If you’ve been injured in a car accident, you may be wondering if you can save money by working out a settlement with the insurance company on your own.

Everyone is looking for ways to save money these days, and perhaps you think that if you negotiate your own claim you will be able to keep more in  your pocket by avoiding an attorney’s fee.  But in many cases handling your own claim can actually end up costing you money.  Here’s why:

Despite what their commercials may lead you to believe, insurance companies are not in the business of paying claims.  This is true, of course, because the less they pay out in claims the more profit they make.   While the insurance adjuster may seem nice you should remember that she is not on your side!

So, if the insurance company isn’t looking out for your best interest, who is?

Having an attorney on your side can help level the playing field and give you a better chance of getting the compensation you deserve.

According to a study conducted by the Insurance Research Council, injury victims who use lawyers for their personal injury claims receive bigger settlements than victims who do not use a lawyer.  You may be saying to yourself, “yeah, but how much of that money do they actually keep after paying for the lawyer?”  According to the study, injured persons who used lawyers received more money on their claims even taking into account fees paid to their lawyers.

The bottom line is that an attorney can help get you your best possible recovery because he knows how to deal with the insurance companies.

An experienced personal injury attorney can help maximize your recovery to get you the compensation you deserve.  Call Al Lewis of Lewis, Lewis & Falkner at 205-553-5353 for your free consultation.

What if I was in a car wreck and wasn’t wearing my seatbelt…can I still win damages?

In Alabama you are required to wear a seat belt if the car is in motion and you are in the front seat.  Interestingly, if you are seated in the back seat of a car and over 15 years of age you are NOT required to wear a seat belt, even if the car is moving  (although, or course, it’s a good idea to always wear a seat belt, no matter which seat you’re in!).

But, what happens if you are in a car wreck and aren’t wearing a seat belt even though you’re in the front seat?

To answer that question we first have to discuss a concept called “contributory negligence.”

Under the contributory negligence principle, if an injured person negligently “contributed” to his own injury then he cannot recover damages (money) from anyone else who caused the injury.

For example, if you step into a busy intersection without looking for oncoming traffic and are hit by a car you may be “contributorily negligent” for your own injuries.

So, does not wearing a seat belt make you contributorily negligent for your injuries in a car wreck?

Alabama has rejected the so-called “seat belt defense,” which applies in some other states to award plaintiffs only the damages they would have recovered had they been wearing a seat belt.

Instead, in Alabama failure to wear a seat belt is NOT evidence of contributory negligence and does not limit the liability of an insurer. 

Of course, you should still wear a seat belt because seat belts save lives.  When used properly, a seat belt can reduce the risk of fatal injury by front seat passengers by up to 45 percent.

Don’t let an insurance company convince you to settle for less just because you weren’t wearing a seat belt.  Find an experienced personal injury attorney to help you maximize your recovery.

If you have been hurt in a car accident in Alabama you may be entitled to compensation.  Call or come by our Tuscaloosa office today for your free consultation