September 20, 2013

Drunk Driving Killing Innocent Motorists in Alabama

Drunk drivers are a risk to public safety. When a driver consumes alcohol and gets behind the wheel, they're doing more than endangering their own personal safety, they're endangering the safety of innocent and responsible travelers.

Autumn is a particularly dangerous time, with back-to-school, the start of college and pro football, and the trio of year-end holidays just around the corner.

Officials with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) report that more than a third of the people killed when an alcohol-impaired-driver accidents are not the impaired drivers, but are innocent people traveling among them.
In 2011, there were more than 9,800 people killed in drunk driving accidents. These fatalities account for a third of all traffic accident fatalities witnessed on our roadways year after year. Unfortunately, while the number of traffic accidents and the lives they take has declined in recent year, the proportion of those fatalities that are blamed on drunk-driving accidents has remained the same for the past decade.

Our Montgomery accident lawyers understand that it's the passengers in the vehicle, the occupants of other vehicles, the pedestrians and the bicyclists who are the innocent victims. Lives of innocent people are cut short because of the irresponsible driving habits of others -- especially drunk drivers. These are preventable crashes, easily within our control by making better decisions as drivers, passengers, and friends.

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September 10, 2013

Montgomery Traffic Safety - Safe Walk to School

Our students are back in the classroom and they're ready to tackle the school year. Unfortunately, parents and guardians are skipping out on what could be the most important education of all -- walking safely to and from the bus stop/school.
Officials with the National Safety Council (NSC) offer some important safety information, helping to keep safe the millions of students who walk to school each and every day.

"There is nothing as important as getting students to and from school safely," said Gary Catapano, senior vice president of safety for First Student.

Our Montgomery child injury attorneys understand that there were a more than 32,360 people killed in traffic accidents in 2011. Of these fatalities, children under the age of 15 accounted for close to 1,150 (about 5 percent). During the same year, there were also more than 170,000 of these young individuals injured in traffic accidents. Regarding pedestrian accidents, children under the age of 15 accounted for 20 percent of the pedestrian fatalities recorded throughout the year, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). In 2010, nearly one in every five children between the ages of 5 and 9 who were killed in traffic crashes was a pedestrian.

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September 1, 2013

Alabama Traffic Safety in Focus through Labor Day

Law enforcement will be out in force looking for dangerous drivers through the last long weekend of summer. According to the Ledger-Enquirer, nearly 100 traffic citations were handed out to Georgia and Alabama drivers Sunday night, with more to come as Georgia and Alabama law enforcement gear up for Labor Day weekend.
Our Montgomery car accident lawyers understand that this holiday weekend marks the end of the 100 Days of Summer Heat enforcement effort, but it's still one of the most dangerous times to be on our roadways. Officials from both states are coming together to help to reduce the number of fatalities over the holiday travel period.

During this time, there will be a roadblock in a city from each state. At these roadblocks, drivers will be checked to make sure that they're sober, that everyone in the vehicle is properly restrained and that the driver has proper documentation. One of the first roadblocks was conducted at the 13th Street Bridge. During this time, there were more than 20 agencies and close to 160 officers who wrote close to 100 traffic citations to drivers passing over the Chattahoochee River. Included in these citations were more than 30 child restraint violations, close to 20 no proof of insurance violations, seat belt violations and four drivers who were caught on the road with suspended licenses.

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August 26, 2013

Alabama Teens Increase Accident Risks by Skipping GDL Course

These days, there are an alarming number of teens who are delaying getting their driver's license. While there are many factors for this delay, one of the most common consequences is that they're at higher risks for an accident because they skip their state's Graduated Driver's Licensing (GDL) program.
According to CBS Philly, a study recently conducted by officials with the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety determined that less than 45 percent of teens ages 18 to 20 got their driver's license within the 12 months of the minimum age for licensing in their state.

Our Montgomery car accident lawyers understand that our state's GDL program allows young drivers to safely gain driving experience before obtaining full driving privileges. Most programs include three stages: Leaner Stage, Intermediate Stage and the Full Privilege Stage. When these stages are not completed, drivers step behind the wheel with little to no experience, and thereby increase everyone's risk for an accident.

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August 22, 2013

Montgomery Back-to-School Safety in Focus

Children are back in school and this time of year always brings with it serious accident risks.

According to officials with the National Safety Council (NSC), there's a new partnership to help to protect the millions of students who are back in school. They've partnered with First Student, the largest provider of student transportation services in North America, to share important safety information as the academic year gets underway.
Our Montgomery child injury attorneys know many children are too young to fully understand the risks -- starting with their bus stop and bicycle and pedestrian safety within their neighborhoods. We're sharing some important safety tips and asking you to share them with your youngest family members.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there were more than 4,200 people killed in traffic accidents in the U.S. in 2010. That means that there was a pedestrian fatality every 2 hours and another pedestrian injury every 8 minutes. As a matter of fact, pedestrians are about twice as likely to be killed in a collision compared to the occupants of a passenger vehicle.

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August 15, 2013

Nearly 5 Million Defective, Dangerous Products Barred From U.S. Import in 2012

Nearly 5 million products deemed either defective or dangerous were halted from entry into the U.S. last fiscal year, with the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission noting that many were products intended for children.
While our Montgomery child injury lawyers recognize this is an important service, particularly as it represents an increased vigilance over recent years, we know there are still a great number of dangerous products that make it to store shelves each day. Product recalls can help, but those are typically only issued after a defect or danger has been uncovered - meaning someone has already been hurt.

Not all of those dangerous products are imports, but it's not surprising that many are, given the fact that many of our biggest importers, including China and India, lack the same kinds of rigid safety standards that we hold in the U.S.

Of the 18,000 products the CPSC, along with the U.S. Customs and Border Protection, screened between October 2011 and September 2012, about 1,500 were found to be defective. There were some 4.8 million units in all.

Children's products with excessive lead levels have historically comprised the bulk of the products halted, and that trend continued last year. Other toys and child's products containing choking hazards and high phthalate levels were also among the top items seized.

The CPSC has been screening products since 1973. However, efforts were intensified in 2008 and again in 2011, with the creation of the Office of Import Surveillance.

But still, dangerous products manage to make it in. One recent example is the Baby Einstein Musical Motion Activity Jumpers, manufactured in China. Some 400,000 of these jumpers were sold in the U.S., and another 8,500 were sold in Canada. According to the CPSC, the yellow sun toy, which is attached to the seat frame, has the potential to rebound with significant force, causing injury to the infant. Already, there have been 100 incident reports resulting in more than 60 injuries. Of those, many involved bruises and facial cuts. In one case, a 7-month-old baby boy suffered a lineal skull fracture. In another case, an adult suffered a chipped tooth. The product was sold at major retailers, including Toys R Us, Target and over the last three years, retailing for about $90.

Of the children's products that were blocked from U.S. entry in the last quarter, 62 percent were due to excessive lead levels, 15 percent due to small parts creating choking hazards, 10 percent were for improper certification, 4 percent were for excessive phthalates, 4 percent were for improper tracking labels and 1 percent were for nursery products that were not durable.

Some of the adult products halted from entry included:

  • Luminaries (26 percent);

  • Cigarette lighters (19 percent);

  • Fireworks (15 percent);

  • Bicycle helmets (6 percent);

  • Hairdryers (6 percent);

  • Electric Aquarium equipment (6 percent);

  • Generator labeling (4 percent);

  • Mattresses (4 percent).

The rest included electric fans, flat irons and portable lamps.

Continue reading "Nearly 5 Million Defective, Dangerous Products Barred From U.S. Import in 2012" »

August 7, 2013

Alabama Work Accidents -- Ladder Falls a Constant Concern

Ladder falls have been played for laughs in slapstick comedies for years.
However, in real life, a ladder fall is anything but humorous. In fact, it can be deadly, as the U.S. Occupational Safety & Health Administration reports in, "Falling Off Ladders Can Kill: Use Them Safely," as part of the agency's ongoing "Stop Falls" campaign.

While our Montgomery work accident attorneys aren't aware of any Alabama-specific statistics on this matter, we do know that ladder-related accidents are on the rise in the U.S.

Researchers at the Columbus Children's Hospital Center for Injury Research and Policy, in a study published in a recent issue of the American Journal of Preventative Medicine, indicate that ladder-related injuries across the country climbed more than 50 percent between 1990 and 2005.

During those years, more than 2.1 million people were treated in hospital emergency rooms for ladder-related injuries. On average, that works out to more than 136,000 injuries annually.

Of those, about 10 percent had to be admitted to the hospital, which is twice what the average rate is for other injuries related to consumer products. Men accounted for nearly 80 percent of ladder-related injuries. The most common kinds of ladder injuries were fractures, mostly to the feet and legs.

Study authors said part of the problem is that many people who use ladders don't consider them a danger, the way they would, say, a power saw. Therefore, they don't use the kind of caution they probably should.

Construction site supervisors are often guilty of the same kind of oversight.

Some the tips OSHA advises to ensure ladder safety are:

  • Make sure you are using the correct ladder for the job. As an example, make sure the ladder is tall enough for you to reach your work area without having to stand on the top rung.

  • When using ladders to access another level, secure and extend the ladder at least 3 feet above the landing point to provide a safe handhold.

  • Make sure the base of the ladder is secured.

  • Wear the right shoes - non-slip, flat footwear.

  • Put the ladder on an even surface.

  • Make sure the ladder is totally extended before you start working.

  • Keep passersby from walking near or underneath the ladders by posting up cones or having a co-worker serve as a lookout.

  • Keep three points of contact on the ladder at all times. For example, two hands and a foot or two feet and one hand.

  • Don't carry any of your tools or other materials in your hands when climbing up the ladder.

  • Avoid leaning away from the ladder to do the task at hand. Keep your weight centered between the side rails at all times.

  • Don't use the ladder near a doorway, or if you must, make sure the door is locked.

  • Don't use a ladder if it's bent, missing a step or if it has no locking device on the spreader bars.

Continue reading "Alabama Work Accidents -- Ladder Falls a Constant Concern" »

July 27, 2013

ATV Accidents Target of CPSC Awareness Campaign

Recently, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) published a series of comprehensive graphical illustrations of the dangers of ATV accidents.

Titled "Big Real Tough Deadly ATV Statistics," the graphic showed details on the total number of accidents; details on where the accidents happen; details on how they impact victims and facts on other key issues. 1115332_atv_driver.jpg

Our Montgomery accident lawyers know that ATVs can be dangerous and that summer accidents are common. This infographic, however, clearly illustrates just how risky riding an ATV can be.

The Dangers of ATV Accidents

According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission:

  • There were 590 ATV-related deaths in 2010 according to early reports. A total of 508 of the victims were adults and 82 of the victims were kids under the age of 16. This continues the downward trajectory that the fatality rate has been on for the past several years, as deaths have declined each year since 2006.

  • The top states for ATV accidents over the past 26 years include California, Texas, Florida, Kentucky, Tennessee, North Carolina, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, New York and Michigan.

  • From 2005 to 2007, July is the month with the highest average number of ATV-related deaths, with a total of 102 fatalities. August is a close second with 100 deaths.

  • In 2011, there were more than 100,000 injuries. Almost 30 percent of those injuries involved kids under the age of 16.

  • The majority of injuries (29 percent) occurred to the arms and the hands. The head and neck, torso and legs and feet were also other top body parts affected by ATV injuries.

  • The majority of those who died between 2005 and 2007 were killed while riding their ATVs on paved surfaces. Thirty-three percent died on paved roads. Twenty percent were killed on unpaved roads; 12 percent on fields or in farmland; and nine percent in the woods.

Other areas where deaths occurred included unknown spots, and beaches or sand dunes.

These statistics show that ATV accidents are not uncommon and that those who ride face some serious risks. To minimize the dangers and reduce the chances of a fatal or serious-injury accident, the CPSC recommends:

  • Riding a helmet

  • Not allowing more riders than the ATV

  • Getting trained by a qualified instructor

  • Staying off of paved roads.

  • Reserving ATV riding for adults 16 and over

By following these safety tips, hopefully you can avoid accidents and stay safe during the prime ATV-accident season.

Continue reading "ATV Accidents Target of CPSC Awareness Campaign " »

July 17, 2013

Roadside Survey of Alcohol and Drugged Driving Causes Controversy

In July of 2009, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) published the "Results of the 2007 National Roadside Survey of Alcohol and Drug Use by Drivers." The survey indicated that similar research has been done for the past four decades in order to ascertain how many drivers may be under the influence of alcohol, illegal or prescription drugs. 1411310_colorful_cocktails.jpg

This year, however, there was controversy in several Alabama counties over the way in which the study was conducted. Our Montgomery accident lawyers know that accurate and complete data on drunk and impaired drivers is essential to make informed decisions about road safety. However, it is also important to make sure studies are conducted in a way that does not make people believe their rights are being infringed.

Alcohol and Drugged Driving Survey Stirs Criticism

According to, research for the 2013 National Roadside Survey of Alcohol and Drug Use was conducted on a weekend in early June. The survey was conducted between the hours of 10:00 p.m. to midnight and again from 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 in the morning. Traffic was stopped in several locations in St. Clair and Bibb County and off-duty deputies asked motorists to undergo a breathalyzer test, give a blood sample and give a throat swab.

The survey was conducted anonymously and those who provided the throat swab were paid $10.00 while those who provided the blood sample were paid $50.00.

However, some expressed concerns because the survey was conducted late at night, because there was no consent form, and because it was unclear whether people were really aware that the survey was voluntary. Worry over providing information to the government in a time of increasing privacy concerns was also a fear that was voiced by several.

These concerns are based upon worries that people's Fourth Amendment rights may have been violated. The Fourth Amendment protects against unreasonable and unjustified search and seizure.

Researchers, however, suggest that these concerns are unfounded, that the survey went well overall, that the public was receptive and that the process was very pleasant. A spokesperson for the group coordinating the study, the Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation, said that the survey actually went better than it often does and that he was surprised by the reaction.

Further researchers indicate that the use of the deputies to ask questions of motorists was done for safety reasons, not to infringe on people's rights or to make people feel as if the survey was not voluntary.

The reaction to the survey was reportedly unusual, as compared with the many previous times that the research has been conducted. The impact of social media was cited as one possible reason for the reaction. Drivers and motorists could better connect through the Internet and thus with news of multiple traffic stop areas, more questions were raised. The long history of the survey, however, suggests that the purpose really was to increase road safety and get a better handle on the number of drivers who are intoxicated on the road.

Motorists under the influence of drugs and alcohol continue to be a deadly issue on our nation's roads. This survey is an important means of collecting data to determine the effectiveness of public-awareness campaigns, law enforcement efforts and other initiatives.

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July 7, 2013

Drunk Driving a Costly, Deadly Gamble in Alabama

We often talk about the deadly risks associated with drunk driving. But if you're one of the lucky ones who manage to stay out of an accident, you still run the risk of getting busted, having a criminal record and forking over thousands of dollars.
According to MSN Money, a drunken-driving conviction will cost you thousands of dollars in fines, attorney's fees and higher insurance premiums.

Our Montgomery accident lawyers understand that convictions for a first DWI/DUI carry penalties of a fine ($600-$2,100). If you're busted in a second conviction, you're looking at fines of more than $5,000. Additionally, potential jail time, increased insurance premiums, possible job loss and a permanent criminal record await those convicted.

So what are all these costs for?

DUI Classes:

You may be required to take a class on the dangers of drunken driving, and you'll have to pay for it.

License Fees:

For a first-time conviction, you could have your driver's license suspended for 90 days. And don't think they'll just hand it back to you when those 90 days are up. You're going to have to pay to get that back.

Attorney Fees:

Yes, if you want the proper representation, that's going to cost you, too.

Insurance Hikes:

With a drunk driving conviction on your record, insurance companies are going to see you as a greater liability, and they're going to make you pay for it. According to recent statistics, you increase will average a 20 percent hike. Many report insurance premiums that nearly double.

Ignition Interlocks:

The Alabama Ignition Interlock statute became effective on September 1, 2012. Enacted by the 2011 Alabama legislature, this statute adds significant "after conviction" supervision and control processes by the sentencing court. All DUI convictions entered by an Alabama court on or after September 1, 2012 are subject to the new "ignition interlock" statute. You can be sentenced to an interlock device if you refuse to provide blood alcohol concentration, if you have a child under the age of 14 in your vehicle when the arrest occurs, or if someone else besides the drunk driver was injured in the accident.

In the state of Alabama, there were close to 300 people killed in drunk driving car accidents in 2011. According to The Century Council, there were more than 13,000 people arrested for driving under the influence. More than 80 of those arrests were of drivers under the age of 18.

The risks just aren't worth it. Stay sober behind the wheel this summer and talk to your family and friends about the risks.

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July 1, 2013

Fireworks Risking Your Family's Safety This Fourth of July

We know most of you are going to be celebrating this Fourth of July and a fireworks show or two will likely be on the agenda. But if you use these devices improperly, you could wind up with some serious injuries. Burns and fatalities result every year because of fireworks injuries in Alabama and elsewhere.
Alabama fireworks accidents are an all too common occurrence around Independence Day. Our Montgomery injury attorneys understand that children are at some of the highest risks for these kinds of accidents. And that's why officials from the Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH) recommend that parents protect children from injury by preventing them from using fireworks.

According to SAFE KIDS, there are roughly 5,000 children under the age of 15 who are treated in an emergency room every year because of a firework-related injury. Nearly 70 percent of these injuries occur during the month surrounding the Fourth of July holiday.

Your safest way to enjoy fireworks during this holiday is to attend a public and sanctioned firework event. When you don't want to do that, and you want to celebrate at your home, it's important that you're as safe as you can to prevent any tragedies. After choosing safe and legal fireworks to shoot off yourself, make sure you follow these safety tips to help to avoid an accident:

-Don't let children play with or light any kind of firework.

-Make sure that you look over the instructions and the warnings on all fireworks before use.

-Talk with children about the safety procedures needed to avoid an accident.

-Drinking and fireworks don't mix. Make sure that you always have a designated shooter.

-Always ignite one device at a time.

-Look out for tree branches or bushes that could catch fire.

-Never attempt to re-light, alter or fix any "dud" fireworks. If a firework does not work, return it to your dealer for replacement.

-Fireworks should only be used outdoors.

-Be cautious when lighting fireworks when it is windy.

-Sparklers should be immersed in sand once they appear out - they are still very hot and can burn.

-Don't allow children under the age of 12 to handle sparklers.

-Make sure that everyone has cleared the area before attempting to light a firework.

-Once you've lit a firework, clear the area.

-Only light fireworks on a smooth, flat surface away from the house, dry leaves and flammable materials.

-Read and follow all warnings and instructions.

-Little arms are too short to hold sparklers, which can heat up to 1,200 degrees. How about this? Let your young children use glow sticks instead. They can be just as fun but they don't burn at a temperature hot enough to melt glass.

Remember that the top injuries resulting from fireworks are burns, bruises, cuts, scratches and vision and hearing loss. Help to reduce your family's risks for these kinds of accidents by attending safe firework shows over this Fourth of July.

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June 26, 2013

Dog Bite Injuries Comprise One-Third of Homeowner Insurance Claims

The amount of money paid out for homeowner insurance claims for dog bites has spiked in recent years, despite the fact that the actual number of claims has remained about the same.
Our Montgomery dog bite lawyers understand that in 2012, one-third of all homeowner insurance claims paid out were for dog bites, according to the Insurance Information Institute. The release of the information came on the heels of National Dog Bite Prevention Week, late last month.

Across the country, dog bite claim numbers have remained steadily between about 14,300 and 17,000, with the total in 2012 tallied at roughly 16,500. The lowest number was in 2005, when there were about 14,300 claims filed.

Last year, dog bite claims accounted for nearly $490 million in insurance liability payouts. However, in 2003, when several hundred more actual dog bite claims were filed, the payout was about $325 million. The rate has increased by more than 50 percent, which surpasses the rate of inflation. Average payouts for a dog bite claim went from about $19,000 to about $30,000 in the last decade.

This is not to say that dog bite victims are scoring an impressive payday. The reality is that the cost of medical care has also risen. Depending on the severity of the injury, it could easily cost tens of thousands of dollars when you factor in emergency medical care, surgery, follow-up treatments, therapy and medication.

The Alabama Veterinary Medical Association reported there were approximately 7,000 dog bites in Alabama last year. The majority of those, the association says, occurred during everyday activities and most often affected young children who were interacting with familiar dogs.

Insurance companies are reacting to these kinds of claims by restricting coverage for individuals who have already had a dog bite someone or for those who have a dog in a breed that is considered high-risk. There are a few states that ban breed-specific legislation (Alabama isn't one of them). But even in most of those places, insurers aren't barred from formulating policy coverage based on the breed of dog one chooses to own.

Of course, any dog can bite. You can have an aggressive Maltese and a Pit Bull who is a gentle giant. Most of it comes down to training and consistency in following local leash law ordinances.

Still, it's important especially for families with young children to carefully weigh which breed will make the most sense for their lifestyle. Finding a good match will mean less stress for the animal, which can lessen the possibility of the dog lashing out through bites.

If you are looking for a dog that is laid back, the American Kennel Club recommends:

  • Bulldogs. These dogs are medium-sized, gentle, protective and form strong bonds with children. They require minimal exercise and grooming and prefer to stay indoors during hot weather.

  • Bullmastiff. This is a strong dog that grows large, but it is a breed well-suited to families. They don't require much exercise, but they can be quite stubborn, so early, consistent training is important.

  • Pugs. These dogs are known to be playful, willing to please and social. They require minimal exercise and grooming.

  • Chihuahua. These are great dogs for the city because of their size. They are intelligent and loyal.

  • French Bulldog. These dogs are known to be personable and affectionate.

Continue reading "Dog Bite Injuries Comprise One-Third of Homeowner Insurance Claims" »

June 20, 2013

Smartphones Sending Drivers through Red Lights?

According to NBC News, more than half of American adults have a smartphone. That's fine when we're talking about checking your email and surfing the web on the go, but it's not good news when we're talking about our roadways.
Our Montgomery car accident lawyers understand just how many problems distracted driving are causing on our roadways. According to a recent study from the National Coalition for Safer Roads and FocusDriven about 12 percent of red-light violations are caused by distracted drivers. In the study, officials examined close to 120 intersections in about 20 communities and took a special look at red-light violators. According to Auto Blog, the observations from this study led researchers to conclude that as many as 7.3 million red light infractions a year are the result of distracted driving.

The truth of the matter is that distracted driving is a pervasive threat on our roadways, particularly when it comes to cell phone use while driving. According to the National Safety Council (NSC), cell phone use is a factor in more than 20 percent of accidents, and drivers talking on handheld or hands-free cell phones are close to five times more likely to be involved in a car accident.

According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), only 16-year-old drivers and 17-year-old drivers who have held an intermediate license for fewer than 6 months are prohibited from using a cell behind the wheel. On the other hand, all drivers are banned from text messaging in the driver's seat.

With these loose laws, it's no wonder why so many accidents in the area are caused by distracted drivers. We need the proper laws in place to help ensure that drivers are keeping 100 percent of their attention on the road.

This is especially important when talking about our younger drivers. They're the ones who are most likely to engage in cell phone-related distractions behind the wheel. Do this by setting a safe example. Always put your best (and safest) foot forward when they're riding along in the vehicle with you. Parents are some of the most influential people in teens' lives. Also, make sure that you're providing plenty of supervised driving time for them to help to make sure that they're on the road to safe driving.

Lastly, you want to make sure they understand the rules of the road and they understand your expectations of them as a responsible driver. Your guidance and your help can save lives.

In 2011, there were more than 3,330 people killed in distracted driving car accidents. Hundreds of thousands more were injured. And all of these accidents were the result of careless actions and disregard for roadway safety. Shape up behind the wheel, pay attention and cut out your risks for senseless collisions.

Continue reading "Smartphones Sending Drivers through Red Lights?" »

June 13, 2013

Alabama Slip and Fall Prevention Goal of Safety Month

June is National Safety Month, and of all the existing potential hazards, the National Safety Council has chosen to focus on slips, trips and falls.
Our Montgomery premise liability attorneys know that some people might make light of these incidents as laughable blunders resulting from clumsiness. The reality is, falls can result in serious injury or even death, and a lot of times, there is some kind of negligence involved - whether it occurs at work or at a residence or nursing home or inside a business.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that more than 19,500 people die each year in America due to unintended falls.

Alabama premises liability laws indicate that property owners may be held liable when an injury was caused by unsafe conditions that they knew about or should have known about. "Property owner" may be defined as anyone from an individual homeowner to a corporation or business.

All property owners need to be mindful of potential hazards particularly as they relate to potential slips, trips and falls. Often, this involves adequately warning guests when there is a potential hazard and/or taking steps to eliminate that hazard. When they fail to do this, they should be held accountable.

While the causes of slip-and-fall accidents widely vary, some of the more common forms include:

  • Uneven walking surfaces. This could be broken stairways or uneven pavement, holes, lose tiles, loose rugs or defective carpet.

  • Poor lighting. If you can't see well enough where you are going, it's inevitably going to affect your ability to walk safely.

  • Wet floors. This is common especially in the summer rainy season, when you've got rain water being trudged in from umbrellas or boots or clothing. It's also a problem with liquids like oil, grease and cleaning products.

  • Defective handrails or safeguards. This is especially problematic in the construction field when workers aren't adequately protected due to a defective or non-existent scaffold.

In order to prove a premise liability case, your attorney will have to show that the property owner caused the unsafe condition, knew or should have known about the problem and failed to take steps to correct it in a timely fashion once it was discovered.

The workplace in among the most dangerous for those in Alabama in terms of falls. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that in Alabama, falls account for nearly 15 percent of work-related fatalities annually.

Of those, the vast majority were wage and salaried men. Forty percent were between the ages of 25 and 44 and the other 60 percent were between the ages of 45 and 64. The two most common types of falls were falls from a roof and falls from a ladder.

Some things to keep in mind about ladder safety (and this relates to both home and work):

  • Pick the correct ladder for the job, and make sure you've been trained on how to properly use it;

  • Spot check the work area for potential hazards, such as objects in the hallway or stray cords;

  • Don't stand any higher than the third rung from the top;

  • If the weather is windy or rainy or otherwise inclement, don't use the ladder outdoors. Get off immediately if the weather changes while you are out there;

  • Always keep at least three points of contact on the ladder, such as two feet and one hand.

Continue reading "Alabama Slip and Fall Prevention Goal of Safety Month" »

June 6, 2013

Summer Brings Drowning Risk to Alabama

Another devastating case of Alabama accidental drowning was reported recently, this time in Birmingham and involving a 3-year-old child.
Deputies are still investigating but report that the child was visiting his grandparents when he somehow managed to get out of the house and made his way to a nearby pool without anyone noticing. Upon discovery, the child was rushed to the hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

Our Montgomery wrongful death attorneys can think of almost nothing more absolutely heart-wrenching than these types of cases. While this incident is still being investigated, it's rare that anyone will face criminal charges in these situations. However, that does not mean that someone was not negligent in the actions leading up to the incident.

Accidental drownings are never purposeful, but they are 100 percent preventable.

As we enter the summer season, we'll sadly see more of these cases because, inevitably, more people will be in and around the pool. Children under the age of 5 represent 75 percent of all pool and spa deaths, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission. In fact, drowning is the No. 1 cause of injury and death for children between the ages of 1 and 4, and accounts for nearly 400 deaths annually.

These incidents are non-boating related, and often occur not far from parents or guardians.

Populations that are particularly vulnerable are African American and Hispanic children, the majority of whom cannot swim, according tot he CPSC.

Also, about 80 percent of all those who die in drowning are male.

In working to do all we can to raise awareness and prevent these tragedies, it's important for people to understand that drowning doesn't look like what you think it would look like. Many of us have this picture in our minds from television shows that it's somehow a frantic thrashing and splashing and desperate call for help. In fact, it's deceptively silent. In most cases, victims are unable to call or wave for help and instead simply slip beneath the surface.

In many instances of child drowning, adults are nearby, but they may have no idea what's happening. Here are some telltale signs that a swimmer is in distress:

  • The head is low in the water and the mouth is at water level;

  • The head is tilted back with the mouth open;

  • Eyes appear to be glassy, unable to focus, even empty;

  • Eyes are closed;

  • The hair is over the eyes or forehead;

  • The individual is not using his or her legs; rather, they appear vertical;

  • Gasping or hyperventilation;

  • Attempting to swim in a certain direction but not making any progress;

  • Attempting to roll over onto the back;

  • Appearing to be climbing an invisible ladder.

In preventing these scenarios from occurring in the first place, consider the following:

  • Enroll your child in formal swimming lessons;

  • Erect barriers around swimming pools and spas that would prevent your child from gaining access to these areas without the caregiver's knowledge;

  • Remember that drowning can happen anywhere - swimming pool, bathtub, bucket. Close supervision is essential;

  • If your children are boating, have them where life jackets - no exceptions.

Continue reading "Summer Brings Drowning Risk to Alabama " »

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