September 14, 2014

Henkel v. Norman - Private Property Owner's Duty to Warn

When it comes to premises liability, it doesn't matter if you are the owner of a big-chain box store or a modest property in the suburbs. Property owners have a duty to keep premises reasonably free of hazards. Failing this, the property owner must offer adequate warning.
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Failure to do this resulting in injury could prompt a civil lawsuit.

Our Montgomery fall injury lawyers know the mere fact that someone suffers an injury on-site is not proof of negligence on the part of the property owner. Hose v. Win-Dixie Montgomery, Inc. 658 So.2d 403, 404 (Ala.1995). What must be shown is the premises owner failed to use reasonable care in maintaining its premises in a reasonably safe manner. Injured parties bear the burden of proof in these cases.

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September 7, 2014

Travelers Property Casualty Co. v. Moore - Company Liability for Workers Off-the-Clock

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit, which oversees federal appellate cases in Alabama, Georgia and Florida, recently ruled an auto insurance company has no duty to indemnify a defendant under his employer's policy for an incident in which the defendant killed one and wounded another with a shotgun while driving his work van.
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While such a ruling may seem common sense, it's worth noting injuries and wrongful death resulting from the incident had initially been characterized as an "accident" because the defendant purportedly hadn't intended to inflict those injuries. Further, the company insurer was deemed liable because, while the worker was off-the-clock, there was evidence to suggest he did have permission to drive the work van.

Our Montgomery car accident lawyers know that, while this incident involved a unique set of circumstances, the issue of employer liability when a worker or commercial vehicle is involved in a crash is one that arises with fair frequency.

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August 30, 2014

Lane v. Ballot - When Crimes and Torts Overlap

When a civil lawsuit for damages is predicated on a criminal act, the criminal prosecution can serve as an invaluable resource to the civil case, particularly due to the applicable principle of collateral estoppel.
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Also sometimes referred to as issue preclusion, the common law estoppel doctrine prevents a person from litigating an issue more than once. Where the mutual parties and material facts involved are the same as those in the criminal action, it may not be necessary to take the civil case all the way to trial. In fact, our Montgomery personal injury lawyers know that per Ala. Code 15-18-75, a conviction in a criminal trial may necessarily decide the issue of the defendant's liability for pecuniary damages to the victim.

We live in one of a handful of states where legislators were increasingly aware of the burden on victims to relitigate duplicative facts in civil cases. This statute allows for a more efficient means of securing recovery of damages for someone who has already endured a traumatic experience.

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August 22, 2014

Force v. Am. Family Mut. Ins. - Pursuing a Wrongful Death Claim

In cases of wrongful death in Alabama, state legislators have limited the ability to file to the individual acting as the personal representative of the deceased person's estate. From there, any damages awarded will be distributed among legitimate claimants, which can include a spouse, minor children, adult children, parents and other dependents.
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Disputes among family members regarding distribution of these funds is common, whether occurring with the personal representative of the estate or, in other states that allow individual family members to bring wrongful death claims, at the trial level. In either scenario, it's a matter for the courts to decide, and having an experienced Montgomery wrongful death attorney to help guide you through the process can be invaluable.

In the recent case of Force v. Am. Family Mut. Ins. Co., the Wisconsin Supreme Court was tasked with deciding whether the guardians of minor children of a deceased man were entitled to collect damages for wrongful death, even though his estranged spouse was not permitted to make a recovery under the law.

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August 15, 2014

Burlington Coat Factory v. Butler - Alabama Appeals Court Weighs Retail Store Liability

The Alabama Court of Civil Appeals has reversed an earlier judgment in favor of a woman who suffered facial injuries in a retail store when a bracket fell on top of her as she reached for a sale item on a shelf.
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In Burlington Coat Factory of Alabama v. Butler, the court sided with the defendant in finding the injured plaintiff failed to prove the retailer had breached a duty of care by failing to inspect and maintain its premises in a reasonable condition, or that the brackets presented a defective or dangerous condition.

Our Montgomery personal injury attorneys know when it comes to premises liability claims, it's not enough to prove that an injury occurred on-site. Per the 2000 ruling by the Alabama Supreme Court in Kmart Corp. v. Basset, property owners owe a general duty to business invitees (i.e., customers) to, "use reasonable care and diligence to keep the property in a safe condition." If there is a dangerous condition, the business is required to offer up sufficient warning so that, by use of ordinary care, the danger can be avoided.

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August 7, 2014

Allstate Indemnity Co. v. Rice - Umbrella Liability Coverage

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit recently rejected a claim by a Missouri woman that an umbrella insurance policy belonging to her daughter and son-in-law covered her other son-in-law, and therefore her, in a crash that occurred in October 2010. In Allstate Indemnity Co. v. Rice, the court held the insurer had no obligation to cover excess liabilities when neither claimant was considered an insured.
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Montgomery car accident attorneys recognize that when battling insurance companies for fair compensation, there are a host of legal issues that can arise. This is especially true when those involved might be family members and friends.

In the Rice case, the injured woman was a passenger in a vehicle being driven by her son-in-law. The vehicle belonged to her daughter and another son-in-law. It was a single-vehicle crash, and the woman sustained serious injuries as a result.

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July 25, 2014

Pierson v. Service America Corp. - Sports Game Beer Vendor Faces Dram Shop Liability

In Alabama drunk driving injury cases, it is the intoxicated driver and/or his insurer who will be responsible for compensating victims. However, under some circumstances, the person who served the alcohol to that driver prior to the crash might also be held legally responsible.
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The statutes that govern these matters are called Dram Shop Laws, and they vary from state-to-state. Montgomery drunk driving accident lawyers are familiar with the governing statute in this state, codified in Ala. Code 6-5-71, which holds qualified parties may seek damages from the person's who furnished alcohol to a person who causes a traffic collision.

Typically, this might involve parents who host alcohol-fueled parties for teens or bartenders/bar owners who continue to serve obviously-drunk patrons. But recently, a case before the Indiana Court of Appeals may set a precedent that could also see liability imposed on beer vendors at sports stadiums.

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July 17, 2014

Verdugo v. Target Corp. - Retail Store Had No Duty to Keep Medical Device on Hand

Per a new ruling by the California Supreme Court, large stores in California are not required to keep automatic defibrillators on hand to treat patrons and/or workers who suffer from cardiac arrest. puzzleheart3.jpg

The plaintiffs in the wrongful death lawsuit of Verdugo v. Target Corp. argued the retailer should have kept one of the devices on hand as part of its first-aid plan. Ultimately, however, the state's high court found that would be an unfair burden for the retailer to shoulder.

Still, our Montgomery personal injury attorneys understand the courts left it open for lawmakers to decide whether a requirement to keep the life-saving devices on the premises is necessary.

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July 7, 2014

Loyacono v. Travelers Insurance Company - Prejudicial Statements Result in Remand of Crash Case

A car accident victim will receive a new trial after a state supreme court ruled highly-prejudicial statements regarding the occupation and salary of the plaintiff's husband were allowed before the jury prior to its verdict.
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While the Mississippi Supreme Court declined to back the appellate court's position that the jury's determination contradicted the overwhelming weight of the evidence, justices nonetheless agreed a new trial was in order in Loyacono v. Travelers Insurance Company.

Car accident attorneys in Montgomery know that while this is an out-of-state case, both Mississippi and Alabama are "fault" -based tort systems when it comes to crash liability. Both states also require underinsured and uninsured motorist coverage to be offered by insurers, only to be released with a written waiver from the insured.

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July 1, 2014

Reducing Fourth of July Injuries in Alabama

Our Montgomery personal injury lawyers urge you and your family to have a safe and enjoyable Fourth of July. This year over the Fourth of July weekend, millions of Americans will hit the roads in search of fun. Some will go to cookouts, others will head to the beach, and most will cap off the night with a fireworks display. Whatever your plans, we would like to offer a few simple steps to help stay safe from some obvious and some hidden risks this holiday weekend.

One major risk when traveling over the holiday period is being involved in an alcohol-fireworks1.jpgrelated car crash. It should come as no surprise that many people will drink alcohol while attending backyard barbeques and other festivities. Unfortunately, it should also come as no surprise that many of these people will get behind the wheel after consuming too much alcohol.

While driving over the holiday weekend, you should be alert for intoxicated motorists. It helps to know some of the signs of drunk driving. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has identified a variety of things that will tell a police officer when a driver may be under the influence of alcohol or drugs. These signs include weaving, swerving, almost striking another vehicle or object, driving at least 10 miles under the posted limit, drifting, braking or accelerating for no apparent reason, slow response to traffic signals, driving without headlights at night, and driving in the opposite lane or wrong way on a one way street. If you see a driver exhibiting these behaviors, you should assume the person may be drunk and give yourself plenty of room between that vehicle and your own.

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June 30, 2014

Reducing Medication Errors in Alabama: Hospitals Try New Strategy

Dangerous drug interactions and medication errors account for some 7,000 deaths in hospital emergency rooms nationwide each year, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
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Of course, such errors can occur in any type of health care facility, including nursing homes, long-term care facilities and dialysis centers. However, Montgomery wrongful death attorneys recognize emergency rooms as particularly risky because of the fast-paced nature of the environment. It's easy for a decimal in a prescription order to become misplaced or for a doctor's handwriting to be misunderstood by a harried nurse administering the drug.

It's exacerbated by the fact that in a doctor's office setting, a doctor may be counting on the fact that if there is a problem, a pharmacist will fact check him later. In an emergency room, it doesn't work like that. Or at least, it didn't used to work like that.

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June 20, 2014

Underinsured Motorist Benefits a Safety Net for Many Motorists

In the recent Alabama Civil Court of Appeals case of Perry v. USAA Casualty Insurance, the plaintiff has been fighting for - and likely will obtain - uninsured motorist benefits from two separate sources.
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She has been fighting to have a payout tendered ever since the crash in question occurred in October 2007 in Madison County. As our Montgomery car accident attorneys know well, insurance firms will aggressively battle to keep their costs as low as humanly possible, regardless of the legitimacy of the claim.

This often means customers will be given low-ball offers or in some cases, denied coverage altogether. This is unacceptable, and the only way to ensure a fair deal is to take the case to court. As this case reveals, there are situations where that battle can drag on for years. But if your attorney is experienced and the case is strong, it can mean justice at the end of the journey.

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June 11, 2014

State Farm v. Gruebele - Teen Driver Insurance Coverage Can Be Tricky

In many car accident cases, the question of insurance coverage is fairly straightforward. The individual is either insured or they are not. Each individual is typically only covered with a singular policy provided by one company, and the terms of that policy are usually standardized.
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Even in these situations, Montgomery car accident attorneys know there can be conflict with regard to interpretation of certain clauses as they apply to the circumstances.

But with teen drivers, the question of coverage can be even more complex. Some complicating factors include parental divorce, which could call into question whether the teen is a "resident household member." In some instances, both parents have policies that cover the teen. In some cases, the vehicle may be insured on a separate policy. If the teen wasn't driving according to the state's graduated driver's licensing laws, there could be questions about whether the insurance company is liable at all.

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June 3, 2014

Report: Pedestrians Accidents in the South "Epidemic"

Authorities in Millbrook recently took the heartbreaking call regarding a 2-year-old pedestrian who was struck by a vehicle. The child was transported to the hospital and died.
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The case is just one of thousands of pedestrian deaths that occur every year. The latest Dangerous by Design 2014 report calls the problem "epidemic," focusing particular attention on the South, where the danger is not only highest, but the risks are increasing.

Among the top 10 most dangerous metropolitan areas in the country for pedestrians, the Birmingham-Hoover region ranked No. 6 on the list. In fact, Montgomery pedestrian accident lawyers have learned nine of the top 10 on that list were cities in the South, including four metro areas in Florida, as well as one each in Tennessee, Texas, Georgia and North Carolina.

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May 25, 2014

Alabama Supreme Court Issues Ruling on Service by Publication

A $37 million verdict against a business that served alcohol to a driver who then killed a man in a DUI collision has been overturned by the Alabama Supreme Court on the grounds that notice of the lawsuit wasn't properly served. This was despite the plaintiff's compliance with the formalities of service by publication as approved by the trial court.
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Montgomery DUI accident lawyers recognize this as a cautionary tale regarding serving a defendant by publication, and underscores the plaintiff's burden to prove that every effort was made to serve the defendant before the case progresses.

It's not uncommon for defendants to avoid being served with civil court papers. The theory is that if they aren't served notice, the case can't proceed. This is only true to an extent. The case will eventually move forward - but only if plaintiffs can prove they made every effort to serve notice on the defendant and the defendant actively hid or endeavored to avoid being served.

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