No injury lawsuit can proceed until service of process has been properly made on the defendant. That means defendant has been properly notified of the litigation. Service of process is the way in which courts establish personal jurisdiction, which is required in every lawsuit. In fact, it is only after a plaintiff obtains proper service on defendant that the court obtains the jurisdiction over defendant to impose an enforceable judgment of liability and damages. airbag

So it’s a critical step. But it’s not always simple one, and it can be the source of major delays – or even dismissals – if it isn’t done right.

Rules for service of process are outlined in Rule 4 of Alabama Rules of Civil Procedure. This provision outlines the fact that the service of summons and complaint has to be made to defendant within 120 days of filing the complaint, or else the court may dismiss the action without prejudice. The only exception would be plaintiff could show good cause for the failure or if plaintiff is granted an extension. There are stipulations for who may accept the summons, who may not and where it must take place. Continue reading

The Alabama Supreme Court affirmed a $15 million verdict in favor of plaintiffs in the dram shop lawsuit of Nineteenth Street Investments Inc. v. Robertson et al., and did so without opinion. beerbottles

Trial court awarded collectively $15 million in both compensatory and punitive damages to four plaintiffs in this consolidated case. Claims were filed after a horrific drunk driving accident before which the driver, then 19, purchased beer from a local convenience store, despite not having yet reached the legal age of 21. In her vehicle were three minors, who had also been drinking. The driver lost control of the vehicle, veered off the road and crashed into a tree, ejecting all passengers. A 13-year-old passenger was killed and the three others in the car were seriously injured.

Lawsuits were filed by the two other passengers, the mother of the decedent and the mother of the driver – all against the company that owned the convenience store. Those cases were later consolidated and tried as one in the Circuit Court of Jefferson County. Continue reading

Some view playground injuries as a kind of unfortunate childhood rite of passage. playgroundinjury

But in many cases, injuries sustained by children are serious, and it may be necessary to consider legal action.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that of the 200,000 children under 14 rushed to hospital emergency rooms every year for playground injuries, about 45 percent are serious. These involve:

  • Fractures
  • Internal injuries
  • Concussions
  • Amputations
  • Dislocations
  • Severe scarring

Death resulting from playground activity is relatively rare, but 150 cases were reported from 1990 to 2000. Most of those were attributed to either strangulation or falls. Continue reading

The ending of the story of a long-married couple in Wisconsin at first glance seems to have been ripped from the pages of, “The Notebook,” the novel by Nicholas Sparks in which elderly lovebirds die together side-by-side, holding hands in a hospital bed. oldhands1

Except, although they died hours apart, it didn’t happen that way. They weren’t together, as they had wished, and family members say it wasn’t time for the 85-year-old wife to go.

According to the Wisconsin State Journal, the 86-year-old husband – former owner of several newspapers, father of four and avid traveler – was dying of cancer. It had been a long, difficult battle. In November 2012, his time had come. Doctors at the local hospital released him to hospice care. He was being transported via ambulance to hospice. It was less than a week after Thanksgiving. His wife of 62 years was in the ambulance beside him. But, as the lawsuit now asserts, she wasn’t properly secured in her seat. The driver of an ambulance stopped suddenly to avoid collision with another vehicle. That motion caused the 86-year-old woman to pitch forward, slamming her head on the interior of the ambulance. Continue reading

At best, a defective toy can be a disappointment to a little one looking forward to some entertainment. At worst, a defective product can be dangerous, and in some cases, pose a risk of life-threatening injuries. toys

The latest report on Toy-Related Deaths and Injuries for calendar year 2014 (released by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission in October) indicates there were at least 252,000 toy-related injuries and 11 deaths last year. These incidents do not count the incidents wherein a toy may have been associated with death or injury, but was not necessarily the cause of it.

The CPSC reports that within fiscal year 2015, there were a total of 25 toy-related recalls. That’s a fairly significant drop from 2008, when there were 172 toy recalls. It might be easy to take a leap of logic to assume manufacturers are getting better about protecting young consumers. However, the agency notes it continues to turn away batches of toys at U.S. ports that violate a range of standards, including parts that are too small, flammability risks and excess levels of phthalates and lead. Continue reading

Sometimes in personal injury law, it becomes necessary to initiate litigation against people you love or care about. The goal is not necessarily to collect money from that individual, but rather to obtain compensation from his or her insurance company.motorbike

Because insurance companies cannot be named as defendants in injury lawsuits until liability has been established, one must name the insured. Sometimes, that individual is someone to whom plaintiff is close.

Many times, those sparring in the courtroom retain no ill feelings outside the doors. What takes place is a formality that allows the injured person to receive compensation for medical bills, lost wages and pain and suffering. Plaintiff must show defendant owed a duty of care to plaintiff and then breached that duty, causing plaintiff’s injury. Continue reading

In Alabama auto accident injury cases, the purpose is to compensate victims for actual losses caused by the defendant. A substantial part of that typically involves payment of reasonable and necessary medical expenses incurred by the injured party as a result of defendant’s negligence. caraccident1

These medical bills have to be authenticated and there has to be competent medical testimony as to the necessity of those treatments. In some states, defendants can benefit from certain write-offs or adjustments that are deducted from the medical provider’s charges due to insurance contractors. However in Alabama, we follow the collateral source rule, which states benefits received by plaintiff from a wholly independent source (i.e., the insurance company), shouldn’t diminish the damages otherwise recoverable by the wrongdoer. So payments or credits received by a third-party payor aren’t credited against defendant’s liability.

California, where the case of Uspenskaya v. Meline was recently heard by the Third Appellate District in Sacramento, allows collateral source evidence as well, but there are some exceptions. Continue reading

A new study of medication errors and adverse drug consequences during surgery at one of the country’s top hospitals has revealed a startling statistic: There was an issue in almost 50 percent of all surgeries. That included minor procedures to to serious open-heart operations. operation

The study, published in the medical journal Anesthesiology, was recently presented to the American Association of Anesthesiologists, where doctors indicated to the study authors that the problem isn’t isolated to this one renowned facility. In fact, it’s a major point of concern at hospitals and surgical centers throughout the country.

The error rate calculated by researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital – 124 out of 277 – was far higher than previously reported. In these cases, one-third resulted in harm or injury to the patient. Three of those incidents were life-threatening. Two of those were caught by the staff in the operating room, while a third was caught by researchers. No one died as a result of these errors, but the message seems quite clear: They likely could and probably do in procedures across the country. There just isn’t a team of researchers standing by to watch. Continue reading

Legislative action is planned again for next year to reintroduce a state measure that would quantify the legal amount of drugs allowable in a driver’s system.
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The bill was introduced in the 2015 session as S.B. 162. As it was written for the last session, there would be further definition of the term “under the influence” in Ala. Code 32-5A-191 that would specify and prohibit “measurable amounts of specific substances in a person’s body.”

The action would also require minimum mandatory sentences for fourth or subsequent violations and would remove the requirement that a prior conviction would need to occur within the last five years in order to be considered. The law would state that it would be illegal to drive under the influence of any substance or substances that would render him or her incapable of safely driving.

Plaintiffs in the recent Alabama Court of Civil Appeals case of State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance v. Brown were seriously injured in a car accident with an at-fault driver who was underinsured, meaning he lacked enough insurance to cover all of their losses.

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Fortunately, plaintiffs had an underinsured motorist (UIM) policy with defendant insurer. Plaintiffs subsequently sued the at-fault driver for negligence, and also named their own insurer as a defendant in order to recover UIM benefits.

The liability insurer of the at-fault driver subsequently offered to settle the case for $200,000, which represented the driver’s policy limits. Plaintiffs informed their own insurer of the claim. The insurer then took action under a precedent set by the Alabama Supreme Court in 1991 with Lambert v. State Farm.