Recently in Personal Injury Category

September 18, 2014

Ainsworth v. Chandler - Plaintiff Status in Premises Liability Claim

The most common type of premises liability lawsuit in Alabama arises as a result of a "slip-and-fall" or "trip-and-fall." Circumstances vary widely, but tend to involve injuries caused by falling as a result of tripping or slipping as a consequence of liquid or debris on floors, uneven surfaces or defects in the ground, poor lighting or some other hazardous condition.
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However, simply proving injury on a person's property is not enough. State law burdens plaintiffs with many requirements. Included is establishment of duty according to plaintiff's status on site, as well as a prima facie (first impression) showing that the foreign substance or object caused the fall and the defendant knew or should have known of it at the time of the fall and failed to address it. The requirements may differ slightly if the alleged hazard was a property defect, rather than a foreign substance. However, in either case, the plaintiff's on-site status will be key.

Our Montgomery injury lawyers know the differentiation will determine the duty defendant owed the plaintiff.

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September 14, 2014

Henkel v. Norman - Private Property Owner's Duty to Warn

When it comes to premises liability, it doesn't matter if you are the owner of a big-chain box store or a modest property in the suburbs. Property owners have a duty to keep premises reasonably free of hazards. Failing this, the property owner must offer adequate warning.
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Failure to do this resulting in injury could prompt a civil lawsuit.

Our Montgomery fall injury lawyers know the mere fact that someone suffers an injury on-site is not proof of negligence on the part of the property owner. Hose v. Win-Dixie Montgomery, Inc. 658 So.2d 403, 404 (Ala.1995). What must be shown is the premises owner failed to use reasonable care in maintaining its premises in a reasonably safe manner. Injured parties bear the burden of proof in these cases.

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September 7, 2014

Travelers Property Casualty Co. v. Moore - Company Liability for Workers Off-the-Clock

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit, which oversees federal appellate cases in Alabama, Georgia and Florida, recently ruled an auto insurance company has no duty to indemnify a defendant under his employer's policy for an incident in which the defendant killed one and wounded another with a shotgun while driving his work van.
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While such a ruling may seem common sense, it's worth noting injuries and wrongful death resulting from the incident had initially been characterized as an "accident" because the defendant purportedly hadn't intended to inflict those injuries. Further, the company insurer was deemed liable because, while the worker was off-the-clock, there was evidence to suggest he did have permission to drive the work van.

Our Montgomery car accident lawyers know that, while this incident involved a unique set of circumstances, the issue of employer liability when a worker or commercial vehicle is involved in a crash is one that arises with fair frequency.

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August 30, 2014

Lane v. Ballot - When Crimes and Torts Overlap

When a civil lawsuit for damages is predicated on a criminal act, the criminal prosecution can serve as an invaluable resource to the civil case, particularly due to the applicable principle of collateral estoppel.
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Also sometimes referred to as issue preclusion, the common law estoppel doctrine prevents a person from litigating an issue more than once. Where the mutual parties and material facts involved are the same as those in the criminal action, it may not be necessary to take the civil case all the way to trial. In fact, our Montgomery personal injury lawyers know that per Ala. Code 15-18-75, a conviction in a criminal trial may necessarily decide the issue of the defendant's liability for pecuniary damages to the victim.

We live in one of a handful of states where legislators were increasingly aware of the burden on victims to relitigate duplicative facts in civil cases. This statute allows for a more efficient means of securing recovery of damages for someone who has already endured a traumatic experience.

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August 15, 2014

Burlington Coat Factory v. Butler - Alabama Appeals Court Weighs Retail Store Liability

The Alabama Court of Civil Appeals has reversed an earlier judgment in favor of a woman who suffered facial injuries in a retail store when a bracket fell on top of her as she reached for a sale item on a shelf.
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In Burlington Coat Factory of Alabama v. Butler, the court sided with the defendant in finding the injured plaintiff failed to prove the retailer had breached a duty of care by failing to inspect and maintain its premises in a reasonable condition, or that the brackets presented a defective or dangerous condition.

Our Montgomery personal injury attorneys know when it comes to premises liability claims, it's not enough to prove that an injury occurred on-site. Per the 2000 ruling by the Alabama Supreme Court in Kmart Corp. v. Basset, property owners owe a general duty to business invitees (i.e., customers) to, "use reasonable care and diligence to keep the property in a safe condition." If there is a dangerous condition, the business is required to offer up sufficient warning so that, by use of ordinary care, the danger can be avoided.

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May 1, 2014

Alabama Train Accidents Target of Awareness Campaign

"See tracks? Think Train!"

That's the slogan for a new national awareness campaign designed to warn both motorists and pedestrians of railroad dangers. Here in Alabama, we have one of the highest rates of fatality for highway-railroad crossings in the country.
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Our Injury lawyers in Montgomery note Alabama ranks 15th in the country for overall railroad deaths. That's according to the Federal Railroad Administration, which tallied 85 train-related collisions with vehicles and 19 deaths, including those in vehicles and on foot, in Alabama during 2013.

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April 18, 2014

Building Code Violations May be Grounds for Negligence Claim Following Injury

When a person suffers injury as a result of conditions on a property that fail to meet the current building code standards - either by state or local ordinance - this could be grounds for filing a premises liability lawsuit. houserailing.jpg

Of course, there are exceptions, which is why it's important to have your case carefully examined by an experienced personal injury lawyer in Montgomery before proceeding.

The Alabama Supreme Court weighed this issue in the 2005 case of Parker Bldg. Servs. Co. v. Lightsey. Here, the case stemmed from an injury to a 5-year-old boy in Homewood, resulting from his presence on commercial property where building code violations existed. The ceiling caved in, causing the boy to fall to the floor and hit his head, resulting in a stroke and permanent paralysis.

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March 13, 2014

Amputation Injuries in Alabama a Complex Recovery for Employees and Motorists

A science reporter recently made headlines for an injury he sustained to his left arm that necessitated an amputation while he was on assignment in Asia.
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The correspondent, Miles O'Brien, would later lament the fact that he didn't have some harrowing story to tell about what happened. Basically, a heavy suitcase fell on his forearm, causing, over the course of several days, a condition known as acute compartment syndrome, which allows pressure to build up in the affected limb, cutting off essential blood supply and oxygen. Because he hadn't deemed it serious in the beginning, he waited far too long before seeking treatment. By then, the doctor ordered emergency surgery to remove the arm before deadly infection could spread to the other parts of O'Brien's body.

Our Montgomery injury lawyers know that while these kinds of incidents might seem rare, workers frequently encounter falling objects, defective or malfunctioning equipment. Auto accidents are another top cause of these complex injuries. While many advancements have been made in treatment, in large part due to returning veterans with amputation injuries, recovery is both lengthy and costly.


This case also illustrates the importance of seeking medical treatment as soon as possible after a traumatic injury, even if it doesn't seem all that serious at first.

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January 2, 2014

University of Alabama Student Blamed for Fatal Traffic Accident

A student from the University of Alabama is looking at 19 charges after killing two and injuring four in a recent traffic collision. According to al.com, the incident happened during a late evening weekend as the 21-year-old driver was traveling between 80 and 100 miles per hour.
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Witnesses report that the young driver fled the scene of the accident wearing nothing but a towel. Officers were able to apprehend him later at his apartment complex, after failing a sobriety test and failing to cooperate with officers, according to the police department. He is currently being held on an $185,000 bond and faces charges of aggravated assault, intoxicated assault, manslaughter, intoxication manslaughter and failure to stop and render aid.

Our Montgomery injury lawyers know young drivers are some of the most dangerous when it comes to drinking and driving. Young people are over-represented in driving accidents involving alcohol. In a recent year, people aged 16 to 24 were involved in 28 percent of all alcohol-related driving accidents, although they make up only 14 percent of the U.S. population. Researchers have shown that even a small amount of alcohol can disrupt a person's ability to concentrate or do two things at once. For less experienced drivers, one or two drinks can cause the loss of reasoning and reaction time that might result in a fatal crash.

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December 20, 2013

Assisted-Living Industry Loosely Regulated in Alabama

As we near the peak of the holiday season, we expect many families will be reaching out to loved ones they may not have seen in some time, as they have been residing in nursing homes or assisted-living facilities. brokenglasses.jpg

During this time, it's recommended that family and friends pay close attention to the possible signs of injuries or illnesses resulting from nursing home abuse or neglect. This is especially warranted in light of a recent report by investigative journalism non-profit ProPublica.

In the course of their ongoing research, the journalists learned that state laws governing assisted-living facilities are not as uniform as those in place to protect nursing home residents. Although there is a tendency to view these living options as virtually one in the same, they are quite different in terms of state oversight. Alabama is no exception.

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December 2, 2013

Alabama Train Crash Still Under Investigation

A recent deadly commuter train crash in New York City is reminiscent of the fiery Alabama train derailment last month. railwaytracks.jpg

Amazingly, the latter resulted in no major injuries, despite the fact that 30 of the train's 90 cars derailed, with many of those engulfed in flames.

By contrast in New York, at least four people have died and another 60 have been seriously injured.

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August 22, 2013

Montgomery Back-to-School Safety in Focus

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

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

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

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July 27, 2013

ATV Accidents Target of CPSC Awareness Campaign

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

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

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

The Dangers of ATV Accidents

According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission:


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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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


  • Riding a helmet

  • Not allowing more riders than the ATV

  • Getting trained by a qualified instructor

  • Staying off of paved roads.

  • Reserving ATV riding for adults 16 and over

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

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

July 1, 2013

Fireworks Risking Your Family's Safety This Fourth of July

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

-Always ignite one device at a time.

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

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

-Fireworks should only be used outdoors.

-Be cautious when lighting fireworks when it is windy.

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

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

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

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

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

-Read and follow all warnings and instructions.

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

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

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June 26, 2013

Dog Bite Injuries Comprise One-Third of Homeowner Insurance Claims

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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


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