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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Earlier this month, the state’s high court issued a written opinion in an Alabama car accident case requiring the court to determine if the jury’s verdict in favor of the plaintiff should be reversed due to the plaintiff’s failure to comply with a clause in the contract with the defendant insurance company. Ultimately, the court concluded that the defendant insurance company was in a position to object but failed to do so prior to trial. As a result, the defendant’s post-trial motion was denied.

ContractThe Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was involved in a car accident when she was rear-ended while stopped at a non-functioning traffic light. At the time of the collision, the plaintiff’s husband was driving the car. The plaintiff filed a lawsuit against the other driver who she claimed was responsible for the accident, as well as her husband’s insurance provider under the underinsured motorist provision.

The day before trial, the plaintiff settled her claim with the other driver and that driver’s insurance company. The plaintiff let her husband’s insurance company know prior to the beginning of trial. However, that policy required advance notice of any settlement that may affect the insurance company’s liability. It was undisputed that the plaintiff did not give the defendant insurance company advance notice.

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Earlier this month, a grand jury returned an indictment in a case brought against a truck driver who ran head-on into another vehicle carrying a family of five. According to a recent news report covering the case, the Alabama truck accident resulted in the driver being indicted for criminally negligent homicide.

Truck WheelsEvidently, the truck driver told police that he had swerved to avoid a dog that ran in front of his truck. However, there was no evidence that the truck driver swerved or braked immediately prior to the collision. At the time of the accident, the driver was working for a trucking company based out of Columbus. The grand jury heard evidence that the driver was not under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time of the collision and that speed was not a factor.

In addition to the criminal charges brought by the State of Alabama, surviving family members have filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the truck driver. The results of both cases are still pending.

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