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Huntsville Personal Injury Law Blog

To what extent can you recover from a spinal cord injury?

Many in Madison may view a spinal cord injury as akin to a life sentence of physical struggles and limitations. If you have suffered such an injury, your first thoughts may concern whether or not you’ll be able to recover, and if you are, to what degree? In general, your recovery expectations will depend upon the location where the injury occurred.

Debilitating spinal cord injuries typically occur in either the cervical, thoracic, and lumbar regions of the spine. According to John Hopkins Medicine, if your injury occurred in the lumbar or thoracic regions, the lasting results may be paraplegia. Your mobility and motor functions going forward will depend upon the level of your spine where you were injured. If it was localized to the L1-L5 region, then you may be able regain limited use of your legs. Injuries occurring at any point in the thoracic region will likely leave you wheelchair bound, but able to still care for yourself, remain employed, and participate in athletic activities.

Understanding reasonable and prudent speed requirements

Many clients that we here at the law firm of Johnston Moore and Thompson help following car crashes attribute their accidents to speeding. Your accident may not have involved another driver exceeding the speed limit, yet unsafe speed may still have been the cause. Many only consider speeding to be traveling beyond the posted speed limit. However, there are certain conditions where state law expects drivers to slow down. If one fails to do so and strikes your vehicle as a result, he or she may not only be cited by law enforcement, but could potentially be assigned liability for the accident.

The Code of Alabama contains a provision that requires that drivers to adhere to a reasonable and prudent speed when driving in certain conditions and scenarios. Poor weather can certainly create hazardous conditions due to wet, slick roads. If you have reason to suspect that the driver who struck you lost control of his or her vehicle due to excessive speed in the given conditions, then this statute could serve as support should you choose to pursue compensation.

Who is liable when equipment failure causes an accident?

If you are like most construction workers in Madison, then you go to work every day with the assumption that the equipment that you are using is safe. However, unexpected equipment failures are a problem that plagues the construction industry in general. According to information shared by the International Association for Automation and Robotics in Construction, nearly half of all major equipment problems requiring repair in the U.S. were due to unanticipated failures. The question then becomes who is responsible when you suffer a job-site accident due to equipment mishaps.

If work equipment causes an injury because of a malfunction in its intended use, you could potentially file a defective product claim against the manufacturer. This differs from a product liability issue in that such claims typically require multiple cases on record that lead to a product recall. With a defective product claim, you simply need to show that a problem with the equipment itself directly attributed to your accident. This may require the testimony of a technical expert

Receiving workers’ compensation due to mental illness

Here at the law firm of Johnston, Moore, and Thompson, we have assisted a number of clients whose jobs in Madison have caused them harm. In some cases, that harm is often not readily apparent. If you have begun suffering from stress-induced mental illness due to your job, you could be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. However, unlike with a physical injury or illness, proving that you are suffering from a work-related mental illness could be challenging.

While it is widely-accepted that there is a certain level of stress associated with any profession, actually identifying it as being sufficient for you to deserve workers’ compensation benefits may be difficult. The American Bar Association lists the following questions as points that likely need to be proven if you are to receive such benefits due to mental illness:

  •          Has the stress left you with a permanent impairment?
  •          Was the stress work-related?
  •          Was the stress more than what would normally be associated with your job?

Reviewing Alabama’s dram shop laws

Several clients with whom we here at the firm of Johnston, Moore and Thompson have helped in Madison, have come to us after having lost loved ones to drunk driving accidents. If you and your family have experienced such a tragedy, you may very well be considering filing a wrongful death lawsuit against the driver whose impairment caused the accident. Yet does liability for such an accident end there? What about those who supplied him or her with the alcohol which attributed for his or her intoxicated state?

The term “dram shop laws” comes from colonial times when a dram was used as a unit of measurement for alcohol. After the federal government ended the prohibition era with the repealing of the 18th Amendment, several states soon began adopting their own dram shop laws in attempts to maintain some control over the distribution of alcohol. Today, dram shop laws in general allow for liability to be assigned to individuals or establishments that furnished alcohol to a person whose subsequent intoxication led to an accident and injury.

Reviewing the average cost of a spinal cord injury

Victims of spinal cord injuries in Madison as well as their families may find the initial days following their accidents to be filled with feeling the shock of what has just occurred. After that subsides, the grim reality of having to deal with the consequences of such an injury may soon set in. Most likely anticipate that those costs will be high, yet few may actually be prepared for just enormous they may eventually be. Knowing this information may be a strong factor that victims and their loved ones look to when deciding whether or not to pursue additional compensation after such an injury.

Information gathered by the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation shows the breakdown of average annual expenses for spinal cord injuries to be as follows:

  •          Injuries resulting in incomplete motor function: $347,484 for the first year, $42,206 for subsequent years.
  •          Injuries resulting in paraplegia: $518,904 for the first year, $68,739 for subsequent years.
  •          Injuries resulting in low tetraplegia: $769,351 for the first year, $113,423 for subsequent years.
  •          Injuries resulting in high paraplegia: $1,064,716 for the first year, $184,891 for subsequent years.

Greene County street race leaves several dead, injured

Most in Madison likely consider themselves to be very capable drivers. Thus, the fear of getting into an accident may not be something that weighs heavily on their minds. They may feel as though the others on the road exercise the same amount of caution that they do. However, that is not always the case. Such drivers could easily find themselves to be victims of the poor or reckless driving of others. Depending upon the extent of carelessness the other drivers may have exhibited, the medical and financial consequences that these victims may face can be massive.

The decision between two drivers to challenge each other to a street race in Greene County proved to be one that would ultimately cost several others their lives. Three people were killed and nine others were injured as the result of being struck by two cars involved in a street race. The drivers of both vehicles have reportedly been apprehended by law enforcement officials and have been charged with, among other things, manslaughter. It was not reported whether or not the accident victims knew the drivers, or whether or not they were in a vehicle of their own at the time of the accident.

The most common causes of construction site fatalities

Those who work in construction in Madison are participating in what has proven to be one of the most dangerous professions in America. The potential for accidents and injuries in other professional environments is limited compared to all of the dangers that a construction site poses. Given the materials that constructions workers use and the conditions that they work in, any injuries that do in fact occur will often be much more severe. These facts should not dissuade those who enjoy this line of work from participating in it; however, it may be helpful to know beforehand exactly what sort of dangers they may be facing.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration collects data on the workplace environment as well as the occurrence of work-related injuries. According to its figures, of the 4,251 workplace fatalities that occurred in 2014, over 20 percent were from the construction industry. Those numbers go on to show that the four most common causes of construction-related fatalities were:

  •          Falls
  •          Electrocutions
  •          Being struck by falling or moving objects
  •          Being caught in or between equipment or building materials

Understanding who covers work-related car accident expenses

Many of the Madison clients with whom we work here at the firm of Johnston, Moore, & Thompson come to us in a unique situation: they have been injured in a car accident while on the job. If this has happened to you, then you are likely wondering whether your accident expenses will be covered by your auto insurance policy or by worker’s compensation benefits. The answer depends largely on the circumstances of your accident.

If you happen to cause the accident, your own auto insurance policy may deny your claim due to the fact that it happened while you were working. In this case, you may likely be covered under two scenarios. The first is if your employer offers such coverage under its commercial liability policy. In this case, you could be covered regardless of whether you were in a company car or your own personal vehicle. The only limitation to this coverage would be for accidents that occurred while traveling to and from work.

Criminal negligence and wrongful death

The word “negligence” may find itself being thrown around in situations in Madison that result in the injury or death of others. If and when negligence is apparently displayed, those who suffer from it, particularly if it involves the death of a family member or loved one, want to see the person or people guilty of it held responsible. In many cases, they may even feel as through criminal charges may be warranted. Differences of opinion may exist in regards to what actions or omissions may or may not be considered negligent. Fortunately, the state has set its own definition in order to avoid confusion.

According to Section 13A-2-2 of the code of Alabama, criminal negligence is defined as one failing to understand or perceive the risks associated with certain actions or circumstances, and that those risks are great enough as to be considered a “gross deviation” from the care that most would observe in a similar situation. When the family or personal representative of deceased person believes that such a failure to adhere to the accepted standard of care has been exhibited, they may push for criminal actions to be filed against whoever demonstrated the failure. However, it is law enforcement authorities who ultimately decide whether an accused’s actions meet the definition of criminal negligence.