Tag Archive for: Alabama personal injury attorneys

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Understanding the Brain — and Brain Injuries

Currently there is no cure for the often permanently disabling damage of brain trauma. But in April of this year, the White House announced an expansive initiative to explore brain function, map its circuitry and develop new ways to address brain injury and diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.

Brain Research Through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies (BRAIN) was announced by President Obama in April of this year. The President hopes to spark innovation that will help current patients prevent future brain injury and provide long-term job opportunities. By plumbing the depths of how we think, it is hoped this ambitious project will lead to scientific development on the level of our quest to reach the moon more than 43 years ago.

Initial research monies will go to:

  • Approximately $50 million will be routed to The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) to develop innovative technologies based on discoveries in brain structure and function
  • The National Institutes of Health (NIH) will receive approximately $40 million to assist with research and resource development
  • The National Science Foundation (NSF) will fund research in the physical, social, biological and behavioral sciences with approximately $20 million in start-up funds

This is an initiative for our times that seeks to help the world without by finding answers within. Time will tell if, like many other great ideas, the results fall short of the vision. For victims of brain injury, while new science helps each year, another giant leap for mankind could give hope where currently there is none.

If you or a loved one suffers head or brain injury, always seek experienced legal counsel.


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Distracted Driving: Hands Free Does Not Mean Risk Free

Today’s motorists have hands-free mobile devices and fixed communication and entertainment systems in their cars. Is all this new technology safe?

According to a new study by the Automobile Association of America (AAA), the answer is decidedly no. The study used advanced technology to measure not only the physical, but mental distraction faced by drivers challenged by cell phones, radios and infotainment units built into their cars. Participants performed three tasks in different environments and under different conditions.

The research identified three types of distraction, eyes off the road (visual), hands off the wheel (physical) and mind off the road (mental). AAA sought to evaluate the common belief that hands-free communication is considerably safer than the use of hands-on cellular technology.

Some startling results of the study include:

  • Motorists using hands-free cell phones to send messages are approximately two times more distracted than drivers who do not use cell phones. They are three times more distracted if using an in-dash computer or communication system.
  • The study identified sources of cognitive distraction that included listening to the radio or an audiobook, talking with a passenger, talking on a cell phone or hands-free phone or interacting with a speech-to-text dash system.
  • Cognitive distraction caused decreased neural activity and visual scanning, increased reaction time and a higher number of missed cues, or inattention blindness.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), distracted driving contributes to more than 3,000 deaths per year. Even as manufacturers rush to design more sophisticated car communication systems, this research recommends limiting and disabling such technology along with educating drivers about the pressing danger of cognitive distraction.

While a marvel, the human brain cannot truly multi-task. Stay off any phone and keep your attention on the road. If you are injured by a distracted driver, get good legal counsel.


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What Are My Rights if I am Injured in a Store?

A customer at a fast food restaurant in Hawaii was awarded damages worth $5.67 million after she slipped on the floor of the restaurant. At the time of her accident, Beverly Munguia was sitting at a table enjoying a meal with several family members at a branch of McDonald’s in Maui when she stood up to get a drink. As she placed her left foot on the floor to walk, she slipped on a wet spot and lost her footing, landing on her buttocks. She immediately felt severe pain and a trip to the hospital revealed she sustained a fracture in her lower back. She underwent surgery but is now unable to walk normally and is largely confined to a wheelchair. Mrs. Munguia sued the restaurant owner for negligence in failing to take reasonable action to discover and remove the slippery spot.

When can I sue under premises liability law?

If you are injured on business premises in Alabama under certain conditions, you may be able to recover damages for negligence. Premises liability law holds property owners and managers responsible for keeping premises safe and free from hazards and for warning the public of potential dangers. Whether you can file a lawsuit against the occupier depends on the circumstances of your injury. In general, you can file a premises liability lawsuit if you:

  • Slipped or tripped due to a foreign substance on the premises
  • Slipped or tripped due to the defective condition of the premises
  • Were injured by spilled or falling merchandise
  • Were attacked by a person due to lack of proper security on the premises

In all three cases, you need to be able to show that the injury was caused by the dangerous or defective condition of the premises. In cases of slipping on a foreign substance, like what happened to Mrs. Munguia, you also need to demonstrate that the store either knew of the dangerous condition or would have known had they taken reasonable action. The store could have a viable defense if the dangerous condition was open and obvious and you were injured because you did not take reasonable care.

Get a fair settlement

Your injuries could affect you for the rest of your life. Arrange a consultation with a compassionate personal injury lawyer to learn more about your rights under Alabama law.

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Rental Car Accidents and Insurance

When you drive a rental car, you are likely to be in a city or state where you are unfamiliar with the roads or the laws. If your rental car is involved in a collision, it can be very stressful and you may be uncertain of your legal position. It is important to understand the process for handling rental car accidents and what to expect from the insurance company.

What happens if my rental car is in an accident?

If you are involved in a collision while driving a rental car, you may have to pay at least part of the cost of repairs for the damage you caused even if you were not the driver at fault. When you rent a car, the rental company requests proof of insurance to check that you have at least the minimal level of liability insurance required by Alabama law and to find out how much your deductible is.

Does my insurance cover the damage?

To a large extent, your liability depends on the insurance option you chose when you rented the car:

  • Declined further insurance. Many car insurance policies provide coverage for rental cars, but if you are subsequently involved in a collision you are required to pay the deductible to the rental company up front, even if you were not at fault. If your policy does not provide coverage for the cost of renting a replacement car after a collision, you have to pay the rental company for the number of days the rental car is out of action due to repairs (loss of use). Even if your policy does provide rental car coverage, it may be limited in value, and you may have to pay the difference to the rental company.
  • Extra insurance. If you bought extra insurance, the policy may cover all damage to your rental car and any other damaged car, even if you were at fault. This depends on the exact terms of the policy. You may have to pay the deductible in some cases. If the extra insurance provides only limited coverage, your insurance policy on your own car usually bridges the gap.
  • Collision damage waiver (CDW). If you purchased CDW, all damage to the rental car itself is covered. However, it does not necessarily cover your medical costs for injuries or damages to another car if you are at fault. CDW often does not cover damage to tires or the chassis, and you may still have to pay a reduced deductible for the damage to the rental car.

Don’t let insurance companies take you for a ride

Insurance companies do their utmost to avoid paying settlements even when they should. Make sure you hire a dedicated Alabama auto accident lawyer who knows how to handle insurance claims.

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Can I Sue for Wrongful Death?

The family of former hockey enforcer Derek Boogaard has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the NHL. Boogaard died in May 2011 from an accidental painkiller overdose, drugs the family says the NHL heedlessly supplied him with. Boogaard was drafted to provide NHL fans with entertainment through his fighting skills, which took its toll and caused him to need regular painkillers. It is alleged that the NHL negligently allowed him to get addicted and failed to take care of him when he became an addict.

When can I sue for wrongful death?

Under the Code of Alabama, (Section 6-5-410) you can bring a lawsuit for wrongful death as a personal representative of the deceased against a person or corporation, for an act, failure to act or negligence which caused the death. You must commence the lawsuit within two years of the date of death.

How are damages distributed?

Wrongful death is a civil remedy, so if your lawsuit is successful a jury awards damages. The damages are distributed to heirs in accordance with the Alabama Statute of Distributions. This provides rules for how assets should be distributed if a person dies without a will, but also applies to damages from a wrongful death lawsuit even if the deceased had a will. The order for distribution depends on the surviving family members:

  • A surviving spouse has first priority on the distribution of damages and receives at least half of the damages in all cases, up to a maximum of all damages if there are no surviving children or parents.
  • Surviving children that are also children of a surviving spouse receive equal shares of the remaining damages after the spouse has received the first $50,000 and half of the remainder of the damages.
  • If there is no surviving spouse, surviving children share the damages equally.
  • In the absence of a surviving spouse or children, the damages award is shared by surviving parents.

If you have lost a loved one and think it may have been caused by negligence, arrange a consultation with a compassionate Montgomery wrongful death attorney.

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Bicycle Riders Can Lose Rights if They Disobey the Law

Did you know that May was National Bike Month? As the weather warms each year, biking becomes more and more popular and people take to the roads with their bikes. Unfortunately, every year we see far too many collisions between cars and bicycles, resulting in serious injuries and even fatalities.

Alabama law regulates the riding of bicycles just as it does other vehicles. Cyclists who violate Alabama bicycle laws may be found to be at fault and be barred from recovering compensation from a negligent driver because of their own contributory negligence.

In general, all driving laws that apply to motor vehicles also apply to bicycles, including respecting the direction of traffic, stopping at stop signs and red lights, and yielding when required. There are also rules specific to bicyclists:

  • Riding on the right. Bicyclists must ride as close to the right side of the road as possible
  • No more than two abreast. Cyclists on a road cannot ride more than two abreast unless they are on special, bike-only paths
  • Using the bike paths. Whenever there is a usable path for bicycles near the road, a bicyclist may not ride on the road and instead must ride on the bike path
  • No undue burdens. Bicyclist may not carry anything that prevents them from keeping one hand on the handlebars
  • Have proper equipment. A bicycle must have proper equipment, including a functional brake, a white front light that is visible at least 500 feet in front of the bike and a red rear reflector that is visible in the headlamps of a car from between one hundred and six hundred feet away

If you have been injured in a bicycle accident, contact us to see how our personal injury lawyers can help fight for your rights and get you compensation for your injuries.

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Why You Need a Personal Injury Lawyer If You Are Seriously Injured

Many people bristle at the idea of hiring a lawyer. “If I got hurt and the other person is at fault,” they reason, “why can’t I just tell the judge what happened?”  The answer is simple: A lawyer frames your case in the way that makes it most likely for you to receive a fair chance in court or full compensation in an insurance settlement agreement. And since most personal injury attorneys work on a contingency basis — they do not get paid unless you win monetary compensation — there is no need to be concerned about legal fees.

Some people count on their insurance agents to help them after a serious accident. What is sometimes not understood is that insurance companies are for-profit businesses. It’s in the best interests of the company to pay you as little compensation as possible. So in this case, your insurance company is not your friend.

In addition to empathizing with your situation and standing up for your rights, experienced Alabama personal injury lawyers work hard for you because you are in the case together. If you lose, they do not get paid for their work.

Attorneys offer seriously injured clients many services that are beneficial after an accident. They may:

  • Investigate and document your accident
  • Compile your medical bills, lost earnings and other expenses
  • Research your injuries to determine how your injury will affect your financial future
  • Communicate with all involved insurance companies
  • Create a settlement letter laying out your case to the insurance company and negotiating full and fair compensation based on all the facts of your case
  • If necessary, your attorney files a lawsuit against the those responsible for your injuries

For all these reasons, if you are seriously injured in an accident, do not hesitate to contact an Alabama personal injury law firm quickly.

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Not So Easy Rider: Reducing the Risk of Injury for Alabama Motorcyclists

Motorcyclists know that the question is not if you will have an accident while riding a motorcycle but when? Automobile drivers often fail to see motorcyclists in traffic. The Alabama Department of Public Safety reports that nearly 40 percent of motorcycle accidents involve situations where a motor vehicle turns left into the path of a motorcycle.

A recent study conducted by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) found that the most common non-fatal motorcycle injuries involve leg and foot injuries (30%) and head and neck injuries (22%), followed by damage to the upper body (20%) and arms and hands (18%).  Studies also show that when a motorcyclist takes appropriate safety precautions, such as wearing a helmet and bright protective clothing, the likelihood of injury and death is significantly reduced.

These laws and guidelines are important to motorcyclists in Alabama:

  • License required.  Riders must be at least 14 years old. The licensing requirement includes mopeds.
  • Protective gear. Alabama requires riders to wear a helmet, and studies have shown that helmets reduce the risk of death in a crash by more than 40 percent, and the risk of head injuries by nearly 70 percent.  Other protective gear is recommended, such as gloves and brightly colored jackets, to protect your skin from abrasions and to make you more visible to other drivers.
  • Take a safety course.  About one-third of those killed in motorcycle accidents each year have not received formal training.  Taking a refresher course from time to time can be beneficial for veteran riders as well.
  • Know your vehicle.  Choosing the right sized motorcycle and maintaining it in good working condition can prevent injuries.
  • Follow traffic laws.  A motorcycle’s easy maneuverability encourages some motorcyclists to speed, swerve and perform other risky behaviors on the road.  Resist the temptation and drive safely.
  • Don’t drink and drive. In 2010, nearly 30 percent of fatally injured motorcyclists got on their vehicles with blood alcohol content above the legal limit.

Our firm fights for the rights of motorcyclists and their loved ones to obtain the compensation they deserve following an accident.  If you require legal assistance, call our office today.