July 2012 Archives

July 30, 2012

Defective Product Injuries in Alabama: Make Checking CPSC Recall List a Habit

Parents and guardians are urged to stay up to date on the most recent product recalls from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). All too often, we forget to check out this important information and face the risks of injury as a result of a dangerous or defective product marketed to consumers.

Every day, more and more products are placed on the recall list after accidents or reported injuries are sustained. Consumers can help protect against defective product injuries by checking the government's monthly recall list on a regular basis -- just like the batteries in your smoke detector. You'd be surprised how likely it is that you have a dangerous or recalled product in your household and quite possibly in the possession of your child.
Our Montgomery personal injury attorneys are here to help, whether it's warning of dangerous products in the household, or assisting with litigation in the wake of an accident. Knowledge and awareness are the first steps to helping to keep your family safe. Here are some of the latest recalls from the CPSC:

Chicco Polly High Chairs:

Nearly 500,000 of these chairs are being recalled in the United States and another 31,000 in Canada because children can fall on the pegs on the back of the chair. This poses a bruise and laceration hazard for these young users. There have already been more than 20 reports of injuries. If you have one of these chairs, you're urged to contact Chicco to get more information on receiving your free peg cover kit. Call the company at (800) 807-8817.

Downeast Concepts' Children's Beach Chairs:

More than 15,000 of these chairs have been recalled because they have exposed, sharp metal rivets that pose serious laceration hazards to young children. The chairs were sold in purple, blue, yellow and pink. There have already been injury reports submitted. If you have one of these chairs, the company is offering a full refund. Call (800) 343-2424 for more details.

Toddler Girl Aqua Socks by Old Navy:

There are nearly 35,000 pairs of aqua socks that Old Navy is recalling These socks have less traction when worn on wet or smooth surfaces such as hardwood or tile, creating a slip and fall hazard. There have already been two accident and injury reports submitted. The style number 896452 is involved in this recall. If your child has a pair of these socks, discontinue use and take them to any Old Navy store to get a full refund.

Troxel's Flexible Flyer Swing Sets:

Nearly 101,000 swing sets in the U.S. and another 5,000 in Canada are being recalled because the seats can break away from the bolt fasteners during use, posing a fall hazard. There have already been more than 1,230 accident reports filed, with nearly 15 injury reports. There are more than 10 models of swing sets that have the seesaw attachment impacted by the recall. If you have one of these sets, call the company at (888) 770-7060 for a free repair kit.

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July 23, 2012

Faulty Warning System Reportedly Causes Railroad Crossing Accident in Huntsville

A recent railroad crossing accident in Huntsville left one injured. The accident was between a railroad maintenance vehicle and a pickup truck at the crossing near Jordan Road and Moores Mill Road.

Huntsville police report that that the occupant of the rail maintenance vehicle, owned by the North Alabama Railroad Museum, was injured in the accident. According to Sgt. Clay Warmbrod, both vehicles were railroad vehicles and both had to be towed from the scene. Both were heading to the museum when the crash happened.

It all happened just before 10:30 a.m. as a pickup truck was heading south and was hit by the railroad vehicle and tow-vehicle, which were operating on the tracks. A man in the railroad vehicle was ejected during the collision. He is currently in the Huntsville Hospital and was last listed in serious condition. According to Alabama Live, the warning lights at the railroad crossing were not on or working when the accident happened.
The vehicle that was hit in the accident is referred to as a "speeder." It's used to maintain the tracks and right of way, said Hugh Dudley with the North Alabama Railroad Museum. It had broken down and was being towed back to the museum. Dudley also confirmed that the warning lights at this railroad crossing do not work.

Warning devices at railroad crossings are there to help to eliminate the risks of these kinds of accidents. Unfortunately, there are thousands of accidents that happen at these kinds of crossings each and every year. In most cases, it's a train that slams into a passenger vehicle crossing the tracks, with devastating results.

When approaching a railroad crossing, drivers are to yield appropriately to the right of way. It's just like approaching a highway intersection. The only difference here is that the opposing traffic, or the train, must only rarely yield the right of way to the other motor vehicle. That's because it's virtually impossible. Drivers like you and I have the ability to steer and to brake somewhat easily. Trains can't alter their path or stop as easily. Train operators are restricted to moving their trains down a fixed path, and changes in speed can only be accomplished much more slowly. For this reason, motorists must be on the lookout when approaching these areas.

And accidents at railroad crossings are an ongoing risk as the railroad infrastructure ages. In 2009, there were nearly 10,000 train accidents. There were nearly 650 people killed and another 7,000 injured in these accidents. More than 95 percent of these accidents happened at either highway-rail crossings or during trespassing. There were more than 220 accidents that involved a motor vehicle and a train. In these incidents, more than 190 were killed.

Unfortunately, track defects and faulty warning systems are some of the top causes for these kinds of accidents. With the lack in funding, most rail companies don't renovate tracks that need attention until it's too late -- or until after a major accident happens.

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July 17, 2012

Couch v. Red Roof Inns, Inc. & Contributory Negligence in Alabama

The Georgia Supreme Court recently ruled a property owner could share blame with criminal defendants in a negligent security claim.

Couch v. Red Roof Inns, Inc., in a negligent security claim stemming from a violent attack at a hotel. The court found apportioning damages between the property owner and criminal assailant would not violate the victim's Constitutional rights of due process and equal protection. The court also found it permissible to provide jury instructions and a special form requiring such a division of blame. 1336316_sign.jpg

Premise liability claims in Montgomery can be brought as a result of a variety of incidences or accident claims, including slip and fall accidents, dog bites and swimming pool injuries. A negligent security claim alleges the business or property owner was not diligent in protecting customers and invited guests from a foreseeable criminal attack.

In this case, the plaintiff brought a lawsuit after suffering a violent criminal attack by unknown criminal assailants.

"The statutory scheme is designed to apportion damages among "all persons or entities who contributed to the alleged injuries or damages," the court wrote. The purpose of the tortfeasors, the court said, is for the jury to decide which entities shared liability for a victim's injury, so that their respective responsibilities can be determined. A determination on the fault of the plaintiff, may then reduce the award by a corresponding percentage.

Georgia's high court rejected a number of arguments from the plaintiff's, including that appropriation would nullify the obligation of property owners to keep their premises safe and to avoid the consequences of actions or inactions; and that the property owner should be held responsible as an accomplice to the crime, just as criminal law often holds accomplices responsible for an entire course of criminal conduct.

A negligent security claim in Alabama may result when a residential landlord, hotel owner, bar owner, concert promoter or other defendant is accused of facilitating a criminal attack through negligence. Parking lot assault, rape, robbery, or mugging may fall beneath the umbrella of negligent security. Under Georgia law, victims who are more than 50 percent responsible cannot collect damages.

While Georgia premise liability law does not directly apply in Alabama, our state is one of only five jurisdictions that recognize pure contributory negligence in auto accident cases. Maryland, North Carolina, Virginia and the District of Columbia also recognize contributory negligence in auto accidents. The law permits a victim to be assigned partial blame in the event of a crash.

As a practical matter, this means seeking experienced legal advice is a critical first step in the immediate aftermath of a traffic collision or an injury sustained on someone's property. Documenting the scene, collecting witness statements, taking pictures and beginning an early investigation can be the determining factor in whether you are ultimately forced to share blame.

Time can be of particular importance when dealing with a premise liability claim, as property owners and managers often quickly repair dangerous conditions in the wake of a serious or fatal accident.

Continue reading "Couch v. Red Roof Inns, Inc. & Contributory Negligence in Alabama " »

July 10, 2012

Motorcycle Accidents in Montgomery and Elsewhere Still High Despite Overall Fatality Reductions

According to the most recent traffic statistics, the number of motorcycle accidents in Montgomery and elsewhere in the state has not budged. There has been little to no progress made in the reduction of these accidents and these fatalities. According to Alabama Live, the state reports that about 10 percent of all traffic accident fatalities were of motorcyclists from 2008 through 2011.
In 2011, there were nearly 1,000 highway fatalities in the state of Alabama, according to the Alabama Department of Public Safety. About 100 of these traffic fatalities, or a little more than 10 percent, were motorcyclists. These accidents affect riders of all ages, too. One of the youngest motorcycle riders killed in these accidents was a 9-year-old. There were also 71- and 75-year-old victims.

Our Montgomery motorcycle accident attorneys understand that the number of traffic accident fatalities in the state started to dip in 2008, but the number of riders killed has remained stubbornly high nationwide. Officials with the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) report riding accidents have been on the rise for more than a decade.

The truth of the matter is that drivers aren't paying attention to these two-wheeled motorists and they're in trouble because of it. They're oftentimes overlooked on our roadways because of their small size. Although they may be smaller motorists, they still have the same rights to our roadways as you and I.

Safe driving advocates with the Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF) offer some safe driving tips to motorcyclists along with a number of courses for motorcycle safety. One of the closest locations to participate in these courses is at the University of Montevallo.

Throughout the summer travel season, we see a significant increase in the number of motorcyclists on our roadways. With the summer weather, riders get to dust off their helmets and hit the open road. Unfortunately, the increase in motorcycle riders brings about increased risks for traffic accidents. Motorcyclists are urged to be safe and cautious out there. Staying alerts and practicing defensive driving habits may be one of the most effective ways to stay out of an accident.

Motorcycle Safety Tips:

-Never travel in a driver's blind spot.

-Make yourself as noticeable as possible.

-Always use your blinker and make your movements in traffic as predictable as possible.

-Wear brightly-colored clothing to help other motorists to see you.

-Always expect the unexpected. Oftentimes drivers are not paying attention at the wheel. Be ready for their mistakes.

-Never assume that a driver sees you.

-Slowdown in inclement weather.

-Keep an eye on your speed.

-Wear a helmet. It's one of your best defenses against injury and death in the event of an accident.

-Wear other protective gear, like gloves and a jacket.

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