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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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.
What should I do if I suffer an amputation in a car crash?
In the United States today, about two million people are living with the loss of limb, and experts estimate that approximately 185,000 amputations occur every year. Statistics state that 45 percent these amputations are caused by some type of trauma, including traffic accidents. Uncontrolled bleeding, infection, burns, reduced blood flow, and other injuries caused by a crash can lead to the loss of a limb.
The consequences of an amputation have been well-documented; it typically results in a significant personal, professional, and emotional cost to the injury victims and their families. So, what should you do if you or someone you love has suffered an amputation after someone else’s carelessness caused a serious car crash? What can you expect and how can you obtain the help you need?
Life After a Limb Amputation in Alaska
Adjusting to life after an amputation can be difficult. The medical treatment and physical recovery alone can be very challenging. Depending on the nature of the amputation, the surgery is taxing and will require a hospital stay. Complications may require more aggressive care or ongoing therapy. Some of the more common complications include:
- Joint deformity.
- Tissue death.
- Blood clot.
Even after the initial physical challenges have been met, getting back to your old life and activities can be a daunting task. Victims need time to heal and to adapt to a new way of life. Often, prosthetic limbs can help with mobility and daily tasks. However, fitting these prosthetics and learning how to utilize them can be a time-consuming and frustrating process. Learning to walk or drive or even take care of personal hygiene can require many adaptations.
Additionally, many of those who have experience an amputation report feeling pain or odd sensation at the site of the amputation. Phantom pain and phantom sensation occurs when amputees feel as though the lost limb is still there. They may experience pain in the missing limb or more specifically at the site of the amputation, which is known as residual limb pain. Understanding and addressing this pain and other discomforts associated with the amputation can require medication, therapy, or nerve stimulation.
Injury Compensation Can Promote Recovery After Amputation
Getting back to “normal” life after an amputation is accompanied by many challenges, and it can be even more difficult to address these challenges when your injury has forced you to miss work and even has made it impossible for you to return to your previous employment. Prosthetics and other adaptive equipment are expensive, as is ongoing medical treatment and rehabilitation.
In Alaska, injury victims are able to pursue compensation from those who caused their injuries (or their insurance company). The at-fault driver will have changed your entire life, and victims deserve a fair recovery, which could include compensation for:
- Medical bills,
- Lost income,
- Home accommodations.
- Pain and suffering,
The responsible driver and his insurance company may not make it easy for victims to obtain what they deserve, but an experienced attorney can fight for your rights and protect your compensation.
At the Law Office of Ben Crittenden, attorney Ben Crittenden can help you understand your legal options and work to help you obtain an award that will help you move forward successfully. If you or someone you love has suffered an amputation after a car accident, call Ben’s Anchorage office today to schedule a free consultation.
What are some common defenses the at-fault driver might use in a car accident case?
You or someone you love suffered injuries in a car accident caused by another person’s careless behavior. Medical bills may have already started arriving, and the forced time away from work may be causing your family a significant financial strain.
It seems like it should be straightforward enough—the at-fault driver or his insurance company can be held legally responsible. They provide compensation for your accident-related medical bills and wages lost due to injury. Unfortunately, opposing drivers will often attempt to shift the blame to someone or something else to avoid having to pay.
Common Defenses in an Alaska Car Crash Injury Case
The opposing side will use any number of tactics to reduce their level of fault, and thus their financial liability. The most common defenses include claims that:
- The injured driver is at fault. Often, at-fault drivers will claim that the victim played a part in causing the accident. They may claim the victim was speeding or talking on the phone or engaging in some other risky behavior. If they can be convincing that the victim was even partially at fault, it can reduce the damages awarded under Alaska’s pure comparative negligence laws.
- A third party is at fault. Another attempt to shift blame could be made against someone or something else. The at-fault driver may say that another driver’s actions caused the crash. Perhaps that person veered out of his lane, and the at-fault driver swerved to avoid him, causing your accident. In other cases, he may claim that poor road conditions or defective vehicle parts are truly to blame for the accident.
- No real injuries were suffered. To bring an injury claim against an at-fault driver, accident victims must have experienced injury and that injury must have caused physical, emotional, or financial hardship. The other side may try to claim that you are exaggerating your injuries or that they stem from a condition not related to the crash.
- The victim made the injury worse. This is known as failure to mitigate damages, and it means essentially that victims have a duty to do what they can to promote recovery. Failing to follow a doctor’s treatment plan or engaging in activities that make the condition worse could be considered failure to mitigate damages.
Be Prepared for Your Car Accident Personal Injury Claim
Even in seemingly simple cases, the other driver, his lawyers, and his insurance company will work to find any way to limit his culpability. Informed victims with knowledge of these tactics can be prepared to address them when the time comes.
Attorney Ben Crittenden has represented many car accident victims across Alaska, and he is here to help you understand your situation. With his experience and knowledge of the law, you can effectively protect your rights if you or someone you love suffers injuries in a car crash. Take a moment to request a free copy of Ben’s book A Guide to Car Accident Claims in Alaska, or call our Anchorage office today to speak directly with Ben.
Do I have legal options if a pet causes a distracted driver to hit me?
Many people consider a pet another member of the family. The family dog can be an important part of their life, and they frequently include the animal in family activities. This can include running errands or taking trips with a pet in the car.
According to a AAA Foundation for Safety study, approximately 84 percent of pet owners say they drive with their pets on a variety of trips. However, only 16 percent of those drivers use an animal restraint system in the car. This can be a problem when drivers become distracted by their pets. And they do become distracted—the same study revealed that more than half of those people admitted to playing with their pet, offering treats, or even letting the pet sit in their lap while driving.
While the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration (NHTSA) does not provide statistics specific to pet distraction, distracted driving in general is a significant issue on our roads. In 2015, there were 391,000 people injured and 3,477 killed in accidents involving distracted driving. The NHTSA website even notes a case in which a Utah driver became distracted by her dog, crossed the road’s center line, and crashed head-on into a county sheriff’s vehicle.
When a Distracted Pet Owner Has Caused Your Injuries in Alaska
Just like a driver who texts, puts on makeup, eats, or engages in any other behavior that takes his attention away from the road, a distracted pet owner can cause serious accidents and significant injuries. In Alaska, there are no laws that specifically state drivers may not travel with pets in the car or that require pet owners to restrain their pets while in a vehicle. However, accident victims do have the ability to demand the person responsible for their car accident make them whole. A personal injury claim could hold the at-fault driver accountable and could provide compensation for:
- Medical bills.
- Lost wages.
- Future medical bills.
- Future lost wages.
- Property damage.
- Pain and suffering.
If you or someone you love has suffered injuries in a car accident and you suspect the other driver was distracted by a pet, you may be eligible to file a claim. Even if you aren’t sure of your rights, take care to protect yourself and your family. Seek medical treatment as soon as possible and avoid speaking with insurance adjustors until you’ve talked with an experienced attorney.
At the Law Office of Ben Crittenden, personal injury lawyer Ben Crittenden represents accident victims all over Alaska, offering personal attention and effective guidance during this difficult time. Request a free copy of Ben’s book, A Guide to Car Accident Claims in Alaska, to learn more about your legal rights and options after a crash, or call our Anchorage office to speak directly with Ben.