Truck Accidents and Inclement Weather - McPhillips Shinbaum

Causes of Trucking Accidents

Commercial trucks such as tractor-trailers, 18-wheelers, and delivery trucks pose a unique danger to passenger vehicles. Not only do the drivers of these trucks need to be highly trained and aware of these dangers, but other drivers also need to take precautions in their presence. What would seem like a minor error, such as failing to signal when turning, could result in a catastrophic crash with one of these massive vehicles.

In Alabama alone, there were 8,937 truck crashes in 2016, the year of the most recent data available from the state. This is a 54% increase from just five years prior. The fatality rate is also up 74% over five years, with 157 people losing their lives in truck crashes in 2016.

 

Causes of Trucking Accidents

The reason trucking accidents are so deadly is because of the size and weight of the vehicles. A fully-loaded tractor-trailer can weigh 80,000 pounds, and a 5,000-pound passenger vehicle is no match for one of these giants that is suddenly out of control on the road. These are dangerous crashes that can happen in a variety of ways and can be caused by several forms of negligence or carelessness.

Driver Error

The most common cause of trucking accidents is some kind of driver error. There are many mistakes that drivers can make which can lead to dangerous and deadly crashes. These include:

  • Drowsy driving or driving under the influence
  • Distracted driving
  • Driving aggressively or too fast for conditions
  • Following other vehicles too closely
  • Frequent lane changes
  • Improper turning
  • Not obeying the rules of the road
  • Failure to check blind spots

 

Poor Vehicle Maintenance

A commercial truck can drive thousands of miles in a single day. This adds up over several weeks and months, putting immense wear and tear on a vehicle. To keep up with this, drivers, trucking companies, and maintenance operations need to take measures to regularly maintain their fleet.

Failed equipment such as a cracked windshield or worn brake pads can lead to a major crash on the road. The truck driver is responsible for checking their rig before each driving shift. If they don’t do this or fail to maintain their equipment, they could be liable for an accident.

Equipment Failure

Failing to maintain a truck isn’t the only cause of equipment failure. Sometimes a critical piece of a truck’s equipment has a defect or was installed incorrectly. If it fails while a truck is at speed, the results could be fatal.

Some of the parties that could be held responsible in one of these situations include the designer or maker of the part. Other possibilities are the truck manufacturer, the installer, or the company that sold the truck.

Road Hazards

When there is something in the road that isn’t supposed to be there, this can create dangerous conditions. Most states and municipalities conduct road improvement projects, but they have a duty to clearly mark any changes in the terrain or upcoming lanes. If there is a failure to do this and a road hazard causes a trucking accident, those road crews could be held responsible.

Inclement Weather

Bad weather is a trucker’s nightmare. It slows down traffic and progress and limits visibility. Unfortunately, it is also a common cause of truck accidents. When a truck is driving too fast for conditions, this can lead to jackknifing, hydroplaning, and skidding.

Improper Cargo Loading

There are industry-specific rules for loading cargo on commercial trucks. If these aren’t followed or if mistakes are made, a load can fall into the road or cause a truck to tip over, resulting in serious injury.

Speak with a Montgomery Truck Accident Attorney

If you or a loved one have been involved in a collision with a truck, finding the right personal injury attorney can save you time, stress, and money. Your attorney should have a proven record of aggressively pursuing the responsible parties in truck accident cases and have the resources to fully investigate the circumstances of your crash.

At McPhillips Shinbaum, LLC, we have built a reputation for helping clients achieve favorable outcomes in personal injury cases. We will be your staunch legal advocates as we fight for the compensation you deserve. Contact our Montgomery office now at 334.262.1911 or reach us online to schedule a free consultation.

Hand gun

Can I Carry a Concealed Weapon on an Alabama College Campus?

In the first nine months of 2018, there were 36 school shootings in the United States, resulting in 81 injuries and 42 deaths. While some believe that more regulations are necessary to stop these events, others want to protect the lives of students and staff by allowing concealed weapons on certain campuses.

This is a hotly debated topic, and it is an issue that is currently addressed at the state level. Some states allow people, including teachers and students, to have licensed concealed weapons on campus and others don’t permit the practice. Still others have tight restrictions on who can do this and under what circumstances. In some states, the decision to allow concealed weapons on campus is left up to the individual college or campus.

The Citizens Crime Commission of New York City conducted a study on campus gun violence. It found that, between the 2010-11 and 2015-16 school years, on-campus shootings increased from 12 to nearly 30, a 150% increase. Since 2011, there have been close to 200 shootings on college campuses, with the most incidents taking place in California, Florida, Tennessee, Virginia, Georgia, and North Carolina. If you’re wondering whether you can carry a concealed weapon on an Alabama college campus, the answer is, “It depends.”

States that Forbid Concealed Weapons on College Campuses

Although many states allow citizens to apply for a concealed carry permit and have a concealed weapon on their person, they draw the line at permitting this on a college campus. The 16 states that have expressly forbidden this include:

  • California
  • Florida
  • Louisiana
  • Illinois
  • Nevada
  • New Jersey
  • New Mexico
  • Nebraska
  • New York
  • North Dakota
  • North Carolina
  • Michigan
  • Missouri
  • Massachusetts
  • South Carolina
  • Wyoming

States that Allow Concealed Weapons on College Campuses

Some states have given a blanket approval for people to conceal and carry firearms on its public college campuses. Tennessee only allows faculty to have this privilege. Both Arkansas and Georgia are the most recent additions to the states that allow faculty, students, and visitors to conceal and carry on campus. Other states that allow this include:

  • Colorado
  • Kansas
  • Idaho
  • Texas
  • Mississippi
  • Wisconsin
  • Oregon
  • Utah

States that Leave the Decision Up to the Individual College or Campus

That leaves 23 U.S. states, all of which put the decision on conceal and carry into the hands of the individual colleges or campuses. When it comes to Alabama, there have been some decisions that apply statewide.

For example, the Alabama Community College System has a rule (Board Policy 511.01) stating that no guns are allowed on the state’s community college campuses – with a few exceptions. Law enforcement officers who are either acting in the performance of their duties or who are enrolled in classes may carry firearms. Firearms are also permitted when they are part of an instructional program at the school.

The entire University of Alabama system has established a “Dangerous Weapons & Firearms Policy.” The policy expressly prohibits any “dangerous weapons” on its campuses. These include:

  • Any device that delivers or shoots a bullet, pellet, BB, dart, arrow, electrical charge, flare, or other projectile, whether loaded or not, including any devices powered by CO2.
  • Any devices or instruments that can be used as a weapon to threaten someone or inflict injury, including non-culinary knives that have a blade longer than four inches.
  • Any fireworks or other explosive devices.

The policy forbids anyone on campus from having such things as guns, rifles, ammunition, crossbows, swords, tasers, and air guns. It applies to students, faculty, staff, and visitors. The only exception applies to law enforcement officers who are on duty. Private security officers and other staff with an express purpose must receive pre-approval from the university to have a firearm on campus.

Do You Have Questions About Your Gun Rights in Alabama?

Gun laws can be complex, particularly when a regulatory body decides to make sweeping changes. Running afoul of the law when it comes to a firearms regulation can lead to some unpleasant consequences not to mention a potentially dangerous encounter with law enforcement.

If you have been accused of violating a gun law or have questions about Alabama’s laws related to firearms, contact the knowledgeable attorneys at McPhillips Shinbaum, LLP for assistance. Reach us at our Montgomery office at 334.262-1911.

Expert Witness - McPhillips Shinbaum

How Can Expert Witnesses Help in My Injury Case?

Suffering a serious injury can be a devastating experience, and one that leaves you with high medical bills, financial losses in the form of lost wages, and pain and suffering. If you have been seriously injured as a result of another party’s negligence, you may be considering filing a personal injury case.

Before you file your personal injury case on your own, though, understanding the different elements of a personal injury case, and the benefits of working with a skilled lawyer, can be helpful. One of the most important reasons to consider hiring an experienced personal injury attorney is that they will have longstanding relationships with specialists, and the resources to bring in expert witnesses.

Why Are Expert Witnesses Important in a Personal Injury Case?

Winning a personal injury case can be difficult, especially if you are unfamiliar with the legal system and are pursuing damages unrepresented. This is because there are four set elements of a personal injury claim that you must prove in order to recover compensation. These are:

  1. Duty of care;
  2. Breach of duty of care;
  3. Causation; and
  4. Damages.

Essentially, you must prove that the party against whom you’re filing a civil action owed you a duty of care, breached the duty of care owed to you as a result of their negligence, that this negligence was the direct cause of your accident, and that you suffered actual damages as a result.

Proving these four elements will take more than just your opinion; instead, hard evidence is a must. This is especially true in Alabama, where the courts apply the legal doctrine known as “contributory negligence” in personal injury cases. Under this doctrine, any party that shares fault for an accident and subsequent injury is barred from recovering damages. This makes it all the more important to compile various forms of evidence and develop a rock-solid case.

One of the best ways to put the evidence of the case in proper perspective for the judge or jury and help substantiate your claim is through the opinion of expert witnesses.

Common Types of Expert Witnesses

There are a number of different expert witness types that may be useful in your case. Examples include medical professionals (doctors, medical specialists, psychiatrists, etc.); accident reconstruction specialists; forensic specialists; financial experts; and more. These experts can be used to offer insight into how your accident occurred, whether or not the defendant breached the duty of care owed to you, and the value of the losses you have suffered.

It is important to note that not only are expert witnesses important in personal injury claims, often providing expert opinion that is undisputed about how an accident occurred or the severity of related injuries, but that their opinions are sometimes required. For example, in a medical malpractice case, you must hire an expert who can attest to the fact that the defendant breached the medical standard of care.

Are Expert Witnesses Expensive?

One of the biggest barriers to working with an expert witness is that expert witnesses are typically very expensive to hire. In fact, hiring an expert to work on your case or testify as part of your suit can cost hundreds or thousands of dollars. One report found that just an initial review from an expert is a few hundred dollars on average, and that a deposition is even more expensive. Fees for certain specialties, like plastic surgeons and neurosurgeons, are higher.

The expenses that are associated with expert witnesses often make hiring them unrealistic for the average person who has suffered serious injuries, is dealing with financial losses, and is pursuing damages without professional legal representation.

Our Law Firm Has the Resources Necessary to Hire Experts for Your Case

Deciding between bolstering your case, potentially recovering the maximum amount of compensation available to you, and forking out hundreds of dollars for experts’ fees can be a tough decision. In some cases, you simply may not have the cash, meaning that recruiting an expert is inaccessible.

When you work with the personal injury lawyers at the offices of McPhillips Shinbaum, LLP, hiring experts is not something you need to worry about. Our lawyers cover 100 percent of the fees associated with your case, including experts’ fees, and never request upfront payments from you. Instead, we work on a contingency fee basis, which means that if your case is successful and you recover a settlement, we will be paid an agreed upon percentage of your winnings. If you don’t win, we don’t collect a payment.

Schedule a Consultation Today

To learn more about the role of expert witnesses in a personal injury case and how our firm can help you, please call us at 334-262-1911 or visit our Montgomery law office in person. Consultations are offered free of charge.

Who is responsible for your injuries if you are in an accident in an Uber? McPhillips Shinbaum

Accident Injuries While Riding in an Uber – Who’s Responsible?

Whether you are acting as a passenger in the car of a friend or family member, operating a motor vehicle yourself, or riding in an Uber or Lyft as a passenger, knowing when a motor vehicle accident is going to happen is impossible. What you can figure out, though, is what steps you need to take after a motor vehicle accident happens in order to receive compensation for your injuries.

If you have suffered accident injuries while riding in an Uber or other rideshare vehicle and have questions about liability and pursuing damages, our lawyers at the offices of McPhillips Shinbaum, LLP can help.

Here’s what you need to know about liability in an Uber accident:

Who’s Responsible for My Injuries?

In Alabama, liability for an accident (which means who is legally responsible for the accident and related damages) is based on the legal doctrine known as “contributory negligence.” Under the contributory negligence doctrine, if you are even 1% at-fault for the accident (for example, if you were a bicyclist who swerved into an Uber vehicle), you are barred from recovering damages. In other words, you need to prove that the other party (or parties) are 100% responsible.

Potentially at-fault parties might include:

  • The Uber driver. The Uber driver may be to blame for the accident if their own negligence was the direct cause of the accident. Examples of negligent actions that drivers may engage in when behind the while include texting while driving, driving while distracted, driving while impaired, driving aggressively, speeding, and more.
  • The driver of another vehicle. If the Uber vehicle in which you were riding and another vehicle collided, a potential source of liability is the driver of the other vehicle. If their negligent actions–like making an illegal turn, following too closely, or driving while fatigued–caused the crash, they can be held liable for your damages.
  • A third party. In some cases, a third party may be to blame. Examples of third parties who are sometimes held liable or partially liable in car accident cases include manufacturers of defective vehicles/vehicle parts or municipal governments that fail to perform proper road maintenance.

Insurance Policies Available to You

It is not enough to just prove fault; you also want to make sure that the at-fault party is covered by an insurance policy that can pay for your damages. If an at-fault party does not have insurance, they may be found liable for the harm you’ve suffered, but may not have enough assets to offer you what you deserve in compensation. In an Uber accident, there are usually myriad different sources of insurance and potential compensation available, including:

  • Uber insurance. Uber maintains an insurance policy for all of its drivers who are carrying passengers. The coverage offers up to $1 million in third-party liability coverage, uninsured/underinsured coverage, and contingent collision and comprehensive coverage.
  • Liability insurance of the other driver. All drivers in the state of Alabama are required to carry liability insurance. This insurance is used to pay for damages they cause to others.

If you maintain insurance, such as health insurance, this too will of course help to pay for your medical bills after a crash.

How to Prove Fault and Liability

In many cases, determining fault and proving liability can be complicated. For obvious reasons, no party wants to assume fault and shoulder the blame, and neither does their insurance company. In fact, insurers will often try to disprove any allegations of their policyholders’ fault in order to avoid high settlement awards.

This means that you have a duty to substantiate fault if you want to recover the maximum amount of compensation available to you. Our rideshare accident lawyers can help. We know how to thoroughly investigate your case, work with experts to garner professional opinions about accident causation and damages, gather evidence, and organize case data in a compelling manner. We are also skilled negotiators who are confident in our ability to fight for the settlement you deserve, and we have extensive litigation experience and are not intimidated by the courtroom.

Contact Our Law Firm Today

If you are in a rideshare accident, working with a lawyer can be monumental in recovering the compensation award you deserve. At the offices of McPhillips Shinbaum, LLP, we work on a contingency fee basis and are passionate about what we do. Call us today for a free consultation at 334-262-1911 or visit our Montgomery office in person.

 

How Long Does It Take To Settle a Personal Injury Case

How Long Does a Personal Injury Case Take?

If you or someone you love has been injured as a result of someone else’s negligence – car or truck crashmotorcycle accidentslip and fall, or wrongful death – you may decide to pursue damages and seek compensation for your losses. When the accident wasn’t your fault, it’s not fair that you should be stuck with medical bills, lost wages, and the pain and suffering that come with these tragic circumstances.

An Alabama personal injury case is often the best way to achieve a positive outcome, which includes an award for the damages you need and deserve to move on with your life. But, this can be a daunting process, and you may not want to jump into something that is going to take years to resolve.

You may wonder if your injury case can be resolved quickly? It certainly is possible, but if you settle quickly, you most likely won’t receive the full value of your case. Your Alabama personal injury attorney will want to make sure that your rights are protected, and you aren’t shortchanged in the process. There is a basic timeline for all personal injury cases as well as several factors that could delay your settlement.

Alabama Personal Injury Case Timeline

Each personal injury case is unique, but they all progress according to a similar timeline. Between the date of the accident and the resolution of your case, these are various milestones that you can expect:

  • Medical treatment. After you’ve been involved in an accident, you should seek immediate medical care. This could be ongoing until you stabilize, lasting anywhere from a few months to several years.
  • Consult an attorney. Speak with an experienced Alabama personal injury attorney as soon as possible after your accident about your rights and legal options.
  • Claim investigation. Your attorney will investigate your case and collect the evidence necessary to substantiate your claim.
  • File an insurance claim or demand a settlement. Many personal injury cases settle before going to court. Your attorney will file claims with the appropriate insurance companies and speak to you about your settlement options.
  • File personal injury lawsuit. If you are unable to reach a fair settlement agreement that fully compensates you for your losses, your attorney will file a personal injury lawsuit. Getting a trial date can take a year or more.
  • Both sides will engage in the investigation of each other’s claims and legal defenses. There will be written questions (interrogatories) as well as depositions of witnesses and other interested parties.
  • Mediation and/or arbitration. Before a trial, both parties will attempt to settle the case again through mediation, arbitration, or both.
  • If your case does not settle by this point, you will go to trial. The defendant can also appeal the decision if they lose.

Factors That Could Delay Your Personal Injury Case

Not all personal injury cases settle quickly. In fact, an insurance company that tries to push a quick settlement may be trying to get off the hook for much less than your case is actually worth. There are three common reasons that personal injury cases take a long time to resolve.

  1. There are problems with the case. Your case might take longer to settle if there are questions or disputes around two issues – liability (who was at fault) and damages (the severity of the injury or other losses).
  2. The case is “valuable.” The more money your case is worth, the more resistance you will meet from the other side. An insurer will insist on either investigating or fighting every aspect of your case if “big money” is involved.
  3. You haven’t stabilized medically. A personal injury case becomes difficult to settle if you are still receiving treatment for your injuries. Once you reach maximum medical improvement, the parties can place a more accurate value on your damages.

 Speak With An Experienced Alabama Personal Injury Attorney

The Alabama personal injury attorneys at McPhillips Shinbaum, LLP, have over 153 years of combined experience helping injured victims seek justice in a variety of personal injury matters. If you or someone you care about has been injured due to another party’s negligence, our seasoned Alabama personal injury lawyers can help you recover damages for medical care, lost wages, pain and suffering, and more.

Contact our Montgomery office now at 334.262.1911 or reach us online to schedule your initial consultation.

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Wrongful Termination Law Firm - McPhillips Shinbaum

What Are My Options After a Wrongful Termination?

If you’ve recently been laid off or fired from your job and believe you have been wrongly subjected to this action, you might wonder whether or not you have the right to sue your employer for wrongful termination. While you may feel you have a case for wrongful termination, unfortunately many cases do not qualify as wrongful termination.

Alabama, like many other U.S. states, is an at-will employment state. This means that either you or your employer can end the employment relationship at any time and for any reason. You can quit whenever you want and your employer can fire you for most any reason.

But, even in at-will employment states like Alabama, there are certain exceptions to this rule. There are several instances in which your employer is not permitted to just terminate your employment. If you are fired for one of these reasons, you may have a wrongful termination case, so contact an experienced Alabama Employment Attorney right away to discuss your case.

What is Wrongful Termination in Alabama?

Also known as wrongful dismissal, wrongful termination refers to an employer firing someone when they don’t have the legal right to do so. In Alabama, your job termination may not be lawful if you:

  • Were terminated due to discrimination
  • Were fired for retaliatory reasons
  • Were fired in violation of an employment contract
  • Were terminated because you were a union member
  • Were fired for taking lawful time off of work after giving proper notice

Your Options After a Wrongful Termination

If you believe that you were wrongfully let go from your job, some of the ways that you can pursue justice include:

  • Severance agreement. You can try to negotiate a severance package with your employer on your own. In most cases, an employer that fires you unlawfully isn’t going to be ready to also hand you a deal without a fight. You might receive a lowball offer, but it is likely much less than your case is worth.
  • Internal grievance. An internal grievance works best when you believe that you are about to be terminated. Once you start this internal process, it becomes more difficult for your employer to fire you because it will show clear retaliation. If you’ve already been fired, you may be able to get your employer to agree to a post-employment grievance through arbitration, if the company has such a procedure available.
  • Union grievance. If you are a member of a union, file a grievance through that organization. Your union contract will outline the rules for a grievance as well as rules for firing a union member.
  • Discrimination claim. If you believe that you were unfairly terminated due to discrimination based on race, ethnicity, religion, sex, pregnancy, or age (if age 40 or older), you can file a complaint with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). However, there are time frames you must adhere to or forever lose you right to file a claim. Call McPhillips Shinbaum immediately after your termination to discuss your rights and the statute of limitations. In fact, this is a requirement in Alabama workplace discrimination cases before you can file a wrongful termination lawsuit.
  • Wrongful termination lawsuit. Most employees who are wrongfully terminated choose to sue their former employer because it provides the best opportunity to produce results. Provided you have sufficient documentation to prove your case, including copies of performance reviews, salary information, and correspondence, a wrongful termination suit can help you collect the compensation you deserve from an employer who stepped across the line if you do so within the appropriate time frame.

Speak With An Alabama Wrongful Termination Lawyer Today

If you believe that your termination falls under one of the listed exceptions, you may pursue any of the listed options, including filing a wrongful termination suit against your employer. Few of these cases reach a courtroom, and a majority are settled if the employee can show evidence that they were fired for a reason that was impermissible.

A successful wrongful termination suit can accomplish several things. You may be able to recover your job, lost wages, compensatory damages, and other expenses associated with losing your job. If you feel that your termination was not lawful, an experienced Alabama wrongful termination attorney can review your case and advise you of your options. Contact the experienced wrongful terminations attorneys at McPhillips Shinbaum to make sure your rights are protected and that you file your claim within the statute of limitations.

At McPhillips Shinbaum, LLP, our qualified Alabama employment law attorneys have been fighting for the rights of Alabama’s workers for over three decades. Contact our Montgomery office now at 334.262.1911 or reach us online to schedule a confidential case evaluation.

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Trucking Accident Attorneys - McPhillips Shinbaum

How to Avoid an Accident with a Big Rig Truck

Crashes involving big rig trucks can be devastating and are happening with greater frequency in Alabama. Interstate commerce needs have put more tractor trailers on our nation’s roads, and they are being driven further than ever thanks to a critical driver shortage.

Because of the violence surrounding a crash involving a large commercial truck, many of these accidents involve very serious injuries and often result in loss of life. One of the best ways to stay safe on the road is to have a better understanding of the dangers of these big rigs and know how to best avoid accidents with large commercial trucks.

The Dangers of 18-Wheelers

There are roughly half a million accidents involving big rigs on our nation’s roads each year. The maximum weight for one of these vehicles is 80,000 pounds of gross weight, which is over 15 times heavier than the average passenger car. When accidents happen, they are often due to truck driver error. Some of the most common mistakes that lead to these devastating crashes include:

  • Substance abuse. Somewhere between one third and one-half of large truck drivers involved in accidents also use some type of drugs. These can impair decision-making and reflexes.
  • Driver fatigue. Another truck driver impairment and cause of accidents is the extreme fatigue that comes with working and driving too many hours.
  • Blind spot errors. When truck drivers are fatigued, impaired, or distracted, they may lose track of vehicles in their blind spots, which could lead to a serious crash.
  • Speeding is extremely dangerous in any vehicle but can have tragic consequences when a commercial truck exceeds the speed limit. Speeding trucks can cause rollover accidents, jackknife accidents, and multicar crashes that result in severe injuries or death.

 How to Avoid Accidents With Big Rig Trucks

Passenger car drivers may need to operate their vehicles more defensively around large trucks. Since a truck’s visibility and stopping time may be diminished, a passenger car driver maintains the most control over their vehicle. While this doesn’t mean that you would shoulder the responsibility for a crash, keeping yourself and your passengers safe should be a priority. Some of the things that you can do to avoid one of these dangerous truck accidents include:

  • Keep a safe distance. Many big rigs have signs and stickers warning of their limited visibility. Take these seriously. As a general rule, you should try to stay as much as four car lengths behind a truck and avoid changing lanes right in front of them.
  • Know the “no” zones. That limited visibility that trucks have is because of their blind spots that are referred to as “No Zones”. When driving near these massive vehicles, stay out of these blind spot areas, which are on all four sides of the vehicle.
  • Pass big rigs safely. Use extreme caution when you pass a big rig. If you are on a two-way road, it’s going to take much longer to pass a truck than another car, and your visibility could be limited for part of the time. Always pass on the left side, use a turn signal to announce your intentions, and wait until you are six or more car lengths ahead of the truck to re-enter the lane.
  • Give trucks space to turn. Big rigs require a significant amount of space to turn, and you risk being trapped or causing an accident if you creep up on their right side. Always use extra caution around intersections.
  • Report unsafe operation. If you ever witness a truck driving erratically, operating too fast for conditions, or driving with an unsafe load, pull over and report it to the authorities. You may end preventing a serious crash.

Speak with an Experienced Alabama Truck Accident Lawyer

Most big rig truck crashes are avoidable. While they aren’t all the fault of the truck driver, many are. If you have been injured or lost a loved one in one of these tragic accidents, the experienced Alabama truck accident attorneys at McPhillips Shinbaum, LLP, will investigate your claim and work diligently to protect your rights.

Our Alabama personal injury attorneys aggressively advocate for the rights of accident victims throughout the state. We will investigate the circumstances of your accident and pursue damages from the parties responsible for your losses. Contact our office now at 334.262.1911 or reach out to us online to discuss your case.

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Truck Accidents and Inclement Weather - McPhillips Shinbaum

Commercial Truck Accidents and Weather Conditions

Anyone who has driven on a day where there is rain, hail, severe wind, or snow or ice knows that adverse weather conditions can definitely have an effect on vehicle performance. Indeed, when weather conditions are poor, it may be harder to see due to impaired visibility, and a vehicle may be harder to control or stop.

This same phenomenon, difficulty controlling a vehicle and driving safely when weather conditions are adverse, is not only true for drivers of commercial trucks, but heightened. Large trucks can weigh up to 20 times more than the standard passenger car, and can be even more difficult to stop and control, even when weather conditions are ideal.

How Weather Conditions Affect Driving and the Risk of Commercial Truck Accidents

Information published by the U.S. Department of Transportation – Federal Highway Administration, provides a detailed look at the effect that certain weather conditions can have on roads, traffic, and vehicle maneuverability. Consider the following effects of weather, according to the data:

  • Wind. Wind may affect visibility distance, cause lane obstructions, affect traffic speed, increase accident risk, and impact vehicle stability and performance.
  • Precipitation. Precipitation can be a more dangerous type of weather condition, affecting visibility distance, pavement friction, roadway capacity, accident risk, travel speed, traffic, traction, and more. If water accumulates, water level can also affect safety and accident risk.
  • Fog. The biggest risk of fog is that it can negatively impact visibility. However, in addition to visibility, fog can also impact traffic speed, driver capabilities and behavior, and accident risk.
  • Road temperature. When we think of risky weather, the above types are the most common that come to mind, but pavement temperatures can cause infrastructure damage that increases the chances of a crash and should not be overlooked as a potential risk.

The same source cited above also stated that on average, about 22 percent of crashes (of all motor vehicles, not just commercial trucks) are weather-related. Further, there are about 6,000 people killed in weather-related crashes every year.

Another study published by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration analyzed causation factors for large truck crashes that occurred throughout the country over a period of approximately 2.5 years. Of the crashes recorded, investigation shows that nearly 5 percent of large truck crashes were caused by environmental factors, including adverse weather conditions.

Is Weather Always to Blame?

The statistics above show that weather can certainly increase the risk of a crash, and that commercial trucks may be harder to navigate when adverse weather conditions are present. Furthermore, one can assume that there are likely times when poor weather is the direct cause of an accident, and that drivers involved have little control or influence over an accident’s occurrence.

But bad weather does not mean that a crash is inevitable. In fact, when bad weather strikes, the thing that causes an accident is almost always the actions of the driver of the motor vehicle involved, not the weather itself. When adverse weather conditions are present, drivers are tasked with the duty of operating commercial vehicles with a heightened sense of care, which may mean slowing speeds, taking an alternate route, taking turns with more caution, or even ceasing operation until adverse weather conditions clear.

Working with an Experienced Truck Accident Lawyer in Alabama after a Crash

If you have been involved in an accident with a commercial while driving in adverse weather conditions, you may be wondering whether or not you can bring a claim against the trucking company, or if weather–an uncontrollable phenomenon–was to blame. While it is true that weather can increase the risk of a crash and make vehicles more difficult to control, if a truck driver acted negligently, such as driving at a speed that was unsafe for conditions, you still have a cause of action and a right to recover damages.

To learn more about how to bring forth a claim and recover damages for your harm, or the harm of a loved one, after a commercial truck crash, contact our Montgomery truck accident lawyers at the law offices of McPhillips Shinbaum, LLP for a free consultation today. We can be reached at (334) 262-1911 or through our website contact form.

 

school injury

What To Do if Your Child is Injured at School in Alabama

As parents, when you send your children to school each morning, you’d rather not have to worry about their health and safety throughout the day. Unfortunately, school accidents and injuries are a serious problem in Alabama and throughout the country.

While the types of injuries that an elementary school student is exposed to could differ from those of a high school student, the truth is that all children who attend school are at risk when they walk into a school or participate in school-sponsored activities.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reports that as many as 80% of elementary school students who visit the school nurse do so because of an injury. While some accidents can’t be avoided, others on school property are caused by unsafe conditions or the negligent behavior of another student or staff member. Unfortunately, legal liability in these cases can be complicated.

Types of School-Related Accidents

From the time your child boards the school bus in the morning until they get home in the afternoon, they could be exposed to a wide variety of hazards that could result in serious injury. As a general rule, your child’s school and the governing school board has a responsibility to keep children reasonably safe from harm. Sometimes they fail in that duty, and some of the most common school-related accidents and injuries include:

  • School bus or other school-sponsored transportation accidents
  • Food poisoning
  • Exposure to hazardous chemicals
  • Slip and fall injuries
  • Injury from defective products such as toys or playground equipment
  • Sports injuries
  • Assault by other children or an adult

In some of these cases, the accident or injury happens due to the careless or negligent acts of another party. When a child suffers harm, you have the right to ask those responsible to pay for damages.

Liability Issues in Alabama School Injury Cases

As with any personal injury lawsuit, you will need to prove negligence by showing several facts. First, you must show that the school owed a duty of care to your child. Second, you must prove that the school breached that duty of care. Finally, you’ll need to show that the breach of duty either caused or contributed to your child’s injuries.

When it comes to school activities, many accident and injury cases deal with the school’s failure to adequately supervise children. Lack of supervision can lead to playground accidents, bullying injuries, illness from unsanitary conditions, and injuries from slip and falls. These are just a few examples of the ways that a child can experience an injury on school grounds.

Who is Responsible When Your Child is Injured in an Alabama School?

If your child was injured while on school grounds or while they were participating in a school-sponsored activity, determining who is responsible for that harm can be a challenge. Because the school district has a duty to provide a safe and secure environment for your child, this is a primary consideration for any personal injury case. For example, a school bus accident could be the fault of another driver, but it’s also possible that there were some safety issues with the school bus that contributed to injuries.

The primary barrier to most school-related lawsuits involves a protection called “sovereign immunity.” Provided your child’s school is a public school, there are laws in place that give government entities immunity from lawsuits except under certain conditions. Fortunately, all states have waived this rule when the negligence of the school district and/or one of its employees causes or contributes to the injury of a student.

Before you can file a lawsuit against a school district or its employees, the state requires that you meet certain requirements and follow some specific procedures. Failing to do either could bar your claim for recovery. There are also time limits in place to file a claim for damages against a school district.

Speak with One of Our Child Injury Attorneys in Alabama

When a child suffers from an injury, a parent’s first instinct is to fight back against those responsible for the harm. Unfortunately, school-related injuries and accidents can be complex legal matters. Having a qualified and experienced child injury attorney in your corner will give you the best chance of uncovering the responsible parties and seeing justice served. Contact the Montgomery, Alabama office of McPhillips Shinbaum, LLP today at 334.262.1911 or online to arrange a free consultation.

whiplash injury

Whiplash – How it Happens and How to Care for It

Whiplash is one of the most common types of car accident injuries. Millions of whiplash injuries happen in the U.S. each year, and as many as 40% of those injured will struggle with chronic pain for the rest of their lives. If you or someone you love has suffered a neck injury, it’s vital that you understand how whiplash happens and what you can expect as you recover from this devastating event.

How Whiplash Happens

Most whiplash injuries occur when a person is rear-ended in an auto accident, but they can also happen with sports injuries and dangerous slip and falls. The most common sequence of a car crash whiplash injury is as follows:

  • Your car is struck from behind.The driver and passenger seats in your vehicle get forcefully pushed against the spinal column, which forces the spinal column up into the cervical spine.
  • Your torso moves forward while your spine remains stationary.As the body’s torso is pushed away from the car seat towards the front of the vehicle, the head remains in place. The creates an unnatural s-curve in the cervical spine, which can compress joints, discs, and other parts of the neck.
  • Your head hits the seat.As the torso moves in a forward motion, the head accelerates violently back into the seat. This can lead to additional soft tissue injuries in the neck.
  • The head bounces off of the seat.There is a secondary bounce as the head is thrust forward violently. The seatbelt, while a lifesaving device, can add to the injury as it holds the torso in place while the head whips forward, causing whiplash.

The Symptoms of Whiplash

A common misconception about whiplash injuries is that they only result from high-speed crashes. This isn’t the case. Even a low-speed rear-end collision can cause a life-altering whiplash injury to the driver and their passengers. While your car might be designed to sustain certain impact forces, the human body is not. Symptoms of whiplash can vary, but the most common signs of whiplash include:

  • Neck and upper back pain
  • Spasms and tightness in neck and upper back muscles
  • Headache, dizziness, and pain with neck movement
  • Shoulder pain
  • Difficulty swallowing or chewing
  • Burning, tingling, or other abnormal sensations in the neck
  • Concentration and memory problems

These symptoms, including neck pain, could begin immediately after the accident or may not start for days or weeks later. The adrenaline released during a traumatic accident can leave victims believing that they are unharmed when the reality is something different.

Diagnosing and Treating Whiplash

Whether you are unsure about a whiplash injury or just have mild neck pain, you should be examined by a physician as soon as possible. Tests such as X-rays, an MRI, or CT scan may be done to rule out fractures, ligament injury, and herniated discs.

Most whiplash injuries are conservatively treated with a combination of rest, medication, physical therapy, and chiropractic manipulation. More severe cases of whiplash may require additional treatment that includes trigger point injections and even an evaluation with a spinal surgeon.

How Whiplash Can Impact Your Life

The Journal of Chiropractic Medicine reports that whiplash injuries alone cost about $2.7 billion each year. What this enormous figure doesn’t illustrate clearly enough is the personal cost to whiplash victims and their families.

With the right treatment, about half of the people who suffer from whiplash can fully recover in just a few weeks or months. Others may require additional medical care and time away from work. In some cases, there is permanent damage, a need for surgery, and significant impact on quality of life. If your whiplash injury was the fault of another party, seeking fair compensation for your losses is important.

Get Help With a Whiplash Personal Injury Claim

If you or a loved one are suffering from a whiplash injury resulting from a car accident or other incident, you have the right to seek fair compensation if another party was responsible for your injuries. The experienced personal injury attorneys at McPhillips Shinbaum, LLP will offer a free evaluation of your case and will clearly explain your legal options. Contact our Montgomery, Alabama office now at 334.262.1911 or online to schedule a consultation.