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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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.
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.