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Huntsville Personal Injury Law Blog

Alabama contractor charged with making false statements to OSHA

Though they are technically self-employed, contractors must follow all rules and regulations set forth by OSHA. This is to protect themselves, their superiors and their subordinates in the event of an accident. Not following safety standards can cause serious injury, which is what happened in 2013 to three workers. They were working on a roof with insufficient fall protection and suffered severe injuries.

The Alabama contractor who hired these workers originally told OSHA he was at the jobsite when the accident occurred, and he was using the proper safety equipment to prevent falls. Further investigation showed he did to obtain this equipment until five days after the accident occurred. As such, he knew the workers were not safely tied off as they should be when working on a roof. 

Wrongful death case involving Alabama officer appealed

Wrongful death cases against municipalities and their employees are not necessarily prohibited under Alabama law, but they can depend heavily on the facts of the death. This is one of the conclusions that can be drawn from a recent wrongful death lawsuit against the town of Dothan and one of its police officers in the aftermath of a police-involved shooting.

The fatal incident took place when the police officer was engaged in a vehicle pursuit that ended when the suspect driver brought his vehicle to a stop and was shot. The mother of the deceased initiated a wrongful death action that may have had basis in a claimed civil rights violation in federal district court against the police officer and Dothan after the officer was cleared by a grand jury investigation, but the court dismissed the lawsuit because in the opinion of the judge the circumstances of the shooting were such that the uncertainty of the situation meant that the police officer did not have the requisite fair warning that the suspect's Constitutional rights, which in turn triggered a qualified privileged immunity for the officer.

What other than negligence can establish a personal injury claim?

Negligence -- which may be thought of as carelessness, leading to the injury of another person through behavior not in accordance with a duty of care owed to another -- is the underlying legal theory behind most personal injury lawsuits in Alabama. Most of the personal injury actions that you will see involve negligent acts, such as a distracted driver rear-ending another vehicle or a retail establishment failing to clean up a slip-and-fall hazard.

But is negligence the only way through which one person can be found liable for causing injury to another? The answer to that question is "No" -- there are at least two other grounds by which you may be able to pursue a personal injury claim in the absence of negligence.

Protecting your workers who travel overseas

Modern technology has removed much of the need for Alabama workers to travel overseas and meet with clients. Yet, face-to-face interactions are sometimes needed, and it is important for employees to be protected. Workers’ compensation will cover some issues, but more often than not, you will need additional coverage.

There are certain foods, germs and other factors that Americans are used to, and their bodies can handle. In addition, there are specific regulations that ensure workplaces are safe. But traveling to a foreign land opens the door for all sorts of injuries and sickness, which is more common than one may think. For instance, auto accidents due to unsafe driving conditions are a common issue in many other countries. A general workers’ compensation policy does not usually cover issues like endemic diseases and the like. That is why a foreign voluntary workers’ compensation policy is crucial.

Traumatic brain injury could have lifelong effects on kids

For many children in Alabama, their biggest concern is which toy they are going to play with next, or avoiding becoming “it” in a game of tag with their friends. When they fall and hit their head, they may run to mom for a kiss to make it all better before they take off again. But a recent study has shown that children — or more aptly, parents — should be more concerned about these bumps on the head.

The study discovered that traumatic brain injury in children can lead to slower response times and attention deficit disorders. Researchers studied more than 100 children who had suffered brain trauma against 50 who had suffered other forms of injury. The results were somewhat startling. While they found the children who had head injuries not only had trouble paying attention, but also showed more aggression, anxiety and other issues.

What are some defenses I can expect against my lawsuit?

There is a line from an old French song that in translation reads, “This animal is very bad; when you attack it, it defends itself.” In a similar vein, when you become the plaintiff in a personal injury lawsuit, such as may happen after you are involved in a car accident and believe that the other driver caused it, you should expect that person not to simply lie down when he is served with your summons and complaint.

A good personal injury attorney knows that maximizing the client’s chances of success in settlement negotiations or through litigation requires more than just understanding what constitutes a complaint. It is also essential to understand what the defendant is likely to do in its response. We at Johnston Moore & Thompson bring this dual capability to bear for each of our personal injury clients. For example, we are familiar with the following common defense tactics, and how to respond to them:

What are some defenses I can expect against my lawsuit?

There is a line from an old French song that in translation reads, “This animal is very bad; when you attack it, it defends itself.” In a similar vein, when you become the plaintiff in a personal injury lawsuit, such as may happen after you are involved in a car accident and believe that the other driver caused it, you should expect that person not to simply lie down when he is served with your summons and complaint.

A good personal injury attorney knows that maximizing the client’s chances of success in settlement negotiations or through litigation requires more than just understanding what constitutes a complaint. It is also essential to understand what the defendant is likely to do in its response. We at Johnston Moore & Thompson bring this dual capability to bear for each of our personal injury clients. For example, we are familiar with the following common defense tactics, and how to respond to them:

Alabama’s texting and driving laws

In about 40 states, it is illegal to use your cell phone while you are driving. Some states allow drivers of a certain age to talk on the phone while driving, and others ban the use of mobile devices altogether. Alabama is in the former category due to a law that went into effect in 2012. Using the phone for anything except talking or navigation can lead to fines and other consequences.

Text messaging, emailing, instant messaging and using other forms of written communication is outlawed. This was done for the safety of both the offending driver and those around them. Researchers at the University of Alabama at Birmingham discovered that the average driver looks down for 4.6 seconds to read a text message. If they are driving 55 miles per hour, this is long enough to travel about a hundred yards — all while not looking at the road. 

I've been offered a settlement of my claim. Should I accept it?

Insurance companies have a few things in common. In their advertising they all want you to believe that they are "on your side," and that "like a good neighbor" you are "in good hands" with them. Something else they have in common is that they are profit-driven businesses that are arguably driven by their bottom lines and not by altruism. What this can mean to you is that if you are involved in a car accident here in Alabama you may discover a side to your insurer, or if another driver was at fault his insurer, that may not be quite as friendly as they were before the accident happened.

At some point during negotiations with your or the other driver's insurer, you may receive a settlement offer for any personal injury and property loss that you have suffered. But if you are not employed in the insurance industry and do not otherwise know how it works, how will you know whether the offer you receive is fair in the sense that it provides you with the full amount of compensation you will require? A quick rule of thumb is, if the offer is the first one you have received, it probably isn't.

Fire at farmers’ cooperative shows need for workers’ compensation

Severe burn injuries pose a special challenge for injured workers for at least two reasons: they can be debilitating in nature, causing lengthy loss of time from work, and can take a long time to treat and to heal, which can lead to the need for specialized medical, occupational and even mental health professional assistance -- all of which comes with a considerable cost.

Workers’ compensation in Alabama was designed precisely with such serious employment-related injuries in mind. And as a recent incident in Decatur indicates, it can also save much time and trouble that would otherwise ensue if it were up to the employee to file a lawsuit against his employer for compensation.