December 27, 2012

Alabama Drunk Driving Accidents a Holiday Risk

In 2011, there were 259 drunk driving deaths in the state of Alabama and drunk driving was a factor in 29 percent of all traffic deaths according to MADD statistics. These deaths were tragic and avoidable, and are a reminder that it is very important to refrain from drinking and driving this holiday season.

Over the holidays, the number of drinking and driving deaths normally increases as two of the biggest drinking days of the year are the Wednesday before Thanksgiving and New Years Eve. Our Montgomery accident attorneys want to remind everyone of the dangers; we urge you to stay safe and keep your friends and family safe over the holidays. 1174747_by_a_beer.jpg

Drunk Driving and the Holiday Season

The Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) is supporting a national drunk-driving prevention campaign called Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over. As part of the campaign, traffic safety offices throughout the U.S. are partnering with the GHSA to launch public education campaigns and to step up enforcement of drunk driving laws.

In Alabama, the Law Enforcement and Traffic Safety Division is participating in the Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over Efforts. Their efforts include:

  • Establishing checkpoints, especially in areas where high numbers of crashes related to alcohol have occurred in the past.

  • Using social media to educate the public of holiday alcohol dangers.

  • Hosting events to increase awareness of holiday drunk driving.

The Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over campaign will run from December 13 through January 1. Maximum enforcement efforts, including an increase in law enforcement and the establishment of DUI checkpoints, will occur during the highest risk days including New Years Eve.

How to Stay Safe
While the efforts of law enforcement may help to stop drunk drivers before they do any danger to themselves or others, ultimately it is up to each individual to make the choice for himself or herself to be smart and not drink and drive.

When you are going out this holiday season, it is important that you make the wise choice to protect yourself, your passengers and innocent drivers who have to share the road. Some of the things you should do include:

  • Always having a designated driver whenever you are going to be consuming alcohol. If you are going out to celebrate, you should name your designated driver prior to going out so that everyone is on the same page.

  • Stepping in if you see your friend's make dangerous choices. If you believe that your friend is too drunk to drive, take his or her keys, call a taxi or do whatever it takes to get him home safe.

  • Having the phone number of a taxi with you whenever you are going out drinking and bringing enough money to pay for a cab if necessary.

  • Talking to your teenagers about drunk driving if you are a parent, and making a house rule that they can always call for a ride no matter what.

By making the choice not to drink and drive, you can potentially prevent a devastating accident. You also need to be aware that there may be more drunk drivers out over the holidays and be watchful for others who might be driving erratically and who could cause you to be harmed in a crash.

Continue reading "Alabama Drunk Driving Accidents a Holiday Risk" »

December 18, 2012

Accident Fatalities Up Throughout Alabama

The number of trucker, pedestrian, bicyclist and motorcyclist fatalities is on the rise.

While officials with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) are focusing on an overall reduction in traffic deaths nationwide, the fact remains some of our most vulnerable travelers continue to face increased risks on the road.
We're not discrediting the decrease, we're just saying that maybe a little more attention needs to be paid to the categories that are seeing significant increases in fatal accidents. Our Montgomery accident lawyers understand that there was a near 2 percent decrease in the number of highway fatalities overall. The numbers dropped to less than 32,400 in 2011, making it the lowest number witnessed in the U.S. since 1949. Sounds promising, but did you know that Americans drove less in 2011 than in 2010? And that number is back on the rise amid a recovering economy and falling gas prices.

"As we look to the future, it will be more important than ever to build on this progress by continuing to tackle head-on issues like seat belt use, drunk driving, and driver distraction," said U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood.

Officials with the NHTSA report that there was a more than 1 percent drop in the number of vehicle miles traveled among Americans in 2011. Fewer miles driven means that drivers are spending less time on the road and are seeing fewer risks for accidents.

In the state of Alabama, there were close to 1,000 people killed in traffic accidents in 2011, according to statistics released this week. This serves as a more than 3.5 percent increase from the previous year. So much for any of that good news affecting us. Our drivers are facing more dangers across the board.

The largest increase in fatalities nationwide was among motorcycle riders. There were 80 motorcyclists killed in 2010 and close to 140 killed in 2011, illustrating a near 90 percent increase.

The number of distracted-driving car accident fatalities saw a steep increase too. Even with all of the newly-enacted distracted driving laws and with the advancements in hands-free technology, we're still seeing thousands die on our roadways because of careless driving.

Females may be getting a little safer behind the wheel. According to the most recent statistics, there was a drop of over 500 fatalities among females.

Head up! Fridays were a little safer in 2011 than they were in 2010. There were actually close to 400 fewer fatalities witnessed on Fridays in 2011.

Overall, there were 36 states that saw a reduction in the number of traffic fatalities. But the work is far from over!

We're not trying to focus on the bad news, we just want to bring it to your attention so we can all make the proper changes needed to improve roadway safety. Some of the simplest moves can help to reduce these accident risks. Wear a seat belt, stay sober behind the wheel and pay attention. The truth of the matter is that most traffic accidents are preventable.

Continue reading "Accident Fatalities Up Throughout Alabama" »

December 12, 2012

Alabama Injury Lawyers: Talk To Your Teens About Safe Driving This Holiday Season

According to a publication called "Alabama's Teenage Drivers at Risk," auto accidents involving teenagers are a critical problem and one that requires immediate attention.

The CDC also reports that auto accidents are the number one cause of death in kids between the ages of 16 and 19. Many of these accidents occur either when a teen is driving or when he or she is in the car with friends.

These statistics are frightening to parents, but it is important for parents to read them and to be aware of the risks that their kids face. Parents who know of the dangers of teen driving can talk to their kids about staying safe. As winter approaches, our Montgomery accident lawyers believe that this holiday season is the perfect time for parents to sit down with their kids and go over some driving risks and driving rules. 1140184_heather.jpg

Talk To Your Kids About Alabama Auto Accidents
The holiday season is a time when the weather gets bad and many kids may face driving in winter conditions for the first time. The holiday season is also a time when college kids may come home from school, driving long distances. With holiday vacations and so many parties and celebrations going on, kids may also spend more time driving during the holidays. For all of these reasons, the risk of accidents may increase.

The holidays are not only the most dangerous driving times, but they also present parents with the opportunity to spend time with their kids. During this time, it is a good idea to go over safe driving tips and to help your children to better understand how dangerous driving can be.

Alabama Auto Accident Risks for Teen Drivers
When you talk to your kids about car accidents and the risks they face, it is helpful for you and your children to understand just how serious the problem is. According to "Alabama's Teenage Drivers at Risk," an AAA publication:

  • There were 708 fatalities among teenagers in Alabama from 2004 and 2008.

  • Teen drivers ages 15 to 19 suffered 38,233 injuries in car wrecks between 2004 and 2008.

The crash data in Alabama indicates that every single day in the state, there were 21 injuries or deaths among teenagers in auto accidents. This is a staggering number of teens each day who experienced life-changing injuries or who lost their lives.

What Should You Know
As parents, it is important to make sure your kids not only know the risks but also understand the most dangerous driving behaviors. There are many top causes of teen car accidents but some of the most common reasons for wrecks included speeding, drunk driving, distracted driving and drowsy driving.

Teens especially may be at risk of driving distracted or driving when they are too tired., for example, reports that fatal wrecks with teens involved a distracted driver in 11 percent of cases. Further, the outcome of an AAA study published in Auto Blog revealed that drowsy driving was a bigger problem among teens than among the general population, and that teens were less likely to stop and rest if they were nodding off or exhibiting diminished ability to drive due to being tired.

Parents should discuss these specific behaviors with their teens and should forbid driving late at night, after having had a drink, or when talking or texting on a cell phone. Parents should also discuss the dangers of speeding, tailgating, aggressive driving, failure to yield, or failing to use proper turn signals.

For parents who want to go a step further in educating their kids and in enforcing safe driving rules, the website of the Alabama Department of Public health also has a driving contract that parents and kids can sign that outlines the requirements and limitations of a teen having the privilege to drive.

Continue reading "Alabama Injury Lawyers: Talk To Your Teens About Safe Driving This Holiday Season" »

December 5, 2012

BLS Data on Workplace Injuries Highlights Risks of Alabama Work Accidents

In October, our Montgomery work accident attorneys discussed the release of data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) on fatal Alabama work accidents. The 4,609 people who died in 2011 in workplace accidents represent only a small portion of those who were involved in workplace accidents during the year.

Unfortunately, many more people suffered injuries of varying degrees of severity.

Reviewing BLS data on workplace injuries in 2011 shows that an injury can occur in any field or any location. While some industries such as construction are inherently more dangerous than others, no one is immune from a potential accident on the job. As such, every worker and employer needs to be aware of workplace accident risks and needs to take steps to improve and encourage safety. 1170139_worker_and_the_excavator.jpg

Workplace Injuries in 2011
In addition to their data on workplace deaths in 2011, the Bureau of Labor Statistics also provides a report on Occupational Injuries and Illnesses. According to the BLS:

  • Almost 3 million non-fatal injuries and illnesses acquired at private sector workplaces were reported in 2011. This means that 3.5 injuries occurred for every 100 full-time workers in the private sector.

  • Among state and local government workers, there were approximately 820,900 cases of workplace injury and illness reported in 2011. This means that, on average, there were 5.7 injury cases for every 100 full-time workers. Although this means that the rate of government employees injured is significantly higher than the rate of private sector employees injured, this is not an increase over past years.

  • The majority of the injuries suffered by government workers -- almost four out of every five -- were suffered by those employed in local government.

  • More than half of the three million injuries suffered in private industries in 2011 were serious enough to require a worker miss at least some days of work.

  • The overall rate of injuries and illnesses that were serious enough to lead to restriction or job transfer declined in 2011.

  • The rates of illness and injury increased in agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting. This sector was one of only two private sectors that had an increased number of illnesses and injuries from 2010 to 2011.

  • The rate of injuries in both the healthcare industry and the social assistance industry declined, as did the rate of injury in retail establishments including grocery stores.

  • Workplace illnesses accounted for around 5.2 percent of the total number of non-fatal workplace injuries. The majority of reports of workplace illness came from goods producing industries.

These statistics also demonstrated clearly that injuries can happen anywhere. Although workers in animal production; workers in beverage and tobacco manufacturing; and couriers and messengers had some of the highest incidents or injury, even merchants and car salesmen were reported to have recordable cases of workplace injury.

While workplace injuries are always going to occur, employers should ensure that they do everything possible to reduce the risk of work accidents. This includes complying with all OSHA regulations and having clear and well-enforced company safety policies.

Continue reading "BLS Data on Workplace Injuries Highlights Risks of Alabama Work Accidents" »

November 28, 2012

Alabama Injury Attorneys Warn of Holiday Shopping Dangers

Since Thanksgiving officially kicks off the festive season, many people will be spending time at the mall over the next month, doing their holiday shopping. Buying gifts for your loved ones is supposed to be fun, but unfortunately, there are some risks associated with hitting the stores over the holidays.

Our Montgomery accident lawyers want to draw your attention to some of the biggest risks of holiday shopping so you can avoid these potential pitfalls. We also urge store owners, managers and employees to do their part in making the shopping experience safe since ultimately it is these commercial property owners who are responsible when something goes wrong. 864602_escalator_2.jpg

Holiday Shopping Dangers
Awareness is the first step to staying safe this holiday season, and there are many different risks that you should be alert to when you are buying gifts. For instance according to, Montgomery police warn crime prevention is important when making holiday purchases. Among other tips, police recommend you remain alert, carry minimal cash, use ATMs only in well-populated areas, avoid overloading yourself with packages, and check your vehicle carefully before entering.

While theft issues are often given a lot of attention during the holidays, these risks aren't the only ones that shoppers face. In fact, there are many potential hazards that can arise when shopping and cause injury. Dangers include:

  • Escalator and elevator accidents. America Now News cautioned readers that escalator accidents are becoming more common and warns that these accidents can be deadly. Each year, more than 10,000 people are hurt on escalators, 70 percent of whom are injured in falls.

  • Icy, wet or slippery floors. Winter weather combined with crowds of shoppers creates a recipe for disaster. Shoppers track ice and snow into stores where it melts and creates a serious fall risk.

  • Parking lots and stores with inadequate security. If a parking lot or store doesn't have a sufficient security presence, this creates a dangerous situation for patrons. Without adequate security, for example, you have a greater chance of being robbed in the store or when going out to your car. You also have a greater chance of being injured if a crowd gets out of hand and there are no security personnel present to do crowd control.

  • Improperly stocked merchandise. Stores may get busy over the holiday season and may not keep up when it comes to properly stocking shelves. There may be a lot of people putting items back on shelves where they don't belong, and stores may try to overfill their shelves so they don't run out of popular items. All of this creates a situation where there is a good chance that merchandise could fall and injure shoppers.

These are just some of the many potential risks that you can run into at a store or mall during the holiday season. Many of these risks are preventable if stores follow reasonable procedures to ensure their premise is safe for customers.

If a store fails in its obligation to make the premises safe, the store can be held liable for any injuries that shoppers experience. Shoppers who have suffered an injury should consider talking to a lawyer to find out if the store can be held responsible and to learn about what types of compensation may be available after an injury.

Continue reading "Alabama Injury Attorneys Warn of Holiday Shopping Dangers " »

November 22, 2012

Alabama Injury Attorneys Wish You a Safe Thanksgiving

Traveling to see your family over the Thanksgiving Holiday is a long-held tradition.

In fact, AAA reports that more people will be traveling this Thanksgiving than in the past. An estimated 43.6 million Americans are going to drive distances of 50 miles or more this holiday season.

Unfortunately, the increased number of people who are traveling during the Thanksgiving holiday creates an increased risk of auto accidents. Other factors during the four-day Thanksgiving weekend can also present dangers on the roads, including drivers who have celebrated with too much to drink. 661386_holiday_banquet.jpg

Because of the increased accident risks, our Montgomery accident attorneys want to urge every driver to exercise care this holiday season and to follow good safe driving practices to minimize the dangers.

The Risks of Driving Over Thanksgiving
The National Safety Council (NSC) provides some important information to drivers on the risks of Thanksgiving travel. According to their Thanksgiving Holiday Period Traffic Fatality Estimates:

  • Between 41,100 and 56,500 non-fatal injuries will be caused by auto accidents that occur during the 4.5 day Thanksgiving holiday weekend.

  • The number of traffic deaths over the Thanksgiving Holiday weekends between 2005-2010 was 9.8 percent greater than the number of traffic deaths during other weekend periods.

  • In November of 2010, 13.76 percent of all monthly traffic fatalities occurred during the Thanksgiving weekend holiday.

  • In November 2005-2010, 15.3 percent of all November traffic deaths occurred during the Thanksgiving weekend.

For purposes of the NSC report, the Thanksgiving Holiday weekend is considered to last from 6:00 PM on the Wednesday prior to Thanksgiving (Nov 21 this year) until 11:59 PM on the Sunday after Thanksgiving.

Minimizing Your Auto Accident Risks During Thanksgiving
With so many more accidents occurring over the Thanksgiving holiday, smart drivers will take steps to minimize their risk of becoming involved in a crash. While there is never a guarantee that you'll always be able to avoid an accident, following these safe driving tips should help you to stay safe:

  • Plan for extra traffic due to the holiday and leave yourself enough time to get to your destination. You don't want to feel forced to speed because you are running late.

  • Whenever possible, avoid the areas where the traffic is likely to be the heaviest. This can include areas around shopping malls during the post-Thanksgiving holiday shopping frenzy.

  • Never drive after drinking.

  • Refrain from distracted driving, including driving while on your cell phone.

  • Never drive when you are drowsy. Distracted driving can be just as dangerous as drunk driving.

  • Whenever possible, avoid construction zones, which can increase the accident risk.

  • If you can, try to time your journey to hours when the roads are likely to be less crowded such as early in the morning before everyone has headed out to start their celebrations.

These safety tips should hopefully help you to reduce your risk of a Thanksgiving accident. Of course, sometimes an irresponsible or negligent driver will still manage to cause a crash even if you've done everything right. If this occurs, the negligent driver can be held responsible for losses and damage that he causes.

Continue reading "Alabama Injury Attorneys Wish You a Safe Thanksgiving" »

November 14, 2012

Montgomery Injury Lawyers Support Drowsy Driving Prevention Week

As we recently reported on our Alabama Injury Lawyer Blog, early darkness brings its own set of risk factors -- and increases the likelihood of being involved in a serious or fatal accident.

Included is the risk of drowsy driving -- particularly as we head into the busy holiday shopping and travel season. Accordingly, the National Sleep Foundation has declared Nov. 12 to 18 to be Drowsy Driving Prevention Week. 490062_night_traffic.jpg

Our Montgomery accident attorneys know exhausted drivers can be every bit as dangerous as those who are intoxicated behind the wheel. And a poll conducted by the foundation in March revealed professional drivers and pilots are not immune. In fact, about 1 in 4 pilots and train operators admitted to allowing sleepiness to affect their job performance at least once a week! Truck drivers had results nearly as bad.

The same group was at six times greater risk of being involved in an accident while commuting to or from work.

"Driving home from work after a long shift is associated with crashes due to sleepiness," says Dr. Sanjay Patel, a sleep researcher at Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School. "We should all be concerned that pilots and train operators report car crashes due to sleepiness at a rate that is six times greater than that of other workers."

Teen drivers are also at high risk.

"Young Americans are sleepy, and this affects their health and safety," says David Cloud, CEO of the National Sleep Foundation. "It's important to get the word out that it's dangerous to drive drowsy. This could save thousands of lives."

The NSF estimates 1 in 6 fatal crashes involves a drowsy driver. About half of American drivers admit to having driven drowsy -- more than one-third acknowledge having done so in the past month.

Safety advocates now put the risk of driving drowsy on par with driving drunk. Those awake 20 hours or longer have reaction times similar to a driver with a blood-alcohol level of .08 and may be taking 3-4 second microsleeps without even realizing it.

Even when you are awake, driving at night can be quite dangerous. And the faster you drive, the less time you have to react. As the U.S. Department of Transportation reports, it's easy to outdrive your headlights. Low beams permit you to spot an object on the road about 160 feet in front of your vehicle. And most drivers need additional time to react. Total stopping distance for the average vehicle is more than 100 feet at 30 mph. It's nearly 200 feet at 40 mph.

At 70 mph, it takes nearly 500 feet to come to a complete stop.

The consequences of poor driving decisions are exacerbated after dark. So are the penalties for poor driving habits. Commit to yourself and to your family to make it a safe holiday season on the road.

Avoid distractions. Never drink and drive. Obey the rules of the road. Get plenty of rest. And wear your seat belt. Each can reduce your risk of being involved in a serious or fatal accident. Together we can make the roads safer for everyone.

Continue reading "Montgomery Injury Lawyers Support Drowsy Driving Prevention Week" »

November 7, 2012

Alabama Traffic Crashes: Darkness and Daylight Savings Time

With the recent end of Daylight Saving Time, we gained an extra hour of sleep, at the expense of an increased risk for car accidents. The time changed on the 4th of November at 2:00 a.m. when clocks rolled back to 1:00 am.

But with earlier nights, more drivers are forced to drive in low-light conditions -- conditions that make is tougher to see and avoid hazards. According to recent studies, the number of car accidents typically increase during that first Monday after Daylight Saving Time. Drivers beware!
"The Monday after the switchover we see more crashes than the Monday before or the Monday thereafter," said John Townsend of AAA.

Our Montgomery car accident lawyers understand that 90 percent of our decisions made while driving are made based solely on what we see. Although there's about 60 percent less travel during the evening hours, about 40 percent of all car accidents occur during this time.

Why is nighttime driving so dangerous?

-You can't see as well. Visibility is greatly hindered at night. We become completely dependent on artificial sources of light to help us to move along. Unfortunately, our peripheral vision is not as good during this time of day either. The darkness also makes it tougher for us to see as much of the roadway, more difficult to gauge distances and tougher to detect movement.

-We're more likely to be tired. When you're tired, your concentration diminishes and your reaction time is delayed. Our internal clocks know when it's time to sleep, and for most of us that time is when it's dark out.

-Drunk drivers come out at night. According to recent studies, drunk driving accidents are most likely to occur during the evening hours. It's important to drive defensively during the evening hours to stay out of the way of these irresponsible drivers.

So how can I reduce my accident risks when driving at night?

-Limit your speed limit.

-Allow greater following distances from the vehicle in front of you.

-Avoid driving too much at night. Schedule longer drives for the daytime.

-Never drive for too long during the evening hours. Allow for plenty of breaks, snacks and stretching time. If you get too tired -- stop and rest! Never try to push through sleepiness behind the wheel.

-Try to stay on roads that are well-lit.

-If vehicles behind you are following too closely or if glare from their headlights is bothering you, pull over and allow them to pass you.

-Avoid driving during inclement weather conditions.

-Make sure your headlights are always on.

-Make sure your car is prepared, too! Clean the windows, the mirrors and your headlights to help increase visibility.

And most importantly, you need to pay more attention when driving at night. Many times, drivers don't "see" the dangers on the roadway so they drive as if they're not there. The truth of the matter is that the dangers are present and we need to drive accordingly. Good luck and be safe and cautious out there!

Continue reading "Alabama Traffic Crashes: Darkness and Daylight Savings Time" »

October 26, 2012

Montgomery Injury Attorneys Wish You a Safe and Happy Halloween!!

Halloween is upon us, and before you start thinking about the scary ghosts, goblins and witches, you might want to think about the risks for pedestrian accidents and other Halloween dangers involving children.
Did you know that children are about four times more likely to be killed in a pedestrian accident on Halloween than during any other night of the year? They're also at severe risks for burn injuries and fall accidents during this time, too.

To help you to stay safe during this All Hallow's Eve, our Montgomery personal injury attorneys are here with the Alabama Department of Public Health to bring you some simple safety tips that can help your family avoid Halloween injuries.

Safety Tips for Costumes:

-Don't wear masks. Opt for face paint so that your visibility is not hindered.

-Make sure that all young children are accompanied by an adult.

-Make sure that you have a cell phone with you at all times in case you run into a problem.

-Look for costumes that are flame resistant.

-Dress in shoes that are easy to walk in. Sneakers are your best bet.

-Don't allow costumes to have loose ends. These serve as both fall hazards and as fire hazards.

Pedestrian Safety Tips:

-Choose a route before you head out. Pick one that's well lit and has safe crossings.

-Always cross the road at a crosswalk or at a street corner.

-Use sidewalks whenever they're available.

-Make sure you're wearing a bright-colored costume, carrying a flashlight or wearing reflective materials to make sure passing motorists can see you.

-Never dash out from behind a parked car.

-Look both ways before crossing the street. You also want to walk across the street -- never run.

-Never walk across someone's yard. There may be strands of lights or other tripping hazards.

-Stay away from animals that you do not know.

-Never allow young children to cross the road alone.

-Never go into someone's house who you don't know.

-Walk, don't run!

Treat Safety Tips:

-Let parents inspect candy before eating. They can help to make sure that there are only treats and no tricks!

-Discard all items that are not wrapped or have been tampered with.

-Get rid of small items or toys that can serve as a choking hazard.

Drivers are asked to be extra careful during this time of the year, especially in residential areas where kids are likely to be found. Avoid driving on Halloween night if you can. If you're heading somewhere to drop off kids, make sure you keep the passenger side of the car away from passing traffic when making the stop. Make sure you drive slowly and keep an eye on your surroundings. Beware of little ghosts and goblins in the area. Have a safe and Happy Halloween and keep safety as a number one priority out there.

Continue reading "Montgomery Injury Attorneys Wish You a Safe and Happy Halloween!!" »

October 21, 2012

Fatal Alabama Work Accidents in 2011 a Reminder of Risks

The government reports more than 4,600 people were killed on the job last year -- or about 13 people a day. Hundreds of thousands of others are seriously injured, sometimes disabled, as a result of an accident on the job.

Our Montgomery work accident attorneys note the risks are expected to increase with economic recovery. Though in the Bureau of Labor Statistics report just released, fatal work accident statistics for 2011 show Alabama saw decline, from 92 in 2010 to 74 last year. 1125238_forklift_1.jpg

Nationwide, there were 4,609 people who died on the job last year -- compared to 4,690 in 2010. However, the government expects to add about 150 to the total as final cases are reported, making any change a statistical wash.

Fatal Alabama Work Accidents

Transportation Accidents: 36
Contact Object/Equip.: 17
Falls: 10
Violence: 6
Exposure: 4
Fire: 1

Safety advocates, including the Occupational Safety & Health Administration continue to push safety programs aimed at addressing three core risk areas: Transportation accidents, falls, and workplace violence.

"On average, 13 workers lose their lives each and every day, and that loss ripples throughout their communities -- Children, parents, brothers, sisters and neighbors all bear an enormous burden when a loved one dies on the job," said Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis. "We know how to prevent these fatalities, and all employers must take the steps necessary to keep their workers safe."

Nationwide, violence in the workplace now accounts for more deaths at work than any other type of accident except transportation accidents. A total of 780 people were killed in acts of workplace violence. In many cases, negligent security may be to blame.

Transportation accidents -- and particularly distracted driving -- continue to be a focus. The federal government now forbids all federal employees from using cell phones behind the wheel. And organizations like the National Safety Council continue to push employers to adopt distracted driving policies. Those that don't are opening themselves up to liability in the event of an accident. Employees who are involved in an accident on the job should always consult an experienced attorney about the best course of action.

The number of construction accidents in Alabama and elsewhere has declined throughout the economic downturn. The U.S. Department of Labor reports 721 deaths in construction accidents last year, compared to 774 in 2010. However, that trend is also likely to reverse as the housing market recovers. The Los Angeles Times is reporting the housing market is recovering faster than many economists anticipated.

OSHA also continues to be concerned about the large number of construction accidents among Latino workers. While the overall number of workplace fatalities has declined by about 20 percent in the last decade, the number of fatalities among Hispanics has increased 35 percent. This is particularly true among those in the construction industry.

Continue reading "Fatal Alabama Work Accidents in 2011 a Reminder of Risks" »

October 15, 2012

Alabama Supreme Court Reaffirms $4M Wrongful Death Verdict in Boudreaux v. Pettaway

Doctors, hospitals, insurance companies and their attorneys have all of the resources necessary to mount a vigorous defense. And, when all else fails, "delay, delay, delay" is an apt motto for the prevailing legal strategy among large corporations and the law firms making millions to protect them.

Montgomery wrongful death attorneys
note this Alabama Supreme Court decision last month reaffirming a $4 million award in a Mobile wrongful death case is a perfect example of the lengths to which the opposition will go to avoid accepting responsibility. In Boudreaux v. Pettaway the state Supreme Court upheld a $4 million award to the family of a 32-year-old mobile woman who died at Springhill Memorial Hospital in Mobile. 1207445_courtroom_2.jpg

The jury, having listened to all the facts, had originally awarded $20 million to the estate of Paulett Pettaway Hall. The family had sued Dr. Randall Boudreaux and other defendant's including his employer, Coastal Anesthesia. Hall presented at the hospital with abdominal pain and vomiting after having previously undergone gastric bypass surgery. Trial testimony revealed she was given anesthesia via routine induction, despite the risk of aspiration given her medical history.

Post verdict, defendants appealed, requesting a remittitur of the damage award and a new trial. A remittitur is a request of the judge to lower the damage awarded by the jury in a civil suit, typically because it's greater than even the amount requested by the plaintiff. In cases in which it is granted, the victim's family may either accept the reduced award or request a new trial.

In this case, the plaintiff's agreed to the reduced $4 million reward. However, instead of paying just one-fifth of the amount awarded by a jury of the victim's peers, the defendants again appealed, claiming the court should have granted a new trial. And, in the alternative, that it was entitled to a further reduction of the jury award!

A total of $1 million in insurance coverage had already been deposited with the clerk-of-court's office. Court records indicate the anesthesiology practice paid 7 physicians more than $11 million during a recent four-year time span and was generating annual profits in excess of $5 million.

"Given the defendant's income and the strength of their bad-faith claim, as evaluated by the trial court, there is no evidence demonstrating that the current award will financially devastate the defendants," the court wrote in denying both requests.

The court cited Mutual Assurance, Inc. v Madden, 627 So. 2d 865 (Ala. 1993) as it related to settling bad faith claims. In this case, the court notes the victim's family attempted to settle the case within the $1 million policy limits before trial. The insurer refused but then attempted to settle for less than the limits during trial.

"[The adjuster] did indeed put MAG Mutual's insureds at risk for an excess verdict when, during the course of the trial, after hearing all the evidence from all the expert witnesses establishing that there were breaches of the standards of care, [the adjuster] elected instead to try to save his employer money while exposing its insureds to the likelihood of an explosive verdict that would far exceed the $1 million coverage limits."

Unfortunately, this case is far from unusual. In fact, it's typical. When choosing an Alabama personal injury or wrongful death law firm, it's important to select a firm with the knowledge, experience and resources to properly litigate your case.

Continue reading "Alabama Supreme Court Reaffirms $4M Wrongful Death Verdict in Boudreaux v. Pettaway" »

October 2, 2012

Alabama Traffic Accidents: Parents Behaving Badly

The number of car accident fatalities is up close to 10 percent, according to the first 7 month's of statistics for 2012.

The National Safety Council (NSC) reports that there were nearly 21,000 people who were killed in car accidents in the United States through July.
Montgomery car accident attorneys understand that there were close to 500 car accident fatalities reported in the state of Alabama during this time. This number shows a 5 percent decrease from 2011, but a more than 10 percent increase from 2010 statistics.

Many of these accidents are the result of irresponsible drivers. It's not that drivers don't know how to drive. It's just that they choose not to do so safely. Also, teenage drivers account for a good portion of these accidents. Their inexperience behind the wheel makes them highly vulnerable to crashes.

That's why we're asking parents to make sure that their teenage drivers are getting the proper safe-driving education they need to ensure a lifetime of safe driving habits. Recent studies are showing that parents aren't setting a good, safe example and instead are too often teaching their kids by example what not to do behind the wheel.

According to Claims Journal, more than 65 percent of teenage drivers think that their parents are following different driving rules. The most recent study was conducted by Liberty Mutual Insurance and SADD (Students Against Destructive Decisions). Researchers talked with more than 1,500 teens about their parents driving habits while they were in the car. These habits included speeding, driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, driving while distracted and not wearing a seat belt in the vehicle.

What do Teens Notice About Parent Drivers?

-More than 90 percent are blabbing on a phone.

-More than 85 percent are not obeying the posted speed limit.

-Nearly 50 percent are driving without a seat belt.

-About 60 percent are sending and receiving text messages behind the wheel.

-Roughly 20 percent are drinking and driving.

-More than 5 percent are driving stoned.

With all of this dangerous driving behavior reported, parents still expect their young drivers to be safe and to follow all of the rules behind the wheel. It's the "do as I say, not as I do" theory, meaning parents can preach, but they don't often practice.

It's little wonder why our teens are in so many accidents. According to the study, 90 percent of them say they often talk on a cell phone while driving. Another 95 percent say they exceed the speed limit occasionally and about a third say that they don't need to wear their seat belt. About 80 percent text message behind the wheel, more than 15 percent say they've driven under the influence of marijuana and another 15 percent say that they've driven under the influence of alcohol.

"The best teacher for a teen driver is a good parental role model," said Stephen Wallace, senior advisory with SADD.

The last three months are typically the deadliest of the year. Many teens will be completing driver education and getting their license. And winter weather will combine with the holiday travel season.

Do your part and set a good example for your teen driver -- the life you save could be your own.

Continue reading "Alabama Traffic Accidents: Parents Behaving Badly" »

September 27, 2012

Alabama Uninsured Motorist Crackdown Set for New Year

Your chances of being involved in an uninsured car accident in Montgomery or elsewhere in Alabama should go down next year, as authorities implement a new system aimed at cracking down on drivers who are on the road without insurance coverage.

The Montgomery Advertiser reports some 900,000 vehicles in Alabama are without insurance. Alabama passed a law in 2000 requiring all motorists to carry liability insurance. Mandatory minimum insurance requirements are $25,000 property damage and personal injury per person and $50,000 personal injury per accident. 1269975_coins_in_hand.jpg

Drivers are required to carry proof of insurance in their vehicle at all times. Beginning Jan. 1, 2013, the new enforcement efforts will allow officials to check the State of Alabama Online Insurance Verification System when a motorist renews a vehicle's license plates. Police officers will also have immediate access to the database to verify a vehicle's insurance status.

Failure to carry the required insurance can result in a fine of $500 and the suspension of your vehicle's registration. The fine for a second or subsequent offense increases to $1,000. A reinstatement fee of $200 to $400 will also be required.

Officials estimate 1 in 5 vehicles in Alabama are uninsured.

A report published by the Insurance Research Council during the economic downturn identified Alabama drives as among those most likely to be uninsured. The state ranked 6th in the nation with 22 percent of the state's 4 million vehicles uninsured at any given time.

In response, the Alabama legislature last year passed the new enforcement measures. Advocates contend too many motorists bought insurance when it came time to renew their license plates -- then stopped paying the premium.

Now, the database will permit an officer to verify a vehicle's insurance status before stepping out of the cruiser during a traffic stop. The system has been undergoing tests in Winston County, where officials say the reaction from motorists has been largely positive.

Judge Sheila Moore noted motorists who buy auto insurance want other motorists to do the same.

Indeed. Montgomery personal injury lawyers are often asked whether victims of an accident with an uninsured or underinsured motorist are without legal recourse. The answer is complex. Certainly contacting an experienced law firm in the immediate aftermath of such accidents can be a critical factor in protecting your rights. In some cases, it may be possible to collect against the at-fault driver's assets. In other cases, insurance policies in place on other vehicles in a driver's household may provide coverage.

A driver's own insurance coverage may be another source of recovery. In fact, we recommend drivers purchase more coverage than the law requires. Typically, a substantial increase in coverage is available for a very modest increase in premium. In the event of a serious or fatal accident, $50,000 in insurance coverage might not be enough to cover the cost of your initial emergency treatment.

Uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage in the amount of $250,000 may be added to most polices for less than $100 every six months.

Continue reading "Alabama Uninsured Motorist Crackdown Set for New Year" »

September 21, 2012

Alabama Child Safety: Check Your Car Seat this Week

Buckle up your child. Every car ride. It could save their life.

State and federal safety advocates are sponsoring Child Passenger Safety Week this week, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Officials with the NHTSA recently joined forces with Safe Kids in an effort to get more parents to properly buckle their kids into car seats during every car ride. According to recent studies, parents and guardians are making very common mistakes in using car seats. These surveys also noted that about 20 percent of parents fail to even pick up the instruction manual.
Montgomery injury lawyers understand that car accidents continue to be the leading cause of death for kids under the age of 12 in the U.S. The most effective way to protect them in the event of an accident is to put them in the right child car seat and to use it the right way. To take it a step further, we're asking parents to visit one of the Child Car Seat Inspection Locations in Alabama to double check that their seats are being used correctly and that their children are buckled in the right way.

"The key to keeping kids safe is to make sure your child is in the right seat for their age and size - and to make sure that the seat is correctly installed in your vehicle," said U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) Secretary Ray LaHood.

According to a new survey from the NHTSA, there are five serious mistakes that parents are making when buckling in kids.

Car Seat Mistakes:

-Parents are oftentimes using the wrong harness slots when installing these seats.

-Parents are not placing the chest clip properly over their child or they're not using the clip at all.

-Parents are installing these seats too loosely. They shouldn't be able to move more than an inch when properly buckled.

-Parents are leaving the harness too loose and are allowing too much slack between the child and the harness strap. There should be absolutely no slack when properly buckled.

-Parents are placing the seat belt improperly over the child. It should always rest over the stomach and never over the face or the neck.

Alarmingly enough, although 20 percent of drivers don't read the instruction manual and don't properly install these seats, about 90 percent of parents say that they're "very confident" in their ability to do so the right way. This is no time to take chances! Make sure that your child is properly buckled in the correct seat during each and every car ride. They can't do it themselves and they must rely on your good judgment to help keep them safe on the road!

Continue reading "Alabama Child Safety: Check Your Car Seat this Week" »

September 18, 2012

Drivers Behaving Badly in Alabama, Even With Stricter Laws

Bad driving just might be your fault.

According to Science Magazine, drivers who are likely to use a cell phone while driving might not be any safer when they don't have a phone in their hand.

A recent study in Accident Analysis & Prevention concluded that if you're willing to talk on a cell phone behind the wheel then you're likely to engage in other dangerous driving habits.
Our Montgomery car accident lawyers know just how dangerous it is to use a cell phone behind the wheel, especially when you use it to text message. Drivers are 23 times more likely to get into an accident while they're texting behind the wheel. What many safe-driving officials are puzzling over, however, is why anti-distracted driving laws aren't working to reduce the number of car accidents. Studies have shown that cell phone use by drivers has decreased significantly in states with these laws, but the number of car accidents has not shown a corresponding decline.

According to the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA), only drivers who have an intermediate license, and have had it for less than six months, are prohibited from using a cell phone behind the wheel in Alabama. All drivers are banned from text messaging while driving. Still, these laws might not be reducing the risks of accidents like officials had hoped. Drivers are still driving dangerously even without a phone in their hand. There's little to no regard for safety out there!

"The fundamental problem may be the behavior of the individuals willing to pick up the technology," said Bryan Reimer, with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

The study determined that drivers who are likely to pick up a cell phone behind the wheel are also likely to engage in other dangerous driving habits on a regular basis. These habits include excessive accelerating and braking, speeding, unnecessary lane changes, tailgating and driving too fast for conditions. Officials think it might not be the phones that are causing these accidents, but the dangerous driving habits of drivers regardless of cell phone use.

The American Automobile Association (AAA) says that this study in spot on! Officials with AAA have recently conducted a survey that determined that many drivers are aware of the risks that are associated with dangerous driving behaviors, but neglect to do anything to change their own behavior behind the wheel. They continue to speed down our roadways with little to no concern for the risks associated with their driving habits.

It's clear that drivers know the difference between right and wrong. But the big question is why are drivers still behaving badly? We're asking everyone to focus on the importance of safe driving as we head into the fall travel season. Keep the phones out of the driver's seat and make sure to obey all road laws -- your life depends on it.

Continue reading "Drivers Behaving Badly in Alabama, Even With Stricter Laws" »

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