criminal record

How a Criminal Record can Impact a Personal Injury Claim

Everyone makes mistakes, and there are times when people get in trouble with the law because they had a moment when the exercised poor judgment. Maybe this was something that happened during your college days – a DUI or minor drug possession charge while you were a student at Auburn, for example – that has remained on your record ever since.

Unfortunately, having a criminal record can affect many other areas of your life, and being involved in a personal injury claim is one example. If you got hurt in an accident in Auburn through no fault of your own, this would result in a civil claim for damages, and the case should stand on its own merits regardless of any criminal history you may have. But things do not always work out this way.

The defendant in a personal injury claim, which is often the insurance company for the at fault party, will look for any way they can to undermine the plaintiff’s credibility. You must keep in mind that the goal of the insurer is to pay out as little as possible to compensate the injured party for their losses, and toward that end, they might try to bring up the plaintiff’s criminal background.

The Impact of a Plaintiff’s Criminal History in a Personal Injury Case

As mentioned previously, a personal injury claim should stand or fall on its own merits. As a plaintiff, you are only required to prove that:

  • The defendant owed you a duty of care to take reasonable steps to prevent you from getting injured.
  • The defendant’s actions (whether deliberate or unintentional) constituted a breach in their duty of care.
  • You suffered compensable losses (both economic and noneconomic) resulting from the defendant’s actions.

If you can prove these elements, you should be awarded compensation that is proportionate to your losses.

Whether or not a criminal record might impact the case depends on many specific factors. Two of the most important are how long it has been since you got into trouble and what type of offense you were charged and/or convicted of.

If the offense had something to do with fraud – for example, defrauding Social Security or writing a bad check at an Auburn grocery store – then the defendant might argue that you can’t be trusted and that your claims are exaggerated. If, on the other hand, you had a minor drug possession offense that happened when you were in college, it will be far more difficult for them to make the case that this offense is relevant to your current claim.

What Can be Done to Keep your Criminal Record from Affecting your Auburn PI Claim?

Fortunately, there are some ways to mitigate the impact your criminal history might have on your current injury case. First of all, keep in mind that the majority of personal injury cases never end up being litigated, because it is generally in everyone’s best interests to settle out of court. If there is no trial, then your criminal record is not likely to give you too much trouble.

All of that said, there are some instances when a defendant is not willing to negotiate in good faith, and when this happens, the plaintiff must be ready to try the case. In preparation for trial, your attorney will thoroughly assess the entire situation and develop appropriate strategies for all of the “what if” scenarios.

It is very important to be honest with your attorney about your criminal history and any other relevant facts that they should know. By putting everything out on the table from the start, there will be time to effectively address any potentially damaging factors.

Your attorney might decide to deal with your criminal history by being upfront and bringing it up before the other side is able to. This way, you can properly frame the issue for the jury, making it more likely that they will see you as a credible person.

Another possible way you could go is to waive your right to a jury trial and have a judge decide your case. Judges tend to be more dispassionate and less emotional than juries, and they are far less likely to hold your criminal record against you.

Finally, there could be a possibility of having your criminal record expunged before any trial. Alabama only allows expungements of arrest records if there was no conviction, and the charge was for a nonviolent felony or misdemeanor. Speak with your attorney to find out if an expungement may be possible in your case.

Contact an Experienced Auburn, AL Attorney for Further Assistance

Criminal and civil claims are separate areas of the law, but sometimes the two intertwine. When that is the case, it is most beneficial to work with an attorney who has extensive experience with both areas. In Auburn and the surrounding areas, contact the Alsobrook Law Group for strong legal guidance. Message us online or call our office today at (334) 737-3718 for a free initial 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.

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.