April 2012 Archives

April 23, 2012

Prom Season and Car Accidents in Montgomery

Prom is right around the corner and students and faculty members with the University of Alabama are reaching out to high school students in the state to talk about the importance of safety and safe driving habits during this time.
Within these presentations, students are exposed to a short film in which a high school student gets involved in an alcohol-related car accident. The teen isn't the driver, but the other car involved in the wreck is driven by an intoxicated driver. The intoxicated driver slams into the teen's vehicle, and even after roughly 40 surgeries her body remains nearly unrecognizable. It's a very real truth, alcohol-related car accidents in Montgomery and elsewhere. These presentations were formatted to help ensure that these students work together to help keep our roadways alcohol free during this year's prom season.

Our Montgomery car accident lawyers understand that there is an alcohol-related fatality every 33 minutes. According to the Times Daily, an alcohol-related injury happens in the United States every 2 minutes. A number of safe driving advocates and law enforcement officials throughout the state are reaching out to these young drivers, hopefully before it's too late. We ask that parents get in on the action and talk with the teens in their family about the risks associated with prom night and the graduation season. Alcohol and drug use are a common factor in motor vehicle accidents on our roadways during this time of year. Talk with your teen to make sure that they understand the consequences of poor decisions and automobile accidents during this time of the year.

"Driving is a privilege, not a right, and parents need to set certain limits to ensure their teens stay safe," added Barbara Harsha, executive director of the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA).

ABC31 is here to offer parents with some simple tips to help kick off the safety conversation before their teen's big night. Talking with teens may be the best way to help raise awareness and keep them safe on our roadways.

Prom Safety Tips:

-Make sure that you know your teen's detailed itinerary for the big night's plans. Know the venues they'll be at, the time's they'll be there and contact information should you need to get a hold of them.

-Know what they're doing after prom. If it involves a friend's house, call their parents to make sure alcohol and other drugs will not be involved.

-Be sure to establish a curfew.

-Know the names and contact information of everyone your kid will be with. Talk to their parents as well to make sure everyone's on the same page.

-Establish "check-in" times.

-Provide your teen with a backup plan, or a way to get home safely, should they need. Offer a safe out for them.

-Insist your teen calls home and reports back any changes in the itinerary, should there be any.

Continue reading "Prom Season and Car Accidents in Montgomery " »

April 17, 2012

Alabama Personal Injury Case: Armisted v. State & the Importance of Proving Expenses

Healthcare is expensive. And if you have been in a car accident in Montgomery, you understand how stressful it can be to be forced to pay for injuries you sustained because of the fault of someone else.
Our team of experienced Montgomery injury attorneys can help you understand your rights and give you the guidance and support in your case.

Armisted v. State Farm is a recent Sixth Circuit personal injury case that explains the law surrounding no-fault benefits. This case involves a joint action by plaintiffs who were seriously injured in separate actions. They sued their no-fault insurance company, State Farm, alleging that State Farm had improperly decreased the amount of monthly benefits they were entitled to.

The six collective plaintiffs were involved in separate car accidents, and did not have their initial negotiations together. These plaintiffs all suffered catastrophic traumatic brain injuries as a result of their car accidents. These injuries left the plaintiffs home bound with the alleged necessity of in-home care. At differing times, plaintiffs all signed settlement agreements with State Farm where State Farm agreed to pay a specific amount for a specified time that the plaintiffs would receive home attendant care service. Although the hourly cost State Farm was paying was very high, State Farm completed its payment obligations to each plaintiff for the duration of their agreement.

Once the definite period was over, State Farm felt the amount they were paying was excessive so they conducted a market survey regarding costs of home attendant care. Upon finding that they were paying excessive plaintiff benefits, State Farm lowered the amount they were paying. Plaintiffs then sued State Farm asking the court to make State Farm pay the original amount agreed to in the settlement offer.

State Farm was not obligated to pay that high amount after the duration originally specified. Thus State Farm asked plaintiffs to provide them with evidence of the amount being paid for this home service and explained it would compensate plaintiffs for the exact amount that the home care was costing.

An insurance company needs evidence of the nature and extent of any policyholder's injuries before it can continue to pay benefits. Also, an insurance company is only responsible for paying what is reasonable for the costs of healthcare and medical aid. For these reasons, State Farm was not justified in paying the higher rate of benefits.

State Farm asked for documentary evidence from the plaintiffs; however, upon advice from their respective attorneys, plaintiffs would not provide any proof of the cost of in home service or even proof that they were receiving this service at all.

The court in this case explains the applicable law. In determining whether expenses are allowable and covered by the laws governing no-fault statutes, the jury is responsible for evaluating the evidence and making a determination. Plaintiffs hold the burden of proving the medical conditions and treatment to support their entitlement to no-fault benefits. The benefits are not determined at the time of the injury, but at the time that the medical service was performed. In order to receive no-fault benefits a plaintiff must prove that they actually received medical care, the amount of the care was reasonable, and that the medical services and expenses were reasonably necessary.

It was emphasized that the present societal norm is that payment for services is reliant on documentation surrounding the rendered services. Because the plaintiffs failed to provide proof of this in home care, the court found in favor of State Farm.

Continue reading "Alabama Personal Injury Case: Armisted v. State & the Importance of Proving Expenses" »

April 12, 2012

Distraction-Related Accidents in Montgomery: Pledge for Safer Roadways

As we recently reported on our Alabama Injury Lawyer Blog, teenage girls across the country face the highest risks for distracted driving-related car accidents.

They're more likely than any other age group to get into one of these accidents. But drivers in every age group face serious risks for distraction-related collisions. Distracted driving has become such a wide-spread problem on our roadways that everyone is at risk. As a matter of fact, officials estimate that about a quarter of all roadway accidents involve a distracted driver.
For that reason, safe driving advocates and our Montgomery car accident lawyers are recognizing April as National Distracted Driving Awareness Month 2012. Every April, the entire month is used to help spread the word about the risks that are associated with these poor driving habits and to get drivers to pledge to curb distractions. We're urging drivers to take the pledge this April and help increase roadway safety nationwide.

In 2010, there were approximately 3,000 people who were killed in distraction-related car accidents, according to the National Safety Council (NSC). Officials believe that this number is actually much higher as they believe that distractions are not accurately reported. What is most commonly reported as a distraction in these kinds of accidents are cell phones. It's time to change our driving habits, make roadways safer and help to save lives!

"It's time to start changing the social acceptance of cell phone use while driving," said Janet Froetscher, president and CEO of the NSC.

The problem isn't that drivers don't understand the dangers associated with distracted driving, because most do. The problem is that drivers continue to use their cell phones and other electronic devices while navigating our roadways. This April is the time to take the pledge to curb the distractions and to help put a stop to these needless tragedies. The NSC has laid out the following pledge to help you get going. Urge friends and family members to join you!

Make the Pledge:

-Pledge to turn off/silence the cell phone. Keep phones, text messaging devices and other electronics out of the driver's seat. There's a time and place for everything. When you're behind the wheel, it's time to drive and drive only. Calls and texts can wait.

-If you happen to be riding with a driver who is engaging in needless distractions, speak up. Don't allow someone else to jeopardize your life, their life and the safety of our roadways.

-Talk about this problem with friends and family members. Urge everyone you know to join in and to take the pledge. Your recruits can help to save lives.

Continue reading "Distraction-Related Accidents in Montgomery: Pledge for Safer Roadways" »

April 3, 2012

Negligence and Out of State Drivers: Alabama Courts Rule in Kitroser v. Hurt

Truck accidents are by far the most dangerous types of accidents because trucks can cause such serious damage. It is important for companies to be careful in their hiring of truck drivers because one second of negligence by a truck-driver can cost someone their life.
Our Birmingham injury attorneys have helped those who have been involved in these Birmingham truck accident cases.

Recently the Florida Supreme Court heard a case involving a vehicle-truck collision. Kitroser et al. v. Hurt, et al., No. SC11-25 (Fla.Mar. 22, 2012). It all occurred because a truck-driver, Dale Dickey ("Dickey"), was driving a commercial truck negligently causing a collision with Rhina Castro Lara ("Lara"). Dickey was an employee of Airgas Carbonic, Inc. ("Airgas"). Airgas was incorporated outside of the state of Florida but they had a satellite facility within the state of Florida. It was at this facility that Dickey was trained and supervised in his capacity as a truck driver.

Unfortunately, Lara died as a result of her injuries in this vehicle-truck collision. Upon investigating, Lara's estate ("Kitroser") found information surrounding the hiring and supervising of Dickey. Because of this Kitoser then sued Dickey, Airgas, and five Airgas employees for negligence in the Florida county where the accident occurred.

Victim's estate alleged that the Airgas employees working at the Florida office, had knowledge of Dickey's bad driving record when they decided to hire him. Because Airgas hired a dangerous driver as a commercial truck driver, Kitoser argued that Airgas and the Airgas employees involved were liable for negligence.

The Airgas employees agreed that they were present at the Florida facility and that they were involved in training Dickey. However, they countered Kitoser's claims, stating two arguments against the Florida court's jurisdiction over them. First they argued that a Florida court did not have personal jurisdiction over them because they were out-of-state residents. The Airgas employees then argued that even if the court found that argument to fail, a Florida court should not hear the case because of the corporate shield doctrine.

Personal jurisdiction is the power a court has to make decisions that bind you to its ultimate decision. Usually the courts that will have jurisdiction over you are the courts in the state and county where you reside, where you own property, where you are served with notice of a cause of action, or where you consent to allow jurisdiction. The reason for these types of restrictions on jurisdiction is so that each person has an opportunity to be close to their adversarial proceedings in order to avoid inconvenience to parties and witnesses.

Because the employees were present in the state of Florida and they negligently hired Dickey within said state, the court here cited the well established rule. A state's court system can have jurisdiction over a non-state resident where this person commits civil negligence within the state.

The corporate shield doctrine was the second assertion against personal liability that the employees argued. This doctrine protects employees from lawsuits arising in the state where the corporation is headquartered but where the employees have not been. Because the facts of this case are the opposite, this argument was dismissed.
For the reasons above, the court here held that it had personal jurisdiction over non-resident employees who were negligently fulfilling their job functions.

This case really shows that although every state is controlled by similar dictates, they vary in interpretation. The United States judicial system is divided by county, state, district and circuit. Because of this, it is important to be sure which court will hear your case. Especially in accidents where there is a corporation and driver involved, it is important to get the right information from a reliable attorney.

Continue reading "Negligence and Out of State Drivers: Alabama Courts Rule in Kitroser v. Hurt " »

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