Tag Archive for: liability

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Explosive Plane Crash Kills Two

On Wednesday, August 14, 2013, a UPS cargo plane crashed near Birmingham. The crash killed all on board.

Police state that the aircraft was approaching Birmingham-Shuttlesworth Airport on a flight from Lexington, Kentucky. The plane suddenly exploded in mid-air and fell from the sky. The tower reports that the crew made no distress calls. Witnesses stated that the aircraft split into several pieces before crashing to the ground, skidding across a highway and spreading debris over a half-mile area.

Both the pilot and co-pilot were killed. Their bodies were found some 100 yards from the main portion of the plane. The aircraft type, a twin-engine Airbus A 300, has been involved in at least 10 other crashes since it first entered service in 1974.

The National Transportation Safety Board is currently investigating the cause of the accident. Speculation exists that, due to the sudden nature of the crash, the lack of distress calls and the A 300’s service record, mechanical error may have been at fault.

Liability for wrongful death

Any time a manufacturer sells a defective product that results in death, whether that product is a small medical device or a wide-body jet aircraft, the manufacturer can be sued for wrongful death. Since 1974, Alabama has used the AEMLD, or Alabama Extended Manufacturers’ Liability Doctrine, in such cases. In a defective product case, a Birmingham personal injury attorney must convince the jury that the death occurred because of:

  • A design defect the typical argument is that there was a safer alternative design available, but the defendant failed to use that alternative design
  • A manufacturing defect  the product may have been fine on the blueprint, but was defective by the time it reached the shelf
  • A failure to warn – if the manufacturer knows that a product is dangerous, the manufacturer has a duty to warn consumers about the danger

Since 1978, McPhillips Shinbaum has represented injured victims and their families in personal injury lawsuits throughout Alabama. Call today for your free consultation.

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Fatal Accident in Huntsville Raises Third-Party Liability Questions

A father and son have both denied responsibility in a recent fatal traffic accident in Huntsville.

Court documents state that Richard Scarano allowed his son Gunner Scarano to drive the family truck. The younger Scarano was involved in a collision in south Huntsville that killed a 10-year-old boy and injured two others. The lawsuit names both father and son as defendants, alleging that Gunner caused the accident and that Richard negligently entrusted the vehicle to Gunner.

Third-party liability

This case illustrates the point that the person behind the wheel may not necessarily be the only responsible party. Given the high number of uninsured and underinsured motorists, third-party liability can be a very important component of your negligence case. A third party may be responsible for your injuries in several situations, among them:

  • Negligent entrustment becomes a factor if a person entrusts a vehicle to an incompetent or reckless driver — such as an underage or intoxicated driver — the entrusting party may be responsible for damages caused in an accident.
  • Respondeat superior applies if an employee commits a tort (such as an auto accident) during the course and scope of employment. Alabama has special definitions for each of these terms.
  • Dram shop liability, or saloon owner liability, comes into play if a shopkeeper either serves a minor or knowingly serves an intoxicated person, and that person subsequently causes an accident. A business owner may also be liable if a person was served alcohol “contrary to the provisions of law,” such as serving alcohol in a dry county.

The attorneys at McPhillips Shinbaum have been protecting the victims of motor vehicle collisions in Alabama since 1978. Call today to schedule your free consultation with an experienced attorney.

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What if I Am at Fault, Too?

Alabama’s contributory negligence law and its effect on your case

Every driver has a responsibility to others to drive carefully. As a general rule, if a driver breaks that duty through careless driving and, as a result, injures someone else, the driver is liable to the victim for damages. There is, however, a major exception to this rule in Alabama: contributory negligence.

Contributory negligence is a legal defense available to the defendant. If the defendant can prove that the plaintiff in a lawsuit (the injured person) was at fault in the accident, then the plaintiff may not be able to recover any damages at all from the defendant.

If the defendant’s conduct rose far above the level of negligence and constituted wanton conduct that demonstrated flagrant disregard for the safety of others, however, then contributory negligence will not prevent the plaintiff from winning compensation.

In a civil case in Mobile last year, the jury asked the judge to define contributory negligence. According to the plaintiff’s family, Roosevelt Jones was driving out of the Greater Gulf State Fairgrounds when a gate crashed through his windshield, killing him. The defense contended that because Mr. Jones scored a 1.0 percent on a blood alcohol test, he contributed to his death. Therefore his estate was not entitled to the $4 million in compensation they sued for. The family noted that Mr. Jones was traveling at two or three miles an hour and could not have affected the gate. This case fairly shows the lengths a defense team will go to keep from losing such a case.

When an accident case comes to our office, we carefully dissect every aspect of the case, interviewing witnesses, searching for video evidence, and studying the medical records, accident scene, and vehicles involved. If you have been in an accident, or lost a loved one due to the negligence of another party, our personal injury attorneys may be able to help you.