Recently in Personal Injury Category

December 12, 2014

Bilesky v. Shopko - Spoliation of Evidence Met With Sanctions

Evidence is the crux of any legal case. The truth, of course, is of paramount importance, but what is also key is what can be proven. Without the right amount and type of evidence, a case will go no where.
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This is as true for personal injury cases as it is for those involving crimes.

Because certain evidence can be considered critical to a case, and those with vested interest in not having that evidence presented may be in possession of it for a time. The courts have long recognized the importance of sanctions for loss or destruction of evidence - regardless of whether it was intentional. When important evidence is lost, it's called spoliation. By imposing sanctions for spoliation of evidence, the court provides incentive to protect key evidence that may be helpful to the opposing side.

Sanctions can include anything from a special instruction to the jury to a default judgment on the issue of liability or damages. It can result in the party disadvantaged by the loss of evidence winning the case.

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November 30, 2014

RGR, LLC v. Settle - $2.5M Railroad Crash Verdict Affirmed in Part

Railway crashes and accidents result in hundreds of deaths each year, according to the Federal Railway Administration, which reported a total of 1,734 train accidents in 2012. traintracks1.jpg

In comparison to the enormous carnage seen on America's roadways involving solely motor vehicles (causing an estimated 33,000 deaths annually), it might seem a minor problem. However, 700 deaths in a single year - 2012 - is cause for concern. That's only slightly fewer than the number of people killed in recreational boating incidents, so it warrants the attention of motorists.

Just recently in Alabama, a 27-year-old former contestant on the hit show "Survivor" was killed in Birmingham while working as a conductor when an axle on one of the cars derailed and he was thrown into another car in the yard.

Some of the more common causes of train accidents in Alabama include:


  • Failing mechanics

  • Malfunctioning lights or signals

  • Inadequate track maintenance

  • Failure to install/maintain safety gates

  • Unprotected crossings

  • Conductor negligence

  • Defective train or parts

Continue reading "RGR, LLC v. Settle - $2.5M Railroad Crash Verdict Affirmed in Part" »

October 10, 2014

Bruns v. City of Centralia - Distraction in Premises Liability

Typically the topic of "distraction" in injury law is most closely associated with motor vehicle accidents. And of course, it's relevant in that context, as distraction behind the wheel is extremely dangerous. But it's worthy of discussion in other areas of personal injury law as well, including premises liability.
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The "distraction doctrine" holds that if the property owner had reason to suspect an individual on site may not have appreciated a danger - even an open and obvious one - due to distraction or preoccupation - he or she would still have had a duty to correct or warn.

In the recent Illinois Supreme Court case of Bruns v. City of Centralia, plaintiff asserted the distraction doctrine as an exception to the open and obvious danger of a large, hazardous crack in a sidewalk in front of an eye clinic on which the elderly plaintiff tripped and fell. Plaintiff argued the city should have reasonably foreseen a pedestrian would become distracted while walking up to the clinic, and the appellate court agreed. However, the state supreme court reversed on the grounds that the simple act of looking up does not impose on defendant a duty to protect a plaintiff from an open and obvious defect.

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September 25, 2014

Rose v. Highway Equipment Co. - Overcoming Pure Contributory Negligence Standard in Alabama

The product liability lawsuit brought in Massachusetts by a man whose hand was mangled by lawn machinery failed after a jury apportioned him 73 percent fault for his own injury. In that state, plaintiffs who hold 50 percent of the fault or more for their own injury are barred from collecting on a claim.
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In Alabama, our Montgomery injury lawyers know our courts follow a much stricter standard. In fact, we are one of just five states following the pure contributory negligence model, which holds a plaintiff who holds any percentage of fault for his own injuries will be barred from bringing a claim.

Per the 2002 Alabama Supreme Court ruling in H.R.H. Metals, Inc. v. Miller, a defendant proves contributory negligence by showing the plaintiff failed to exercise reasonable care.

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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.

Continue reading "Travelers Property Casualty Co. v. Moore - Company Liability for Workers Off-the-Clock" »

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.

Continue reading "Alabama Train Accidents Target of Awareness Campaign" »

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.

Continue reading "Assisted-Living Industry Loosely Regulated in Alabama " »

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.

Continue reading "Alabama Train Crash Still Under Investigation" »


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