March 2012 Archives

March 29, 2012

Birmingham Car Accidents: Teen Girls More Prone to Distraction

Teenage girls are twice as likely as teenage boy drivers to use cell phones, text messaging devices and operate other electronic devices behind the wheel of a motor vehicle, according to a recent AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety study.

The study looked at the driving habits of 50 families in North Carolina and examined the likelihood of teen drivers to engage in distractions, according to US NEWS. Although electronic devices were the most common distraction noted by researchers, all distractions significantly contributed to the heightened risks of a car accident in Alabama and elsewhere.

Our Alabama car accident lawyers understand that this new study is really beneficial in looking at which teens are engaging in distractions behind the wheel. We must continue to examine these accidents as traffic collisions continue to be the number one cause of death for teenagers in the country. Parents can help to enforce household rules to help keep these young drivers' eyes on the road. Make sure to have strict and clear rules regulating your teen driver's behavior behind the wheel. Enforce these rules and stick to the consequences for breaking these rules!

The use of electronic devices is, to no surprise, the number one cause of distraction among these young drivers. These kinds of distractions were found in about 7 percent of all of the video clips. These young drivers were also likely to groom themselves, drink, eat and adjust controls behind the wheel.

The study also concluded that older teen drivers were more likely to engage in distractions behind the wheel than younger teen drivers. Researchers believe that as teen drivers get more and more familiar and comfortable at the wheel, they are more likely to engage in dangerous driving behaviors.

AAA Findings:

-Teen girl drivers are twice as likely as male teen drivers to use an electronic device, like a cell phone or text messaging device while driving.

-Teen girls are much more likely to engage in various distracting behaviors behind the wheel.

-Teen girls are way more likely than teen boys to reach around for an object in the back of the car.

-Teen girls are about 25 percent more likely than teen boys to eat and drink behind the wheel.

-Boys were likely to turn around in the vehicle and speak with individuals who were on the outside of the vehicle.

With these findings, parents are urged to talk with the teen drivers in their lives about proper road safety. Safety should be a top concern and frequent conversation in the household should be a priority. Talking with your teen driver could potentially help to save their life. Teaching young drivers good habits early on will help to pave the way for safe driving habits for a lifetime.

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March 19, 2012

Alabama Product Liability: Linden, Jr. v. CNH America Explains The Sophisticated User Doctrine

Manufacturers are just not making products like they used to. This is seen with the rising number of product liability cases in the courts. Our experienced Montgomery product liability attorneys understand the intricacies involved in these cases, and we can help you get the results you deserve.
Negligent manufacturers should not be able to get away with lower safety standards in the design and manufacturing of their products because by allowing this we are feeding into this negative cycle of faulty production. Do not be intimidated to file your Montgomery product liability case.

Linden, Jr. v. CNH America is an appeal that arose because a man was injured when he was thrown off of a bulldozer. Upon falling off, the bulldozer fell on his legs causing serious injuries. Plaintiff sued the manufacturer of the seatbelt in the bulldozer, Indiana Mills & Manufacturing, Inc. ("IMMI") and the manufacturer of the bulldozer, CNH America, LLC ("CNH"). He claimed that the seatbelt had a defective design, manufacturing defect and insufficient warnings.

The initial court cited Iowa statute that held that where there is a faulty component part manufactured by one manufacturer but incorporated into another product, the manufacturer that used the faulty product as a component part can be held liable.

IMMI manufactured the seatbelt that was used as a component part in the manufacturing of the bulldozer by CNH. Because of the Iowa statute discussed above, CNH was held liable for any injuries that resulted because of a faulty product manufactured by IMMI.

Thus in plaintiff's case against CNH, the court discussed the intricacies of manufacturing and design defects. The court then dismissed the plaintiff's manufacturing defect claim and the jury in the case granted a directed verdict for the defendant on the claims of insufficient warnings and design defect. Plaintiff appealed this decision and arguing that the court erred in their jury instructions as well as in their finding.

The higher court in Linden discusses the appropriateness of the jury instructions in the original trial. The court had instructed the jury regarding the sophisticated user doctrine and the plaintiff argued, that the court failed to give a specific standard regarding negligence for the faulty seatbelt.

The sophisticated user doctrine is used to establish a manufacturer's duty to warn product users of potential dangers associated with the use of their products. Under this theory, a manufacture does not have a duty to warn users of their product if the user knows or should know of the potential dangers involved in using the product. This is most commonly seen where the product user is a professional and would be assumed to know the characteristics of the product.

Because in this case the plaintiff was a professional bulldozer driver, the court found that they jury instruction which led to the discussion of this standard was adequate. The seatbelt is considered part of the bulldozer. Therefore, it could be assumed that a professional bulldozer driver would understand the faulty nature of the bulldozer seatbelt.

This court found that the logic was reasonable in the jury instructions and the plaintiff failed to provide the appropriate evidence to support his contention of manufacturer's duty.

Product liability can seem complex but with the right attorney, you can present the right evidence and prove your case.

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March 13, 2012

Fatal Birmingham Car Accident Caused by a Ladder in the Road

An 87-year-old man was killed in a Birmingham car accident on Interstate 65 and Finley Boulevard as the driver of the vehicle attempted to avoid road debris, according to Alabama Live.
The Jefferson County Coroner's Office reports that the elderly man and his wife were heading to Ohio from a vacation that had taken in Florida when they got into the four-vehicle accident. According to Deputy Coroner Bill Yates, a ladder fell off of a truck and ended up lying in the road. The man's wife, who was driving their van, slowed down to avoid the ladder. As she slowed the vehicle, a truck slammed into the back of their vehicle and threw their van into the car in front of them. The man was sitting in the middle row of the vehicle. He was transported to the University of Alabama hospital where he was later pronounced dead.

Our Alabama car accident lawyers understand that elderly drivers (those over the age of 65) make up only about 13 percent of the U.S. population. Still, there were nearly 185,000 elderly individuals injured in car accidents in 2008. Nearly 5,300 were killed. This age group accounted for nearly 10 percent of all of the people who were injured in traffic-related accidents throughout the year. What's even worse is that they accounted for nearly 20 percent of all recorded traffic fatalities, nearly 15 percent of all vehicle occupant fatalities and nearly 20 percent of all pedestrian fatalities, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

What happened to this couple is heart breaking, as the wife was simply trying to avoid hitting the ladder on the road in an effort to keep them both safe. According to AAA, between 80 and 90 people are killed every year in car accidents that are caused by road debris. Debris causes nearly 30,000 car accidents every year. Luckily, there are tips that we all can use to help prevent accidents like these.

The most common types of road debris:

-Garbage from waste haulers.

-Tire treads.

-Construction supplies.

Tips to avoid a road debris-related traffic accident:

-Be sure to secure the cargo on your own vehicle before hitting the road. Check this cargo every time you stop.

-If you see an unsafe vehicle, road debris or unsecured loads, report it!

-Make sure your defensive driving habits are in top-notch shape.

-Always follow other vehicles at a safe following distance. The closer you follow another car, the less time you have to react to a potential hazard.

-Focus further down the road so you have more time to react.

-Sometimes it's safer just to run over debris instead of swerving around it.

-Know exactly where the cars are that are traveling near you at all times.

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March 6, 2012

Alabama Personal Injury: Mills v. Fulmarque Shows That It Is All About Timing

Lawsuits are guided by time-frames. When to file motions, when to sue, when to depose witnesses. This complicated process is guided by State and Federal statutes that provide clear time-frames for legal actions. Hiring an Alabama injury attorney dedicated to personal injury and wrongful death work can help ensure your law firm is aware of specific deadlines and the various intricacies of law.

Because of these complicated guidelines, it is important to hire a dedicated attorney to inform you properly of the laws and how they affect you. In a recent decision regarding a personal injury and product liability case, personal injury case, Mills v. Fulmarque, state statute ambiguity was contested when due to faulty office furniture a man was injured when he fell off of his chair at work.

Calvin Mills, the victim, sued both his employer and the seller of the faulty chair. After two years of legal filings, the co-defendants attempted to add to the litigation the manufacturer of the office equipment under a theory of comparative fault. Basically they contended that the manufacturer, the seller and the employer were all partially responsible for the injury to the victim. This action created such a problem that it led this personal injury case all the way to the state Supreme Court.
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The complication in this case arose because when the co-defendants tried to add the manufacturer, the statute of limitations had run and it was too late to add any other parties to the litigation. This left the negligence of an at-fault party unpunished. The state Supreme Court clarified the time-frame ambiguity in the Tennessee state statute by finding that where it states that, "a cause of action for injuries to the person must commence within one (1) year after the cause of action," additional defendants cannot be added after the one year statute of limitations has run. Tenn. Code Ann. ยง28-3-104(a)(1)(2000). This decision by the court prevented the victim from obtaining recovery from the manufacturer of the faulty office furniture. Because the victim's attorney failed to properly identify all of the potential at- fault parties, Mills was denied his opportunity to recover damages for the injuries he sustained at the hands of another party's negligence.

When you have been injured and are involved in a lawsuit, it is very important to have an attorney who knows the law and can get the right things done in the short time-frame you have. Getting it right the first time is essential because it otherwise can limit the recovery to which you are entitled. In Mills, the victim's attorney failed to properly investigate the injury and potential defendants and as a result, the victim was not able to receive the justice he deserved. Mills would have been able to seek remedies had there been more time. However, as is the case with all litigation, the rules regarding time-limits are strictly applied. If a claim is not filed within the designated time against the right parties, you can lose your rights to sue and obtain the remedies you deserve.

Although the following topic is not a central concept in the Mills case, it is important to recognize. Deciphering fault and the choosing who to sue is a strategic decision that is dependent on the laws within your state. In identifying the negligent parties that contributed to an injury, you need an attorney who knows how Alabama classifies fault and what possible defenses are available to the negligent parties. States vary on which doctrines they follow, such as comparative negligence, contributory negligence or assumption of the risk.

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