Recently in Car Accident Category

January 22, 2015

Travelers v. Gray - Alabama Supreme Court Reverses Crash Judgment

The Alabama Supreme Court reversed a summary judgment favoring an accident victim and her husband against their insurance company for uninsured motorist benefits on grounds the order improperly relied on a default judgment against the other driver.
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In Travelers v. Gray, the state high court found a default judgment against the driver who caused the crash is not binding against a plaintiff's own insurer where the firm was not listed as a defendant in the original complaint. The court relied on its previous ruling in Bailey v. Progressive Specialty Insurance Co. to reach its conclusion.

The court previously held that in order for both the insured and the uninsured/underinsured motorist carrier to protect their rights in the course of making a claim, the plaintiff can either join his own liability insurer as a defendant in the lawsuit or give notice of the filing and the possibility of a claim at the close of trial. In cases where the insurer is named as a party, it has the right to choose whether to participate. In either case, the insurer will be bound by the court's decision on the issues of liability and damages.

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January 6, 2015

Semian v. Ledgemere Transp., Inc. - Comparative Fault in Cycling Accidents

Bicycling in Montgomery has gained speed in recent years, with the area boasting some 1,380 miles of trails specifically for biking. In addition, numerous events, races and club rides are organized every year, with many participants choosing to make cycling part of their everyday commute, exercise or recreation. Montgomery is an ideal place for this year-round, given our great climate.
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Cyclists must be sure, however, to follow the rules of the road. This is true everywhere, but it's especially true in Alabama, where liability of a motor vehicle driver who collides with a cyclist will be eliminated if the cyclist shares any percentage of fault.

Alabama is one of just five states in the country that follows the "pure contributory negligence" system in civil courts. Per the rulings issued by the Alabama Supreme Court in Ala. Power Co. v. Schotz in 1968 and John Cowly & Bros., Inc. v. Brown in 1990, a plaintiff making a claim based on negligence will lose entitlement to damages if plaintiff is at all negligent.

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December 2, 2014

Peterson-Tuell v. First Student Transp. - Prior Health History Relevant to Determine Damages

It seemed like a relatively straightforward case: A school bus driver, working for a private contractor, rear-ended a woman in a vehicle, pushing that driver into another vehicle, causing some damage to the vehicle and, allegedly, injury to that driver.
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When the driver who was struck later filed a lawsuit for injuries sustained in the crash, defendant school bus company admitted to liability in Peterson-Tuell v. First Student Transp., LLC. There was really nothing to argue in that regard, as the bus driver was clearly at fault in proceeding when the light turned green without making sure traffic ahead had started to move.

That meant the only thing left to decide was the issue of damages. The injured driver asked for $3 million, saying a traumatic brain injury stemming from the crash rendered her unable to work. The company offered to pay her $95,000, arguing her injuries were psychosomatic. In the end, a jury granted the woman even less, $65,000.

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November 20, 2014

Alabama Distraction Crash Lawsuit Jury Awards $525,000

A truck driver, reportedly distracted by his cell phone, has been held liable for injuries sustained by two men who were struck by the driver while traveling U.S. Highway 31 near Birmingham. iphone.jpg

According to media reports, a man and his nephew sustained severe injuries as a result of the collision, including rib fractures, broken facial bones, a brain bleed and surgery to remove a spleen.

Following a recent five-day trial, a jury in Jefferson County Circuit Court ordered the driver to pay $525,000 collectively to both men for causing the crash.

This figure might seem somewhat high, but the reality is, costs for crash injuries can add up quickly when one factors emergency care, long-term medical bills, therapies, lost wages, property damage and disabling conditions that may prevent a return to work. A recent AAA study found the average cost of an injury crash is $126,000. Meanwhile, the cost of an average traffic fatality is about $6 million.

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November 11, 2014

Nuckols v. Stevens - Proper Venue for Alabama Car Accident Lawsuits

Determination of jurisdiction and venue are important considerations in any personal injury lawsuit. It's not always a straightforward issue, particularly if litigants are from different states or there is a question of federal law.
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For the most part, injury lawsuits stemming from car accidents and truck accidents are going to fall under the purview of state courts. However, a court has to have personal and/or subject matter jurisdiction before it can hear a case. That means either the defendant resides in that district or it is the judicial district in which a substantial part of the events or omissions that gave rise to the claim occurred.

If a lawsuit is filed in the wrong venue, the court will likely dismiss the case without prejudice, meaning you can file again. Sometimes, the court will transfer the case to the proper district, but only if it's "in the interest of justice." However, if the case is dismissed, the time spent in the wrong court consumes valuable time that could count against you in terms of the statute of limitations on your case.

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November 2, 2014

Travelers v. Harrington - Auto Insurance Exclusions

Various personal lines of insurance contain provisions that exclude either family or household members from coverage. The common law that gave rise to these exclusions had to do with the "familial immunity doctrine," which essentially prohibited legal actions between parents and children, spouses, etc. carcrash5.jpg

While the courts long held this doctrine promoted family harmony, insurance companies were primarily interested in avoiding collusive acts between family members to collect on insurance - a form of fraud.

Since the mid-20th century, family exclusion laws have been challenged on the grounds that courts should recognize the difference between fraud and legitimate claims, and there may well be instances where family members are legitimately liable for negligence resulting in injury to loved ones.

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October 20, 2014

Ballesteros v. Roney - Servicemembers Civil Relief Act and Vehicle Accidents

Military service members on active duty are entitled to special consideration in matters of civil law when it comes to certain time limits and statutory requirements.
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When a member of the military is injured in a civilian auto accident, and later called to active duty before completion of the civil case, he or she can seek relief from the court for certain deadlines that would otherwise prohibit a case form moving forward. Here in Montgomery, we have the Maxwell-Gunter Air Force base, and a fair amount of military members living in and around our communities.

The Servicemembers Civil Relief Act, codified in 50 U.S.C. App. 501-597b, protects servicemembers from default judgments when the servicemember is materially affected by reason of service in making a defense to the action. Additionally, a servicemember is entitled to a stay of proceeding when a commanding officer can attest the current military duty will prevent appearance and that military leave will not be authorized for the purpose of allowing an appearance.

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August 7, 2014

Allstate Indemnity Co. v. Rice - Umbrella Liability Coverage

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit recently rejected a claim by a Missouri woman that an umbrella insurance policy belonging to her daughter and son-in-law covered her other son-in-law, and therefore her, in a crash that occurred in October 2010. In Allstate Indemnity Co. v. Rice, the court held the insurer had no obligation to cover excess liabilities when neither claimant was considered an insured.
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Montgomery car accident attorneys recognize that when battling insurance companies for fair compensation, there are a host of legal issues that can arise. This is especially true when those involved might be family members and friends.

In the Rice case, the injured woman was a passenger in a vehicle being driven by her son-in-law. The vehicle belonged to her daughter and another son-in-law. It was a single-vehicle crash, and the woman sustained serious injuries as a result.

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July 7, 2014

Loyacono v. Travelers Insurance Company - Prejudicial Statements Result in Remand of Crash Case

A car accident victim will receive a new trial after a state supreme court ruled highly-prejudicial statements regarding the occupation and salary of the plaintiff's husband were allowed before the jury prior to its verdict.
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While the Mississippi Supreme Court declined to back the appellate court's position that the jury's determination contradicted the overwhelming weight of the evidence, justices nonetheless agreed a new trial was in order in Loyacono v. Travelers Insurance Company.

Car accident attorneys in Montgomery know that while this is an out-of-state case, both Mississippi and Alabama are "fault" -based tort systems when it comes to crash liability. Both states also require underinsured and uninsured motorist coverage to be offered by insurers, only to be released with a written waiver from the insured.

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July 1, 2014

Reducing Fourth of July Injuries in Alabama

Our Montgomery personal injury lawyers urge you and your family to have a safe and enjoyable Fourth of July. This year over the Fourth of July weekend, millions of Americans will hit the roads in search of fun. Some will go to cookouts, others will head to the beach, and most will cap off the night with a fireworks display. Whatever your plans, we would like to offer a few simple steps to help stay safe from some obvious and some hidden risks this holiday weekend.

One major risk when traveling over the holiday period is being involved in an alcohol-fireworks1.jpgrelated car crash. It should come as no surprise that many people will drink alcohol while attending backyard barbeques and other festivities. Unfortunately, it should also come as no surprise that many of these people will get behind the wheel after consuming too much alcohol.

While driving over the holiday weekend, you should be alert for intoxicated motorists. It helps to know some of the signs of drunk driving. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has identified a variety of things that will tell a police officer when a driver may be under the influence of alcohol or drugs. These signs include weaving, swerving, almost striking another vehicle or object, driving at least 10 miles under the posted limit, drifting, braking or accelerating for no apparent reason, slow response to traffic signals, driving without headlights at night, and driving in the opposite lane or wrong way on a one way street. If you see a driver exhibiting these behaviors, you should assume the person may be drunk and give yourself plenty of room between that vehicle and your own.

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June 11, 2014

State Farm v. Gruebele - Teen Driver Insurance Coverage Can Be Tricky

In many car accident cases, the question of insurance coverage is fairly straightforward. The individual is either insured or they are not. Each individual is typically only covered with a singular policy provided by one company, and the terms of that policy are usually standardized.
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Even in these situations, Montgomery car accident attorneys know there can be conflict with regard to interpretation of certain clauses as they apply to the circumstances.

But with teen drivers, the question of coverage can be even more complex. Some complicating factors include parental divorce, which could call into question whether the teen is a "resident household member." In some instances, both parents have policies that cover the teen. In some cases, the vehicle may be insured on a separate policy. If the teen wasn't driving according to the state's graduated driver's licensing laws, there could be questions about whether the insurance company is liable at all.

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May 25, 2014

Alabama Supreme Court Issues Ruling on Service by Publication

A $37 million verdict against a business that served alcohol to a driver who then killed a man in a DUI collision has been overturned by the Alabama Supreme Court on the grounds that notice of the lawsuit wasn't properly served. This was despite the plaintiff's compliance with the formalities of service by publication as approved by the trial court.
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Montgomery DUI accident lawyers recognize this as a cautionary tale regarding serving a defendant by publication, and underscores the plaintiff's burden to prove that every effort was made to serve the defendant before the case progresses.

It's not uncommon for defendants to avoid being served with civil court papers. The theory is that if they aren't served notice, the case can't proceed. This is only true to an extent. The case will eventually move forward - but only if plaintiffs can prove they made every effort to serve notice on the defendant and the defendant actively hid or endeavored to avoid being served.

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May 20, 2014

Alabama Motorcycle Deaths Fall - Officials Warn Against Complacency

The Governors Highway Safety Association has released a new report indicating the number of motorcycle fatalities has fallen significantly, both in Alabama and at the national level.
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Across the U.S., motorcycle deaths were down 7.2 percent in the first nine months of last year, compared to the first nine months of 2012, according to preliminary figures. In Alabama, officials noted a 22 percent decline.

It would be great if we could assume that officials finally succeeded with a motorcycle awareness campaign that was extremely effective or that motor vehicle operators were at last exhibiting greater caution. However, Montgomery motorcycle accident lawyers, know that the decline is more a stabilizing statistic, following an especially sharp rise in motorcycle fatalities in 2012.

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May 12, 2014

Liability and Pure Contributory Negligence in Alabama

Laws regarding personal injury in Alabama can be complex. For example, a lot of people aren't aware that in this state, the courts recognize a legal theory called pure contributory negligence. busdriver.jpg

We're one of only four states, plus D.C., that recognize this theory, and it holds that if a person is found responsible on any level for his or her own injuries, the other at-fault party can't be held liable - at all.

Personal injury attorneys in Montgomery recognize that this means the standard of proof for victims of negligence in Alabama is higher than for many other places, so it's critical that you have experienced legal help from the outset.

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April 25, 2014

Fatal Montgomery Car Accident Prompts GM Ignition Switch Lawsuit

News of the recall of millions of General Motors vehicles due to a faulty ignition switch has been big national news, but one of the cases to result in a lawsuit involved a young mother here in Northwest Alabama.
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She was killed in a Montgomery car accident in December, and now her father is suing the auto manufacturer on the grounds that it knew of the defects in the 2006 Chevrolet Cobalt model she was driving - and did nothing to warn her or other customers.

According to the lawsuit filed in Lauderdale County Circuit Court, the ignition in the woman's vehicle suddenly quit on Dec. 4, 2013. As a result, the 3,200-pound vehiclel was totally uncontrollable. She crossed the center line into oncoming traffic, slamming directly into the path of an 18-wheeler log truck. Investigators say she died instantly as her vehicle burst into flames.

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