Recently in Car Accident Category

June 30, 2015

Mathis v. Huff & Puff Trucking: Proving Extent and Causation of Injuries

Large trucks pose a significant threat to drivers in Alabama and throughout the country. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports nearly 4,000 people were killed in 95,000 injured in accidents involving large trucks in 2013.
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The majority of those people who suffered injury or death were occupants of other vehicles.

In the recent case of Mathis v. Huff & Puff Trucking, before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit, plaintiff was struck by a semi-tractor trailer while in a tow truck.

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June 3, 2015

Report: Children Injured, Dying Due to Improper Car Seat Use

Auto collisions are a top cause of death for children, which is why Alabama's Child Restraint Law has stringent requirements for use of child safety restraints for those under age 15.
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However, it's been well-documented that child safety seats aren't properly used. In fact, the Alabama Department of Public Health reports 4 out of 5 children are improperly restrained in their safety seat. The seats either aren't the right size for the child, the child isn't properly belted in or the seat is incorrectly installed.This is despite the fact that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued research indicating proper use of child safety seats can reduce the risk of death for infant passengers by more than 70 percent and for toddler passengers by 55 percent.

Now, a new study published in the August issue of American Journal of Preventative Medicine underscores that point, finding that older children and minority children were the most likely to be improperly restrained while riding in a vehicle.

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May 31, 2015

Kelly v. State Farm - Establishing Bad Faith by Auto Insurance Firm

Auto insurance companies have a responsibility to deal fairly and in good faith with both insureds and claimants, and to make reasonable efforts to settle claims. A breach of these duties by the insurer will result in the company being responsible for damages sustained as a result - and in some cases, it could mean treble (triple) damages.
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While insurance companies are notorious for cutting corners to reduce the possibility of a payout, even in legitimate cases, claims asserting bad faith by an insurer can be difficult to prove.

Alabama has recognized "bad faith" as a tort claim since the 1981 state supreme court decision in Chavers v. Nat. Sec. Fire & Casualty Co. Essentially, the court found there are two ways an insurer can be found to have acted in bad faith.


  • Refusal to settle when there is no lawful basis for the refusal, along with actual knowledge of that fact.

  • Intentional failure to determine whether there was any lawful basis for such refusal.

Continue reading "Kelly v. State Farm - Establishing Bad Faith by Auto Insurance Firm" »

April 30, 2015

Cline v. Homuth - Accident Settlement Language Must be Carefully Examined

While injury lawyers must be fully prepared to take an auto accident lawsuit to trial if necessary, the reality is many -- or at least portions pertaining to certain defendants -- are settled out-of-court before trial.
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Such cases are concluded through what are commonly known as settlement agreements, and they are contractual and binding. They often contain stipulations on release of liability for current and future claims stemming from the accident, and in some cases they will contain confidentiality clauses.

Don't take these as boilerplate forms. t's very important for you and your attorney to carefully read these documents before signing. There may be important information regarding inability to collect future payments or pursue litigation against other parties.

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April 20, 2015

Breathalyzers in All Cars Would Slash DUI Deaths, Injuries by 80 Percent

It's been well-established that ignition interlock devices, now mandatory for DUI offenders in many states, reduce instances of drunk driving, drunk driving injuries and drunk driving deaths. beergarden.jpg

These devices are installed inside a vehicle and require the operator to pass a breath-alcohol test to determine impairment. If the driver's breath-alcohol content is measured above a certain threshold (usually 0.04 percent, or half the legal limit), the ignition locks and the vehicle will not start.

However, the positive effects of these systems are limited to how long they are actually in place. Because they are imposed as a penalty for DUI conviction, they are almost always temporary. But researchers with the University of Michigan Health System wanted to know what would happen if the devices came standard in all new model vehicles - permanently, and not just for those drivers who were being punished.

The results, published in the American Journal of Public Health, are astonishing. Over the course of 15 years, we could potentially reduce the number of drunk driving fatalities and injuries by 80 percent. In real terms, that would be 59,000 lives saved. It would be 1.25 million people spared serious injuries. It would mean $340 billion saved in injury-related costs associated with drunk driving accidents.

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April 12, 2015

Tri-National v. Canal Ins. Co. - Trucking Firm Insurer Must Pay for Accident

The Alabama truck accident that spurred the federal case of Tri-National, Inc. v. Canal Ins. Co. did not result in any severe personal injuries, though it very well could have. trucking.jpg

There was extensive property damage when a semi-tractor and trailer driver collided with another truck. However, no one was seriously injured. Still, the case before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit reveals how trucking companies are regarded under the Federal Motor Carrier Act of 1980, and the obligations they have when crashes happen.

While the act was largely an effort to deregulate the trucking industry, it did impose additional requirements for motor carriers that transport property. This includes the responsibility of the carrier to make sure it has the required limits of insurance to cover public liability in the event of a crash. Even if the victim has their own insurance, it does not absolve the trucking company and/or its insurer of responsibility for paying damages caused from negligent operation of these large vehicles.

Continue reading "Tri-National v. Canal Ins. Co. - Trucking Firm Insurer Must Pay for Accident" »

March 30, 2015

Bean v. Pacific Coast Elevator Corp. - Crash Verdict Affirmed

An appellate court affirmed a $1.3 million verdict in favor of an auto accident victim who suffered serious injuries after defendant's employee negligently struck a vehicle stopped at a red light. sadatsea.jpg

The appellate court in Bean v. Pacific Coast Elevator Corp. did find trial court erred in how it calculated prejudgment interest, but otherwise affirmed the verdict, despite defense protestations that the non-economic damages - $1.1 million of the total - were excessive.

This case reveals how economic damages - such as lost wages, property damage and medical bills - are only part of what may be considered in a crash case.

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March 3, 2015

Fewer Alabama Motorists Wearing Seat Belts

An analysis of recent citations for seat belt violations and related fatalities among Alabama drivers reveals a significant problem, one highlighted by the recent death of a teenage couple killed in a single vehicle crash in Bay Minette in January. Neither were wearing a seat belt.
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Law enforcement officials report more than 240 people killed in Alabama crashes last year weren't wearing seat belts. The year before, nearly 60 percent of those killed in car accidents in the state were not buckled up. That same year, officials tallied 42,000 seat belt violation citations.

Alabama state troopers are imploring drivers and passengers not to take the risk. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention notes teen are especially at risk, far less likely to wear seat belts than drivers over 30 and far more likely than their older counterparts to die in a crash.

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February 14, 2015

In re Malm v. Villegas - Sufficient Service of Process Key in Accident Case

The best civil in the world will not be able to survive to the trial phase if the court determines there is insufficient service of process.
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The reason is that service of process lays the foundation of personal jurisdiction, which refers to the court's jurisdiction over the parties involved in a civil action. Service of process is required in all lawsuits. Absent this, there can't be a valid lawsuit.

Only following plaintiff's proper service upon a defendant is jurisdiction obtained by the court over the defendant to impose and enforce judgment of liability and damages.

Service of process is the procedure by which a plaintiff in a lawsuit gives fair notice to defendant of a legal action. This enables the other party to respond before the court in the proceedings and to be an active participant.

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February 4, 2015

MADD: Alabama Gets Five Stars for Drunk Driving Prevention

When it comes to drunk driving prevention, Alabama gets a 5-star rating, according to the latest report from Mothers Against Drunk Driving.
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This was in conjunction with another recently-released study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which indicates the state had the lowest death rate of alcohol poisoning in the country.

But it isn't time to raise a glass just yet.

Drunk-driving related fatalities are still a major problem in this state, with a June 2014 analysis ranking the state 17th highest in terms of alcohol-attributable deaths, which include drunk driving.

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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.

Continue reading "Travelers v. Gray - Alabama Supreme Court Reverses Crash Judgment" »

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.

Continue reading "Nuckols v. Stevens - Proper Venue for Alabama Car Accident Lawsuits" »


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