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.

Winter Weather and Alabama Truck Accidents - Alsobrook Jackson

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.

witness testimony

How Reliable Are Witnesses to a Crime?

When you’ve been formally charged with a criminal offense, there is a lot at stake. Maybe someone mistakenly fingered you in a lineup or believes that they saw you take part in a criminal act. Unless you plead guilty to that crime, which we don’t normally recommend, it will be up to the state of Alabama to prove your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

One of the ways that the state will attempt to prove guilt in a criminal case is through the testimony of witnesses. The fact that your fate may be in the hands of any number of witnesses is likely a terrifying prospect. So, how reliable are these witness testimonies? It turns out they are less reliable than the legal system would like you to believe.

The Basics of a Criminal Prosecution

As a criminal prosecution state, it is the responsibility of the prosecuting attorney to present enough evidence to a judge or jury that proves guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. The “reasonable doubt” threshold is the highest legal standard in the U.S. justice system, and many legal scholars and experts believe that a guilty verdict equates to a 99 percent or greater probability of the defendant’s guilt.

Not only does this mean that a lot of stock is placed on a guilty verdict in a criminal case, but also that the evidence used to reach that verdict is critical. When there is an error in the evidence or a tainted witness, there is a chance that an innocent party could be wrongly convicted.

When Witness Testimony is Presented at Trial?

There are several types of evidence that might be used in a criminal trial. The prosecution might present physical, documentary, demonstrative, and testimonial evidence. Testimonial evidence refers to having witnesses tell what they know, saw, or heard to support the prosecution’s case.

Regarding witness testimony, jurors are instructed to decide for themselves the believability of a witness. Eyewitnesses are not the same as experts who will testify about an area of specialty. Instead, these witnesses relay the facts as they experienced them when the crime took place.

How Reliable Are Witnesses to a Crime?

Jurors must decide whether they believe that a witness is reliable and credible, but there have been some studies that relate to the reliability of crime witnesses. In short, there can be some significant flaws in eyewitness testimony that could impact the outcome of a criminal case.

According to the University of Michigan Law School’s National Registry of Exonerations, more than 1,400 people convicted of serious crimes over the past 25 years have been proven innocent. In many of these cases, a significant factor that led to these false convictions was faulty eyewitness testimony.

The fact is that the testimony of eyewitnesses can be seriously flawed for several reasons including:

  • The presence of weapons at a crime that causes stress;
  • Other stresses at the crime scene or during the identification process;
  • The perpetrator’s use of a disguise during the crime;
  • Racial disparities between the accused and the witness, known as “cross-racial identification,” which makes remembering or distinguishing certain characteristics more difficult;
  • Brief times allotted for viewing witnesses in a lineup or during other procedures;
  • Darkness, distance, or extreme weather conditions when the crime took place that might obscure visibility;
  • Any subtle suggestions from law enforcement that prompt witnesses to choose one suspect over another; and
  • Characteristics of witnesses that make recall difficult such as age-related memory loss, not wearing prescribed glasses, or the consumption of alcohol or drugs.

Any one or several of these factors could lead a witness to a crime to be unreliable. Even victims can make many of these same errors and accuse the wrong person of committing a crime. If you have been charged with a crime, even if there are witnesses, that does not mean that your conviction is a certainty.

Speak with a Qualified Alabama Criminal Defense Attorney

If you have been accused of a criminal offense in Alabama, you need to speak with a qualified defense attorney about effective defense strategies for your case. At Alsobrook Jackson, Attorneys at Law, we have experience representing clients throughout Auburn, Opelika, and Lee County in some of the most serious criminal cases. Contact our office now at 334-737-3718 or reach us online to schedule a free consultation.

 

dangerous highways

The Most Dangerous Highways in Alabama

All highways have the potential to be dangerous. Indeed, anytime that a motor vehicle is traveling at high speeds, and certainly when reaching speeds of 65+ miles per hour, risk of a collision is increased. What’s more, not only does the risk of a crash increase the faster that a vehicle is traveling, but so does the risk of severe damages and injuries.

While an accident can happen anywhere, at anytime, and affect nearly anyone, some highways in Alabama have been deemed more dangerous than others. Here’s a look into some of the most dangerous highways in Alabama, tips for avoiding a crash, and what to do if you are harmed in a highway accident–

Where Driving in Alabama Is Most Dangerous

If there’s one place that’s especially dangerous to drive in the state of Alabama, it’s what’s called the state’s “Highway to Hell.” Dubbed as one of the most “unbelievably dangerous and spectacular roads in the world,” U.S. Highway 431–specifically the stretch that runs through the state of Alabama–isn’t a road worth driving. The road is particularly dangerous when compared with other highways due to:

  • Poor visibility;
  • Varying lane numbers (from two to four to back to two to one, etc.);
  • Curves and turns;
  • High speeds; and
  • The fact that it cuts through towns and cities and is therefore not always separated from local traffic.

While the Highway to Hell may be the most dangerous road in the state, it’s certainly not the only dangerous road. Another especially treacherous stretch is the section of Interstate 59 which runs through Birmingham. There are fatal crashes reported on I-59 each year, with rollovers, multiple-vehicle accidents, and single-vehicle accidents all common.

An article published by the Daily Beast names a number of other highways in Alabama on their list of “Deadliest Highways: Ranking the 100 Interstates Most Likely to Cause a Fatal Crash.” Included on the list at numbers 33, 34, 61, and 71, respectively, are I-10, I-85, I-65, and I-20.

Avoiding a Highway Accident

The idea of being involved in a collision on the highway is terrifying. However, while there is nothing that can be done to control the actions of other drivers, you can improve your chances of staying safe by always operating your vehicle while well-rested, sober, and distraction-free. When circumstances warrant it, slow your speed. Further, always pay attention to others around you, and make room for aggressive and speeding drivers; getting out of the way is always a better option that being involved in a crash. For extra safety, be sure to always wear your seatbelt and make sure that all passengers in your vehicle are properly secured.

What to Do If You Are Harmed in an Alabama Highway Accident

If you or a loved one is harmed in a highway accident in Alabama, it is important that you understand what your rights and options are. When injuries are severe, seeking damages and recovering the amount that you deserve may be essential for well-being, treatment, and supporting oneself moving into the future.

Because Alabama is an at-fault car accident state, the driver responsible for the collision is also responsible for paying for damages. To get the compensation award that you deserve, you will need to prove that the accident would not have occurred but for the actions of the at-fault party.

At the law offices of the Alsobrook Law Firm, our experienced Alabama highway accident attorneys can help. We open a thorough investigation into all accident cases we take on, and work with accident reconstruction experts who are crucial in piecing together what happened. Not only do we gather all evidence, but we also build and file your claim, and negotiate on your behalf to get you the settlement you deserve. We are experienced litigators, and will go to court and litigate your case when a reasonable settlement cannot be reached.

To schedule your free consultation with our legal team after a highway accident, call us at 337-737-3718. You can also visit our Opelika office in person, or send us an email at your convenience.

Alimony Lawyer

Can an Expert Help my Injury Claim?

After suffering an injury due to the negligent actions of another, filing a personal injury claim may be the answer to recovering the financial compensation one both needs and deserves. But filing a successful personal injury claim takes more than just notifying an insurance adjuster of an injury; evidence must be presented that proves both the cause of the injury and the extent of damages suffered. One form of evidence that can make or break a claim is expert testimony.

Types of Experts that May Be Useful in a Personal Injury Claim

There are four elements of a personal injury claim that must be established for the claim to be successful: duty of care, breach of duty of care, causation, and damages. Experts may be called upon to provide testimony and opinion for each. For example, types of experts that may be useful in the personal injury claim process include:

  • Accident reconstruction experts, who can lend insight as to how an accident occurred;
  • Design experts, who can testify to a defective design of a product or automobile, leading to failure and injury;
  • Medical experts, who can testify about a breach of the medical standard of care or/and provide testimony about the extent of injuries a plaintiff has suffered and what the future may look like;
  • Mental health and psychological experts, whose statements may be used to decide about the amount of pain and suffering experienced by a claimant;
  • Financial experts, whose professional opinions may be used in calculating the value of a claimant’s economic losses; and
  • Forensic experts, who can collect and analyze physical evidence to decide about how an accident occurred and who should be held liable for damages.

The above list is not inclusive; the experts that may be necessary in a personal injury claim can vary on a case-by-case basis. For example, an expert in childhood development may be necessary for a case involving a child, or an expert in animal behavior may be called upon in a case involving a dog bite.

Why Are Experts So Important in Injury Claims?

The role of an expert in an injury claim should not be understated. An expert’s opinion and testimony can truly make or break a case, providing unbiased, official, and specialized knowledge about how an accident occurred or the damages that a claimant has suffered. In some cases, such as a medical malpractice case, expert opinion is not only helpful, but required; a court cannot know if the medical standard of care has been breached without hearing from other doctors.

Who Pays for an Expert’s Opinion?

Hiring an expert to be involved in your case, from investigating what happened to providing testimony for an insurance adjuster or court, is not an inexpensive endeavor. In fact, some experts may charge hundreds or thousands of dollars for their time.

However, because experts are so important and can have such an influence on the outcome of a personal injury case, hiring an expert is often not optional, but necessary. This is one of the primary reasons why working with a law firm with the resources available to invest in experts for your case is a must. When you hire the right law firm, the law firm will front experts’ costs on your behalf. If your case is successful, you will pay the law firm from a percentage of your winnings, rather than paying out of pocket fees.

Call the Alsobrook Law Firm for Your Free Consultation Today

At the offices of Alsobrook Jackson, our talented Alabama personal injury attorneys have hired experts to help build cases and prove our clients’ claims numerous times of the years. We have the resources and connections your case demands, and we’re ready to start building your claim today. To schedule a free consultation with our legal team, please send us a message, visit us in person, or call us at 334-737-3718 today.

Drug Paraphernalia laws in Alabama

What Are Alabama’s Laws on Drug Paraphernalia?

You may find yourself in serious trouble under Alabama’s drug laws, even if you don’t have actual drugs in your possession. The state’s criminal code makes it a crime to possess drug paraphernalia, which is generally defined as anything that can help a person use, store, sell, or produce drugs.

Alabama Drug Paraphernalia Laws

Alabama Code § 13A-12-260 states that it is illegal for any individual to possess, deliver, or sell drug paraphernalia with the knowledge that it is going to be used in connection with a controlled substance. The state defines drug paraphernalia as any products, materials, or equipment that are used or designed for use in smoking, injecting, growing, planting, manufacturing, producing, processing, storing, or packaging controlled substances.

Types of drug paraphernalia that are included under the law are:

  • Rolling papers
  • Pipes
  • Bongs
  • Needles
  • Capsules
  • Scales
  • Containers
  • Dilutants

When Alabama law enforcement chooses to arrest someone for violation of this law, they may cite several indicators to classify something as drug paraphernalia. Among those are:

  • Statements by the defendant detailing use of the objects
  • Drug residue on or in the object
  • The proximity of a controlled substance to the object in question
  • Whether or not the individual has prior drug-related convictions

Arrests for Common Items and Precursor Chemicals

Because Alabama’s law related to drug paraphernalia is so broad, there’s a chance that someone could be arrested for possessing normal household items such as buckets, garden tools, cooking equipment, tobacco pipes, and small containers.

It’s also a crime in Alabama to possess anhydrous ammonia and certain other products or chemicals that could be considered ingredients (or precursors) to controlled substances. Among these items are:

  • Drain cleaners
  • Paint thinner
  • Rat poison
  • Propane fuel
  • Acetone
  • Cold medicines that contain ephedrine or pseudoephedrine

It’s important to state that possession of these items isn’t illegal. It would be against Alabama law if the person possessing the chemicals intended to use them to manufacture a controlled substance. In these cases, charges are treated as a Class B felony, which carries a penalty of up to 20 years in prison.

Consequences of a Drug Paraphernalia Charge

If you’ve been arrested and charged with possession of drug paraphernalia, you may be tempted to treat the matter lightly. Don’t. The state of Alabama classifies these crimes as a Class A misdemeanor, which could have some dire consequences. The penalties should you be convicted can include fines of up to $6,000 and jail time of up to one year.

A subsequent drug paraphernalia charge in Alabama is treated as a Class C misdemeanor. This is punishable by a fine of up to $15,000 and between 1 to 15 years in prison. If a person provides drug paraphernalia to a minor (under 18) and that person is at least three years older than the minor, they could be charged with a Class B felony, which carries penalties of a maximum $30,000 fine and up to 20 years in prison.

There is much more at stake than just the legal penalties. If you don’t fight these charges, you will end up with a conviction on your record. This could impact your future ability to get a job, find a place to live, and even receive financial aid for school. Your best course of action is to consult with an Alabama drug crimes attorney who can speak with you about your options.

If You Are Facing Drug Paraphernalia Charges

Drug paraphernalia charges can be dubious depending on the circumstances and evidence. These arrests are often a last-ditch effort to trap someone who law enforcement believes is guilty of other crimes but has no real proof of the offenses. If you are asked to submit to a voluntary search or interrogation, it’s in your best interests to refuse.

Your criminal defense attorney will review your case and look for any weaknesses, including possible violations of your rights. In some cases, the charges against you could be dropped or substantially reduced, depending on the nature of the evidence.

Speak with a Qualified Alabama Drug Crimes Attorney

As with all criminal charges in Alabama, you have the right to due process. At the law offices of Alsobrook Jackson, Attorneys at Law, our experienced drug crimes attorneys understand this state’s criminal justice system and have years of experience helping clients who find themselves charged with erroneous drug crimes.

If you are facing drug charges, don’t leave your freedom and future to chance. Contact our Auburn office now at 334.737.3718 or online to schedule your free consultation.

Visitation and the Holidays

How is Child Support Calculated in Alabama?

Both parents of minor children have the legal obligation to financially provide for them, whether they live together as part of a couple or not. Additionally, Alabama law considers that children deserve the same standard of living they had when their parents did live together. Although determining child support can become complex when the two parents no longer reside together, the state attempts to use a pre-determined child support calculator whenever possible.

Understanding the Income Shares Model Used by Alabama Family Courts

Income Shares, a formula used by many states for calculating child support, is not based solely on the actual spending of raising children. Instead, this model looks at indirect estimated of costs associated with supporting children along with each parent’s ability to contribute based on his or her income.

When two parents and their minor children live together, they typically pool their income for the mutual benefit of the entire family. Under the Income Shares Model, a family court judge estimates how much an intact two-parent family would spend on their children and then splits those expenses proportionately among the two parents based on their individual incomes. This means that the parent who earns a larger income is responsible to pay a larger percentage of support for the minor children.

Applying the Income Shares Model essentially involves following these four steps:

  1. Determine the gross income of each parent before taxes and other deductions and add the two figures together.
  2. Use the combined figure to find an approximate monthly payment for the non-custodial parent on the Alabama Schedule of Basic Child Support Obligations. This chart lists amounts based on income and number of children for basic expenses such as food, clothing, and shelter.
  3. The family law judge then calculates additional child-related expenses such as childcare, and health insurance for the children. Basic child support obligation is then calculated accordingly. A good example is a non-custodial parent who carries health insurance on the children. This would reduce the amount of his or her monthly payment. However, the amount paid to the custodial parent for maintaining this coverage would increase.
  4. For the final calculation, the family law judge divides the total amount of the child support obligation between the two parents and adjusts it based on the individual income of each. He or she then multiplies the child support obligation of each parent by his or her percentage of combined income. The parent who maintains primary custody should expect to spend funds received from the other parent directly on the support of the children.

Deviations from the Income Shares Model

Alabama family courts recognize that some situations require a deviation from the standard model of calculating child support. These include:

  • Unearned income or assets received by the child directly or on behalf of the child
  • Shared custody or visitation rights are significantly greater than what the court generally approves
  • College education expenses incurred by one parent are significant prior to that child reaching the age of majority
  • One parent incurs exceptional transportation costs to visit the children

Although these circumstances don’t require a family court judge to deviate from the normal child support calculations, it’s more likely that he or she will choose to do so. It’s also important to keep in mind that a judge can choose to deviate even without any of these circumstances present. This alone is a good reason to obtain an experienced family law attorney, whether you expect to pay or receive child support.

Reserve Your Free Consultation Today

Zachary Alsobrook of Alsobrook & Jackson, Attorneys at Law has several years of experience representing parents in child support cases. At a stressful time like this, you need someone looking out for the best interests of you and your children. Please contact our Opelika, Alabama office at 334-737-3718 to request a complimentary review of your family law matter.

restraining order in alabama

What if My Spouse Violates a Restraining Order?

If you have experienced abuse or harassment at the hands of your current or former spouse or common-law spouse, Alabama law allows you to file for legal protection. This orders the other party to stay away from your home and place of employment as well as refrain from calling, texting, emailing, sending postal mail, or contacting you in any way through social media. He or she also cannot enlist other people to contact you indirectly.

The restraining order, also known as a protective order, also places several other restrictions on your spouse, including the following:

  • Orders the defendant to leave the home the two of you shared, regardless of who legally owns it
  • Prohibits him or her from selling, destroying, hiding, or disposing of joint personal property or mortgaging a jointly owned home or land
  • Awards custody of minor children to the person seeking relief through a protective order

While it is good to have these protections in place, it doesn’t always mean the subject of a protective order will adhere to the restrictions. If you’re concerned that your spouse may violate the protective order or already has, it’s important to understand your rights as an abuse victim in Alabama. Keep in mind that Alabama will also enforce protection orders from other states. However, the out-of-state warrant must include the following:

  • The full names of both parties
  • Date of issue
  • Name of the issuing out-of-state court and signature of a judicial officer
  • Contains specific terms
  • Defendant has received a notice of the order and has had the opportunity to respond to it

Whether your protective order is in-state or out-of-state, Alabama authorities won’t enforce it if it is expired.

Enforcement of a Protective Order

Any current order of protection issued by an Alabama court is enforceable under state law. If your spouse willingly violates the terms of the order, he or she has committed a Class A misdemeanor. You should contact your local police immediately if you see your spouse near your home or work or if he or she has tried to contact or harass you in some other way. Alabama law allows police officers to arrest the offending spouse without a warrant if you can demonstrate probable cause that he or she willfully disregarded any terms in the order.

Unfortunately, the responding officer may not arrive in enough time to catch your spouse in the act of trying to abuse or harass you. In this situation, you should provide the police office with as much information as possible so he or she can attempt to locate and arrest your spouse. This should include a physical description that includes clothing as well as a description of the vehicle if your spouse arrived by car. You should also request a criminal warrant for your spouse’s arrest from the local magistrate.

Consequences Your Spouse Could Face for Violating a Protective Order

If proven guilty of committing a Class A misdemeanor by violating a protective order, your spouse may have to spend up to one year in jail or pay a fine of up to $6,000. For a second offense, he or she would face an additional 48 hours imprisonment at a minimum. This increases to additional 30 days of jail time for a third offense.

If your spouse commits an act of abuse, which state law defines as assault, sexual abuse, stalking, harassment, trespassing, theft, or child abuse, he or she would face the same consequences for a first offense. A second offense would mean a minimum jail sentence of 30 days and a third offense would bring a 120-day jail sentence.

Work with an Experienced Family Law Attorney

You and your children have the right to a life free from abuse. If you’re considering filing for an order of protection and subsequently filing for divorce, we encourage you to contact Alsobrook & Jackson, Attorneys at Law at 334-737-3718 to obtain experienced legal counsel. We can also assist you with working with the local magistrate if your spouse violates a protective order. Your first consultation is at no charge.