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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Who can file a wrongful death claim when someone dies in an accident?
On average, six people are killed in car crashes in Alaska every month. In 2017, the state saw 79 vehicle accident-related deaths. For the families of those killed, life is forever changed. Not only do they have to navigate the grief and sadness of losing their loved one, but many families are faced with new and stressful financial burdens. Whether the deceased family member was the main breadwinner or the one to provide childcare, their contributions to the family’s way of life were important. What are surviving family members to do? How can they successfully face this challenge so they can focus on what really matters? For many families, the answer is a wrongful death lawsuit.
What Is a Wrongful Death Claim?
A wrongful death lawsuit is a legal claim brought by the surviving family members of a person who is killed by another person’s negligence. When an irresponsible driver causes an accident that results in the death of another person, they can be held accountable. Surviving family members may be able to obtain compensation from the at-fault driver or their insurance company for:
- Medical and funeral expenses
- Lost wages that would have been earned by deceased
- Loss of spousal or child support
- Lost companionship or consortium
- The victim’s pain and suffering
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim in Alaska?
A wrongful death claim can be filed by any personal representative of the deceased. Though it is most often filed on behalf of the spouse and/or children of the deceased, state law does not limit these claims to only those relations. Compensation can be awarded to:
- Other dependents
- The estate of the deceased
A dependent is a person who is supported by the deceased, and it may include parents or other family members. Non-dependent family members or the estate itself may pursue a claim, but the award is limited to monetary loss—there is no compensation for non-economic damages such as pain and suffering.
An Experienced Injury Alaska Attorney Can Answer Your Questions
Not only is the loss of a loved one devastating, family relationships can be complicated. If your loved one has died in a car accident, it may be difficult to know just what your rights may be. At The Law Office of Ben Crittenden, this Anchorage-based attorney has helped many loved ones understand their legal options and obtain all the compensation they deserve. Even if you aren’t sure if you are able to file a claim, reach out to Ben today. Call his office or take a moment to fill out the contact form on this page. You’ll get in touch with Ben directly, and he’ll help you determine the most effective way forward.
Can I recover compensation if winter weather caused another driver to hit me?
Winter weather can be tricky for drivers across the country, but especially here in Alaska. While it’s understandable that accidents can happen in these slippery and treacherous conditions, it doesn’t necessarily excuse drivers from their responsibility to act in a safe and responsible manner. If you have been involved in an accident caused by another driver during bad weather, it still may be possible to obtain compensation for your medical bills, lost wages, property damage, and more.
Drivers Have a Duty to Travel Safely Behind the Wheel
In Alaska and across the U.S., drivers have a responsibility to act in manner that promotes the safety of all those on the road. This can mean following posted speed limits, not texting and driving, remaining sober, and much more. These duties also include responding to road and weather conditions. During the winter especially, drivers should be extra careful. Often, winter weather accidents are caused not by the weather itself, but by drivers who fail to acknowledge the conditions and do the following:
- Drive too fast
- Follow too closely
- Fail to use headlights
- Fail to maintain the vehicle (bald tires, weak brakes, etc.)
- Make sharp or improperly timed turns
In some cases, drivers should not be on the road at all. At times, law enforcement will ask that only certain people take to the road—those who work for emergency or other human service industries, or those with some specific need.
Obtaining Compensation After a Winter Weather Accident in AK
In these situations, it is often necessary for the accident victim to prove that the at-fault driver wasn’t simply a victim of bad weather, but he did in fact make a choice that put others at risk. Insurance companies and the legal system may take into consideration the weather conditions, but they cannot deny when a driver was negligent behind the wheel. If you have been involved in a crash during bad weather, make sure to retain as much evidence as possible. It is helpful to:
- Take photos of the scene
- Write down names and contact information for witnesses
- File a police report
- Seek medical care for any injuries and maintain all records
At The Law Office of Ben Crittenden, solo practitioner Ben Crittenden has helped many Alaska car accident victims obtain the compensation they deserve after a crash. Ben has experience investigating these accidents and offering a compelling case for his clients. While wintry weather is a fact of life in Alaska, it doesn’t excuse drivers from their responsibilities. Contact Ben in his Anchorage office today to learn more about your rights, or request a free copy of his book, A Guide to Car Accident Claims in Alaska.
Can I be reimbursed for out-of-pocket expenses associated with my accident?
While medical bills and property damage are often the most costly expenses associated with a car accident, out-of-pocket costs can add up quickly and cause a significant hardship for victims. These fees are often overlooked, but it is possible to be reimbursed through a personal injury claim.
What Are Out-of-Pocket Expenses?
An out-of-pocket expense is simply what the name implies—a cost that accident victims are forced to pay directly. These miscellaneous costs aren’t covered by insurance and need to be paid right away. They can include:
- Travel expenses to medical appointments
- Parking fees
- Medical insurance co-pays
- Car insurance deductible
- Cleaning help
- Personal assistance at home
Recovering Out-of-Pocket Costs After an Accident
While these costs may be minimal individually, together they can add up quickly and create more financial pressure during an already difficult time. A personal injury claim allows injured Alaskans to recover economic damages they incur as a result of an accident caused by another driver’s carelessness. Out-of-pocket costs can be included in these economic damages. (Victims may also be eligible for non-economic damages, such as pain and suffering). To successfully seek these damages, however, victims must prove that they were paid. To aid your claim, victims should:
- Keep all receipts for any expense related to the accident.
- Provide information for witnesses who can testify to the expenses.
- Share medical records to demonstrate the need for support services.
An Experienced Alaska Attorney Can Help Obtain Compensation
An experienced personal injury lawyer can help victims determine what costs can be recovered and prepare a thorough legal claim. Victims should not have to bear the financial burden caused another driver. Anchorage attorney Ben Crittenden has helped many accident victims secure compensation for out-of-pocket costs, as well as medical care, property damage, and much more. If you or someone you love has suffered injuries in an accident, contact Ben today to learn more about your rights and how he may be able to help. Call his office to speak directly with Ben or take a moment to fill out the contact form on this page. Ben offers free, no-obligation consultations to help you decide the best way to reach as full a recovery as possible.
Can I recover compensation if I’m partially at fault for my car accident?
The short answer is yes, it is possible to recover compensation even if you share some of the responsibility for an accident. The amount of compensation, however, can be affected by the amount of blame you share. Here, learn more about Alaska’s rules regarding fault and what that may mean for your accident claim.
Understanding Alaska’s Rules About Fault
The state of Alaska follows what is known as pure comparative fault. This means that in every accident case, the details will be reviewed, and it will be determined how much responsibility each involved party shares. It may be the case that one driver is completely to blame for the accident, but it is also often true that both drivers played some role in causing the crash. In those cases, each driver will be assigned a percentage of the fault.
For example, it could be that another driver runs a stop sign and crashes into your car while you pass through an intersection. However, at the time, you were traveling five miles over the speed limit. It may then be determined that the other driver was 90 percent at fault, and you were 10 percent at fault for speeding. Each driver is able to recover compensation equal to the other party’s fault, so in this case, you would be awarded 90 percent of the determined damages. If the damages were $100,000 for example, you would receive $90,000.
Under Alaska law, it’s important to note that each party is held accountable for their amount fault. This means that in the previous example, you would be liable for 10 percent of the damages, or $10,000. Of course, this amount would be eclipsed by that of the more at-fault driver.
What This Might Mean for Your Accident Claim
So, where does that leave your claim? You may think you are not at fault at all, or you might be worried that the other party will try to blame you for the accident. In either case, an experienced attorney can help you understand your situation more fully. For Alaska accident victims, attorney Ben Crittenden has helped many victims investigate, examine, and understand their legal rights. He can help you determine the best way forward for your unique case. With his experience as a personal injury lawyer, he can offer a better idea of what your case might be worth and what you can expect from the legal system.
If you or someone you love has suffered injuries in a car accident, even if you are worried that you are partly to blame for the crash, call Ben in his Anchorage office today to set up a free, no-obligation consultation. Or sign up for his free newsletter to receive helpful, relevant information about personal injury law and claims in your area.
What do I have to prove to win a car accident personal injury claim?
Filing a personal injury claim after a car accident is a daunting process to many crash victims. Often, victims have little experience with the law, and the thought of a lawsuit is overwhelming. Maybe you know the other driver involved is responsible for your property damage and injuries, but you worry about how to prove that through the legal system. Here, we take a look at the requirements for filing an Alaska personal injury claim.
Three Main Elements of a Personal Injury Claim
In general, an accident victim must provide clear reasons as to how the other driver is at fault and why he should be held responsible for the accident. In Alaska, victims need to show that:
- The other driver was negligent. This means that the other driver was not reasonably careful and caused harm to another person. Negligence can take difference forms—both taking improper actions (speeding, running a red light, etc.) or failing to take proper action (not stopping at a crosswalk, driving with no lights on at night, etc).
- That negligence caused your injuries. Accident victims must show that their injuries were a direct result of the car accident and not caused by some other event. Physical evidence from the crash, as well as medical records, can help demonstrate this point.
- You suffered damages due to those injuries. Finally, the injuries must be severe enough that they caused the victim to incur some type of damage. These damages can be physical, emotional, or financial. Doctors’ bills, lost wages from missed work due to injury, repairs/replacement, loss of use, and pain/suffering of a vehicle are all common forms of damages.
Comparative Negligence in Alaska Car Accidents
While all these elements must exist in every case, there are degrees of negligence, and it is possible to file a successful claim in many different situations. The other driver does not have to be 100% responsible for the accident in order for a victim to recover compensation. The state of Alaska follows the rules of pure comparative fault, which means that each driver is responsible for his portion of blame. For example, it may be the case that another driver ignores a stop sign and crashes into you while you are proceeding through an intersection, speeding 5 miles over the limit. If it is determined that the other driver is 80 percent to blame and you are 20 percent to blame for a crash, it is still possible to recover damages. In that case, the victim would simply receive 80 percent of the award. It’s important to consult an experienced attorney to better understand just what your rights may be in each unique situation.
If you or someone you love has suffered injuries in a car accident in Alaska, Anchorage attorney Ben Crittenden may be able to help. Call his office today or take a moment to fill out the form on this page to get in touch directly with Ben. He can schedule a free, no-obligation consultation to help you learn more about your rights and legal options.
Will I have to appear in court for my car accident case?
There are plenty of stressors after a car accident. The physical pain from injury, the emotional turmoil of the accident itself, the financial pressure from missed work and medical bills, and more take up enough of your time. Many accident victims are understandably hesitant to add the uncertainty and stress of a legal case to their lives, especially if it means having to testify in court. So, will you have to appear before a judge and jury if you file a car accident claim?
Most Accident Victims Do Not Appear in Court
While every accident scenario is unique, most accident victims do not have to appear in court. Many accident claims are settled before the case reaches the trial phase of the legal system. This means that the insurance company for the at-fault driver will negotiate with the victim or the victim’s lawyer. They may make an offer for compensation to cover medical bills, lost wages, property damage, future medical bills, and much more. Often, the sides are able to reach an agreement without the courts intervening. While this is a legal process and the decisions made are legally binding, it is not necessary for the accident victim to appear in court.
When You Do Have to Testify, an Experienced Attorney Can Help
There are times, however, when it is necessary for a victim to testify in court. If the case goes to trial, it can be important for the judge and/or jury to hear directly from the victim, so they can better understand:
- The circumstances of the accident. The defense will certainly provide their version of events to the court, and it’s important for the victim’s story to be told as well. There is no one better suited to do so than you.
- The nature of the victim’s injuries. While medical records and care provider testimony is valuable, only you can fully explain how the car accident injuries have impacted your life and the lives of those you love. Personal testimony can help others understand the true consequences of the accident.
When the time comes to appear in court, however, an experienced attorney can help accident victims feel confident. Attorney Ben Crittenden has helped many Alaska clients understand the legal system and prepare for questions that may be asked. Ben is there to appear alongside his clients to make sure their rights are protected. He has stood up for his clients many times, and he can help provide the knowledge and confidence you need to be as successful as possible.
If you or someone you love has suffered an injury in a car accident, you may be eligible to file a claim. Even if you aren’t sure if you have a case or you are worried about navigating the legal system, contact Ben today to learn more about your options. Call his Anchorage office or take a moment to fill out the form on this page to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation.
Can I obtain compensation even if I don’t remember my car accident?
A car accident can be a traumatic event, and it’s not uncommon for victims to have a difficult time remembering exactly what happened. In these cases, victims may worry about pursuing a legal case. If you can’t recall the details, will you have enough credence to make a successful legal claim? The answer is likely yes, though every accident situation is unique.
Why Can’t I Remember the Accident?
When an accident victim cannot remember a crash, they often also have no memory of the time immediately after or before the accident. This is fairly common, and it happens often for two reasons:
- Traumatic brain injury. A traumatic brain injury can be caused by a violent jolt or blow to the head and includes concussion, edema, skull fracture, and diffuse axonal injury. While not every brain injury victim will experience a loss of memory, it is a common symptom. Vehicle accidents are a leading cause of traumatic brain injuries.
- Survival response. At the moment of the accident or just before, the body senses the danger and responds. Even in seemingly minor accidents, victims can experience the “fight or flight” response—a most basic body process focused only on protection. In this state, the brain may not form memories as all its focus is on responding to the immediate danger.
Additionally, the chaos of the accident may make it difficult to remember exact details. If possible, write down as much as you can remember about your crash to keep the details as fresh in your mind as possible.
A Legal Claim When You Can’t Recall the Crash
At times, victims simply can’t remember the accident. Despite this, they have suffered very real and potentially lasting consequences. Like any other car accident victim, they both need and deserve medical care and compensation to help them recover as fully as possible, and this is possible. With the help of an experienced attorney, victims can rely on other evidence to prove the negligence of the other driver, including:
- Police reports
- Eyewitness testimony
- Medical reports
An Experienced Attorney Can Help Protect You After an Alaska Crash
Depending on the specifics of your accident, these claims can be more challenging. Attorney Ben Crittenden knows, though, that every crash victim has a story to tell and deserves the chance at a successful recovery. He has helped other Alaska victims protect their rights, and he can help you understand your legal options. Call Ben at his Anchorage office today or request a free copy of his book, A Guide to Car Accident Claims in Alaska, to learn more.
Should I take photos of my car accident?
Whether seemingly minor or very serious, a car accident scene can be chaotic and confusing. Concern for the well-being of the people involved and the immediate safety of everyone on the road can make for an overwhelming experience. It’s natural to be unsure of what to do in that moment and the time that follows. Though it can be difficult to think about right away, it’s important to preserve as much evidence as possible from a car crash to make sure that those responsible are held accountable and the injured are able to make as complete a recovery as possible. One key area of evidence that can be collected fairly quickly and easily are photos.
Why Take Photos of My Alaska Car Accident?
Photographs help paint a clear picture of the accident scene. Insurance adjusters and members of the court are able to visualize specifically what occurred when they are able to see photos from the accident site. Photos show details related to the accident such as:
- Weather conditions
- Road location
- Point of impact
- Extent of damage
- Degree of injury
What Should I Take Photos of at the Accident Scene?
It is easy to snap quick photos at the crash scene. Like police reports, eyewitness statements, medical records, and much more, photos be used to prove what happened, so they don’t need to be perfect. Taken on a smart phone or any type of camera, try to show as much of what happened as possible, including photos of:
- All vehicles involved
- The surrounding area
- Any traffic signs
- Property involved
- Tires marks on the road
- Injuries of those involved
Take more photos than you think you need, and take them from a number of angles. If it turns out you don’t need them, they can be erased, but it is not possible to go back and take more photos once the scene has been cleared. Also, it’s important to be considerate of others involved and the work of the police; pictures can be taken without obstructing anyone’s business or being too intrusive.
What If I Was Severely Injured and Couldn’t Take Photos?
In some cases, accident victims suffer very serious injuries are taken from the scene directly to the hospital. You may or may not have been conscious after the accident. If it’s possible, send a family member or friend to take photos for you. If not, be sure to document your injuries. While it can be difficult to see photos of your injuries, it can help others better understand the extent of your pain and the road to recovery you will face.
If you or someone you love has suffered injuries in a car accident, it is possible to obtain compensation for medical bills and lost wages, so you can focus on as complete a recovery as possible. Even if you aren’t sure if you have a legal claim, contact attorney Ben Crittenden to learn more about your rights and options. Request a free copy of his book, A Guide to Car Accident Claims in Alaska, or call his Anchorage office directly to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation.
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.