Articles Posted in Alabama Personal Injury Case Law

In some Alabama slip-and-fall cases, defendants may argue that they should not be held liable because the hazard that caused the plaintiff’s injuries was obvious. In those cases, courts look at each party’s evidence concerning whether a hazard was perceived or should have been perceived by the plaintiff.In a recent case, a McDonald’s restaurant argued before the Alabama Supreme Court that a wet floor was an open and obvious hazard. In that case, the plaintiff slipped and fell at a McDonald’s and sued the restaurant for his injuries. The man fell after he left the restroom and was walking toward the counter. The plaintiff left the restaurant after the fall but then began experiencing pain in his back and left leg, and he went back to discuss the incident with the manager. Surveillance footage showed an employee mopping the floor in front of the counter and placing a warning sign that the floor was wet. The plaintiff stated that his fall occurred outside the surveillance footage areas and was not shown on camera.

The restaurant argued that the fall was caused by an open and obvious danger because it was obvious that the floor had just been mopped, and there was a warning sign indicating as much. However, the Court found that based on the plaintiff’s affidavit, the plaintiff did not fall on the water near the counter, but instead on a “slick spot” outside the restroom.

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In a recent personal injury case before the Alabama Supreme Court, a plaintiff filed a lawsuit against a hospital after allegedly being injured by a patient while she was also a patient in a psychiatric unit at a hospital. The defendant, “Brookwood Health Services Inc.,” claimed that it was not properly served and that the suit was untimely because it was filed beyond the statute of limitations. Under the Alabama Medical Liability Act, a two-year statute of limitations applied in the case.The patient filed a complaint in the case on October 8, 2016 but named “Brookwood Baptist Health LLC” as fictitiously named defendants. The patient filed an amended complaint on June 3, 2017 naming instead “Brookwood Baptist Health Services” and requested that “Brookwood Health Services Inc.” be served.

The hospital argued that the two-year statute of limitations expired on October 10, 2016, and that the amended complaint did not “relate back” to the original filing because the patient did not satisfy the requirements of Rule 15(c)(3) of the Alabama Rules of Civil Procedure.

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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.

The 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.Compensatory 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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