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Hiring a Personal Injury Lawyer

When Should you Hire a Personal Injury Attorney?

If you have been injured in a car accident, motorcycle crash, slip and fall accident, or you have suffered any other type of personal injury, there is most likely a lot of uncertainty about the future. You have probably missed some time from work, incurred expenses for medical treatment, rehabilitation, and other costs related to your injury. When you are in this situation, you may wonder whether it is best to handle recovering compensation from the insurance company on your own, or to hire a personal injury attorney.

In deciding whether or not you should hire a personal injury attorney, there are several questions you need to answer about your situation:

How serious is your injury?

For injuries that are relatively minor, e.g., those in which you can make a full recovery within a few days to a couple of weeks or so, you might be able to handle the claim on your own. However, if you have a more severe injury that is debilitating and will require a long-term recovery process, it is strongly advisable to obtain legal representation. With a serious injury, the claim will be worth considerably more, accurately quantifying your losses will be far more challenging. Even if you have a less severe injury in which you have ongoing pain and you don’t yet know the full extent of it, it is still a good idea to at least speak with a personal injury attorney, so you understand your legal rights and what types of compensation you may be entitled to.

Is there a question about who is liable for your injuries?

There are some cases that are fairly straightforward, while others are more complicated. For example, if someone bumped into you from behind while you were driving, it might be pretty clear that they are the party at fault. On the other hand, if you were involved in an accident with a large commercial truck, there may be many contributing factors and several potential responsible parties. With more complex cases, a thorough investigation is required to determine the exact cause, and which parties to hold accountable. This may also require the use of expert witnesses to speak authoritatively to certain aspects of the case. An experienced personal injury lawyer can effectively handle these types of cases and help ensure that you receive the compensation you deserve.

How comfortable are you dealing with the insurance company?

Obtaining a settlement from the insurance company involves a lot of back and forth negotiation. To obtain the compensation you deserve, you need to have strong negotiating skills and at least a basic knowledge of the legal aspects of your case and what types of damages you should be able to recover. Keep in mind that insurance adjusters are trained negotiators, and they will often employ tactics such as contacting you early on in the process, expressing sympathy for what happened to you, and trying to build rapport. This is designed to make you believe that they are “on your side” and that they are going to “take care of you.” If you are not careful, however, you may end up with a lowball settlement offer that is far below what your claim is really worth. And if you are not willing (and able) to pursue litigation (if necessary) to compel them to pay full and fair compensation, they are less likely to increase their offer.

Has the insurance company disputed the validity of your claim?

Even when an incident is clearly the fault of another party, the insurance company may try to dispute the claim by either implying that your injuries are not as serious as they really are, that you are partially at fault for your injuries, or both. The goal of the insurance company is to minimize the amount that they pay, so they will look for any reason they can find to minimize or deny the claim.

If you were injured in Alabama and your insurance company is approaching the case this way, your right to recover compensation may be in jeopardy. Alabama is one of only a handful of states that applies the “contributory negligence” legal standard. Under contributory negligence, an injured party can be barred from recovering compensation if they are found to be even 1% at fault for the underlying incident that led to the injury. If the insurer has done anything to imply that they are seeking to deny the claim, get in touch with a personal injury lawyer right away.

Our Seasoned Alabama Personal Injury Attorneys are Here to Help

If you or a loved one has suffered an injury in Alabama and someone else was at fault, you deserve to be compensated. Whether you handle the case on your own or hire a personal injury attorney is a decision only you can make. At Haygood, Cleveland, Pierce & Thompson, LLP, we

have extensive experience successfully representing clients with even the most complex injury cases, and we meet with you to provide a free case assessment. This way, you will know exactly where you stand, so you can make the most informed decision on how to proceed. To schedule your free consultation with one of our attorneys, call our office today at (334) 731-7693. You may also send us a message through our online contact form.

Grounds for divorce in Alabama

What are Grounds for Divorce in Alabama?

If a couple in Alabama wants to split up, they can get legally separated or divorced. In order to get a divorce in Alabama, parties must meet certain requirements. For example, at least one spouse must be a resident of the Yellowhammer state and must have resided in the state for at least six months before filing. After the filing, there is a 30-day waiting period before the divorce can become effective.

Every divorce case in Alabama must declare grounds. Alabama recognizes both no-fault and fault-based divorces.

No-Fault Divorces

A no-fault divorce is the easiest to obtain. This type of divorce does not require either party to show proof that the other is responsible for the marriage breaking down, and it can be based on one of the following grounds:

  • The marriage is “irretrievably broken” to the point where attempts at reconciliation are futile (i.e., the spouses have irreconcilable differences);
  • The temperaments of the spouses are incompatible to the point where they can no longer live together (i.e., the spouses don’t get along anymore).

Irretrievable breakdown and incompatibility are the most common grounds used for a divorce in Alabama.

Fault-Based Divorces

If a spouse wants the court to grant a divorce based on the behavior of the other spouse, they can ask for a fault-based divorce. This type of divorce is more complicated, and it requires the plaintiff spouse to prove that the defendant spouse engaged in certain behaviors that warrant the divorce.

In Alabama, there are several acceptable grounds for a fault-based divorce. These include:

  • Either spouse committed adultery;
  • Commission of a crime against nature either before or after the marriage; 
  • Imprisonment for two years with a sentence of at least 7 years;
  • Habitual drunkenness or habitual use of certain controlled substances;
  • One of the spouses is physically or emotionally abusive;
  • Voluntary abandonment of the marriage for at least one year;
  • A mental illness that causes a spouse to be institutionalized for at least five consecutive years, and the spouse is incurably mentally incapacitated;
  • At the time of the marriage, the wife did not tell her husband that she was pregnant.

If you are considering a fault-based divorce, be prepared to present evidence to the court to substantiate your claims. In some cases, this may be fairly easy to do; such as when a spouse has abandoned the marriage for a year. However, if grounds for the divorce is something like adultery, this might be more difficult to prove. All of these factors should be taken into account when deciding grounds for your divorce.

No-Fault vs. Fault-Based Divorces in Alabama

The fact that Alabama allows no-fault divorces means that neither party can stop a divorce if the other is determined to go through with it. One spouse can slow it down and make it more unpleasant and expensive, and there are times when a court might even order a temporary separation before allowing a divorce to go through. But ultimately, a spouse who is determined can make a divorce happen, even if the other spouse fights them every step of the way.

In a large number of divorce cases, it makes sense to choose the no-fault option. There are some instances, however, when it might be beneficial for one spouse to seek a fault-based divorce. For example, one of the factors Alabama courts can consider when determining whether to award alimony (and how much is to be awarded) is the conduct of both spouses and whether that conduct led to the divorce. So, if adultery was the cause of the divorce, this may be one of the factors considered when the court decides if alimony should be awarded.

Speak with an Experienced Alabama Family Law Attorney

Dissolving a marriage is one of the most emotional and heart-wrenching actions individuals ever have to take. If you are considering a divorce, you need strong legal counsel by your side to ensure that your rights and interests are fully protected during the process. At Haygood, Cleveland, Pierce & Thompson, LLP, we have extensive experience representing clients for divorce and other family legal matters in Alabama. We understand that this is a difficult time, and we work closely with our clients to listen and understand their unique needs and concerns, so we can develop the legal solution that works best for them.

For a personalized consultation with one of our attorneys, call our office today at (334) 731-7693. You may also send us a message through our web contact form or stop by our Auburn office at your convenience.