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 happens when a driver causes an accident due to a medical condition?

    A pre-existing medical condition can negatively impact a driver’s ability to operate a motor vehicle. In Alaska, the defense of sudden medical emergency has been allowed against a claim of negligence per se. If the driver is unaware that he has a medical condition, and if that medical condition leads to an accident, he may be exempt from liability due to the sudden emergency doctrine. To use this defense, the driver must demonstrate that he was unaware of the collision risk stemming from his medical condition. If a driver is aware that he has a medical condition, and if that medical condition was the cause of his accident, he may be held liable for the collision.

    Sudden Medical Emergency Defense

    A driver who wishes to use the sudden medical emergency defense generally must prove the following:

    • The driver suddenly lost consciousness prior to the accident. If a vehicle operator experiences symptoms that indicate a medical emergency, he should stop driving, rather than endangering himself and others by continuing to drive. However, if the onset of symptoms is so sudden that the driver doesn’t have time to react to the medical emergency, he won’t be held liable.
    • The medical emergency that caused the accident was unforeseeable. If the driver had a history of the medical condition which led to the collision, he is unlikely to succeed in using the sudden medical emergency defense. This is because he had reasons to suspect that he might suffer a medical emergency while driving.
    • The loss of consciousness caused the driver to lose control over the vehicle. The driver’s medical condition must have led directly to his loss of consciousness, which in turn resulted in the collision.

    Relevant Medical Conditions

    Medical conditions that may cause a driver to lose control over his vehicle include:

    • Heart disease. Weakness, fatigue, and shortness of breath caused by heart disease can increase the risk of losing consciousness.
    • Diabetic shock. Diabetic shock is triggered by severe low blood sugar, and it can cause the driver of the vehicle to faint.
    • Seizures. Seizures may be caused by brain infections, epilepsy, stroke, and high blood pressure.

    You Need an Attorney

    If you’ve been injured in an accident caused by a driver who blames the collision on a medical condition, you need an experienced attorney who knows how to fight a sudden medical emergency defense. To learn more, contact the Law Office of Ben Crittenden to schedule a free, no-obligation case evaluation.

  • Parties Eligible to Pursue a Wrongful Death Suit in Alaska

    According to Alaska’s wrongful death statute, claims must be brought by the personal representative of the deceased individual’s estate.

    Damages Paid to Family Members

    Damages in a wrongful death case are typically expressed as a single monetary amount, and are intended for the benefit of the surviving spouse, children, or parents of the deceased. These damages may compensate survivors for many different types of losses, including:

    • Loss of pecuniary benefits. Beneficiaries may be compensated for losing an expected inheritance.
    • Lost wages. The victim’s spouse and children may receive compensation for the wages the deceased would have likely earned had he survived.
    • Expenses associated with the victim’s injuries and death. Survivors may be compensated for medical bills, emergency care, funeral, and burial expenses.
    • Grief and anguish. Statutory beneficiaries may be compensated for their emotional suffering, due to the loss of their family member.
    • Loss of child and spousal support. If the victim would have provided financial assistance to his beneficiaries, they may be able to recover the funds they likely would have received had the deceased lived.
    • Loss of consortium. The victim’s spouse and children may be compensated for their loss of care, comfort, and guidance resulting from his death.
    • Pain and suffering prior to death. If the victim experienced pain and suffering before he died, his beneficiaries may receive compensation.
    • Punitive damages. If the party responsible for the victim’s death displayed a willful disregard for the safety of the deceased, his beneficiaries may be entitled to punitive damages.

    Damages Paid to the Estate

    If the deceased did not have any dependants, damages may be paid to the estate directly. However, the estate’s recovery will be limited to pecuniary losses. These losses are calculated by subtracting the estate’s actual value at the time of death from the estimated future value of the estate, had the deceased not died.

    You Need an Attorney

    If you’ve lost a loved one in a vehicle accident, you need professional representation by an experienced attorney to get the compensation you deserve. To learn more, contact the Law Office of Ben Crittenden to schedule a free, no-obligation case evaluation.
     

  • What happens if multiple people are injured while riding in the same vehicle?

    Passengers in a vehicle accident are entitled to compensation for any injuries they have sustained. If you’re hurt while riding in someone else’s car, you can file a claim with the driver’s insurance company. Regardless of who caused the accident, his insurance will cover your medical expenses, up to his policy limits. Depending on who is at fault for the accident, you may also be able to pursue a claim against the driver or owner of another vehicle involved in the accident.

    Multiple Claims

    When you’ve been injured as a passenger in a vehicle accident, you can typically file a claim against either the insurance policy of the driver of the car you were riding in, or the policy belonging to the driver of another car involved in the accident. If either driver was using someone else’s car, you may also file a claim with the vehicle owner’s insurance company. You may find that you need to make multiple claims. If one driver’s liability policy lacks adequate coverage to compensate you for your losses, you can also pursue a claim against another driver’s policy. However, the total amount you collect from all drivers and vehicle owners cannot exceed the total value of your claim.

    Driver’s Insurance Exemption

    While you can generally file a claim against the insurance policy belonging to the driver of the vehicle you were riding in, there is an important exception. If you’re related to and live with the driver, you likely will be unable to pursue a claim against his insurance. This is because you will probably be considered an insured under the policy, and insured individuals can’t pursue a liability claim against a policy that insures them.

    You Need an Attorney

    If you’ve sustained injuries as a passenger in a vehicle accident, you need representation by an experienced attorney in order to receive the compensation you deserve. To learn more, contact the Law Office of Ben Crittenden, P.C., by clicking the Live Chat button on this page.
     

  • Who is liable for my truck accident?

    Commercial truck accidents can cause far more damage than those involving only personal vehicles. Due to the tremendous weight differential between commercial trucks and cars, many truck accidents result in serious injury or death. If the truck is carrying hazardous materials, such as fuel or industrial waste, the collision may be particularly devastating. There were 3,964 people killed and an estimated 95,000 individuals injured in crashes involving large trucks during 2013.

    Determining Liability

    If you’re involved in a car accident, determining which parties are responsible for your injuries is generally pretty straightforward. In the case of truck accidents, however, establishing liability can be much more difficult. Multiple parties may be liable in a commercial truck accident, including:

    • Truck driver. The driver of the truck may be held liable for the accident if he was speeding, intoxicated, driving while fatigued, or otherwise behaving irresponsibly.
    • Truck loader. If the truck was loaded improperly, the shipper or loader of the truck’s cargo could be liable.
    • Trucking company. If the trucking company prompted or permitted its driver to take risks by continuing to drive when it was unsafe for him to do so, the company may be liable for the damage he causes.
    • Truck manufacturer. If any part of the truck is defective, and if that defect led to the collision, then the manufacturer may be held responsible in a vehicle accident case.
    • Maintenance workers. If the truck needed maintenance or repairs and the collision was caused by this neglect, the individual or company responsible for repairs and maintenance could be liable for damages in an accident.
    • Insurance company. Trucking companies are required by law to carry far more insurance than the coverage mandated for passenger vehicles. Unlike lawsuits stemming from other types of vehicle accidents, the trucking company’s insurer may be sued directly in the event of a serious accident.

    You Need an Attorney

    If you’ve been injured in a truck accident, you may be entitled to compensation. You need an experienced attorney who can determine the cause of the accident, identify all of the parties responsible for your injuries, and help you to obtain a fair recovery. To learn more, contact the Law Office of Ben Crittenden, P.C., by using the form on this page.
     

     

  • How will my attorney determine the value of my car accident case?

    When you’ve been injured in a vehicle accident, an experienced attorney can determine how much your car or motorcycle claim is worth.

    Types of Compensation

    When you’ve been injured in a vehicle accident, you may be entitled to recover both compensatory and punitive damages. Compensatory damages are intended to replace money you’ve lost due to the accident, while punitive damages are awarded to punish those responsible for your injuries. You may recover damages for:

    • Medical bills. You can be compensated for the treatment you’ve already received, and for anticipated future medical expenses. This may include hospitalization, diagnostic tests, surgery, medications, and physical therapy.
    • Property damage. The negligent driver is responsible for your vehicle repair or replacement costs, replacement costs for any other property that is damaged, towing expenses, and car rental fees.
    • Income loss. If you’ve missed work due to injuries sustained during your vehicle accident, or if you anticipate a loss of income in the future, you can recover compensation for your lost wages. You’re also entitled to reimbursement for any vacation and sick time you used while recovering from your injuries.
    • Pain and suffering. The injuries you’ve suffered in a vehicle accident may interfere with your ability to maintain a normal daily routine and engage in the activities you most enjoy. You may receive compensation for the physical and emotional pain you’ve already experienced, and might experience in the future.

    The Importance of Evidence

    After your vehicle accident, you’ll need to gather together as much evidence as possible. The more documentation you have of your injuries, the more likely you are to receive the compensation you deserve. Some of the evidence you may need to prove your case includes:

    • Police reports
    • Vehicle repair records
    • Medical bills and records
    • Proof of lost wages
    • Witness statements
    • Photographs of damage to your person and property

    You Need an Attorney

    Since your settlement range generally relies upon your medical condition, an experienced attorney will likely consider the extent and permanency of your injuries, the impact of those injuries on your life, and the amount and duration of any medical treatments that are required. To learn more, contact the Law Office of Ben Crittenden to schedule a free, no-obligation case evaluation.
     

  • Who is responsible for an accident caused by improperly maintained roads?

    Improperly designed, constructed, or maintained roads can lead to serious driving accidents and injuries. There are numerous defects that can make a road unsafe, including:

    • Improperly designed or maintained roads.
    • Inadequate lighting of the roadway.
    • Improperly graded curves and lack of a proper shoulder.
    • Potholes and harsh seams, ruts, or grooves in pavement.
    • Signage blocked by overgrown vegetation.
    • Insufficient guardrails or median barriers.
    • Lack of roadside warnings regarding known hazards.
    • Missing, poorly placed, or malfunctioning traffic signals.
    • Missing or broken guardrails.
    • Inadequate drainage that leads to water buildup on roads, creating a hydroplaning risk.

    Sovereign Immunity

    Under the legal doctrine of sovereign immunity, state and local governments are generally immune from civil lawsuits. There are exceptions, however. According to Alaska statute 09.50.250, if a governmental agency or employee has taken a lawful action that results in your being injured, that governmental agency may be held liable for your injuries. Damages resulting from a single injury or death are capped at $400,000, and punitive damages against the state are not allowed. However, if the action that ultimately results in your injury is unlawful, the governmental agency cannot be held liable. Only those individuals responsible for your injuries may be sued.

    You Need an Attorney

    If you’ve had an accident caused by poor road design or maintenance, you should report the accident to your own insurance company immediately. You can also pursue a claim against the government entity responsible for designing, building, or maintaining the road.

    Since claims against the government are frequently different from those asserted against private parties, victims of motor vehicle accidents caused by road defects need an attorney familiar with these types of claims. Other drivers, the local government, or the state government could be responsible for your injuries, and an experienced attorney can identify the proper parties to litigate against. To learn more, contact the Law Office of Ben Crittenden, P.C., by clicking the Live Chat button on this page.
     

     

  • How long will it take to resolve my vehicle accident claim?

    When you’ve been injured in a vehicle accident, resolving your case can be a lengthy process, and getting a good settlement takes time. You have to determine the extent of your injuries, whether there are any ongoing health problems caused by those injuries, and any medical treatments that may be necessary in the future.

    There are three primary factors that may increase the length of time it takes for your case to settle:

    • The case involves substantial damages. The larger the potential settlement, the more thoroughly an insurance company is likely to wish to investigate. The insurer is unlikely to settle until it has established that your injuries truly are severe, and that its lawyers cannot raise a good defense against your case. Furthermore, insurance companies sometimes choose to delay settlement in hopes of convincing a plaintiff to give up and accept a much lower payment.
       
    • You have yet to reach maximum medical improvement. It is generally necessary for you to reach maximum medical improvement, which means that you have recovered from your injuries as much as possible, and you have been discharged from your physician’s care. Therefore, the length of time it takes to settle your personal injury case depends in part on the amount of time required to treat your injuries. As long as you are still being treated for your injuries, you can’t be sure whether you will fully recover or not. No one can predict how long you’ll be in treatment for your injuries, and there is always the possibility that additional medical complications will surface that weren’t immediately apparent. If you fully recover, your case will likely be worth less than it would be if you never did.
       
    • Liability or damages are difficult to prove. In cases where liability is difficult to establish, the insurance company isn’t likely to make a reasonable settlement offer until liability experts can show that the defendant was at fault. Even if the defendant’s liability can be easily established, the burden is still on you to prove that the defendant’s negligence led to your injuries. It takes time to gather together all of your medical records and bills, and medical providers are often slow to respond to requests for information.

    You only have one opportunity to get a fair resolution to your case, so it’s important that you have an experienced attorney by your side. Contact the Law Office of Ben Crittenden to schedule a free, no-obligation case evaluation.
     

  • Will I have to testify in my personal injury case?

    If the defendant in your personal injury case denies liability, you may need to testify in order to establish the defendant’s negligence. You won’t necessarily have to testify in court, however. Most personal injury lawsuits that are filed are settled prior to trial.

    Depositions

    Provided that your case is resolved prior to going to trial, you will likely need to provide a deposition. This means that you will testify under oath, with a lawyer asking you a series of questions. Depositions are typically held at a law firm office with the attorneys, all parties to the lawsuit, and a court reporter in attendance. As with a courtroom trial, attorneys for both the plaintiff and defendant have the opportunity to conduct an examination, and object to any improper questioning. Since there is no judge present to rule on these objections, the objection is simply noted on the record.

    Depositions are used to gather information, including:

    • Learning about the strengths and weaknesses of your case.
    • Obtaining critical information about your case.
    • Assessing how an individual will testify at trial.

    Testifying at Trial

    Of course, some lawsuits don’t get settled. If there is a disagreement over who caused the accident or a dispute regarding the amount of compensation that is appropriate, there may be a jury trial.

    If you proceed to a jury trial, you may need to explain the injuries you have sustained to a jury. This is important, because if you fail to testify the jury will only hear the defendant’s side of the story. If there is insufficient evidence of the defendant’s negligence, the jury is unlikely to find in your favor. Thus, your testimony may be crucial to securing a favorable outcome for your case. No one can explain the pain and suffering you’ve experienced better than you can, so the jury needs to hear from you.

    You Need a Lawyer

    If you’ve been injured, you need the skilled representation of an experienced attorney. Whether you give a deposition or testify in court, your attorney can guide you through the process. Contact the Law Office of Ben Crittenden, P.C., by clicking the Live Chat button on this page.

  • What are contingency fees?

    Attorneys typically use several different methods to charge clients for their services. Sometimes lawyers charge a flat fee, a set price the client is required to pay. This is typical in the case of will preparation, for example. Other times, attorneys may charge an hourly rate, billing clients for each hour of work. Most personal injury lawyers use a third type of arrangement, known as the contingency fee.

    What Contingency Fees Are

    Attorneys and clients use a contingency fee arrangement in cases where the client has been injured, such as an automobile accident. The lawyer agrees to accept a fixed percentage of the client’s award, in lieu of being paid up front. This ensures that clients who otherwise could not afford access to the justice system can still receive representation.

    How Contingency Fees Work

    A contingency fee agreement will specify the conditions of payment, and spell out how much the attorney is owed. If you win your case, your lawyer’s fee is deducted from the money awarded to you. If you lose, you won’t have to pay your attorney for the work he has done on your case. A contingency fee agreement can motivate a lawyer to obtain the best possible settlement for his client, since his compensation is tied directly to the outcome of the case.

    Additional Expenses

    You may have extra legal expenses in addition to the fee you pay to your attorney. Some of these costs may include filing fees, hiring expert witnesses, service of papers, and paying for copies of medical records or police reports. These expenses typically aren’t high, but you’ll owe them regardless of the outcome of your case. Your attorney may cover these expenses upfront, in which case you’ll have to reimburse him.

    You Need an Attorney

    If you’ve been injured in an accident, don’t let concern over legal fees prevent you from pursuing the compensation you deserve. Contact the Law Office of Ben Crittenden to schedule a free, no-obligation case evaluation.

  • What should I do if I have just been involved in a car accident?

    Young man talks on a cell phone after an auto collisionIf you’ve been involved in a vehicle accident, there are important steps you should take to protect both your health and your rights. Following the collision, you should:

    • Turn on your emergency flashers, and exit the vehicle when it is safe to do so.
       
    • If the collision is anything more serious than a fender-bender, call for help. If no one needs medical attention, call your local law enforcement agency’s non-emergency number and report the accident.
       
    • If anyone has been injured, call 911 to get help from emergency medical professionals. Law enforcement will generally visit the accident scene, as well.
       
    • If you’re physically able and it’s safe to do so, photograph any injuries you’ve sustained, the accident scene, vehicle damage, and debris on the road. Also photograph the location and condition of traffic signals, stop signs, and any other signage.
       
    • Exchange driver’s license information, insurance details, and contact information with the other driver. If there are any witnesses, ask them for their contact information.
       
    • Contact your car insurance company and inform it of the accident. Your insurance carrier may send an adjuster to the scene or help you arrange a tow to a local repair shop.
       
    • Don’t admit fault, and don’t sign anything unless it’s for the police or your insurance agent.
       
    • Frequently, injury symptoms resulting from vehicle accidents are not immediately apparent. Seek medical assistance should symptoms develop. Pay particularly close attention to your neck and back, and get help right away if you experience any stiffness or pain.
       
    • Keep documentation of any vehicle repair expenses or medical bills you’ve sustained due to the accident.
       
    • Keep a personal journal, and record your memories of the accident and your injuries (including the impact they have on your daily activities and your emotional health).

    You Need an Attorney

    If you’ve been injured in a car accident, you may be entitled to compensation for your medical expenses and loss of income. A personal injury attorney can guide you through the process of proving your claim. For more information, contact the Law Office of Ben Crittenden, P.C., by using the form on this page.