Articles Posted in Personal Injury

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

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June is National Safety Month, and of all the existing potential hazards, the National Safety Council has chosen to focus on slips, trips and falls.Our Montgomery premise liability attorneys know that some people might make light of these incidents as laughable blunders resulting from clumsiness. The reality is, falls can result in serious injury or even death, and a lot of times, there is some kind of negligence involved – whether it occurs at work or at a residence or nursing home or inside a business.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that more than 19,500 people die each year in America due to unintended falls.

Alabama premises liability laws indicate that property owners may be held liable when an injury was caused by unsafe conditions that they knew about or should have known about. “Property owner” may be defined as anyone from an individual homeowner to a corporation or business.

All property owners need to be mindful of potential hazards particularly as they relate to potential slips, trips and falls. Often, this involves adequately warning guests when there is a potential hazard and/or taking steps to eliminate that hazard. When they fail to do this, they should be held accountable.

While the causes of slip-and-fall accidents widely vary, some of the more common forms include:

  • Uneven walking surfaces. This could be broken stairways or uneven pavement, holes, lose tiles, loose rugs or defective carpet.
  • Poor lighting. If you can’t see well enough where you are going, it’s inevitably going to affect your ability to walk safely.
  • Wet floors. This is common especially in the summer rainy season, when you’ve got rain water being trudged in from umbrellas or boots or clothing. It’s also a problem with liquids like oil, grease and cleaning products.
  • Defective handrails or safeguards. This is especially problematic in the construction field when workers aren’t adequately protected due to a defective or non-existent scaffold.

In order to prove a premise liability case, your attorney will have to show that the property owner caused the unsafe condition, knew or should have known about the problem and failed to take steps to correct it in a timely fashion once it was discovered.

The workplace in among the most dangerous for those in Alabama in terms of falls. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that in Alabama, falls account for nearly 15 percent of work-related fatalities annually.

Of those, the vast majority were wage and salaried men. Forty percent were between the ages of 25 and 44 and the other 60 percent were between the ages of 45 and 64. The two most common types of falls were falls from a roof and falls from a ladder.

Some things to keep in mind about ladder safety (and this relates to both home and work):

  • Pick the correct ladder for the job, and make sure you’ve been trained on how to properly use it;
  • Spot check the work area for potential hazards, such as objects in the hallway or stray cords;
  • Don’t stand any higher than the third rung from the top;
  • If the weather is windy or rainy or otherwise inclement, don’t use the ladder outdoors. Get off immediately if the weather changes while you are out there;
  • Always keep at least three points of contact on the ladder, such as two feet and one hand.

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On March 11, Alabama.com reported that six college students were injured after a deck collapsed in Gulf Shores. The kids were on vacation celebrating spring break and there were many people on the deck at the beach home in the West Beach area where they were staying. Five of the kids were transported to the hospital while another was taken for emergency care in a personal vehicle. Their injuries were not reported as life threatening but did include potential broken bones.Our Montgomery injury attorneys know that each year, thousands of kids come to Alabama for spring break. Some come to vacation at beach destinations while others are simply college kids returning home. These spring break visitors, along with high school students who are off for a week from school, are in danger of getting into a lot of troublesome situations over the course of their vacations. Parents need to be aware of the potential risk of spring break injuries and kids and teens of all ages should know of the dangers they face if they don’t make smart choices about how to spend their time off.

Tips for Staying Safe Over Spring Break

Some of the possible risks faced by high school and college kids celebrating their time off include:

  • Drunk driving accidents. Kids driving home from bars, parties or even a day drinking at the beach could hurt themselves or others.
  • Car accidents. Even teens who aren’t drunk could potentially be at risk of auto accidents over spring break. With out-of-town visitors and kids off from school, there are more people on the roads and kids tend to drive more. These factors both cause accidents. Further, the more children in the car, the greater the risk of a crash occurring. Kids cruising around with their friends or visiting Alabama on a spring break road trip could make choices that hurt themselves or others.
  • Pedestrian crashes. Kids frequently walk the bars and beaches as they celebrate spring break. These kids are at risk of becoming involved in a pedestrian accident, especially if they are intoxicated or don’t know where they are going and they wander into an unsafe area.
  • Drowning accidents. Kids may spend their spring break days at the pool or at the beach, and could potentially become the victim of a drowning accident at either location. Drowning accidents can happen when kids swim after having too much to drunk, or if kids swim in areas with a dangerous undercurrent.
  • Sexual assault. Teens who are out having a good time could find themselves the victims of either date rape or stranger rape. When kids have too much to drink, this can set them up for a bad situation where they are unable to give consent but get forced into sexual encounters. It is important for girls not to put themselves into a dangerous situation and for guys to remember that intercourse with a person too drunk to consent can still count as rape even if the girl doesn’t affirmatively say no.

Parents need to talk to their children about all of these potential spring break dangers. Kids also need to be aware of the fact that the choices they make over spring break could have an impact on the rest of their lives.
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Since Thanksgiving officially kicks off the festive season, many people will be spending time at the mall over the next month, doing their holiday shopping. Buying gifts for your loved ones is supposed to be fun, but unfortunately, there are some risks associated with hitting the stores over the holidays.

Our Montgomery accident lawyers want to draw your attention to some of the biggest risks of holiday shopping so you can avoid these potential pitfalls. We also urge store owners, managers and employees to do their part in making the shopping experience safe since ultimately it is these commercial property owners who are responsible when something goes wrong.Holiday Shopping Dangers
Awareness is the first step to staying safe this holiday season, and there are many different risks that you should be alert to when you are buying gifts. For instance according to Alabama.com, Montgomery police warn crime prevention is important when making holiday purchases. Among other tips, police recommend you remain alert, carry minimal cash, use ATMs only in well-populated areas, avoid overloading yourself with packages, and check your vehicle carefully before entering.

While theft issues are often given a lot of attention during the holidays, these risks aren’t the only ones that shoppers face. In fact, there are many potential hazards that can arise when shopping and cause injury. Dangers include:

  • Escalator and elevator accidents. America Now News cautioned readers that escalator accidents are becoming more common and warns that these accidents can be deadly. Each year, more than 10,000 people are hurt on escalators, 70 percent of whom are injured in falls.
  • Icy, wet or slippery floors. Winter weather combined with crowds of shoppers creates a recipe for disaster. Shoppers track ice and snow into stores where it melts and creates a serious fall risk.
  • Parking lots and stores with inadequate security. If a parking lot or store doesn’t have a sufficient security presence, this creates a dangerous situation for patrons. Without adequate security, for example, you have a greater chance of being robbed in the store or when going out to your car. You also have a greater chance of being injured if a crowd gets out of hand and there are no security personnel present to do crowd control.
  • Improperly stocked merchandise. Stores may get busy over the holiday season and may not keep up when it comes to properly stocking shelves. There may be a lot of people putting items back on shelves where they don’t belong, and stores may try to overfill their shelves so they don’t run out of popular items. All of this creates a situation where there is a good chance that merchandise could fall and injure shoppers.

These are just some of the many potential risks that you can run into at a store or mall during the holiday season. Many of these risks are preventable if stores follow reasonable procedures to ensure their premise is safe for customers.

If a store fails in its obligation to make the premises safe, the store can be held liable for any injuries that shoppers experience. Shoppers who have suffered an injury should consider talking to a lawyer to find out if the store can be held responsible and to learn about what types of compensation may be available after an injury.
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As we recently reported on our Alabama Injury Lawyer Blog, early darkness brings its own set of risk factors — and increases the likelihood of being involved in a serious or fatal accident.

Included is the risk of drowsy driving — particularly as we head into the busy holiday shopping and travel season. Accordingly, the National Sleep Foundation has declared Nov. 12 to 18 to be Drowsy Driving Prevention Week. Our Montgomery accident attorneys know exhausted drivers can be every bit as dangerous as those who are intoxicated behind the wheel. And a poll conducted by the foundation in March revealed professional drivers and pilots are not immune. In fact, about 1 in 4 pilots and train operators admitted to allowing sleepiness to affect their job performance at least once a week! Truck drivers had results nearly as bad.

The same group was at six times greater risk of being involved in an accident while commuting to or from work.

“Driving home from work after a long shift is associated with crashes due to sleepiness,” says Dr. Sanjay Patel, a sleep researcher at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School. “We should all be concerned that pilots and train operators report car crashes due to sleepiness at a rate that is six times greater than that of other workers.”

Teen drivers are also at high risk.

“Young Americans are sleepy, and this affects their health and safety,” says David Cloud, CEO of the National Sleep Foundation. “It’s important to get the word out that it’s dangerous to drive drowsy. This could save thousands of lives.”

The NSF estimates 1 in 6 fatal crashes involves a drowsy driver. About half of American drivers admit to having driven drowsy — more than one-third acknowledge having done so in the past month.

Safety advocates now put the risk of driving drowsy on par with driving drunk. Those awake 20 hours or longer have reaction times similar to a driver with a blood-alcohol level of .08 and may be taking 3-4 second microsleeps without even realizing it.

Even when you are awake, driving at night can be quite dangerous. And the faster you drive, the less time you have to react. As the U.S. Department of Transportation reports, it’s easy to outdrive your headlights. Low beams permit you to spot an object on the road about 160 feet in front of your vehicle. And most drivers need additional time to react. Total stopping distance for the average vehicle is more than 100 feet at 30 mph. It’s nearly 200 feet at 40 mph.

At 70 mph, it takes nearly 500 feet to come to a complete stop.

The consequences of poor driving decisions are exacerbated after dark. So are the penalties for poor driving habits. Commit to yourself and to your family to make it a safe holiday season on the road.

Avoid distractions. Never drink and drive. Obey the rules of the road. Get plenty of rest. And wear your seat belt. Each can reduce your risk of being involved in a serious or fatal accident. Together we can make the roads safer for everyone.
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