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Huntsville Personal Injury Law Blog

High-speed chase ends in fatal car accident in Opelika

Oftentimes, negligent actions may warrant some in Madison to seek legal action are serious enough to also justify criminal charges. When law enforcement officials step in to conduct their portions of an accident investigation, other parties involved will often defer to them the opportunity to get most access to the different evidentiary elements of the event. In many cases, criminal charges will result from their investigations. If this happens, some may be hesitant to bring their actions for negligence against the defendant, fearing that their proceedings may interpret the course of his or her criminal trial. Yet the truth is that it is well within one’s rights to initiate civil action against a defendant that is concurrently facing related criminal charges.

Such a scenario could potentially present itself in the wake of a fatal car accident in Opelika. According to reports from officials, a man attempted to elude police who were attempting to conduct a routine traffic stop. The chase that ensued resulted in the man running a stop sign and colliding with another vehicle. Two of the four occupants in the other car were killed, while the other two were treated for non-life-threatening injuries. The suspect fleeing from the police was also taken to local medical facility to receive treatment.

What are the general rules regarding the use of scaffolding?

Drive past any construction site in Madison, and you are likely to see multiple levels of scaffolding running up the sides of structures. While scaffolding does offer several advantages when working at heights over other alternatives, it can present a safety hazard if you are required to work on or around it. Typically, the higher that scaffolding goes, the more dangerous it becomes. Thus, regulations regarding the use of scaffolding also tend to get stricter as heights increase. If you happen to be injured while working around scaffolding, it may be beneficial to you to know exactly what those regulations are.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has specific guidelines in place for each unique type of scaffolding. There are, however, general rules regarding its use that all must adhere to. These include:

  •          Only using scaffolding that is anchored to both the structure against which it sits with either anchor or reveal bolts, and to the ground using sound footing capable of enduring maximum loads.
  •          Scaffolding needing to support a minimum of four times its intended load, and to not ever be purposefully loaded past that weight.
  •          Planks extended a minimum of 6 inches and a maximum of 18 past their end supports.
  •          Scaffolding needing to have a wire-mesh screen between the toeboard and the guardrail.
  •          Employees not being able to work atop scaffolding during periods of high wind, or when the scaffolding is covered with ice or snow.
  •          All levels of scaffolding requiring a ladder or other means of safe access.

What employee death benefits might you be entitled to?

If you suffer the misfortune of having a spouse or family member die due to a workplace accident in Madison, then you may be questioning what sort of legal recourse is available to you. A wrongful death lawsuit may be the first thought that comes to you, yet in such cases there typically needs to be an element of negligence present. What if the accident that killed your loved was no one’s fault at all? Would you and your family still be entitled to some form of workers’ compensation?

The answer to this question is a resounding yes. According to the Alabama Department of Labor, you as a surviving spouse or dependent of one killed while working may be entitled to the following death-related benefits:

  •          Medical expenses: Your loved one’s employer is required to cover all reasonable medical and/or surgical treatments related to the injuries that caused his or her death.
  •          Burial costs: Even if you happen to have private burial insurance, your deceased family member’s company must cover up $6,500 of his or her burial expenses.
  •          Income compensation: If you were loved one’s only dependent, you may be entitled to weekly payments equaling 50 percent of his or her average weekly income. If there are other dependents, that percentage increases to 66.6.

Understanding the different types of spinal cord injuries

Those whom we here at the law firm of Johnston, Moore, & Thompson work with after having sustained a spinal cord injury will likely be facing a lengthy recovery and rehabilitation process. If you have sustained such trauma, knowing the type of injury that you have may give you a better idea of the type of future you may be facing, as well as to what degree you may recover your motor skills. It could also provide both you and your family a more accurate estimate of the rehab costs that await you.

The American Association of Neurological Surgeons defines spinal cord injuries by the extent of impairment they cause. Below are the different injury types listed in ascending order of severity:

  •          Spinal concussions: While typically only used in reference to brain injuries, a concussion is actually any stunning or damaging effect that results from trauma. Bruising of the spinal cord can produce debilitating results, yet these usually dissipate within a couple of days.
  •          Incomplete SCI’s: If you experience any sensation or movement below the area of the spine where you sustained your injury, you are said to have an incomplete SCI. These are typically localized injuries that impair movement and feeling in certain areas of the body. With certain incomplete injuries, some degree of recovery may be possible.
  •          Complete SCI’s: A complete injury is one that produces a total loss of all movement and function. Complete injuries that occur in higher cervical spine region typically result in tetraplegia (paralysis in all four extremities), while those in the lumber or thoracic regions produce paraplegia (loss of strength in the lower body).

Who can actually file a wrongful death lawsuit in Alabama?

If you have lost a loved one in Madison due to the alleged negligence of another, your first reaction following your having grieved for his or her death may be to pursue a wrongful death lawsuit. You have likely heard of such actions being filed by family members on behalf of those killed in accidents or crimes. However, Alabama’s laws regarding who can actually file a wrongful death lawsuit may be considered by some to be unique.

The state’s wrongful death statute can be found in Section 6-5-410 of the Code of Alabama. It states that any action regarding wrongful death can only be initiated by a personal representative. In this instance, “personal representative” is meant to mean the administrator of your deceased family member’s estate. Along these same lines, any damages awarded as a result of a wrongful death lawsuit will go the estate, as opposed to you and other family members.

When vehicle defects cause your car accident

There are cases where clients come to us here at the law firm of Johnston, Moore, & Thompson following a car accident in Madison convinced that problems with their own vehicles caused them to crash. If you have been involved in such an accident, then you may wondering what sort of legal recourse you have to hold whomever is responsible for the failure accountable.

In a majority of the crashes for which vehicle failures are blamed, the reason behind the failure is typically due to one of two factors: poor vehicle design or defective auto parts. If yours was due to poor auto parts, you then need to determine if they were from the original equipment manufacturer or were aftermarket. If they were OEM parts, both the vehicle manufacturer and the parts supplier could become targets of legal action. If the parts turn out to be aftermarket, the parts manufacturer would likely be liable, as would the service shop that placed them in your vehicle.

What are the required safety standards for trench work?

Many of the large-scale construction projects that take place in Madison require extensive networks of trenches to be dug. If your job involves working in and around trenches, then you know the inherent unpredictability that comes with excavating and operating beneath the normal ground level. Cave-ins, falling equipment, or flooding can easily endanger yours and your coworker’s lives. Given these risks, then you may be wondering what sort of safety standards your employee is held when requiring you to work in trenches.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has created guidelines to help mitigate the risks associated with trenching. These standards primarily focus on the following areas:

  •          Trench depth: Any trench deeper than 5 feet and not made from an excavation into stable rock must be supported by a protective system. In trenches deeper than 20 feet, the design of that system must be supported by a registered professional engineer. Trenches deeper than 4 feet must also have safe entry and exit points within 25 feet of all workers.
  •          Inspections: All tranches must be inspected daily or following a rainstorm by a competent person trained to identify and offer advice on how to correct any potential safety issues before you are allowed to enter. Such inspections should include tests to identify areas of low oxygen as well as the presence of potentially harmful fumes and gases.
  •          Equipment placement: All surcharge loads must be kept a minimum of two feet away from trench edges. Heavy equipment should also be placed an equally safe distance away. While in the trench, you are also advised to avoid working under raised loads.

Contributing factors to work-induced heart attacks

Many of the Madison clients that we here at the law firm of Johnston, Moore, & Thompson assist with workers’ compensation claims suffer injuries that may be difficult to link to their jobs. One such injury is a heart attack. If you have recently suffered a heart attack, your working conditions may not be the first culprit that comes to mind when trying to pinpoint the cause. However, certain work-related factors have been proven to heighten your risk of suffering a heart attack.

If and when you do try to blame your job for having caused a cardiac episode, your employer may argue that it is impossible to prove such a claim. It may point to other factors such a genetic predisposition to heart complications, or an overall unhealthy lifestyle (of which your career comprises only a small part). Yet information shared by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention supports the idea of there being chemical and nonchemical causes of heart problems that can be linked to work. The chemical causes include exposure to potentially hazardous materials such as

  •          Carbon disulfide
  •          Carbon monoxide
  •          Nitroglycerin

How can concussion in sports go undiagnosed?

It's been well-reported in recent years both in Madison and throughout the rest of the country that certain sporting activities present an increased risk of their participants sustaining concussions. If you participate in any of high-contact sport or have a loved one who does, you should know that even this increased awareness cannot completely avoid the potential of suffering from the problems inherent with an undiagnosed concussion.

The results of a study shared by the National Institutes of Health showed that nearly one-third of study participants had likely suffered a concussion while playing sports that was never actually diagnosed. In the absence of concussion symptoms, a coach or training staff may believe it to be OK to reinsert you or your loved one into competition. The obvious danger in this is that once you or your loved one has suffered a concussion, the chances of sustaining repeated and/or more serious brain injuries increases.

Family of Prattville man sues owners of the plane that killed him

In cases involving equipment failures that may have led to the death of a Madison resident, the question may arise as to who is liable: the manufacturer or the purveyor? If it is shown that the failure was due to a flaw in the equipment’s original design, then the friends or family of those who died may have a case for compensation against the company that made it. However, if equipment was poorly maintained, then the person or party that allowed others to use it may be at fault.

The two-year anniversary of a fatal plane crash that took the life of a young Prattville man has recently past. Now, his family and that of the other man killed in the accident are filing a wrongful death lawsuit against the Florida flight school that owned the plane the men were flying. The aircraft was said to have a made a rapid descent from 8,000 feet to 300 feet before breaking apart over Georgia. The lawsuit claims that the right vacuum pump on the plane was already inoperable before the two men took off, and that the subsequent failure of the left vacuum pump during the flight was what led to the crash. It goes on further to allege that the flight school knew or should have known of the issue, yet failed to make the two men aware of it.