Within the next three years, two Japan-based auto-manufacturers are expected to begin construction of a $1.6 billion factory in the Huntsville area. The good news is that the factory is expected to bring upwards of 4,000 jobs to the greater Huntsville area once the factory is fully operational. However, lawmakers and advocacy groups have expressed concerns that the state’s existing traffic laws and infrastructure may need tweaking in order to support the increased burden the factory will place on the area’s highways.

Highway InterchangeAlabama Traffic Laws Rated as Middle-of-the-Road

When followed, strict traffic laws can prevent Alabama car accidents. However, over time, as a city grows, its population increases, and the type of traffic on the roads changes. When this happens, existing traffic laws may need to be amended and new laws passed to accommodate a city’s changing needs.

According to a recent study conducted by a traffic-safety advocacy group, Alabama was one of 31 states that received a “yellow” rating regarding its traffic laws. The study ranked each of the 50 states as well as the District of Columbia as either “green,” “yellow,” or “red,” based on the traffic laws currently on the books.

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When someone is a victim of a crime in Alabama, they may have several avenues to seek compensation for their injuries. One method of pursuing compensation is by participating in a criminal prosecution against the offender. Importantly, criminal cases are brought not by the accident victim but by the government. Thus, the focus is not necessarily on providing the victim of a crime with compensation but on punishing the behavior of the defendant.

Helping Crime VictimsThat being said, criminal courts in Alabama do have the ability to order an offender to pay restitution to a crime victim. However, restitution is limited by the defendant’s ability to pay. Additionally, the Alabama Crime Victims’ Compensation Commission provides monetary compensation to crime victims if they meet certain criteria. Compensation awarded by the Commission may include medical and dental care, prescriptions, psychiatric care and counseling, rehabilitation, moving expenses, travel expenses, limited property reimbursement, future economic loss, lost wages, and funerals. However, the Commission will not issue compensation for a victim’s pain and suffering.

In order for a victim of a crime to obtain compensation for their pain and suffering, the victim must file an Alabama personal injury lawsuit. Unlike a criminal prosecution, civil cases are brought by the crime victim, which therefore allows the crime victim to have more control over the case. Importantly, the burden of proof in order to establish liability in a civil case is less than is required to prove an offender guilty in a criminal trial.

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When someone is involved in a serious Alabama car accident, the chances are they have to deal not just with the physical injuries and property damage caused by the accident, but also with the mounting medical expenses and the loss of income due to time spent away from work. Additionally, an accident victim’s life may not ever be the same, even post-recovery.

Insurance ContractAfter a car accident, an accident victim may be able to seek compensation for the injuries they sustained in the accident through an insurance claim. In Alabama, all drivers must maintain a base level of liability insurance to cover the costs of injuries caused by that driver’s negligence If the at-fault party has an insurance policy, the claim will initially be through the at-fault driver’s policy.

Some drivers, however, fail to obtain insurance despite the legal requirement they do so. In other situations, a driver has insurance, but the injuries sustained in the accident are very serious, warranting compensation above the limits of the at-fault driver’s insurance policy. In the event of an accident caused by an uninsured or underinsured driver, an accident victim may be able to file a claim with their own insurance company.

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When someone is injured in any kind of Alabama accident, the injured party is entitled to seek compensation from the party they believe to be at fault for their injuries. However, all personal injury cases in Alabama must be filed within a specified amount of time, as outlined in the relevant statute of limitations. It is incredibly important that personal injury plaintiffs comply with the relevant statute of limitations that governs their case, or the case may be dismissed without ever being reviewed on its merits.

Stop WatchEssentially, a statute of limitations provides the time frame in which an accident victim must file their case. As long as a case is filed by the time the statute of limitations expires, the case will be considered timely, even if the case is not ultimately resolved until after the statute of limitations has expired.

Under Alabama Code § 6-2-38, any lawsuit seeking compensation for personal injuries or wrongful death must be filed within two years of the injury or death. In many cases, determining when the statute of limitations expires is a straightforward task; however, that is not always the case. For example, under Alabama Code § 6-5-482, a claim of medical malpractice is generally subject to a two-year statute of limitations; however, if the plaintiff does not discover their injury until a later date, the statute of limitations can be tolled, or extended, until six months after the plaintiff’s discovery of their injury.

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One of the most common questions asked by victims of Alabama truck accidents is whether the trucking company that employs an allegedly at-fault driver can be held liable for the actions of the truck driver. As is the case with many legal questions, the answer is “it depends.”

Semi-TruckThe legal term respondeat superior refers to an ancient Latin phrase that roughly translated means “let the master answer.” Respondeat superior is a type of vicarious lability, meaning the doctrine allows one person to be held liable for the acts of another third party. Other types of vicarious liability include a parent’s responsibility for the actions of their minor child or a car owner’s responsibility for the actions of those they allow to use their car.

In modern day personal injury law, respondeat superior refers to a legal doctrine that allows for accident victims to hold an employer liable for the negligent acts of an employee in certain circumstances. Under Alabama case law, an accident victim must establish several elements in order to hold an employer liable for the acts of an employee. While this case involved a doctor who the plaintiff claimed was liable for the negligent acts of a nurse, the rules outlined by the court in its opinion have since been applied broadly by Alabama courts.

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In Alabama, all motorists owe a duty of care to those with whom they share the road. Generally speaking, this duty requires that motorists follow all traffic laws as well as posted traffic signs and traffic control devices. At its core, the duty placed on Alabama drivers merely requires they take due care when operating a motor vehicle.

Lumber TruckWhen a driver causes a car accident due to some negligent act, anyone injured as a result of the accident is entitled to pursue a claim for damages against the at-fault driver. When most people think of this type of claim, they assume that the at-fault driver was previously unknown to them; however, in many cases, a passenger is injured due to the negligence of the friend or relative driving the car.

Initially, this may seem like an awkward or uncomfortable situation, and indeed, in some cases it can be. However, it is important for accident victims to realize that most Alabama personal injury cases involving car accidents are defended not by the driver themselves but by the at-fault driver’s insurance company.

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In a recent case, Alabama’s supreme court considered an Alabama truck accident case in which the jury found in favor of the plaintiff after a woman was killed after colliding with a tree on the side of an Alabama road.

Dump TruckThe Trial

According to the plaintiff’s complaint, the plaintiff alleged that two employees of the defendant’s company were driving separate dump trucks when one of the trucks caused the woman’s truck to leave the road, where she collided with a tree and died. The woman’s estate brought a lawsuit against the employer, based on the negligence of either of the employees.

At trial, a witness testified that on the day of the crash, a white dump truck passed him traveling in the opposite direction, that the white dump truck operated by the defendant’s company was not entirely within its lane, and that he had to move over to allow the truck to pass safely.

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After a jury has returned a verdict in favor of a plaintiff in an Alabama personal injury case, the jury will then determine the appropriate amount of compensation that the plaintiff should be awarded. This compensation is called “damages.” In Alabama, there are two types of damages awards that a plaintiff can recover:  compensatory damages and punitive damages.

Shattered GlassCompensatory damages are designed to put the plaintiff back in the place they were before they were involved in the incident. Categories of compensatory damages include medical expenses, lost wages, and compensation for any pain and suffering endured as a result of the accident. In general, there is no limit to the amount of compensatory damages that a plaintiff can recover.

Punitive damages are focused not on the suffering of the victim but on the wrongdoing of the defendant. As a result, punitive damages are designed to “punish” a defendant for especially egregious conduct. In Alabama, punitive damages are not available in all cases, and a plaintiff must establish by clear and convincing evidence that the defendant committed fraud, acted with malice, or acted with a “reckless or conscious disregard of the rights or safety of others.”

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Semi-trucks are necessary in today’s economy. Indeed, these large trucks carry goods back and forth across the country on the nation’s highways. Most of the time, these trucks are operating on wide roads with high speed limits. However, as truck drivers approach their destination, they are usually required to operate their fully loaded trucks on city streets that are much narrower, slower, and tighter. This can present a challenge to even experienced Alabama truck drivers.

Semi-TruckNotwithstanding the challenge, semi-truck drivers are responsible to operate their rigs in a safe and responsible manner at all times. This means on all types of roads and in all types of weather conditions. When a truck driver’s negligence results in an Alabama truck accident, anyone injured in the accident can pursue compensation for their injuries through an Alabama personal injury lawsuit.

Proving an Alabama Truck Accident Claim

In order for a plaintiff to successfully bring an Alabama truck accident case, they will need to establish that the truck driver’s negligence resulted in the accident that caused their injuries. While this sounds simple in theory, there can be many roadblocks that arise along the way.

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Being an emergency responder is a dangerous job for a number of reasons. However, the leading cause of death among emergency responders has consistently been traffic-related accidents. Most often, these Alabama car accidents occur when an emergency responder is working road-side while assisting a disabled vehicle or responding to the scene of an accident when another motorist clips one of the stationary vehicles, causing a chain reaction in which anyone nearby has a high probability of being injured.

Road HazardThis concern over the safety of emergency responders has led every state legislature – including Alabama’s – to implement a move-over law, requiring motorists to take certain precautions when approaching emergency responders on the side of the road.

The Alabama move-over law protects the following people:

  • law enforcement officers;
  • wreckers and tow-truck drivers;
  • utility workers; and
  • garbage and recycling collectors.

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