Guide to Car Accident Claims in Alaska, to learn more about your legal rights.
I wasn’t wearing a seatbelt when I was in a car crash. Can I still recover damages?
Whether you simply forgot or had unbuckled for just a moment, drivers and passengers are in car accidents all the time without the protection of a seatbelt. While we know that seatbelts are important tools to keep us safe, it’s impossible to anticipate when a car accident will occur, and we may be caught at just the wrong moment. What does that mean for crash victims who have suffered injuries because of another driver’s recklessness on the road? Is it still possible to recover compensation if you weren’t wearing a seatbelt?
The short answer is yes. At-fault drivers are responsible for the injuries they cause on the road. Crash victims can pursue a legal claim against the driver (and his insurance company) to obtain compensation for medical care, lost wages, property damages, pain and suffering, and more.
Alaska’s Seatbelt Defense
However, the state does permit at-fault drivers to use what is known as the seatbelt defense to mitigate the amount of damages awarded. If a driver or passenger is not wearing a seatbelt at the time of the accident, the compensation could be reduced to reflect their role in their own injuries.
Alaska is what is known as a pure comparative negligence state. This means that the fault for an accident is assigned as a percentage to all those involved, and compensation is awarded equal to that percentage. With the seatbelt defense, at-fault drivers may attempt to claim that the victim’s failure to use a seatbelt constitutes a degree of fault. They would claim that had you been wearing a seatbelt, your injuries would have been less severe or even nonexistent.
An Effective Attorney Can Protect Your Rights
Seatbelt use is a primary law in Alaska, which means that law enforcement can stop drivers for no other reason except for driving unrestrained. Violation of this law during an accident can at times negatively impact a legal claim, but every situation is unique. The at-fault driver would bear the burden of offering proof that your injuries would have been different if you had been wearing a seatbelt, and the failure to use a seatbelt does not negate your rights entirely. An experienced attorney can help you understand the laws and your rights, as well as prepare a compelling case on your behalf.
If you or someone you love has suffered injuries in a car accident, whether you were wearing your seatbelt or not, you have rights to care and compensation. Call The Law Office of Ben Crittenden today to speak with Ben and find out how he may be able to help.