The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) counted 743 bicyclist deaths in the U.S. in 2013. Of those, 6 occurred in Alabama. That’s slightly fewer than the 9 counted by state Department of Transportation officials in 2012, but doesn’t necessarily indicate a downward trend. There were 176 crashes involving bicyclists in the state that same year, resulting in 138 injuries.biketrail1

We are likely to see these numbers increase as bicycling grows in popularity in the state. The Alabama Bicycle Coalition reports there are dozens of popular trails throughout central Alabama, particularly around Tuscaloosa and Birmingham.

Most bicyclists fatally injured die because of a collision with a motor vehicle, usually by drivers who aren’t paying adequate attention. However, there are cases in which cyclists are killed or injured on unsafe trails. In these cases, recovery of damages in civil court will depend on the circumstances of the crash, but also on who maintains the trail – and why. Continue reading

Two years ago, in the first bellwether case against medical device manufacturer C.R. Bard for production of its transvaginal mesh products, jurors awarded plaintiff $2 million in damages. Of that, $250,000 was for compensatory damages (intended to compensate for actual losses) and $1.75 million was for punitive damages (intended to punish defendant). woman1

In Cisson v. C.R. Bard, both sides had appealed the final order, but for very different reasons.

Defendant appealed on the grounds certain evidence should have been kept from the jury and that the court should have allowed the defense to propose a special jury instruction. Also, defense argued the damage award was excessive. Plaintiff, meanwhile, appealed the split-recovery ruling, pursuant to Georgia law, that grants 75 percent of punitive damages to the state.  Continue reading

Twelve years ago, a former National Hockey League player hosted a birthday party for his young son, and invited the entire 5th grade class. For the event, he rented a child golf game that included a plastic golf club. golfkid

Everything was going well, until the end of the party, when a 4-year-old boy, unsupervised at the time, swung the golf club and struck an 11-year-old girl in the lip, splitting her lip and knocking her front tooth out.

Now, a dozen years later, she has filed a personal injury lawsuit, accusing the hosts of the party of negligent supervision under premises liability law. She alleges the injury caused her to undergo 53 dental appointments over the years, a number of surgeries, pain and suffering and mental anguish. She can’t bite normally into food, had to give up on participation in music class (because she couldn’t blow into wind instruments without straining her lip) and has suffered teasing and bullying over the appearance of her mouth.  Continue reading

The manufacturer of an off-road vehicle was able to convince justices with the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals that a trial judge was right to dismiss a wrongful death/ product liability lawsuit against it for plaintiff’s failure to amend the complaint prior to deadline. sanddune

In Birch v. Polaris Industries, Inc., plaintiff had asked trial court to amend the original complaint to add new legal theories and also request additional discovery. However, they did so after the deadlines for amending pleadings and for discovery had passed. Trial court rejected the motion and decided that, based on the unamended complaint, plaintiff’s case was weak. It granted defendant’s motion for summary judgment.

On appeal, the 10th Circuit found no judicial error.  Continue reading

No injury lawsuit can proceed until service of process has been properly made on the defendant. That means defendant has been properly notified of the litigation. Service of process is the way in which courts establish personal jurisdiction, which is required in every lawsuit. In fact, it is only after a plaintiff obtains proper service on defendant that the court obtains the jurisdiction over defendant to impose an enforceable judgment of liability and damages. airbag

So it’s a critical step. But it’s not always simple one, and it can be the source of major delays – or even dismissals – if it isn’t done right.

Rules for service of process are outlined in Rule 4 of Alabama Rules of Civil Procedure. This provision outlines the fact that the service of summons and complaint has to be made to defendant within 120 days of filing the complaint, or else the court may dismiss the action without prejudice. The only exception would be plaintiff could show good cause for the failure or if plaintiff is granted an extension. There are stipulations for who may accept the summons, who may not and where it must take place. Continue reading

The Alabama Supreme Court affirmed a $15 million verdict in favor of plaintiffs in the dram shop lawsuit of Nineteenth Street Investments Inc. v. Robertson et al., and did so without opinion. beerbottles

Trial court awarded collectively $15 million in both compensatory and punitive damages to four plaintiffs in this consolidated case. Claims were filed after a horrific drunk driving accident before which the driver, then 19, purchased beer from a local convenience store, despite not having yet reached the legal age of 21. In her vehicle were three minors, who had also been drinking. The driver lost control of the vehicle, veered off the road and crashed into a tree, ejecting all passengers. A 13-year-old passenger was killed and the three others in the car were seriously injured.

Lawsuits were filed by the two other passengers, the mother of the decedent and the mother of the driver – all against the company that owned the convenience store. Those cases were later consolidated and tried as one in the Circuit Court of Jefferson County. Continue reading

Some view playground injuries as a kind of unfortunate childhood rite of passage. playgroundinjury

But in many cases, injuries sustained by children are serious, and it may be necessary to consider legal action.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that of the 200,000 children under 14 rushed to hospital emergency rooms every year for playground injuries, about 45 percent are serious. These involve:

  • Fractures
  • Internal injuries
  • Concussions
  • Amputations
  • Dislocations
  • Severe scarring

Death resulting from playground activity is relatively rare, but 150 cases were reported from 1990 to 2000. Most of those were attributed to either strangulation or falls. Continue reading

The ending of the story of a long-married couple in Wisconsin at first glance seems to have been ripped from the pages of, “The Notebook,” the novel by Nicholas Sparks in which elderly lovebirds die together side-by-side, holding hands in a hospital bed. oldhands1

Except, although they died hours apart, it didn’t happen that way. They weren’t together, as they had wished, and family members say it wasn’t time for the 85-year-old wife to go.

According to the Wisconsin State Journal, the 86-year-old husband – former owner of several newspapers, father of four and avid traveler – was dying of cancer. It had been a long, difficult battle. In November 2012, his time had come. Doctors at the local hospital released him to hospice care. He was being transported via ambulance to hospice. It was less than a week after Thanksgiving. His wife of 62 years was in the ambulance beside him. But, as the lawsuit now asserts, she wasn’t properly secured in her seat. The driver of an ambulance stopped suddenly to avoid collision with another vehicle. That motion caused the 86-year-old woman to pitch forward, slamming her head on the interior of the ambulance. Continue reading

At best, a defective toy can be a disappointment to a little one looking forward to some entertainment. At worst, a defective product can be dangerous, and in some cases, pose a risk of life-threatening injuries. toys

The latest report on Toy-Related Deaths and Injuries for calendar year 2014 (released by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission in October) indicates there were at least 252,000 toy-related injuries and 11 deaths last year. These incidents do not count the incidents wherein a toy may have been associated with death or injury, but was not necessarily the cause of it.

The CPSC reports that within fiscal year 2015, there were a total of 25 toy-related recalls. That’s a fairly significant drop from 2008, when there were 172 toy recalls. It might be easy to take a leap of logic to assume manufacturers are getting better about protecting young consumers. However, the agency notes it continues to turn away batches of toys at U.S. ports that violate a range of standards, including parts that are too small, flammability risks and excess levels of phthalates and lead. Continue reading

Sometimes in personal injury law, it becomes necessary to initiate litigation against people you love or care about. The goal is not necessarily to collect money from that individual, but rather to obtain compensation from his or her insurance company.motorbike

Because insurance companies cannot be named as defendants in injury lawsuits until liability has been established, one must name the insured. Sometimes, that individual is someone to whom plaintiff is close.

Many times, those sparring in the courtroom retain no ill feelings outside the doors. What takes place is a formality that allows the injured person to receive compensation for medical bills, lost wages and pain and suffering. Plaintiff must show defendant owed a duty of care to plaintiff and then breached that duty, causing plaintiff’s injury. Continue reading