Articles Posted in Car Accidents

New highways offer the promise of faster commutes and safer roads, but they can also create dangers when the construction takes a long time. Also, government officials who are in charge of designing new roadways don’t always make the best choices about the safest way to construct a new highway. If you were hurt in a car accident involving road construction or an unsafe road design, you may be entitled to compensation. Our compassionate and experienced team of Alabama personal injury lawyers are waiting to answer your questions and to help you protect your rights.

Recently, the Alabama Department of Transportation made announcements about the widening of I-565 in Huntsville stating that it will be widened to three lanes. In order to do this, DOT will pave over the 14-foot shoulder. This means that some of the new lanes may only be 12-feet wide. DOT insists that it will still be safe, but without a sufficient shoulder for people who are having car trouble or who need to pull over, it could lead to more accidents.

There are also many bridges on this section of highway. DOT said that some of the lanes on these bridges may be as narrow as 11-feet with a small shoulder area. Although the bridges are roughly 200 to 250 feet long, DOT said that driving at 75 mph people won’t be on the bridges that long. This seems like a potentially dangerous solution considering that a lot can go wrong in a few seconds when traveling at that high rate of speed.

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Car accidents are always scary events, especially if you are injured as a result. When car accidents lead to someone’s unexpected death, however, the survivors’ lives are changed forever.

A court in Los Angeles recently approved a $25 million verdict in a lawsuit against a major car maker. In the lawsuit, the plaintiffs alleged that faulty brakes in the defendant’s car caused three people to lose their lives in a car crash. The accident happened in 2012 and involved a 2004 model of the manufacturer’s vehicle. The car carrying the three deceased individuals, which included a mother and her two young children, collided with a minivan at an intersection in Hollywood. All three passengers in the minivan were killed in the impact.

At the end of the trial, the jury concluded that the car manufacturer was completely at fault for the accident and that its braking system was defective. It also concluded that the car manufacturer was reckless for not recalling vehicles that contained the braking system. Even though the jury concluded that the driver of the other vehicle involved in the accident was negligent, it still concluded that the car manufacturer was entirely to blame for the victims’ deaths.

There are many important procedural aspects of an Alabama car accident lawsuit which can be overwhelming for the uninitated. Throughout the proceedings, there are opportunities for each party to seek a ruling from the judge that may have a substantial impact on the outcome of the case, including motions to dismiss and motions for summary judgment. Ensuring that the judge rules fairly on any motions that have the ability to end the litigation is a major step in protecting your rights. At Reeves Law Firm, we will stand by you throughout the entire process and help you to obtain the outcome that you deserve.

Recently, the Alabama Court of Civil Appeals considered an appeal in a car accident lawsuit. The plaintiff alleged that she was hurt when a vehicle driven by the defendant and owned by his employer crashed into the rear of the vehicle that she was driving. She sued these defendants for negligence, wantonness, and negligent entrustment of the vehicle to the employee-driver.

The jury trial began and after the plaintiff finished presenting her side of the case, the defendant moved for judgment as a matter of law on all of the claims against them. This type of motion asks the court to conclude that the plaintiff has not met the burden of proof and that based on the evidence presented, the plaintiff cannot win. The trial court granted the defendant’s motion and dismissed the case. It concluded that the plaintiff’s evidence, including her own testimony, did not establish a link between the accident and the injuries that she sustained.

Knowing which parties to include in a lawsuit and ensuring that you have alleged the right causes of action against each party can be difficult, especially if you recently experienced a car accident resulting in Alabama personal injuries for the first time. At The Reeves Law Firm, we have handled numerous car accidents on behalf of Decatur and Huntsville residents and have the experience it takes to ensure that your lawsuit is approached carefully and thoroughly.

A recent case discusses a situation where a party sought leave to amend its complaint to add a different defendant.  In that case, a woman suffered injuries in a car accident.  She had an insurance policy that included underinsured-motorist (UIM) benefits. The woman notified her insurer that she and other driver’s insurer had settled her claim against that driver for the driver’s policy limits of $25,000. The woman’s own insurer did not consent to the settlement and paid the woman $25,000. The woman then died. Her insurer brought a claim against the other driver seeking reimbursement of the $25,000 in UIM benefits that it had paid to its own insured.

The other driver filed a motion to dismiss, or for summary judgment in the alternative, alleging that because the woman had died her personal injury claim was exhausted and that her insurer could not maintain a claim against the other driver because it sued as a subrogee of the woman. The UIM insurer disputed this claim and argued that the claim survived the woman’s passing and that it had a right of reimbursement from the other driver’s insurer, not from the other driver as an individual. The insurer sought leave to amend its complaint to add the other driver’s insurer as a defendant, which the trial court did not rule on.

In an Alabama car accident claim, a plaintiff is required to prove the damages he or she claims to have sustained in the accident. Depending on the type of case and the injuries involved, there are different types of damages a plaintiff may be able to recover. One type is compensatory damages. Compensatory damages are meant to compensate the plaintiff for the plaintiff’s injuries and other losses. Examples of compensatory damages include medical expenses, property damages, and lost income. They can also include compensation for a plaintiff’s pain and suffering and emotional distress.Another type of damages is punitive damages, which are available only in certain claims. Punitive damages are meant to deter harmful conduct and to punish the defendant. Since the purpose of punitive damages is not to compensate the plaintiff, an award of punitive damages is largely within the discretion of the jury. However, punitive damages are only available in Alabama in wrongful death claims or in claims in which the plaintiff proves that the defendant consciously or deliberately engaged in oppression, fraud, wantonness, or malice.

Plaintiffs who are injured in an accident are entitled to compensation for their injuries, despite any preexisting conditions or unique conditions. In other words, the defendant takes the plaintiff “as is.” That means that even if a plaintiff’s injuries are more severe than the average person’s would be, the defendant is still liable for all of the plaintiff’s injuries and damages caused by the defendant’s negligence.

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As automotive safety features have increased over the past several decades, vehicles have become much safer than they used to be. And while the total number of fatal Alabama car accidents per year has dropped over the last 20 years, recently the data indicates that these numbers have begun to level off and even slightly increase.According to a recent news report, Alabama has the fifth-most fatal car accidents. Interestingly, the study looked not only at which states had the highest rate of fatal traffic accidents, but also at which times and on which days of the week the accidents occurred.

The crash data for Alabama indicate that Mondays and Fridays are the safest days to drive. Not surprisingly, the weekend days were among the most dangerous to be on the road. According to the study, the fewest accidents occurred during the hours of 4-10 a.m., with the greatest number of accidents occurring during the hours of 4-10 p.m. Interestingly, these times encompass the traditional hours of the morning and evening commutes.

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Determining the full extent of an accident victim’s potential recovery following an Alabama car accident is not always as simple as filing a case against the person who was behind the wheel at the time of the accident. While naming the at-fault driver is a good place to start, there may be other potentially liable parties who should be named in the lawsuit. For example, under the theory of negligent entrustment, the owner of a vehicle may be liable to an accident victim even if they were not in the car at the time of the accident.

What Is Negligent Entrustment?

In Alabama, the owner of a vehicle may be liable for injuries resulting from an accident involving their vehicle if the victim can prove certain elements. In a 2005 case, the Alabama Supreme Court clarified that a negligent entrustment claim must establish that:  1.) the owner of the vehicle allowed another person to use their vehicle, 2.) that person was incompetent, 3.) the owner knew of the person’s incompetence, and 4.) the person’s incompetence caused the plaintiff’s injuries.

Often, several of these elements go uncontested because they are easily proven. However, the third element – proving that the owner of a vehicle knew of the driver’s incompetence – can often present Alabama victims with the biggest hurdle. A recent case issued by a federal appellate court illustrates how this element can be difficult to prove.

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Ford Motor Company is recalling nearly 1.4 million cars in North America because the steering wheel can detach from the steering column as drivers are on the road and could easily lose control. The flaw has already been linked to two accidents and one injury, with more injuries expected.

Drivers have revealed harrowing stories for months to NHTSA about the steering wheels that became inoperative on the highway.

“While driving on (the) interstate, steering wheel came loose and car veered off interstate. I regained control but steering wheel is still loose. Repairs will cost beyond my means at this moment,” a driver in Harriman, Tenn., reported Tuesday.

A Lake Island, Ill., driver, in a statement to NHTSA in November, wrote, ““While driving approximately 55 (miles per hour), the steering wheel turned 360 degrees independently without warning. In addition, the steering wheel detached from the vehicle.”

Under Alabama law, all individuals seated in the front seat of a vehicle are required to wear seat belts while the vehicle is in motion, although there are some exceptions to the law. The next question is whether this law affects an individual’s ability to recover compensation in an Alabama car accident case if the person was not wearing a seat belt when a crash occurred.

The Seat Belt Defense in Alabama

Under Ala. Code 1975 32-5B-7, failing to wear a seat belt “shall not be considered evidence of contributory negligence and shall not limit the liability of an insurer.” What this means is that an individual’s failure to wear a seat belt cannot be used against him as evidence of contributory negligence. It also cannot be used against the plaintiff as evidence of the plaintiff’s failure to mitigate damages.

Contributory Negligence in Alabama

Alabama follows the doctrine of contributory negligence, which often comes up in car accident litigation. It is one of the few states that follow the doctrine of “pure contributory negligence.” That means that if the plaintiff is found to be negligent, then the plaintiff cannot recover any damages.

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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.

Alabama 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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