Anchorage Alaska Vehicle Accidents Frequent 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 does a drunk driving criminal case differ from a civil lawsuit?
If you are injured in an accident with a drunk driver, the drunk driver will likely face criminal charges for driving while under the influence. This could result in fines, license suspension, and jail time. But these do nothing to compensate you for your injury. After the accident, you might have expensive medical bills and be unable to work. If you want to hold the drunk driver responsible, you will have to file a civil case to sue for damages.
The Difference Between Civil and Criminal Cases
Under criminal law, the district attorney—on behalf of the government—is usually the one who prosecutes the accused. Prosecution does not usually include any financial compensation for the victim unless the court decides to award punitive damages. The court may award punitive damages in cases where the behavior of the at-fault party was deemed to be especially reckless
The victim must sue in civil court to recover damages as a result of the drunk driver’s actions. If the drunk driver is found to be responsible for the victim’s injuries, they will need to pay damages to help victims recover financially. Hiring an attorney can help ensure the appropriate steps are taken so you get the money you deserve.
Potential Damages You Could Recover in a Civil Case
The amount of compensation to which you may be entitled is usually calculated by adding together your economic and non-economic damages. Economic damages include your medical expenses, lost wages and lost earning potential, as well as property damage to your vehicle. Non-economic damages could include physical and emotional trauma you have suffered after being injured by a drunk driver.
Call an Alaska Vehicle Accident Attorney
If you were injured by a drunk driver, you need to speak with an experienced car accident lawyer as soon as possible to get started on your civil case. Attorney Ben Crittenden has helped many car accident victims understand their rights and get the compensation they deserve. Make an appointment for a free consultation.
What damages can I recover after an accident with a drunk driver?
Recovering damages after an accident with a drunk driver is not very different from recovering damages after any type of crash. The main difference, however, is that after a collision caused by a drunk driver, you might also be eligible to recover punitive damages.
It is vital to seek compensation after a crash. The best way to do this is to hire a lawyer to negotiate a fair settlement or pursue compensation through a lawsuit.
Damages After a Drunk Driving Crash
As with any car crash where another driver is at fault, you might be able to pursue a lawsuit for economic damages, including:
- Medical expenses
- Lost income
- Property damage
You might also be eligible for non-economic damages, including pain and suffering and emotional distress.
In a drunk driving case, victims might also get punitive damages. These are not based on any tangible loss but are designed to punish the at-fault party who exhibited reckless behavior by making the decision to drive drunk. The amount of punitive damages awarded is often left up to a jury or a judge. According to Alaska law, there is a cap on the amount that can be awarded: three times the amount of compensatory damages or $500,000, whichever is greater. Alaska's split-recovery law requires that half of the punitive damages award goes to the state of Alaska for the general fund, which pays for government operations, basic services, and capital improvements.
It's important to note that punitive damages will be taxed by the federal government. This money must be claimed on your income tax form as “other income.”
Contact an Attorney
If you’ve been injured after being in a crash caused by a drunk driver, you need to have an attorney on your side to help you recover damages. Even if it is obvious that the drunk driver caused the accident, you will still need to gather evidence to help with your case, and a vehicle accident attorney can help. To learn more, contact the Law Office of Ben Crittenden, P.C., by using the form on this page.
What is my car accident claim worth?
There is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question because every situation is different. However, an experienced car accident attorney will know how to put a value on your damages and can help you negotiate compensation with the insurance company.
Factors That Matter With Your Car Accident Claim
If you have been injured in a car accident, you may take legal action to get the compensation you deserve for the damages you have suffered. This usually includes both economic and noneconomic damages. The factors that will influence the amount of your claim include the following:
- The severity of your injuries and the treatment required. If you are permanently disabled, this will impact the damages to which you are entitled.
- The wages you lost. This will include the work you’ve missed because of your injuries as well as potential wages you may not earn if you cannot return to work in the future.
- The at-fault driver’s insurance limits. It can be difficult to collect more than the policy limits unless the driver has significant personal assets.
- Whether you are partially at fault for the accident. Alaska uses the comparative negligence rule, which means that whatever your percentage of responsibility was for the accident, your damages will be reduced to reflect that.
In some cases, punitive damages may also be awarded. This can happen in cases where the at-fault driver behaved recklessly or outrageously. If punitive damages are deemed to be appropriate in your case, there will be a separate court proceeding where they will weigh several factors. These include whether or not the defendant was aware their actions could cause serious harm and their attitude or behavior following the accident.
You Need an Alaska Car Accident Attorney
If you’ve been injured in a motor vehicle accident, you need legal representation to help you get the maximum damages. Even if you are partially responsible for the accident, you may still be entitled to compensation. For more information on protecting your rights and navigating the complexities of your claim, contact the Law Office of Ben Crittenden, P.C., by using the form on this page.
Can I develop post-traumatic stress disorder after a car accident?
The trauma of a serious car accident can lead to symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) that require treatment. If you are diagnosed with this condition, the person who caused your accident should be held liable for your treatment.
What Is PTSD?
PTSD is a psychological condition that affects people after they have been through a harrowing situation. It was initially referred to as "shell shock" in reference to the psychological struggle soldiers had upon returning home from World War I. Since then, it has become an official psychiatric diagnosis and is considered a form of mental illness.
Any traumatic, frightening, or stressful experience can cause PTSD—and that includes car accidents, which can be disturbingly violent and gruesome. In fact, traffic accidents have become the leading cause of post-traumatic stress disorder since the Vietnam War. PTSD manifests differently in different people, making it a challenge to identify and treat.
Symptoms of PTSD
Car accident victims who suffer from this disorder might experience one or more of the following symptoms:
- Avoidance. Victims don’t want to think about or talk about the traumatic event. They might not be able to drive or even ride in a car without having a panic attack.
- Flashbacks. Car accident victims who develop PTSD often experience flashbacks to the crash, making it difficult to move on.
- Behavior changes. People with PTSD might experience more intense emotions than they had prior to the event. This can also cause the person to have trouble sleeping.
- Mood swings. Sufferers might suddenly feel depressed or even suicidal, even if they are not having flashbacks to the specific event. They might stop enjoying activities and avoid friends and family.
Treatment for PTSD
There are several treatment options for people diagnosed with PTSD after a car accident. These include different kinds of therapies, including cognitive processing therapy, prolonged exposure therapy, and eye-movement desensitization and reprocessing, as well as medication for depression and anxiety.
Why You Need a Lawyer If You Have PTSD After a Car Accident
Although your injuries might not be physical, you may still deserve compensation after a car accident. Calling an attorney after an accident can seem daunting, but an experienced lawyer can ensure that your rights are protected, and you are able to obtain appropriate compensation to get the PTSD treatment you need to live your best life.
How will a spoliation letter help my truck accident case?
A spoliation letter is a notice that is sent to an opposing party in the aftermath of an accident that orders them to preserve all evidence that is relevant to the accident. The word “spoliation” refers to anything that jeopardizes evidence, including destruction, loss, alteration, or concealment.
Details Included in a Spoliation Letter
After an accident that involves a semi-truck or other commercial vehicle, a spoliation letter should be sent to the driver’s employer as soon as possible to put the company on notice that specific types of evidence must be preserved. After a trucking company receives a spoliation letter, the courts can be very harsh if the company is found to have destroyed or tampered with evidence.
Following are some of the pieces of evidence the spoliation letter should include:
- Service logs kept by the driver to determine whether he was taking the number of rest periods required by law to help prevent fatigue
- Data from on-board recording devices, which can identify the speed of the vehicle at the time of the crash and other driver actions
- Records of inspections on the tractor and trailer
- The truck driver’s personnel file, which will show his or her qualifications and whether he or she was fit to drive
- Alcohol and drug testing results from the driver
- The truck and trailer that were involved in the crash
- Information involving the commercial vehicle and the freight it was carrying
- Photographs and videos taken at the scene of the crash
Contact an Experienced Vehicle Accident Attorney
Don’t go it alone if you’ve been involved in a vehicle accident involving a semi-truck or commercial vehicle. In Alaska, attorney Ben Crittenden has helped many accident victims and their families tell their stories, and he can help you tell yours. Call his Anchorage office to set up a free, no-obligation consultation, or request his free newsletter, which will provide a variety of information to help you make the best decisions about your accident and injury claim.
What dangers do box and delivery trucks pose in Anchorage?
They have become a common sight in most neighborhoods: delivery trucks bringing residents packages, groceries, and other items. With the increase in online shopping, there are now more delivery trucks on Anchorage roads than ever before. This means an increase in delivery truck crashes.
Many Delivery Drivers Are Inexperienced
Also known as box trucks, delivery vehicles can be challenging to drive—particularly for the inexperienced driver. Many businesses experience high turnover rates, so they often hire drivers with no prior experience. These high-profile vehicles are unstable and usually have a manual transmission, making them difficult to maneuver. Often drivers are in unfamiliar neighborhoods with pedestrians and cyclists as well as children playing, so distractions are everywhere.
Causes of Box and Delivery Truck Crashes in Anchorage
Some of the common causes of box and delivery truck accidents include:
- Distraction. Delivery drivers who are looking at their GPS to find addresses, checking their personal messages, talking to a co-driver, or dozing off at the wheel put people at risk on busy local streets.
- Speeding. Time is of the essence for most delivery drivers, so they may drive over the speed limit to finish their routes on time.
- Sudden stops. Drivers who are looking for an address in an unfamiliar area might stop and start suddenly, causing a crash with the car behind them.
- Illegal parking. Delivery trucks often block driveways or other vehicles, forcing moving cars to go around them and potentially into oncoming traffic.
- Poor loading. If trucks are not loaded properly, this can throw off the balance of the truck, making it more difficult to drive.
If you are involved in an accident with a box truck driver, you might be able to hold the driver and the driver’s company liable. Calling an attorney after an accident can seem daunting, but an experienced lawyer can ensure that your rights are protected, and you are able to obtain all the compensation you deserve when the crash was not your fault. Call Anchorage attorney Ben Crittenden to set up a free, no-obligation consultation.
You can also request his free newsletter, which will give you additional information so you can make the best decision for your vehicle accident situation.
What kinds of prescription medication can cause driver impairment?
Impaired driving is most often associated with behavior that is against the law—drinking and driving or using illegal drugs. However, prescription and over-the-counter medications can also affect a driver’s ability to operate a vehicle safely. Even when approved by a doctor and taken appropriately, some medications affect drivers in a way that can cause dangerous car accidents.
Prescription Drugs That Can Affect Driving Safety
It’s important to note that medications can affect people very differently. Some drugs and dosages can impair one driver, while another driver may feel little or no effect at all. This is why all drivers should take extra care when considering driving after taking a medication. Some medications that can impair a driver’s ability include:
- Allergy medication. Antihistamines and other allergy medicines block histamine release to help reduce the inflammation that causes allergy symptoms. This also works in the brain, however, and can lead to drowsiness.
- Antidepressants. While it is generally considered acceptable to drive while taking an antidepressant (such as Zoloft or Paxil), researchers have reported that these medications and the conditions that warrant their use can affect driving. The type of antidepressant, dosing level, age of the driver, and presence of depressive symptoms can increase the risk of impairment. Additionally, some of these medications also cause drowsiness.
- Pain medication. Opioids are the most common medication used for pain management today. Drugs like oxycodone, hydrocodone, codeine, and morphine are effective in easing pain, but they also can be accompanied by a number of side effects that can impair driving. Sleepiness, nausea, difficulty breathing, and confusion are all dangerous behind the wheel.
- Sleep aids. Many people use a sleep aid to help fall and stay asleep. While they can be effective in getting people to sleep, these aids can affect people the next day. The Cleveland Clinic specifically warns that being too drowsy to drive the next morning safely is a possible side effect. Used over time, these medications can also lead to memory problems and mental disorders, both of which increase the risk of car crashes.
In addition to medicines prescribed by a doctor, the Federal Drug Administrations (FDA) warns that even over-the-counter medications and herbal remedies can cause reactions that jeopardize safe driving. Also, interactions between prescription drugs can impair driving ability. Drivers who do take medication should discuss the possible effects on driving with the doctor and pharmacist. All drivers have a duty to behave responsibly behind the wheel, and understanding how a drug may affect you is an important element of safe driving.
If you or someone you love has suffered injuries in a crash caused by an impaired driver, you have a right to be compensated. Attorney Ben Crittenden has helped many Alaska victims obtain the compensation they deserved after an accident. Call his Anchorage office today or take a moment to fill out the contact form on this page to learn more about who he is and what he does.
What is a structured settlement?
When it comes to car accident injury claims, it is very common for the case to be settled before going to court. This means that the crash victim and the at-fault driver (or usually his insurance company) agree on a sum of money that will be paid to the victim. This compensation can cover a wide range of accident-related expenses, including medical care, lost wages, property damage, and more. In most cases, the compensation is awarded in one lump sum payment. This is not the only option, however. Injury victims may find their interests are better served through a structured settlement agreement.
What Is a Structured Settlement?
A structured settlement is an arrangement in which the injury compensation is provided to the victim in regular payments over time. Every structured settlement is unique, and it can be tailored to the specific needs of each situation. The payments can be made weekly, monthly, or in whatever timeframe is most beneficial. The timeframe for the structured settlement is agreed upon by both parties at the time it is accepted.
When a Structured Settlement Is Best for Alaska Injury Victims
While lump sum payments are more common in injury claims, a structured settlement can offer specific benefits for victim and their families. Victims may want to consider this type of arrangement if:
- You don’t need a large sum of money right away. Injury victims may need money from the settlement offer to buy a new car or cover high medical costs, but this is not the case for everyone. If you don’t need to use that money right away, it may be more effective to receive the money over time.
- You worry about the temptations associated with a lump sum. Temptation lurks for everyone when a large sum of money suddenly appears. It may be difficult to resist the urge to spend on unnecessary or lavish items. This is especially important for those who may have serious or long-term injuries that may require future medical bills that will need to paid.
- You worry about the demands of others. When a person comes into a large amount of money, it may be the case that family members or friends will take this opportunity to ask for a handout. While it’s natural to want to help those you love, the compensation from a settlement is awarded because it is necessary for victims to obtain medical care and remain financially stable. If it will be difficult to turn down these requests, a structured settlement can help.
Deciding What Type of Settlement Is Most Beneficial
There are advantages and disadvantages of both lump sum payments and structured settlements. Before an injury victim decides which path is best, it’s important to consult with an attorney and a financial advisor. Typically, once any type of settlement agreement is made, it is very difficult to go back and make changes to the terms of the agreement. Victims and their families need all the information about their rights and how any type of settlement will affect them going forward.
At The Law Office of Ben Crittenden, attorney Ben Crittenden has helped many accident victims understand their rights and explore all options to find the most beneficial arrangement. The compensation awarded to victims can have a significant effect on the success of recovery, and it’s important to have all the information you need to make the best possible decisions. If you or someone you love has suffered injuries in a car accident, contact Ben today to learn more about how he may be able to help. Call his Anchorage office or take a moment to fill out the contact form on this page to get in touch directly with Ben.
How do I know if an attorney is right for my injury case?
You’ve suffered injuries in an accident, and you’ve made the important decision to find an attorney to protect your rights. But now what? How can you and your family know a lawyer is the right one for your case? Here, find some helpful tips and key questions to ask so you can feel confident that you’ve found the best legal advocate for you.
Finding an Alaska Injury Attorney for Your Claim
The first step is to simply find names of attorneys who might be able to provide the help you need. To do so, victims and their families can:
- Ask friends and family. You may be surprised at how many friends, family members, or acquaintances have needed the help of an attorney. Ask around and get the opinions of people you know and trust.
- Use the Bar Association. The Alaska Bar Association offers a lawyer referral service that can help you find lawyers near you who practice injury law. While they don’t provide reviews of their services, it’s a start.
- Visit the local library. Many libraries will have a local law directory, which will contain information about local lawyers and their work.
- Look online. A simple Google search can turn up attorneys in your area who can be contacted.
Determining If a Lawyer Is Right for You
Even when you find the name of an attorney, how can you know that he or she will be right for you? The easiest answer is to simply meet them and find out. Many injury attorneys offer a free, no-obligation consultation. At that time, you can obtain information that can help you make a decision about moving forward with your claim. Important questions to ask during this meeting include:
- Can you develop rapport? The relationship between a victim and an attorney is important. Establishing trust and chemistry from the start will make the situation easier to manage as your claim moves forward.
- Is the lawyer experienced in the area of your claim? There are a wide range of legal specialties. While an attorney may be able to take on an injury claim, it’s important that they have actually worked your type of case for other clients.
- How easy was it to get in touch with them? And what is their communication policy going forward? Make sure this works for you.
- What type of fee arrangement do they typically use? Most injury attorneys will work on a contingency fee basis, which helps accident victims access the representation they need with very little upfront costs. Make sure to find out what to expect regarding the finances.
While there is no magic formula for finding the perfect attorney, some simple, specific inquiries can be immensely helpful. When you get a sense that the attorney is knowledgeable, trustworthy, and truly interested in helping you recover as fully as possible, he or she is likely the right lawyer for you.
In Anchorage, attorney Ben Crittenden knows that the legal process can be daunting and the uncertainties from start to finish may feel overwhelming. He is dedicated to protecting the rights of Alaska accident victims and making sure their voices are heard. He has helped many other victims obtain the care and compensation they needed to move forward from their accidents. If you or someone you love has suffered injuries, contact Ben today. Call his Anchorage office or take a moment to fill out the contact form on this page. You’ll reach Ben directly to have your questions answered.
What can I do if the police report about my accident is wrong?
When the police are called to the scene of an accident, the responding officer will submit an official report to his department detailing the crash. This police report can be a very valuable tool during a car accident-related personal injury claim. It can also be damaging to the victim if the information is incorrect or, in your opinion, misrepresented. So, what options do accident victims have if they disagree with a police report?
Addressing Factual Errors in a Police Report
In some cases, the error in the police report may be a simple, factual error. Police officers are human, and they make mistakes. Perhaps the time of the accident was inaccurately reported, or a witness’s phone number was entered incorrectly. These small mistakes can matter to a case, and they can be changed fairly easily by contacting the officer. The officer can revise the report or include an addendum that notes the correct information.
When the Police Report Error Is More Complicated
In other cases, the misinformation may not be as straightforward. Perhaps the officer lists you as the at-fault party, which you dispute. Or a witness may have provided a statement you feel is inaccurate or incomplete. This is a gray area, and it can be more difficult to address. Contacting the officer may provide resolution, but if it does not, your options may be limited. You may write up your own version of events and submit it to law enforcement, asking them to attach your version with the police report. However, it is up to their discretion, and they may choose to ignore your document.
Overcoming a Police Report Error
In either case, the error may not be as devastating as you fear. Typically, a police report is not admissible as evidence in an accident claim. It is considered hearsay because the police officer did not actually witness the accident and is reporting only what was told to him by others.
The report is, however, often cited by insurance companies when negotiating a settlement. At those times, it is important to gather and cite evidence that supports your claim of an incorrect police report. At those times, an experienced injury attorney can help provide strength and substance to your story to ensure that your voice is heard.
At The Law Office of Ben Crittenden, Anchorage-based attorney Ben Crittenden has helped many accident victims investigate, prepare, and navigate a successful injury claim. He understands how overwhelming the process can be, and he is here to help Alaskans obtain the justice and compensation they need to move forward after a crash. If you or someone you love has suffered injuries in an accident, call Ben’s office or take a moment to fill out the contact form on this page. You’ll get in touch directly with Ben, who can answer your questions and schedule a free, no-obligation consultation.