what is a protective order?

What Is a Civil Protection Order?

When an individual is a victim of domestic violence, they may feel completely trapped by their violent partner and situation, believing that they have no out and nowhere to turn. While a domestic violence situation can be suffocating, a victim of domestic violence does have options. One of those options is to seek a civil protection order.

At the law offices of the Alsobrook Law Group, our experienced domestic violence and family law attorneys can help you to understand the basics of a civil protection order, including how to request an order and what the order does. Reach out to our team today for representation you can count on.

What Is a Civil Protection Order?

Also commonly referred to as a restraining order, a civil protection order is a court-issued order that that provides protection for victims of harassment, threats, and abuse. A temporary protection order may include the following provisions:

  • Require the defendant (abusive party) to leave a shared residence;
  • Provide the plaintiff (victim of abuse) with temporary custody of any shared children;
  • Order the defendant to maintain a certain distance from the plaintiff’s home, school, work, or other frequently-traveled location; and
  • Prohibit the defendant from committing any abusive acts against the plaintiff or members of the plaintiff’s family or household, including harassing the plaintiff.

A temporary order of protection can be issued by a judge in the immediate aftermath of the filing of a petition for an order of protection without a hearing. Once a hearing is held, where the defendant will have an opportunity to present their side of the case, a final order can be issued. A final order can include many of the same provisions listed above, and may also include orders about the child visitation rights of the defendant, the defendant’s duty to pay attorneys’ fees and court costs, a defendant’s requirement to pay spousal support, and more.

Who Can File a Petition for a Protection Order in Alabama?

A protection order is designed to offer protection to victims of domestic violence. As such, it may be filed by any person who is seeking protection from a spouse or former spouse, a person with whom the victim has a shared child, a dating partner, or a household member. In Alabama, a “household member” is anyone who has maintained a living relationship with the plaintiff/defendant that was romantic or sexual.

How to Get an Order of Protection in Alabama

If you are a victim of domestic violence, you should take steps immediately to protect yourself. In order to get an order of protection in Alabama, you will need to visit your county courthouse and file a petition for protection from abuse order. You can request an emergency ex parte order if you believe that you are in danger and need protection immediately. You can visit a domestic violence shelter for assistance in filling out the forms. You can also work with an experienced lawyer who can guide you through the process.

Important Things to Know About an Order of Protection

An order of protection is a civil order, not a criminal one, and merely orders that the defendant adheres to the stipulations of the order. While there is a consequence for breaching the order, including a $2,000 fine for a first offense and up to a year in jail, an order of protection is not a guarantee that you will be safe. If you believe that you are in danger of harm or death, you need to find a safe place to live where the abusive party cannot find you.

Also note that an order of protection, while it may include language about child custody and support, is not a divorce. If you want to file for a divorce, you will need to pursue your divorce through the proper legal channel.

Our Experienced Family Law and Domestic Violence Lawyers Can Help

Suffering abuse at the hands of a spouse or romantic partner is truly a terrible experience, and one that may leave you feeling terrified about the future. While you may feel hopeless and alone, there is help available. At the offices of the Alsobrook Law Group, we encourage you to get help now – you do not deserve to be abused.

For legal guidance in pursuing an order of protection against your abuser, please call our law office today at 334-737-3718, come into our Opelika office, or send us a private message. We understand how delicate these case types can be, and promise to protect your confidentiality. We are here to help you obtain the protection and feeling of safety and security that you deserve.

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.

child custody lawyer in Opelika, Alabama

Custody and Moving Out of State – What Rights Do Non-Custodial Parents Have?

For separated parents, one of the hardest elements of life post-divorce is being able to move and travel freely without infringing on the rights of the other parent per your custody agreement, and without completely losing out on the ability to spend time with your child. While child custody agreements are hard enough to reach when parents live near each other, if a parent wants to relocate, the matter can become especially complicated.

If you are a parent in Alabama who has visitation rights with your child (but you do not have primary custody of your child), here is an overview of what you need to know about your rights should the parent with primary custody want to move out of state:

Can My Child’s Other Parent Move Out of State?

The first question that most non-custodial parents have is whether or not a custodial parent has the right to move a shared child out of state in the first place. The answer is: it depends. It’s always best to refer to your child custody agreement/parenting plan to determine what the rights of each parent are. If your visitation rights have been entirely revoked and the other parent has absolute legal decision making and physical custody over the child, then that parent would have a good chance of being able to move the child out of state. However, if you have visitation rights with the child that would be affected by an out-of-state move, the other parent cannot just up and move without notifying you.

When a Custodial Parent Must Provide a Non-Custodial Parent with Notice of Relocation

In Alabama, when a parent wants to relocate (defined as a change in the principal residence of a child for a period of 45 days or more) a child out of state, and that relocation distance is 60 miles or more from the non-relocating parent who is entitled to custody or visitation with the child, the relocating parent must provide the non-relocating parent with notice of the move within 45 days of the move.

After receiving notice of the relocation, the non-relocating parent maintains the right to pursue an objection proceeding, as well as seek a temporary (or permanent) order to prevent the relocation. The proceeding must be filed within 30 days of receiving notice of the relocation.

What Happens Next?

Assuming that you file an objection to the relocation, this objection will reopen the question of who should have custody of the child (assuming that the custodial parent is set on moving and will not reconsider). If this is the case, then the court will consider the child’s best interests in determining with whom the child should live, including:

  • The relationship that the child maintains with the party who is intending to relocate;
  • The age and developmental stage of the child;
  • The impact that a move or change of custody would have on the child;
  • The travel time that would be required for the child to spend time with both parents;
  • The preferences of the child;’
  • The reasons the custodial parent wants to relocate the child;
  • The reasons why the non-custodial parent opposes the relocation; and
  • Various other relevant factors.

What Happens if a Parent Moves without Providing Notice?

In some cases, a custodial parent (or a non-custodial parent, for that matter) may move a child out of state without following the proper course of action and providing the other parent with notice of the move in advance. If a parent fails to provide notice to the other, per Alabama Code Section 30-3-168, the court maintains the right to consider the failure to provide notice a factor in making its decision regarding the change of the child’s residence, as well as whether or not a custody/visitation arrangement should be modified.

Contact Our Alabama Child Custody Attorneys Today

If you have questions about relocation when you are divorced or separated from your child’s other parent, or if you would like to object to the relocation of your child, our lawyers at the law offices of the Alsobrook Law Group can help. We have years of experience representing parents in child custody matters in our state and we know how sensitive and important these issues are. To get started, please drop by our office in person, call our office directly at 334-737-3718, or send us a message to request a consultation at a time that works for you. We are here to help you navigate the law and understand your rights.

Alsobrook Law Group Moving to Historic New Digs

Alsobrook Law Group, a local Opelika-based law firm, has outgrown its present space and is relocating to the building that was once the historic Greenhouse Restaurant at 114 N. 9th Street. The move will be completed on May 1.

“We have been dedicated to serving the community within Opelika, Auburn, and the surrounding communities for several years,” said attorney Zach D. Alsobrook, a senior partner in the firm. “But we have simply outgrown our existing space and needed to move to a larger space that would better accommodate our needs and the needs of our clients.”

Alsobrook Law Group practices criminal defense, family law, business law, personal injury, and several other areas. Attorney Alsobrook was born and raised in Opelika and he is a graduate of Auburn University. After he graduated from law school, he practiced for a while in Birmingham before returning to his roots and setting up his practice here in Opelika.

Over time, Alsobrook has established a successful track record both inside and outside the courtroom. He is a highly skilled negotiator who is very adept at crafting practical and innovative solutions to help his clients avoid costly and protracted litigation, and in the case of criminal defense, secure the most favorable outcome possible. He is also strong litigator who is ready and willing to bring a case to trial when necessary to serve the best interests of his clients.

The firm’s approach of providing strong legal representation with a personal touch has resulted in healthy growth over the years, largely through referrals from satisfied clients.

“I am privileged to work and serve in the community where I grew up,” Alsobrook continues. “And I believe our commitment to highly personalized service is one of the major reasons so many of our clients are referred to us from those we have represented in the past. And to help serve everyone better, we are excited to announce our move to what used to be the Greenhouse Restaurant on the corner of 2nd Avenue and North 9th Street.”

The Greenhouse Restaurant was a once beloved Opelika dining spot that opened in January of 1978. It was open for 14 years before falling victim to the recession of 1991 and being forced to close its doors. The historic property was built in 1900 and contains almost 5000 square feet, giving Alsobrook Law Group the space needed to effectively manage their continued growth.

“We know how much the Greenhouse Restaurant meant to the people of Opelika, and we are humbled to be occupying the building where this restaurant was once housed. From our new location, we will continue to serve the people of our community and work hard to help maintain the history and traditions that have made our community great.”

For more information on Alsobrook law group, go to https://www.alsolaw.com/

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.

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.