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 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.
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?
If 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.
- Turn on your emergency flashers, and exit the vehicle when it is safe to do so.
Is it legal to ride in the back of a pickup truck in Alaska?
Riding in the back of a pickup truck is legal in Alaska, as well as in 19 other states. Unsurprisingly, most of these states contain large swaths of rural land, where driving a truck is a way of life.
Riding in a Truck Bed Is Dangerous
Riding in the back of a pickup truck may be legal in Alaska, but that doesn’t mean it’s a good idea. Unfortunately, many people have died in vehicle accidents while riding in a truck bed. The back of a pickup is intended to transport cargo, not people, and the risk of being thrown from the bed of a truck is very high. Since there are no seat belts, there’s nothing to prevent passengers from being ejected from the back, or crushed if the truck rolls over. Rounding a curve or traveling over a bump at high speed can result in serious injuries, and the risk is even greater if you’re involved in an accident while riding in a truck bed.
Truck Bed Safety
Of course, the safest approach is to never ride in an open truck bed. If riding in the back of a truck is unavoidable, safety advocates advise driving slowly and staying off busy highways. Drivers should never speed, and must take care to avoid sudden movements, speed bumps, and potholes. Never stand up while riding in a truck bed.
You Deserve Compensation
If you’ve been injured in a vehicle accident on your way to a job site, your employer may be liable for your medical expenses. If you were required to sit in the back of a pickup truck due to a lack of seats, you probably have a case against your company. Employers are obligated to provide adequate safety equipment for all of their employees, including seat belts in company vehicles. To receive the compensation you deserve, contact the Law Office of Ben Crittenden, P.C., by clicking the Live Chat button on this page.
If I have a car accident, should I call the police?
If you’re involved in a vehicle accident, calling the police is generally a good idea. Here are seven reasons why you should make that call:
- The police officer will document the presence of the other driver by recording information about his tag, insurance, and identity. This prevents the other driver from later denying his involvement in the accident.
- The police officer will interview the other driver when he fills out a police report. This gives you the opportunity to obtain a statement from the other driver admitting fault for the accident.
- A police report isn’t admissible as evidence during a civil trial, but it has a big influence on the other driver’s insurance adjuster. If his insured driver admitted fault to the police, the other driver’s insurance company will probably accept financial responsibility.
- The severity of an injury resulting from a vehicle accident may not be obvious immediately. Many injuries get progressively worse in the hours and days following a crash.
- Officers are trained to identify drivers who are under the influence of alcohol or drugs. The officer’s evaluation of the driver’s state is helpful to your case, since violations of the law are proof of negligence. Criminal charges filed against the other driver will further prove his responsibility.
- Since vehicle accidents happen so quickly, no one person can notice every detail and explain all of the causes of the collision. When police are called to the scene, they record contact information for—and statements from—any witnesses to the crash. Access to these eyewitness accounts may be extremely beneficial to you in the future.
- If an accident results in very serious injuries or death, the police may assess the scene for evidence. These investigators are experts, and their expert opinion regarding the cause of the accident may be considered in court. This is particularly helpful if the other driver's memory is fuzzy, or if he is outright lying and denying fault.
If you’re the victim of a vehicle collision, you need police on the scene to document what happened, and why. For more information on protecting your rights, contact the Law Office of Ben Crittenden, P.C., by using the form on this page.
How is my attorney paid to represent me in my vehicle accident case?
Many automobile accident injury victims have never needed legal representation before, and frequently have questions about paying their attorney for the services he provides. In vehicle accident cases, attorneys typically receive contingency fees. This means that your attorney agrees to accept a fixed percentage of either the settlement amount, or the amount awarded at trial. You’ll only pay this contingency fee if your attorney succeeds in winning your case. Contingency fee arrangements are generally used in cases involving physical harm to the plaintiff, such as personal injury or workers’ compensation cases. They are commonly associated with:
- Medical malpractice claims
- Automobile accident claims
- Other personal injury cases
How Contingency Fees Are Paid
In a contingency fee arrangement, attorney’s fees are deducted from the final settlement, or from the amount awarded at trial. Your attorney will also typically deduct any expenses incurred while representing you, including the costs associated with:
- Obtaining medical records
- Hiring investigators
- Obtaining expert witnesses
- Filing court documents
- Obtaining police reports
- Holding depositions
- Obtaining trial exhibits
- Disbursement of your settlement or trial award
The proceeds from your settlement or trial award are typically sent to your attorney, and he will deduct his legal fees from the total amount. Your attorney is also legally obligated to withhold the funds needed to pay off any medical liens prior to disbursing any money to you. If you need help paying for the medical care resulting from your injuries, your attorney may offer your treatment provider a letter of protection. This is a binding contract between your attorney and your hospital or doctor, guaranteeing payment out of your settlement funds or trial award. Once all of these obligations have been satisfied, you will receive the balance of the proceeds.
You Need an Attorney
Contingency fee arrangements were created to ensure that injury victims receive the legal representation they need, regardless of their financial status. If you’ve been injured in a vehicle accident, protect your rights and get the compensation you deserve. Contact the Law Office of Ben Crittenden, P.C., by clicking the Live Chat button on this page.
If I’m injured in a car accident, which types of compensation are available?
When you’ve been injured in a vehicle accident, you may be entitled to both compensatory and punitive damages. Between property damage and medical bills, expenses resulting from an accident can add up quickly. You can seek compensation for the injuries you’ve sustained from anyone who caused or contributed to your losses. The legal term for this type of compensation is “damages,” and damages awarded in personal injury claims are either compensatory or punitive.
Compensatory damages are awarded to injured parties to make them whole, and these types of damages are available in nearly all personal injury cases. There are two categories of compensatory damages: general damages and special damages.
General damages compensate injured individuals for non-monetary harm. These damages may be serious, but they don’t involve any monetary costs. The most common types of general damages are:
- Emotional distress
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of companionship
Special damages compensate the injured for expenses incurred or income lost as a result of the accident. These damages frequently include:
- Medical bills
- Future medical care expenses
- Lost wages
- Loss of future earnings
- Property damage
Punitive damages are awarded to the injured party when the behavior of the person responsible for their injuries is considered reprehensible. The purpose of punitive damages is to punish the wrongdoer for being extremely careless, or for completely disregarding the impact of his actions on others. In vehicle accidents, punitive damages are sometimes awarded when the party responsible for the injuries is guilty of reckless driving. This means that he displayed a wanton disregard for the rules of the road, and created a substantial and unjustifiable risk of harm to the accident victim.
You Need an Attorney
If you’ve been injured by another driver, you’re entitled to compensation for your medical bills and lost wages. If the at-fault driver was particularly reckless, you may also receive punitive damages. To learn more, contact the Law Office of Ben Crittenden to schedule a free, no-obligation case evaluation.
If I’m injured in Alaska, how much time do I have to pursue my claim for damages?
If you’re injured in Alaska, you generally must file a claim within two years from the date of injury. Should you fail to bring your case to court within this timeframe, you’ll likely be barred from filing it at all. This time limit on your right to pursue compensation is a consequence of Alaska’s civil statute of limitations.
Purpose of the Statute of Limitations
The statute of limitations was created to ensure that meritorious lawsuits are either filed within a reasonable period of time, or not at all. This way, evidence will be presented while it is relatively fresh, witnesses are still alive, and memories haven’t been clouded by time.
“Tolling” the Statute of Limitations
Under certain circumstances, fairness dictates that the statute of limitations must be delayed, or tolled, for a period of time. If the plaintiff is aware that an injury has occurred, but he is currently unable to pursue his case, the statute of limitations may be tolled. This typically occurs when the plaintiff is:
- Under the age of 18.
- Filing for bankruptcy protection.
- Mentally incompetent when the injury occurs.
The Discovery Rule
Accidents sometimes lead to injuries that aren’t obvious right away, and it isn’t fair or reasonable to expect a plaintiff to file a lawsuit when he doesn’t know he’s been injured. The discovery rule mandates that the statute of limitations won’t begin until the plaintiff discovers (or reasonably should have discovered) the injury.
You Need a Lawyer
If you’ve been hurt in Alaska, you should seek compensation for your injuries right away. Calculating the precise amount of time remaining to pursue your claim can be complicated, since the law considers numerous factors and exceptions. Your attorney can help you determine if your case may still be filed within the applicable statute of limitations. To discover how these laws impact your case, contact the Law Office of Ben Crittenden, P.C., by clicking the Live Chat button on this page.
If I’m involved in a car accident, how do I prove it was the other driver’s fault?
There are many causes of vehicle accidents, including driver impairment, speeding, and distracted driving. Determining fault in any traffic accident begins with figuring out which party was negligent.
“Duty” Has a Special Meaning in the Law
Vehicle accident claims generally arise out of the negligent actions of one or more parties. The first element of a negligence claim is a duty, which is the legal responsibility of one party to act in a particular way toward another party. All drivers have the legal duty to obey the law and drive in a responsible manner.
Furthermore, if the driver responsible for the accident was performing work duties on behalf of his employer at the time of the accident, his employer may also be held liable. The owner of the vehicle driven by the driver responsible for the accident may also share liability if he entrusted the vehicle to someone who was reckless, incompetent, or unlicensed. If multiple parties have liability for the accident, they may be responsible for paying damages equal to their proportionate share of the liability.
Breach of Duty
The plaintiff in a vehicle accident claim must demonstrate that the other party breached his duty by doing something wrong. A few examples of a breach of duty are:
- Failing to control a vehicle properly.
- Failing to obey stoplights or stop signs.
- Driving while impaired.
The plaintiff must be able to link the defendant’s breach of duty with causing the accident. In legal terms, this is known as a “but-for clause.” For instance, but for the defendant’s speeding, the accident would not have happened.
Damages must be linked to the breach of duty. Damages are losses that the plaintiff suffered because of the accident. In a trial, the judge or jury will decide the amount of money the plaintiff should receive for his damages.
Some of the most common vehicle accident damages include:
- Property damage.
- Past and future medical expenses.
- Pain and suffering.
- Lost wages.
- Loss of future earnings.
If you’ve been injured in a vehicle accident, you need legal representation to prove your claim. Contact the Law Office of Ben Crittenden to schedule a free, no-obligation case evaluation.
How does insurance protect me after an automobile collision in Alaska?
When Alaskan drivers are involved in automobile accidents, the insurance claims process can be complex, confusing, and overwhelming. Insurance companies carefully evaluate the details of each claim, in an effort to pay out as little as possible.
Alaska Is an “At-Fault” State
Alaska is an at-fault state for insurance purposes. This means that the driver who caused the accident is generally responsible for any property damage, medical bills, and other losses stemming from the collision. Insured drivers have several options for receiving compensation for an accident, including:
- Filing a claim with their own insurance companies.
- Filing a third-party claim (a claim filed with the other driver’s insurance company).
- Filing a personal injury lawsuit.
Types of Insurance
Alaska residents can purchase a wide variety of insurance products. Each of these may provide a financial cushion in case of misfortune. The events that trigger an insurance payout will be limited by the provisions of the policy, so a policyholder should review his insurance coverage often to make sure it covers all important risks.
Among the types of insurance you may wish to consider are the following:
- Collision. This type of insurance pays for damage to your car resulting from a traffic accident.
- Comprehensive insurance pays for non-collision damage to your car, such as theft, fire, or vandalism.
- Bodily injury insurance pays the medical bills and related costs if you’re at fault in an accident that injures or kills someone.
- Property damage liability. This coverage pays for any property damage if you’re at fault in an accident.
- Personal injury protection insurance pays your medical bills regardless of who is at fault.
- Uninsured motorist insurance compensates you if an uninsured driver is at fault.
- Underinsured motorist insurance compensates you if another driver with insufficient insurance coverage is at fault.
Complications frequently arise when you’re dealing with insurance companies. Alaska law requires all drivers to carry automobile insurance, but not all of them do. Furthermore, damages can quickly rise above policy limits, or the insurer may simply deny the claim altogether.
If you dispute the amount an insurance company is willing to pay, many insurers will require you to file suit within two years of the accident. Having an auto accident lawyer is key to getting the compensation you deserve. If you have unanswered questions about your Alaska auto accident case, contact the Law Office of Ben Crittenden by clicking the Live Chat button on this page.
Should I contact an automobile accident attorney after a car accident?
In many cases, you will benefit by retaining the services of a qualified car accident lawyer after being involved in an auto accident.
Some insurance companies are advertising how quickly they respond to claims, suggesting that they are motivated by their goal of prompt customer service. This is not necessarily true. Insurance companies are in business to make money. They benefit by paying claims quickly so that the claimant will not hire an attorney and make the insurance company pay more in the long run. The unrepresented person is generally not familiar with personal injury law, has no experience negotiating the value of injuries, and therefore does not know what his car accident claim is worth. This all benefits insurance companies.
In the event you and the insurance company cannot reach an agreement, the insurance company generally is not concerned unless a lawyer becomes involved. It is almost always a good idea to consult a lawyer—at least—before settling your car accident claim with the insurance company.
Do you still have unanswered questions regarding your auto accident case in Alaska? Contact an experienced personal injury lawyer at the Law Office of Ben Crittenden for a FREE consultation to discuss your legal options. Contact us!