February 1, 2013

Alabama Car Accidents Surge on Super Bowl Sunday

The widely anticipated Super Bowl XLVII Sunday showdown of the San Francisco 49ers versus the Baltimore Ravens will kick-off Sunday at 5:30 p.m. Central Time. beer.jpg

Our Montgomery personal injury lawyers are expecting a great game. Unfortunately, we're also expecting a spike in DUI car accidents this weekend and into the early hours of Monday morning as well.

It's the most popular broadcast on television, with some 130 million American viewers tuning in live each year.

A 2003 study conducted by the researchers at the University of Toronto and published in the New England Journal of Medicine examined nationwide DUI crash statistics for nearly 30 consecutive Super Bowl games.

The study showed that overall, the number of crashes in the hour after the game ends jumps by nearly 70 percent.

Most people would say the reasons why are fairly simple: People drink alcohol when they watch football, and are sometimes irresponsible and get behind the wheel after doing so. This is true, but there are a number of other contributing factors as well. For example, the game doesn't typically end until late in the evening. Statistically, more crashes happen at night and this also contributes to driver fatigue. Additionally, there is a lot of "Monday morning quarterbacking" that goes on during the drive home - replaying all the what-if's and recounting all the best or most disappointing plays. This inevitably contributes to driver inattention.

This phenomena is more pronounced among fans whose team has just lost. In fact, researchers found that while DUI crashes rose by 68 percent in states where the home team lost, they increased by just 6 percent in states where the home team won. Overall "neutral" states saw an increase of about 50 percent.

In general, we know that alcohol is involved in nearly 40 percent of all fatal traffic accidents claiming the lives of 16 to 20-year-olds. Unfortunately, many professional football players aren't setting a prime example for these youth, with many recent headlines chastising the National Football League for its seemingly laissez faire attitude regarding numerous players arrested for drunk driving. USA Today sports writer Jarrett Bell scolded the agency saying it "should be ashamed of its weak DUI policy."

Law enforcement officials have known anecdotally for years that DUI crashes and arrests climbed significantly on Super Bowl Sunday, prompting them to organize checkpoints and roving patrols in an effort to nab offenders. This year will be no different. Alabama authorities have pledged to be out in full force.

Sadly, they won't catch everyone. We encourage all Super Bowl fans to consider the following before kick-off:

  • Before the party starts, designate a sober driver.

  • Pace your alcohol consumption by alternating with non-alcoholic drinks and eat plenty of food.

  • If it comes time to leave and you are drunk or buzzed without a designated driver, call a friend, call a taxi or stay where you are. Whatever you do, don't get behind the wheel.

  • If you see a friend about to drive drunk, intervene.

Continue reading "Alabama Car Accidents Surge on Super Bowl Sunday" »

January 27, 2013

Report: Alabama Car Accident Prevention Laws Need Improvement

Our Montgomery personal injury lawyers note a recent national report details the activity of each state legislature over the past year as it relates to car accident prevention and highway safety.roadinnorthernwisconsin.jpg

Alabama didn't fare as well as we would have hoped. It was given a mid-level "yellow light" rating by the Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, which released its "2013 Roadmap of State Highway Safety Laws" earlier this month.

The state had nearly 900 fatalities attributed to car accidents in 2011, bringing the 10-year total to more than 10,200. Every year, that costs the state an average of $2.8 billion, not only in property damage, but in emergency services, hospitalization, lost wages and disability benefits.

This alone should be enough of an incentive to spur action by our elected representatives. But adding to the persuasion is the fact that federal money is available through the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (or MAP-21) for those states that are successful in the passage of certain traffic safety initiatives. Last year, the federal government approved setting aside billions of dollars for this specific purpose.

When you consider the funds taxpayers have to shell out due to motor vehicle crashes each year (more than $230 billion nationwide), it makes a great deal of sense. That's in addition to the fact that more than 32,000 people were killed in America in car crashes in 2011, another 2.2 million were injured and traffic accidents remained the No. 1 cause of death for young people between the ages of 5 and 24. In fact, some 1,150 children under the age of 14 were killed in motor vehicle accidents in 2011.

Alabama is not the only state with work to do. The advocacy group notes that there are 316 laws that need to be adopted in all states and the District of Columbia in order to meet the research group's recommendations for basic safety laws. These measures touch on everything from driver cell phone restrictions to motorcycle helmet requirements to graduated driver's licenses for teens.

Specifically in Alabama, we have our work cut out for us. The recommended laws that we have yet to pass include:

  • A law requiring children age 7 and younger to ride in a booster and/or car seat;

  • A graduated driver's license program for teens that would include provision for 30 to 50 hours of supervised driving, an age 16 minimum for learner's permits, tighter nighttime restrictions, stronger cell phone restrictions and an age 18 minimum for an unrestricted license;

  • Ignition interlock requirements for all DUI offenders - not just those with multiple arrests and convictions.

Booster seat laws have been shown to reduce the risk of injury in children ages 5 to 7 by nearly 60 percent. Those in side-impact crashes were found to benefit the most, with the risk of injury reduced by nearly 70 percent.

With regard to teen driving, we know that young teens (15, 16 and 17) are far more likely than older drivers (even their 18 and 19-old peers) to get into motor vehicle crashes. A lot of that is due to inexperience. That's why graduated driver's license programs are so important. They allow teens to gradually gain the skills needed to be safe drivers.

And lastly, ignition interlock requirements for all DUI offenders should be a no-brainer. If you drive drunk, that's the price you should have to pay. Some people have taken the stance that first-time offenders shouldn't be dealt with as harshly because they may be social drinkers who made a mistake. But Mothers Against Drunk Driving reports that most offenders, by the time they receive their first DUI, have already made roughly 90 trips behind the wheel while impaired. The rest of us should not be giving a free pass to those who put all of our lives in danger.

Continue reading "Report: Alabama Car Accident Prevention Laws Need Improvement" »

January 22, 2013

Alabama Gun Accidents & the Risk of Child Injury

A fatal gun accident in Tuscaloosa claimed the life of a 13-year-old boy and coincides with the proposal to lift the federal immunity of gun manufacturers, dealers and trade groups in negligence and product liability lawsuits.

Our Montgomery personal injury lawyers understand that some lawmakers say these entities need to take reasonable precautions to avoid inherent design flaws, improper firearm storage and for putting guns in the hands of those likely to do harm. 1152740_in_war.jpg

In this case, a tragedy happened during a group rabbit hunting excursion at a club in north Sumter County. In addition, there could be an issue of premise liability, and whether the facility was equipped for the safe handling and storage of these weapons. And finally, it could be that the individual whose hand was on the trigger was not being as responsible as would be prudent.

We're still learning more about this case, so it remains to be seen. Hunting accidents in Alabama are tragic. However, most of the emphasis when it comes to gun violence is being placed on mass shootings. Certainly the gun industry is facing heat like it hasn't in several decades. Alabama has a long and proud history of gun ownership and support for guns. However, gun ownership comes with a responsibility to prevent accidental injuries, especially those involving children.

According to local news reports, the eighth-grader was with a group of fellow teens who had just finished their trip. They were reportedly putting the guns away and believed the weapons were empty when one accidentally went off, killing the young teen.

Authorities are not pursuing a criminal investigation, and are instead treating the incident as an accident.

Of course, the legislative proposal to repeal the 2005 Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act is in direct response not to this, but rather to the fatal shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut, in which 20 elementary students and six adults were killed by a lone gunman who ambushed the school.

The 2005 law was initially passed by the National Rifle Association and other gun enthusiasts, who complained bitterly about the expense of battling these sorts of negligence lawsuits.

But perhaps the bigger issue is neglect with regard to gun owners who don't properly store their weapons or teach their children gun safety. In fact, accidental child deaths caused by guns are not rare - being among the top 10 leading cause of death for all child age groups outside of newborns and infants. In 2010, there were a reported 114 child deaths and 3,060 nonfatal incidents involving guns.

In order to prevent these types of incidents, proper gun storage and education is key. As a general rule, if you have guns and small children, make it a point to:

Keep your guns locked;

Keep your guns unloaded;

Keep your ammunition locked;

Keep your ammunition in an area separate from your gun.

You also want to make it a point to teach your child the importance of extreme caution around weapons. Try to use specific examples, such as what to do if a friend shows you a gun or if they see a gun in a classmate's backpack or if they find one while playing outdoors.

Continue reading "Alabama Gun Accidents & the Risk of Child Injury" »

January 10, 2013

New Report Quantifies Drowsy Driving Risks in Alabama

In November, our Montgomery injury lawyers discussed our support for Drowsy Driving Prevention Week and the risks associated with exhausted drivers behind the wheel. We mentioned that drowsy driving is dangerous for everyone, including teens and professional drivers, and discussed that drowsy driving can be just as serious as driving drunk.

Now, a new report is out indicating that drowsy driving awareness is more important than ever. The New York Times covered the report in a January 4th article and the details are enough to make any driver concerned. 897022_taking_a_nap_v2.jpg

Drowsy Driving a Widespread Risk
With around 730 fatal accidents in 2009 attributed to drowsy driving, government researchers decided to take action to get a little more information about the scope of the problem. According to the New York Times, an epidemiologist working at the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention undertook a widespread survey on the dangers of drowsy driving.

The survey involved numerous detailed questions about daily activities including sleep habits, work habits and driving habits. The study was administered to 147,000 adults across 19 different states as well as the District of Columbia and it shed a lot of light on just how many people are choosing to drive when they are fatigued. According to the survey respondents:

  • Approximately 4 percent of adults nationwide admitted that they had fallen asleep while they were driving.

  • Men were more likely to report driving while fatigued than women.

  • At least five percent of drivers between the ages of 18 and 44 admitted to drowsy driving. Youth were the largest group of drowsy drivers.

  • The number of people driving while fatigued declines with age. Only 1.7 percent of people aged 65 and older reported driving while drowsy.

  • Snoring and short sleep duration were both associated with a greater likelihood of drowsy driving. Snoring may be a sign of obstructive sleep and breathing challenges while sleeping, which can help to explain why those who snore are more likely to be tired behind the wheel.

These statistics should be cause for concern for every driver. Although 4 percent of people falling asleep behind the wheel may not seem like much, when you consider how many drivers there are, that is millions and millions of people who might be nodding off.

Is There Hope for Curbing Drowsy Driving Dangers?
While the new survey reported in the New York Times indicates that the dangers of drowsy driving are quite widespread, there is hope that people are getting help and trying to improve their sleeping habits, which could curb drowsy driving risks.

On December 19, for example, Money News reported that more Americans than ever before have been seeking help for sleep disturbances.

According to the Money News Article, the American Academy of Sleep Medicine announced that it has accredited its 2,500th sleep center. This is a record high since the first center was accredited back in 1977 and there are now five times more sleep centers than were in business a decade ago. The increase in the number of centers has been prompted by more Americans than ever being proactive in solving problems related to insufficient sleep.

As Americans increasingly seek treatment for problems impacting their sleep, the hope is that there will be fewer drowsy drivers on the road and that the roads will become a safer place for everyone.

Continue reading "New Report Quantifies Drowsy Driving Risks in Alabama" »

January 3, 2013

Alabama Traffic Safety: Make Safe Driving Your 2013 Holiday Resolution

On the last day of 2012 before the New Year dawned, Alabama.com took a look at some resolutions from some big names throughout the state. Resolutions from Tuscaloosa officials and business owners, as well as from UA Athletes, included things like being on time, working harder and eating healthier. One thing noticeably absent from the list, however, was a resolution to be a better, safer driver in 2013.

Each year, millions of people throughout Alabama and the United States make downright bad driving decisions. These decisions put the drivers, their passengers and every innocent person on the road in danger. Our Montgomery accident attorneys want 2013 to be the year when people become safer drivers by doing more to avoid preventable accidents. To that end, we urge everyone to make smarter, safer driving choices and to make a resolution to avoid some of the most dangerous driving behaviors. 1396134_new_year_13.jpg

Resolve to Avoid These Dangerous Driving Behaviors in 2013.
If you are ready to make a commitment to becoming a safer driver in 2013, here are a few things that should be a part of your New Years 2013 resolution:

  • Resolve not to speed. Going over the speed limit was the cause of 2,666 Alabama traffic crashes in 2010 according to Alabama Traffic Crash Facts.

  • Resolve to slow down -- even BELOW the speed limit if you have to in order to be safe for the current road conditions. In 2010, there were 4,836 Alabama crashes caused by a driver going too fast for conditions. This is even more crashes than caused by going over the posted speed limit.

  • Resolve not to text and drive or to drive distracted. Distraction.gov says that a person who texts and drives is 23 times more likely to crash than someone not distracted.

  • Resolve never to drink and drive and never to let a friend drive drink. Alabama Traffic Crash Facts show 4,784 accidents in 2010 attributed to a driver being under the influence.

  • Resolve to obey safety laws at intersections and to yield when it isn't your turn. 15.2 percent of all Alabama crashes in 2010 were caused by a failure to yield, according to Alabama Crash Facts. This means 19,508 accidents listed a failure to yield as a primary accident cause.

  • Resolve to exercise extra care with night driving. According to Alabama Traffic Crash Facts for 2010, 49.4 percent of fatal crashes occurred at night.

  • Resolve to be on the lookout for bikes and pedestrians at all times. In 2010, seven people died and 169 were injured in bike accidents. Young kids tend to be at the greatest risk when it comes to bike and pedestrian crashes with Alabama Traffic Crash Facts reporting that kids 15 and under were the victims in 27 percent of bike crashes causing injury.

  • Resolve not to tailgate or follow too closely behind others. Alabama Traffic Crash Facts show that 17,268 crashes in 2010 were caused by tailgating. That's 76 percent of accidents.

  • Resolve to wear your seat belt all the time, every time. Alabama Traffic Crash Facts reported that the chances of being killed in the front seat was 46.4 times higher for people not wearing a seat belt when involved in a car crash.

If you stick to all of the items on this list, you can make sure you are never a menace on the roads.

Of course, accidents can still happen if other people fail in their obligations. This is why you should spread the word about your safe driving resolution to all of your friends and family members and encourage them to make 2013 the year they resolve to be a safer driver. If you spot someone engaged in dangerous driving behavior, be sure to steer clear... and if you are hurt in an accident due to a bad choice that another driver makes, be sure to take legal action to hold that bad driver accountable.

Continue reading "Alabama Traffic Safety: Make Safe Driving Your 2013 Holiday Resolution" »

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. Distraction.gov, 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 http://www.adph.org/teendriving/Default.asp?id=4448 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 Alabama.com, 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" »

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