slip and fall attorney

Is a Retail Store Responsible for my Slip & Fall?

You may have heard about the area of the law known as “slip and fall,” also known as premises liability. This personal injury claim is often the brunt of jokes.  Surely everyone knows how to walk and not fall down, and if you do fall, it’s your own fault. But it’s really not as simple as that.

A slip and fall injury can be very serious. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one in five falls among older Americans causes serious injuries to the head or bones, and falls are the most common cause of traumatic brain injury (TBI).

A broken hip, for example, can be a life-altering experience for an elderly person and one from which they may never recover.

The property owner may be to blame (for a slip and fall accident) if s/he invites the public onto the property but is negligent in fulfilling the reasonable obligation that it will be free of hazards. This is the basis for a premises liability case.

Alabama Premises Liability Law

A premises liability action can be initiated against any place of business and its owner if you are injured in their retail establishment.  

According to Alabama law, the property owner has a “duty of care” to all visitors.

Regarding premises liability, the owner “owes a duty to business invitees to use reasonable care and diligence to keep the premises in a safe condition, or, if the premises are in a dangerous condition, to give sufficient warning so that, by the use of ordinary care, the danger may be avoided.”

In the following scenarios, a home or place of business can be dangerous for the public:  

  • Perhaps there is an uneven sidewalk that causes visitors to trip or a business parking lot is inadequately lit and someone in a high crime area is assaulted on the property.

  • There may be large crates hoisted on high shelves of a big box store that fall on someone.

  • An unsecured handrail can prove to be a recipe for disaster to a shopper as can a slippery substance left on the floor of a store that no one has cleaned up.

  • A property may be contaminated by toxins used by a previous owner which create a dangerous situation to one’s health.

In the above cases, the owner failed to do what an ordinary prudent person would do to make their property safe. When that happens, the owner is essentially negligent in his or her duty to the public.

Alabama’s premises liability law treats those bringing a claim over a defective property more favorably than a claim over a slippery floor; because the defect in the property, such as a hole in the floor, was an actual part of the property. The question of whether the owner knew there was a hazard will be decided by the court.

In a slippery floor case, you, the plaintiff, must prove that the substance was on the floor for some time and that the defendant knew (or should have known) it was there and failing to do so makes him/her negligent.  

In both claims, you, the plaintiff, must show that the danger caused your injury.

If you are filing a premises liability claim against the property owner for your injury, understand that in Alabama, you have two years within which to do so.

Alabama Contributory Negligence

Contributory negligence law in Alabama gives a huge advantage to the negligent at-fault party. Under Alabama law, if you share even 1% fault for your accident, you can be completely barred from recovering damages from the at-fault party.

This serves as a giant barrier which a negligent party can use to turn the tables on you.

As your law firm, we will argue that there was a wanton or willful disregard for safety that existed on the part of the property owner.

We must bring evidence that the store owner should be held completely liable because of his/her knowledge of the danger and negligence that caused the customer injuries. 

Compensation in an Alabama Slip & Fall

In the case of an injury you suffered in a retail store, if you have a viable case, the Alsobrook Law Group will initiate the premises liability action in order to recover compensatory damages. This can include medical expenses, rehabilitation expenses, physical pain, lost earnings, disfigurement, loss of consortium, and mental distress.

The jury also has the option to award punitive damages, intended to punish the defendant. These types of damages are only awarded if the actions of the responsible party were especially egregious.  

Call our Opelika office today at 334-345-2765 so we can begin your free consultation on your case.

personal injury attorney in Opelika, Alabama

How Do I Know if I Have a Personal Injury Case in AL?

When someone is injured and it appears to be the fault of another person or party, one of the first questions that comes to mind is, “do I have a personal injury case?” Essentially, they want to know whether or not pursuing a personal injury claim is in their best interests.

There are numerous factors that come into play in determining whether or not you have a viable claim, and to really know for sure, it is best to have a conversation with an experienced personal injury lawyer. Whether you decide to retain legal representation or not, a skilled and knowledgeable attorney will be able to thoroughly review the specifics of your case and advise you of your legal rights and options, so you can make the most informed decision on how you wish to proceed.

Important Factors that go into Personal Injury Cases

There are several things that will be looked at when you discuss your case with an attorney. These may include:

The Extent of your Injuries/Medical Treatment

How badly were you injured? Did you just have a few minor scrapes and bruises, or were your injuries more extensive? Whenever you are involved in any type of accident where you may have sustained an injury, it is important to seek medical treatment right away, so your injuries can be properly diagnosed, treated, and documented. Insurance companies will look for any way they can to minimize the amount of compensation they pay out to injured parties, and one way they may do this is by poking holes in your medical claims.

For example, the insurance company might tell you that your injury is not related to the accident in question, because you waited too long to seek treatment. They might also tell you that you are exaggerating the extent of your injuries, because they have not been officially documented. Finally, they might say that you failed in your legal duty to mitigate your losses by not getting treated right away.

The bottom line here is that if you seek immediate medical attention, it makes it much harder for the insurance company to dispute your injuries. At the end of the day, if you do only have some minor bumps and bruises, a legal claim may not be worthwhile. But if you suffered moderate to severe injuries, you could be eligible for damages not only for economic losses such as medical bills and lost earnings, but also for noneconomic losses such as pain and suffering and psychological distress. Your medical report will be very helpful in determining whether or not you have a case.

Evidence of Negligence/Liability

Even if you have suffered significant compensable losses because of your injury, you will still need to prove that another party was liable. Sometimes, this is fairly cut and dry, such as if another driver ran a red light and crashed into you. At other times, however, fault may be in question. When this is the case, a thorough investigation will be needed, which may include reviewing the police report, interviewing witnesses, reviewing any available visual evidence, and bringing in accident reconstruction experts and other specialists for assistance.

Proving liability is especially important in a state like Alabama, where they apply the “contributory negligence” legal standard. Under contributory negligence, if an injured party is found to be even 1% at fault for the underlying accident or event that caused the injury, they can be barred from recovering damages. You can be sure that insurance companies will attempt to use Alabama’s defendant friendly legal standard against you, so if there is any question at all over who was at fault, it is absolutely essential to retain strong legal counsel.

Time Elapsed Since the Injury

In Alabama, the statute of limitations for most personal injury claims is two years from the date of the injury. This means that you have a two-year deadline to file a personal injury lawsuit, otherwise, your lawsuit will most likely be thrown out of court. There are times in which the statute of limitations is shorter, such as if you are suing a government entity, in which case it could be six months or a year depending on which entity you are suing.

The clock starts on the statute of limitations as soon as the injured party knows or should reasonably have known about the injury. There are some cases, such as with repeated exposure to toxic substances for example, when an injury is not discovered until years later. Generally, the clock would start at the first sign or symptom.

Recoverable Assets

If you have extensive injuries, strong evidence of negligence, and you are within Alabama’s statute of limitations, you may have a viable personal injury case. However, you will still need to find out if there are recoverable assets that are worth pursuing. In most accident injury cases, damages are recovered through the defendant’s liability insurance policy. But if the defendant was uninsured or did not have a sufficient amount of insurance, then you may be able to recover compensation through the uninsured/underinsured motorists (UM/UIM) portion of your own auto insurance policy. If there is not enough available from these sources, you may be able to file a personal injury lawsuit directly against the defendant if he/she has assets that can be recovered.

Unfortunately, there are some instances in which none of the aforementioned sources are available, or there is some available, but it does not come close to covering all of your losses. In such cases, it may not be worthwhile to pursue a personal injury claim, or you will need to significantly lower your expectations. Before deciding anything for sure, however, your lawyer will explore every potential avenue for recovering compensation.

Contact a Seasoned Alabama Personal Injury Attorney Today If you or someone close to you has been injured because of someone else’s negligence or reckless actions, you may or may not have a personal injury case. To find out for sure, get in touch with Alsobrook Law Group today. Call our office at 334.737.3718 or message us online to schedule a free consultation.

impact of social media on personal injury lawsuit

What Impact Could Social Media Have on My Personal Injury Suit?

The consequences of using social media probably aren’t something you think much about. Social media use is ubiquitous, with the Pew Research Center reporting that about seven in 10 Americans use it to connect with others. In fact, it’s likely that you use multiple social media platforms on a regular basis, including popular sites like Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, and Twitter.

But if you’re filing a lawsuit (or you have had a lawsuit filed against you), your use of social media is something you should indeed consider. Social media can have a significant impact on the outcome of your case, and here are some of the ways this can happen:

Social Media Serves as a Type of Evidence

The first thing that you should understand is that anything you post on the internet is public information, and therefore can be accessed by whomever, including the attorney for the other side. This means that pictures, updates, blogs, and the like can all be admitted to the court record as evidence. And don’t be quick to assume that your private messages are all the private, either – if the other party involved in the messages turns them over, those messages are fair game. What’s more, a lawyer could obtain a subpoena for cellphone and online records, including texts, private messages, and more. In today’s digital world, using various forms of online and digital evidence in a lawsuit is very common.

Social Media Can Undermine Your Claim

The next thing that you should know is that social media can undermine your claim. Even if what you’re posting to social media seems insignificant and innocuous, it may not be. Here are some examples of how social media posts can devalue your personal injury claim:

  • You claim to have broken your leg in the accident, but a recent picture posted of you on social media shows you at the golf course. Never mind the fact that, in reality, you were only on the golf course that day as a tag-along, riding in the cart to keep a friend company, or the fact that the photo shows you in the cart, but your legs aren’t visible (and if they were, you could surely see your cast). The other side submits this as evidence to the court that you must have been lying about your broken leg; otherwise, how would you have been able to spend the day at the course?
  • You are demanding damages for pain and suffering, claiming that the accident has left you with a disability that has altered your quality of life. On Facebook, a colleague posts publicly, asking how you’re doing. Out of politeness and to protect your privacy – you don’t want to be moaning and groaning about how miserable you are to your online contacts – you reply that you are doing well and that your recovery is coming along. The attorney for the defense snatches this up, using it as evidence to show that despite your demand for claim that you are in great pain a lot of the time, your social media profile indicates that you are doing just fine.

There are countless other examples like this. Posting pictures, even from the past, allowing yourself to be tagged in pictures that others post of you, checking into different locations, or talking about your accident or your injuries online can all be damaging to your claim if this information gets into the wrong hands.

Best Practices for Social Media Use When Pursuing a Lawsuit

If you’re involved in a lawsuit, it’s best to put your social media activity on hold. If you absolutely cannot bring yourself to cease use of your accounts, at the very least you should set your accounts to private, refrain from accepting friend requests from anyone you don’t know, and never talk about your accident or injuries online.

Call Our Lawyers Today for More Information and Legal Guidance

Social media use may be the way that people stay connected in 2019, but it can be disastrous in a lawsuit. If you have questions about pursuing a personal injury claim or another lawsuit type, are worried about online evidence being used against you, or are in need of a highly-qualified lawyer for representation, please reach out to the Alsobrook Law Group online or by phone at (334) 737-3718. We offer free consultations and always accept personal injury cases on a contingency fee basis.

slip and fall attorney

What Should I Know About Premises Liability?

Sometimes, a dangerous property condition can lead to a life-changing injury. If you’ve been hurt on another party’s property, you may be entitled to damages under the legal theory known as “premises liability.”

Premises liability is a legal concept that often comes into play in personal injury cases involving a defective or unsafe condition on someone else’s property. If you can prove your case, the responsible party will have to compensate you for damages.

But these cases can be complex legal matters in Alabama and not something you should take lightly. If you’re thinking about filing a personal injury claim based on premises liability, here are several questions you should ask.

What is Premises Liability Law in Alabama?

A majority of premises liability cases are based on the theory of negligence. This is important, because just simply being injured on another person’s property doesn’t necessarily mean that there was an unsafe condition present or that the property owner was negligent.

Your attorney will need to prove that the owner either ignored a condition that was unsafe or otherwise acted negligently. For negligence to exist, there must be several elements:

  • A duty of care exists (ex. – a restaurant owner must avoid having slippery bathroom floors.)
  • There was a breach of the duty (ex. – the bathroom floors were wet with no warning signs.)
  • An accident occurred because of the breach. (ex. – you slipped and fell on the wet floor.)
  • Your injuries directly resulted from the accident. (ex – you strained your back from the fall.)

How Many Different Types of Premises Liability Cases Are There?

A premises liability case can arise anytime a person is injured on another party’s property. This opens up a broad range of possibilities. Some of the most common types of these cases include:

  • Slip and fall
  • Dog bites and animal attacks
  • Swimming pool accidents
  • Fires
  • Ice and snow accidents
  • Elevator and escalator accidents
  • Amusement park accidents
  • Toxic fume and chemical exposure
  • Defective conditions on the premises
  • Flooding and water leaks
  • Assault due to inadequate security
  • Inadequate maintenance on the property
  • Missing or defective handrails on stairs
  • Falling merchandise from shelving
  • Poor lighting
  • Uneven walkways, sidewalks, and parking lots

What Was the Nature of Your Visit to the Property?

Although all property owners should keep their premises safe, they don’t owe the same duty of care to everyone that steps foot on their land, in their home, or inside their business. The status of the visitors impacts how much responsibility the property owner might have if an injury occurs. There are three types of visitor roles:

  • Invitee. This is someone who is “invited” onto the property for the express purpose of conducting business. It might be a customer entering a store or a plumber that goes to a home on a call. In these cases, the property owner owes the highest duty of care to this group.
  • Licensee. This is an individual that has the property owner’s implied or expressed permission to enter the property. Examples are guests at a dinner party or electric company meter readers. The standard of care is lower, but if the property owner knows of hazards, they must correct them and give a warning.
  • Trespasser. Property owners owe the lowest level of responsibility to this group, but aren’t permitted to set “traps.” When children are involved, the rules are different. Pools must have adequate fencing, and property owners must protect children from harm if they frequent the area.

What if Both Parties Were Partially at Fault?

Every state approaches this differently, and Alabama has one of the strictest doctrines in the nation (with regards to fault) known as contributory negligence. This rule states that, if you contributed to your accident (even just 1%), you would be completely barred from recovering damages from the at-fault party.

Because of this, it’s vital that you avoid discussing your accident with anyone and speak to a qualified personal injury attorney as soon as possible.

Fighting for the Rights You Deserve in Premises Liability Cases

If you or someone you love has been hurt on another party’s property, our best advice is to discuss your case with an experienced Alabama premises liability attorney right away. These cases can be difficult to prove, and insurance companies are not in the business of paying fair settlements to accident victims.

At Alsobrook Law Group, we promise to be your strongest legal advocate throughout this process. We will not only conduct an independent investigation of your accident; we will also take steps to protect evidence and secure the maximum compensation you need and deserve.

Contact our Opelika office today at 334-345-2765 to schedule your free consultation or stop by our office at your convenience.

brain injury attorney in alabama

5 Common Causes of Brain Injuries

Traumatic brain injury, or TBI, occurs when there is a jolt or blow to the brain, disrupting its normal function. In the case of a concussion, the injury might be minor, but it can also be severe and permanent.

The Centers for Disease Control reports that roughly 2.87 million TBI-related emergency department (ED) visits, hospitalizations, and deaths occur each year in the U.S., and over 800,000 of these involve children. These can be serious conditions that require medical care and ongoing treatment.

Here are the five most common causes of brain injuries according to the CDC’s statistics and their common symptoms:

1. Falls

Falls are the most common cause of brain injuries in the U.S., accounting for about 35% of these cases. The rates are higher (50%) among children ages 0-14 and 62% among seniors over the age of 65.

A slip and fall on another person’s property can lead to a TBI, even if your head doesn’t hit the ground. The simple act of the body being violently jolted is enough to cause a brain injury.

2. Motor Vehicle Accidents

The second-leading cause of brain injuries is traffic accidents, which accounts for 17% of TBIs. However, motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death related to brain injuries.

Whiplash from a car, truck, or motorcycle accident can lead to TBI. Even when whiplash doesn’t exist, a collision that causes the head to strike an object can have severe consequences.

3. Struck by Object

The next leading cause (16.5%) comes from a person being struck by an object. However, this is the second leading cause of TBIs (25%) among children ages 0-14.

An example of this type of injury is materials that fall off of a store shelf onto a customer’s head. Another is falling materials on a construction site that hit a passing worker.

4. Violence

A person being the victim of physical violence related to assault or a being shot is the cause of roughly 10% of all TBIs. Some examples of TBIs related to violence are stabbing and gunshot wounds to the head as well as the head striking the ground during an assault. Shaken baby syndrome can lead to a TBI in infants.

5. Other/Unknown

There are other causes of brain injury that don’t fall into one of the above categories. This group accounts for 21% of all TBIs.

A common cause that ends up in this catch-all category is sports, and these aren’t always the “extreme” sports that most people imagine. While boxing, hockey, and football are dangerous, so are sports like soccer, baseball, and cycling. In short, it’s always a good idea to have proper training and wear a helmet.

Symptoms of a Brain Injury

Brain injuries can have a wide range of physical and psychological symptoms. Some of these might appear immediately, while others won’t show up until days or even weeks after an accident. According to the Mayo Clinic, some of the most common symptoms to watch for include:

Mild Traumatic Brain Injury Symptoms

  • Headache
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Brief loss of consciousness
  • Being confused, dazed, or disoriented
  • Drowsiness or fatigue
  • Issues with speech
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Loss of balance or dizziness
  • Sensitivity to light or sound
  • Blurred vision or ringing in the ears
  • Mood changes
  • Feeling anxious or depressed
  • Concentration or memory problems

Moderate to Severe Brain Injury Symptoms

  • Repeated vomiting or nausea
  • Loss of consciousness longer than several minutes
  • Persistent headache that gets worse
  • Seizures or convulsions
  • Dilation of one or both pupils
  • Inability to awaken from sleep
  • Numbness or weakness in toes and fingers
  • Loss of coordination
  • Extreme confusion
  • Slurred speech
  • Unusual behavior, agitation

If you suspect a brain injury or TBI, seek immediate medical attention. If left untreated, this is a condition that can worsen and even lead to death.

Brain Injuries Resulting from Negligence

If you or someone you care about has suffered a TBI due to the carelessness or negligence of another party, you may be able to claim compensation through a personal injury case. These injuries can be quite severe, and damages can include medical care, lost wages, and pain and suffering.

Depending on the circumstances of your accident, your personal injury attorney can help determine who should be held responsible for your harm. At Alsobrook Law Group, our goal is to provide personalized representation to accident victims and their loved ones to help you recover the maximum compensation you deserve.

To schedule your free consultation, contact our Opelika office today at 334-345-2765.

Experts in Personal Injury Cases - Alsobrook Law Group

How Important Are Experts in My Injury Lawsuit?

As a plaintiff in an Alabama personal injury case, the burden of proof is on you to prove that the defendant owed you a duty of care, breached the duty of care owed to you, that the breach of duty was the proximate cause of your accident, and that you suffered damages as a result. You must prove this by a preponderance of the evidence, which essentially means proving that it is “more likely than not” that the above elements are true. (Note: this is a much lower burden of proof than “beyond a reasonable doubt,” the burden of proof used in criminal cases.)

In order to prove the above four elements, you will need to submit a variety of evidence types. One type of evidence that should not be overlooked is the testimony of any relevant experts.

Expert Testimony Is a Type of Evidence

When you are filing a personal injury case, you will need to submit various types of evidence to help prove your claim, including medical reports, a police report, eyewitness testimony, photographs of your accident and injuries, and more. Expert testimony is a type of evidence that can be used to prove fault, causation, or damages, and overall add clout to your claim.

What Qualifies a Witness as an Expert?

There are two different witness types: lay witnesses and expert witnesses. A lay witness is someone who may have seen the event and can talk about your accident or injuries but does not have specialized knowledge. For example, if your spouse witnessed your injury and tells a jury that your broken leg has made it hard for you to go to work or get around the house, they are serving as a lay witness.

Expert witnesses, on the other hand, are persons who have superior knowledge of, training in, education pertaining to, or relevant experience in a specialized area. Things that may qualify one person as an expert as opposed to another include credentials, education, publication, reputation, and years of experience.

Types of Expert Witnesses in Personal Injury Cases

In a personal injury case, there are many different types of experts who may be called upon to offer testimony and insight about the case. Some of the most common types of experts include:

  • Forensic experts;
  • Accident reconstruction experts;
  • Medical experts (anesthesiologists, neurologists, pediatricians, surgeons, gynecologists, psychiatrists, etc.);
  • Forensic accountants;
  • Economic/financial experts;
  • Vehicle or product design experts.  

The type of expert that is necessary for your case will depend both on how your accident happened/what type of accident in which you were involved and your injuries.

Why Do Expert Witnesses Matter?

Even more than lay witnesses, including, in some cases, eyewitnesses, the opinion of an expert can make or break your case, sway a jury’s opinion, or/and affect the settlement amount that you’re offered. This is because:

  • Experts provide objective testimony;
  • Experts are authorities in their field; and
  • Experts have more on the line – experts have a higher incentive to provide honest, accurate analysis and information; they can face legal consequences, or a tarnished reputation should their testimony prove to be flawed.

What’s more, in some personal injury cases, such as a medical malpractice case, the opinion of an expert is required before a case can proceed. (See the Alabama Medical Liability Act for more details.)

How to Find Expert Witnesses for Your Personal Injury Case

If you’ve been injured, you may be wondering whether or not you need experts for your claim, and if so, how to go about finding (and affording) such experts. Expert witnesses are always valuable in a personal injury claim.

Finding expert witnesses and affording their fees (which can be astronomical) on your own can prove challenging. When you work with a skilled and experienced lawyer, however, your lawyer will not only have developed strong relationships with experts over the years but will also have the resources necessary to front these costs.

The Alsobrook Law Group Can Help

If you have been injured due to the actions of another, you maintain the right to pursue a personal injury claim for damages. However, in order for that case to be successful, you will need to present compelling evidence, including the testimony of an expert or experts. At the office of the Alsobrook Law Group, our lawyers can build your claim, gather evidence on your behalf, and hire experts to add authority to your claim. Reach us today at 334-737-3718 to request your free consultation, or stop by our office or send us a message directly.

Preparing for an Independent Medical Exam - Alsobrook Law Group

How do I prepare for an Independent Medical Exam (IME)?

The outcome of your Independent Medical Exam will greatly impact the success of your workers’ compensation claim.

You have applied for workers’ compensation because you were injured on the job. 

You may have been injured by heavy equipment, or machinery, a crate may have fallen on you in a big box store, or you may have sprained your back moving inventory – all of these events might precede filing a workers’ compensation claim.

Workers’ compensation insurance is a benefit paid by your employer to give you time off to heal from your injury on-the-job. Most employers must pay into the insurance program, so that benefits will be available for injured workers. The benefits are underwritten by insurance companies or by state funds. 

How do I qualify for Worker’s Compensation?

First, your employer must carry workers’ compensation insurance. 

In Alabama, if the company employs four or more workers, it is required to have workers’ compensation insurance coverage. Always check when taking a job.

You need to have been injured on the job to qualify, but there is an exception. If you are an independent contractor, such as a consultant, or working freelance, you may not be entitled to workers’ comp benefits.

And your injury may not have been in the workplace.

For example, if you were running an errand for your boss, that would be considered job-related. Just walking to lunch may not be. The question will also be asked – were you acting recklessly in the workplace in a way that could cause injury? That would be a red flag concerning your coverage.

You Must Report Your On-the-Job Injury

There is a deadline to report the injury. In Alabama, you should report to your employer no longer than five days after the event. Failure to do so may mean you forfeit any compensation.

The form is a WC form 2 9/2006. Alabama law specifies compensatory, medical, or death benefits.

The benefits will depend on whether it is a temporary or partial injury.

A general guideline is that you can expect to earn two-thirds of your weekly earnings. The maximum weekly wage cannot exceed that as outlined by the state.

For death claims, the employee’s average weekly salary prior to the accident is divided in half, if the decedent has one dependent. It increases to 66 and two-thirds percent for two or more dependents. The death benefit can be received for up to 500 weeks. 

What is an IME?
An Independent Medical Exam is performed by a non-treating doctor who then issues a written report of findings. He or she will determine if you are ready to return to work. Either you or your boss may request the IME, but it is likely the employer wants to lower his costs, so be aware of any report that minimizes the extent of your injuries.

Preparing for an IME Exam

The primary thing you can to do prepare for an IME exam is to follow your doctor’s course of treatment. That may include physical therapy, a need to rest, and /or medication. A failure to do so may lead to a forfeiture of your benefits.

You do have the right to have your own physician present for the examination. Beforehand, all documentation should be sent to the doctor and you should review it to make sure it is complete.

Be careful what you say to the IME doctor. There is no expectation of doctor-patient confidentiality and anything you say can be used against you to deny your claim.

The IME physician will submit a written report on the extent of the injury and/or disability. If there is a dispute about the findings, the court may appoint a neutral physician to make a third exam.

As the injured worker, it is imperative that you challenge any misstatements in the IME report. An experienced workers’ comp attorney can help you file an appeal if your claim is denied for whatever reason.

At Alsobrook Law Group, we will work to make sure your workers’ compensation claim survives any challenges. Call our office today at 334-737-3718 to schedule a free and confidential consultation or send us a message through our web contact form.

Experts in Personal Injury Cases - Alsobrook Law Group

How Important are Expert Witnesses in Personal Injury Cases?

Simply put, an expert or experts in a personal injury case may make the difference between winning or losing at trial. That’s because you, the plaintiff bringing the claim, have the burden of proof. It will be up to you to prove that the negligence of others or of a corporation caused your injury.

Not only do you need to prove your claim, but you will need the help of experts to put the case into the proper context that a jury can understand.

Personal Injury Law in Alabama

Personal injury law attempts to make you whole after you have been injured by a product or practice through no fault of your own. You are alleging that the person or entity exhibited negligence, gross negligence, and/or reckless conduct.

Whether a drug, medical device, auto, truck, or motorcycle accident – you didn’t ask to be hurt. All of us have a responsibility to act according to law. The party you are suing in your personal injury claim breached that duty and that breach caused you to be harmed.

The extent of compensation will depend on the severity of the injury. You must file your lawsuit within two years of the injury, or when you knew you were injured, to be within the two-year statute of limitations required under Alabama law.

An Expert Witness

Unlike an eye witness, an expert witness is considered an expert in their field backed up by advanced degree and training. At trial, the expert witness will be sworn in attesting to his or her expertise and background knowledge in the area in question. This allows them to speak authoritatively on the subject matter and gives them more credibility with jurors.

The expert did not witness your incident, but their expertise can help you prove or disprove what the other side alleges. 

An expert can be brought in from many fields depending on the personal injury.

For example:

  • A medical doctor
  • A medical device expert
  • An expert on how devices are cleared for market
  • An expert on the manufacturing process
  • An expert accident reconstructionist
  • An expert on a life care plan

Your lawyer may present to the jury a number of experts in different fields.

Let’s say you were driving near a truck, but it didn’t see you and caused a major accident. Your injuries are very serious and likely permanent. An accident reconstructionist can explain the scenario for the jurors on how the accident happened, indicating who was at fault.

Another expert might tell jurors how many seconds it would take for a distracted truck driver, texting a message, to veer into your lane causing the accident.  

A financial expert might testify what your expected medical expenses will be for the rest of your life as part of a life care plan.

Your Legal Team

Your legal team will be compensating your expert witness for their testimony at trial, to read all relevant documents and come up with a report. This payment will be advanced by your attorney but reimbursed out of a jury compensatory award or settlement.

Alabama law applies the legal standard known as “contributory negligence”, and the defendant will try and prove you are partially to blame for the injury. If they are successful, it can fatally damage your case, even if you are found to be just 1% to blame for the accident. You may be barred from recovering any damages in your personal injury claim.

This is why it is extremely important to work with a seasoned personal injury lawyer who has the proven ability to successfully present a persuasive argument that the other party was totally at fault for your accident.

Alsobrook Law Group understands how important the right expert can be to win your case at trial. When necessary, we will call on top professionals who can help substantiate your claim and put you in the best possible position to obtain a favorable result.

If you have been injured through no fault of your own, we are here to help! Contact us today at 334-737-3718 for a complimentary consultation or send us a message through our web contact form.

truck accident in winter weather in Opelika, Alabama

Big Rig Accidents in Winter Weather in Alabama

Trucking is one of the dominant industries in Alabama. According to the Alabama Trucking Association, the trucking industry provides more than 105,000 jobs in the Yellowhammer State, accounting for approximately one out of every 15 workers. While this industry is vital to the state’s economy, Alabama is also ranked the fifth most treacherous state for truckers to driver through. Driving conditions are especially dangerous here in the winter time, when adverse weather presents several hazards that truckers frequently have to deal with.

The Dangers of Trucking Accidents in Winter Weather

When people think about states with hazardous winter driving conditions, Alabama does not usually come to mind. We certainly don’t have the types of major winter storms that hit the Northeast or Midwest, but we still get more than our share of dangerous weather during the winter months. Another factor is our location in relation to many of the major shipping cities and states. Truckers are typically allowed to be on the road for 11 hours during a 24-hour period, and they often come through Alabama while they are getting fatigued as they near the end of their route.

As truck drivers hit the Alabama roadways during the winter, they need to be aware of various types of adverse driving conditions. These include:

  • High Winds: Heavy winds are a common occurrence in Alabama. Windy conditions often accompany major storms that hit the Eastern part of the United States. Truck drivers often encounter strong crosswinds that may be powerful enough to blow even a large truck off the road, especially when traveling at high speeds.
  • Freezing Rain/Ice Storms: Freezing rain, sleet, and even snow are all typical conditions truckers in Alabama have to deal with during the winter months. Icy conditions are among the most challenging situations for truck drivers as it can be nearly impossible to control a big rig when it starts slipping on the road at high speeds. This can result in jackknifing and other types of accidents. When truckers encounter freezing rain, ice, and snow, it is best to pull in at a truck stop at the first opportunity and wait for conditions to improve.
  • Fog: Since Alabama is often at the southern end of a winter storm, it is not uncommon for two different weather patterns to converge as truckers make their way through the Yellowhammer State. This can result in heavy fog, making visibility difficult. When fog combines with freezing rain, ice, winds, and other hazardous conditions, the situation becomes even more dangerous. This, again, is the time when truckers should find a safe spot where they can wait out the storm.

Big Rig Accidents from Winter Weather in Alabama

Truck accidents can be among the deadliest incidents that occur on Alabama roadways. When an 80,000-pound commercial truck collides with another vehicle or object, the sheer force and impact of the collision can result in serious injuries and fatalities. And since other vehicles have less protection than big-rig trucks, occupants of those vehicles are far more likely to suffer severe and catastrophic injuries.

When individuals are injured in a truck accident that is caused by the negligence or reckless actions of another party, they may be entitled to compensation. These types of cases can be complicated, however, because there are several parties that could be responsible. These may include:

  • The Driver
  • The Owner of the Truck
  • The Trucking Company
  • The Cargo Loader
  • The Company Responsible for Truck Maintenance
  • The Vehicle or Vehicle Parts Manufacturer

A big rig accident case in Alabama is further complicated by the state’s “contributory negligence” legal doctrine. Under this doctrine, an injured party can be barred from recovering compensation if they are found to be even 1% at-fault for the accident. For this reason, it is important for those injured in a trucking accident to work with a skilled attorney who has in-depth experience with these types of cases.

Injured in a Truck Accident? Contact a Seasoned Alabama Personal Injury Attorney

If you or a loved one was injured or killed in a big rig accident in Alabama, you need strong legal counsel in your corner advocating forcefully for your rights and interests. At Alsobrook Jackson, Attorneys at Law, we have the experience, knowledge, resources, and commitment to provide the skilled and personalized representation you need and deserve.  

Fora free consultation with one of our experienced Alabama truck accident attorneys, call our office today at334-737-3718 or send us a message through our web contact form.

Theories on Causes of Truck Accidents - Alsobrook Jackson

Theories of Liability in Truck Accidents

Commercial trucks typically carry in excess of 80,000 pounds when they are fully loaded and hauling cargo to their destination. This makes big rig accidents especially hazardous. When a large commercial vehicle collides with another vehicle or object, it can result in severe and catastrophic injuries. Occupants of passenger vehicles are far more likely to be killed in a trucking accident than occupants of the commercial truck.

Statistics from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety show that there were 2112 deaths in 2016 in two-vehicle crashes involving a passenger vehicle and a large truck. 97% of those killed in these crashes were occupants of passenger vehicles. Thousands more passenger vehicle occupants suffered serious and debilitating injuries. These types of injuries can result in high medical bills, countless days missed from work, loss of earning capacity, and numerous other hardships.

Truck accidents can result in some of the most severe injuries, but they can also be very complex cases in which to pursue a liability claim. Trucking is a heavily regulated industry, and you need to be familiar with the countless government laws and regulations that may factor into this type of case. There are also several potential parties that may be responsible for the accident. Determining who is at-fault requires an extensive investigation and the ability to obtain facts and evidence from often unfriendly and uncooperative parties.

Theories of Liability in Trucking Accidents

When pursing a truck accident injury claim, your attorney will explore several legal avenues to determine the party or parties who are liable. Some potential theories of liability may include:

Driver Negligence

One of the most common legal theories in a trucking accident is negligence on the part of the driver. There are several ways a driver may be negligent. Examples may include speeding, reckless driving, distracted driving (e.g., texting while driving), disregarding traffic signals, and many others. A truck driver may also be liable because of a “per se” legal violation, such as driving while intoxicated, driving with an expired commercial driver’s license (CDL) or a violation of the federal hours of service guidelines.

Employer Liability

If a driver is acting within the scope of employment when the accident occurs, the trucking company that employs them can be held liable for the driver’s negligent actions. This theory is commonly referred to as “vicarious liability”. The driver’s employer may be also be held directly liable if they encouraged the driver to violate regulatory requirements. For example, trucking companies sometimes impose unrealistic deadlines on drivers, prompting them to stay on the road longer than they are allowed to.

Negligent Hiring, Entrustment, or Retention

A trucking company has a clear duty to investigate the experience and qualifications drivers that they hire. Therefore, a company may be held liable for an accident if they did not properly vet the driver before hiring them, did not provide adequate training for the driver to operate the vehicle safely, or learned after hiring the driver that they were not qualified to be on the road.

Lease Liability

A company that leases a vehicle to a driver as an “owner/operator” can still be held responsible for negligence caused by the driver that results in an accident. This may come into play if the truck continues to display the leasing company’s logo or placard even if the truck was not being driven on behalf of the leasing company. Your attorney will review copies of any lease agreement related to the vehicle to determine if lease liability exists.

Shipper Liability

Some truck accidents occur because of overloaded trucks or trucks that are unevenly loaded. This may cause the truck to roll over or turn over on its side when the driver encounters adverse conditions. A shipping company may be held liable for a trucking accident if the accident was the result of improperly loading the vehicle.

Negligent Truck Maintenance

Commercial trucks typically log thousands of miles over-the-road during in any given month. Federal regulations require that trucking companies properly inspect, maintain, and repair all vehicles that are under their possession and control. When an accident is the result of a mechanical failure, the company responsible for truck maintenance may be held liable.

Product Liability

Defective vehicle parts can play a part in causing a truck accident. Examples may include tire defects (e.g., tire blowouts or tread separation), faulty brake lines, defective steering systems, computer dashboard malfunctions, rear guard failures, and defective straps that cause the cargo to fall. In such cases, the product designer, manufacturer, or distributor may be held liable.

Contact an Experienced Alabama Truck Accident Attorney

If you or a loved one has been involved in an accident with a commercial vehicle it is important that you contact an experienced Alabama truck accident attorney as soon as possible. Many things can adversely impact your case and with every passing day preparation becomes even more challenging. Contact our office at (334) 737-3718 or through our website contact form.