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Huntsville Personal Injury Law Blog

What should you do if you were a passenger in a car accident?

You, like many Madison residents, may be quite proud of your driving skills and the fact that they have allowed you to stay relatively safe on the road. Statistics seem to show, however, that the likelihood of you being able to completely avoid any car accident issues in your lifetime may be quite low. In fact, the Alabama Department of Transportation reports that as recently as 2012, car accidents were reported at an average of every 246 seconds in the state. In some cases, your involvement in an accident may not be as a driver, but rather as a passenger. If that happens, how are you to get your accident expenses covered?

Your first step would be to file a claim to the liability insurance of the driver who was at fault. Yet what if your accident expenses exceed the amount of liability coverage offered through that driver’s policy? Rather than being stuck with bill, you may also be able to file a claim against the other driver’s insurance to cover the remaining amount.

Worker injured in construction accident on college campus

Many in Madison may be aware of the fact that construction work ranks among the most dangerous careers in America. Any number of accidents may happen at a job site, from equipment malfunctions to structural failures. However, while such spectacular accidents are typically the ones that make the news, many construction site incidents are much simpler in their nature. For example, one may not rank falls as one of the foremost risks that construction workers face. However, depending upon the size of the project being developed, workers may be asked to perform their jobs hundreds of feet off of the ground. Realizing this may make the dangers posed by falls from heights much easier to comprehend.

A construction worker involved with a building project on the campus of Kansas State University was recently hospitalized following such an accident. While the exact details of the incident were not reported, it was confirmed that the man suffered his injuries during a fall. The cause of the accident is currently being investigated. The condition of the construction worker himself is also unknown.

Career-related risks for contracting occupational illnesses

Worker’s compensation is typically a benefit that most in Madison would likely associate with a workplace injury or accident. There are, however, many cases where rather than causing injury, one’s job can literally make him or her sick. While being “sick of work” is a common joke thrown around many working environments, occupational illnesses may actually present a real risk to employees in certain industries.

Alabama state law defines an occupational disease as one acquired as a result of a person’s employment due to hazards that are both unique to a particular industry and in excess of those determined to be incident to his or her line of work. For example, one catching the flu from a fellow coworker in an office setting may not meet this definition. Yet one contracting an illness due to the unique environmental or epidemiological conditions of an individual job or assignment could potentially qualify him or her for worker’s compensation.

How effective are bike helmets at preventing brain injuries?

You may hear all the time from different public authorities and private agencies in Madison how helmets save lives. Such a statement may be clearly evident in the case of a motorcycle accident. Yet does the same apply to bicycles? Section 32-5A-283 of the Alabama State Code says that only riders under the age of 16 are required to wear bicycle helmets. Does the fact that adults are not mandated to wear them discount the potential for protection that they may provide in the event of a bike accident?

Some seem to think so. Recent years have seen critics attempt to poke holes in the studies supporting the use of bike helmets by all. Typically, their arguments are brought up when disputing the efficiency of legislation at reducing the number of head injuries suffered by cyclists. The problem with such arguments is that a vast majority of research into helmet effectiveness seems to leave little room for doubt. For example, a study shared by the National Institutes of Health reviewed a total of five separate case-control studies in coming to its conclusions. These case studies showed the following results:

  •          Helmets reduced the risk of head and brain injuries in cyclists of all ages by 63-88 percent.
  •          Helmets offered equal protection in collisions with cars compared to other causes.
  •          Helmets reduced injuries to the mid- and upper-face by 65 percent.

The difference between compensatory and punitive damages

For many in Madison, confusion may still exist over the purpose of a wrongful death lawsuit. The key to clarifying this may be to explain the difference between potential the civil and criminal actions that can occur after one’s death. In a criminal case, the state seeks to assign penalties to a defendant based upon his or her direct violation of the law. In a civil case, a plaintiff sues to recover expenses from a defendant if that defendant’s negligence contributed to one’s death. With that explained, the next question may be exactly how much one can recover in a wrongful death lawsuit.

In general, damages are classified into two different categories: compensatory and punitive. According to the Cornell University Law School, compensatory damages are those given based on the actual losses suffered by a plaintiff. Factors used in determining these losses may include the type of injury he or she suffered, or the extent of harm he or she had to deal with. Punitive damages, on the other hand, are based on the malicious or negligent actions of another. They are meant primarily as punishment for one’s recklessness or oversight.

How can you prove that a rollover was not your fault?

When rollover accidents happen in Madison, the assumption often is that they are due to driver error. That may be because they typically only involve a single vehicle, as collisions between cars tend to transfer the energy of impact to each other. If you are involved in a single vehicle rollover, however, you may have every reason to believe that it was not your fault. The question then becomes how do you prove that?

Today’s vehicles incorporate technologies specifically designed to help prevent rollovers. The chief among these are electronic stability control systems. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, ESC’s reduced the risk of you experiencing a single vehicle rollover by more than 70 percent. Since 2012, all vehicles have been required to incorporate this technology.

Understanding the safety standards for heavy equipment

Construction workers in Madison may be required to go through extensive training in order to use the equipment employed on job sites. In cases of heavy equipment, however, no amount of training may eliminate the risks that these complex machines pose. Many of those who come to us here at The Law Firm of Johnston, Moore, and Thompson in the wake of a construction accident are unaware of the standards their employers are held to when it comes to maintaining a safe work environment. If you were injured on a construction site while operating heavy equipment, knowing exactly what those standards are could help you determine where your employer may have violated them.

As is the case with many workplace safety regulations, the standards for maintaining and operating heavy machinery and equipment are set by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. According to OSHA, the heavy equipment that you use must be checked at the beginning of each shift to make sure that all of its components and accessories are in operating condition. Any repairs that are needed should be done immediately and not left until the end of the work day. Any vehicles that are loaded from above must have safety equipment in place to protect you if you are in the cab during loading. Vehicles used to transport you and your coworkers must have seats and seat belts for every individual.

Examining the SSA’s evidentiary requirements for disability

If a workplace accident leaves you unable to return to any sort of career, your first option to cover the medical and rehabilitative expenses related to your injuries may be workers’ compensation benefits. Yet we at The Law Firm of Johnston, Moore, and Thompson often find that many believe any benefits they are entitled to end there. What those people fail to realize is that Social Security Disability benefits are, in essence, an extension of workers’ compensation. However, you may only qualify for these benefits after the Social Security Administration’s own evidentiary requirements have been met.

These requirements are listed in conjunction with the impairments that they are specifically associated with. The qualification criteria must be verified by an acceptable medical source as determined by the SSA. According to the SSA’s website, these sources may include:

  •          Your primary care physician, or any other qualified doctor of medicine or osteopathy
  •          A psychologist
  •          An optometrist (specifically for issues with visual acuity)
  •          A speech pathologist (specifically for language impairments)
  •          A podiatrist (specifically for issues related to the feet and ankles)

Linking dementia to head trauma

Most in Madison may only view dementia as a degenerative brain disorder that comes with advancing age. Associating it with an accident which causes a head injury may not seem intuitive, given that the onset of dementia is not considered to be an acute event. However, the website EMedicineHealth.com lists head injuries as the third leading cause of dementia in people under the age of 50.

The word “dementia” itself does not describe a particular disease, but rather a range of conditions that contribute to one losing his or her mental abilities to the point of interfering with his or her daily life. Some of the more common forms of dementia include:

  •          Alzheimer’s
  •          Dementia with Lewy bodies
  •          Huntington’s disease
  •          Parkinson’s disease
  •          Vascular dementia (post-stroke dementia)
  •          Mixed dementia (symptoms associated with multiple forms of dementia)

What is the attractive nuisance doctrine?

Summertime in Madison means the local kids are out of school, which may also translate to more of them being outside getting into mischief. With the added free time that summer brings also may come more chances for younger children to indulge their curiosities through exploration. What if that curiosity attracts them to places where they could be injured or even killed? Examples of such places may be swimming pools, construction sites, or animal pens. If your young child was killed after wandering into such an area, do you have any legal recourse against the property owner?

According to the Legal Information Institute, a property owner may held liable for the death of your child if his or her death was caused by a dangerous condition on the property that the owner could reasonably assume would attract a child’s interest. This principle is known as the “attractive nuisance” doctrine, and it establishes the legal assumption that children do not comprehend the risk that a dangerous condition may present.