Articles Posted in Personal Injury Legal Theories

Two Alabama residents were featured in New York Times article “They’re Falsely Accused of Shoplifting, but Retailers Demand Penalties: Walmart and other companies are using aggressive legal tactics to get the money back, demanding payments even when people haven’t been convicted of wrongdoing.”

MOBILE, Ala. — Crystal Thompson was at home watching the Rose Bowl parade when a county sheriff came to arrest her for shoplifting from the local Walmart.

Ms. Thompson, 43, was baffled and scared. An agoraphobic, she had not shopped at a Walmart in more than a year. She was taken to a Mobile jail, searched, held in a small room and required to remove her false teeth, something she didn’t even do in front of her husband.

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.

Legal News GavelAnother 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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Recently, an appellate court in Florida issued a written opinion in a personal injury case involving a woman who was seriously injured while volunteering at a local dog park. The case required the court to determine if the signage outside the park indicating that visitors enter at their own risk absolved the defendant dog owner of liability. Ultimately, the court concluded that the sign did not contain the necessary words “bad dog,” as outlined by statute.

Legal News GavelThe case is important for all personal injury claimants because, while Alabama employs different legal standards than those applied in this case, it shows how literal courts can be when interpreting language in a statute. Whether a court is interpreting the language of a prior court’s opinion or the text contained in a statute, this case shows just how narrowly courts may interpret language, depending on the statute and the situation, making the assistance of a dedicated Alabama personal injury attorney all the more necessary.

The Facts of the Case

Here, the plaintiff was a volunteer at a local dog park. One day, the plaintiff was at the park volunteering when the defendant arrived with her dog. At some point, the defendant’s dog was chasing another dog when it collided with the plaintiff. The plaintiff fell to the ground, breaking her leg. The plaintiff filed a personal injury case against the defendant, claiming that under the state’s strict liability statute for injuries caused by animals, the defendant was liable for her injuries. The defendant responded by arguing that the signage in front of the dog park, indicating that visitors enter at their own risk, put the plaintiff on notice of the risks involved with volunteering, and, therefore, she assumed the risk of injury.

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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.

Legal News GavelWhat 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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Plaintiffs in Alabama and across the country have filed lawsuits after alleged e-cigarette battery explosions. Among other claims, some are alleging that e-cigarette manufacturers failed to warn users of the risk of fires and explosions.

Legal News GavelFailure to Warn Claims

In Alabama failure to warn claims, plaintiffs must show that a defendant failed to warn consumers of dangerous conditions or risks in a product. Generally, there must be an adequate warning of a product’s dangers, unless the danger is obvious. This means that not only must products have warnings of the relevant dangers, but also they must adequately disclose the risks. For example, warnings or instructions may be inadequate if the information is insufficient concerning the proper use of the product or if the warnings are ambiguous. Some recent e-cigarette explosion lawsuits have alleged that the e-cigarette manufacturers have failed to include proper labels warning consumers of the risks of battery fires.

E-Cigarette Explosion Lawsuits Increasing

According to one news source, in 2017, over 120 lawsuits were filed in which people alleged that they were injured in explosions from e-cigarette, or vape, batteries. Some individuals alleged that the e-cigarettes exploded in their mouth, while others claimed the e-cigarettes caught fire in their pockets.

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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.Ford-fusion-300x200

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.

Generally, in an Alabama personal injury claim, a plaintiff has to prove duty, breach of duty, foreseeability, and causation. However, the doctrine of inherently dangerous activities states that in cases in which the defendant should have reasonably anticipated that an injury would result due to an inherently dangerous activity, the defendant cannot insulate itself from liability by hiring a subcontractor to perform the dangerous job.  In other words, the defendant may be liable for damages resulting from the injury even if its subcontractor was negligent. This rule of law has been stated:  “It is also generally recognized that one who employs a contractor to carry on an inherently or intrinsically dangerous activity cannot thereby insulate himself from liability.”  And, of course, if the defendant does take part in an inherently dangerous activity, or the defendant uses a dangerous instrumentality, the defendant must be reasonable in exercising due care.

Legal News GavelFurther, if a defendant uses an instrumentality that threatens serious danger to others, it must be kept in good condition. In addition, if a defendant knows or should know a particular instrument is so defective that its use involves an unreasonable risk of harm to others, the defendant may be liable for negligence. For example, the Alabama Legislature has recognized that insecticides and pesticides are intrinsically dangerous and has adopted laws regulating the sale and distribution of those products. The use of such products may give rise to a heightened responsibility on the defendant’s part to exercise due care if it is engaged in the application of insecticides or pesticides.

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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.

Legal News GavelThe 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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What are the potential dangers to welders from the welding process, in particular, stainless steel welding?

Chromium is a naturally occurring element found in stainless steel, electrodes, and filler metals. These materials are all commonly used in welding processes. During welding, the intense heat turns this metal into a gas.

This gaseous form of chromium is known as hexavalent chromium, and has serious health risks for individuals exposed

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.

Legal News GavelEssentially, 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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