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Monthly Archives: August 2012

Tuscaloosa School Bus Safety an Important Back-to-School Lesson

Aug 31, 2012 - Bus Accidents by

Schools are back in session across Alabama this week — and that means a return of big yellow school buses to a road near you. Tuscaloosa school bus accidents are often the result of impatient motorists. A large number of accidents are also pedestrian accidents that occur near a bus stop or in residential areas where students are walking to meet the bus. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that there were more than 363,000 fatal school-transportation accidents in the last decade. Alabama’s School Bus Stop Law was updated in 2006. The law requires a vehicle overtaking a bus from either direction to stop when the bus is stopped to pick up or drop off children. Drivers on a divided highway need not stop when traveling in the opposite direction. A first offense is punishable by a $400 fine. A second violation can result in a driver’s license suspension and 100 hours of community service.

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Distracted Truckers: State and Federal Regulations Aim to Avoid Accidents

Aug 29, 2012 - Truck Accidents by

Alabama’s law against texting while driving took effect this month. However, many motorists are unaware that for several years, interstate commercial drivers have already been banned from texting while driving under federal law. In 2010, the U.S. Department of Transportation passed a rule forbidding commercial truck and bus drivers from text messaging behind the wheel. “Our regulations will help prevent unsafe activity within the cab, and we want to make it crystal clear that texting is one of those unsafe activities these regulations prohibit,” Administrator Anne Ferro said at the time. Researchers at Virginia Tech found truck drivers who text message put themselves at 23 times greater risk for an accident or near-accident. This year, USDOT outlawed all hand-held phone use by drivers with a measure that took effect Jan. 3. Drivers face a fine of up to $2,750 and may face suspension of their commercial driver’s license for subsequent offenses. Commercial trucking and busing companies face a maximum penalty of $11,000. Some 4 million drivers nationwide are subject to the federal ban.

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Alabama Work Accidents, Workers’ Compensation & Third-Party Liability

Aug 24, 2012 - Workers' Compensation/Work Injury by

Our Tuscaloosa workers’ compensation lawyers are often ask by people injured on the job about the avenues for collecting compensation for medical bills, lost wages and other damages. Sometimes, a victim wishes to sue an employer or former employer, which is generally not possible. Others believe workers’ compensation is the only avenue of recovery available, which is also incorrect. Workers’ compensation insurance is carried by your employer and is designed to compensate those who become injured on the job, regardless of fault. In what’s known as the “compensation bargain,” your coverage under workers’ compensation laws means you forfeit your right to sue for the tort of negligence. However, that does not mean that workers’ compensation is an injured employee’s only avenue of compensation. A third-party liability claim may be filed against a party other than the victim’s employer in cases where negligence led to an accident.

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Trucking Accidents Caused by Drivers Under the Influence in Alabama

Aug 23, 2012 - Truck Accidents by

Fleet Owner recently reported only 2 percent of trucking accidents are caused by drunk drivers. And it’s true. Data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration shows only 2 percent of truckers involved in fatal accidents have a blood-alcohol level above the legal limit of .08, compared to 23 percent for passenger cars, 22 percent for light trucks and 28 percent for motorcycles. However, our Tuscaloosa trucking accident attorneys understand statistics in this case can be misleading for several reasons. First and foremost, you don’t have to have a BAC level of .08 to be considered drunk behind the wheel of a commercial vehicle. Many states have laws that consider a truck driver drunk with a BAC level as low as .02 or .04. In Alabama, the law is .04, half the legal limit of .08 for other motorists.

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Trucking Accident Claims Depend Upon Properly Identifying Responsible Parties: D.P. Holmes Trucking LLC v. Butler

Aug 17, 2012 - Truck Accidents by

One of the most complex aspects of a serious or fatal Alabama tractor-trailer accident is identifying the responsible parties and determining who to pursue for damages. A truck driver, trucking company, truck leasing corporation, truck maintenance contractor and even the owner of a truck’s freight or the manufacturer of a rig may share blame for a serious or fatal accident. Thus, properly identifying at-fault parties is critical when filing your lawsuit. In D.P. Holmes Trucking LLC v. Butler, the Mississippi Supreme Court examined whether a circuit court erred in allowing the plaintiff to amend his personal injury lawsuit to include Holmes Trucking. While Mississippi state law is not directly relevant in Alabama, such court decisions could still be looked at when establishing legal precedent in a negligent injury claim involving a trucking accident. This case involved a 2006 personal injury claim filed by Lester Butler against David Holmes and John Does 1-5. Butler was later granted permission to amend the complaint to include Holmes Trucking. However, the lawsuit language substituted Holmes Trucking for Holmes. Butler later filed a second amendment to properly identify Holmes Trucking, without permission of either the court or Holmes Trucking. The trucking company promptly moved for a motion to dismiss or summary judgement. After the court ruled against the company, finding the amendment simply corrected a “misnomer” in the original lawsuit’s language, the trucking company filed notice of interlocutory appeal, requesting the state’s Supreme Court grant a dismissal with prejudice.

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ADOT Has Bus Safety in Focus this August

Aug 15, 2012 - Bus Accidents by

The Alabama Department of Public Safety will be conducting passenger-carrier safety inspections this week as part of the National Passenger Carrier Strike Force Initiative. The Huntsville Times reported the national initiative sponsored by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration runs though Aug. 27. Whether you are choosing a motor coach for summer vacation, or teaching your child school bus safety, Alabama bus accident attorneys understand fall is a dangerous time for accidents involving passenger carrier vehicles. Several high-profile bus accidents recently, including two fatal accidents this month in Illinois, have the safety of discount passenger carriers making news once again. The rise of discount carriers has increased the risk of busing accidents. Many of these operators save on overhead by offering curbside pickup, rather than providing terminals for passengers. However, the National Transportation Safety Board reports these curbside companies have an accident rate 7 times higher than traditional terminal carriers.

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Alabama Tractor-Trailer Accidents and Hour-of-Service Limits

Aug 13, 2012 - Truck Accidents by

Road Safe America and other traffic safety advocates are pushing The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to adopt hours-of-service regulations for truckers similar to those in place for airline pilots. “Truck drivers don’t have co-pilots, don’t have auto-pilot and must stay especially alert whenever driving since they share the public thoroughfares with the motoring public,” said RSA President Steve Owings. The Owings family lost their son in a trucking accident. New limits for pilots have been set at 8 or 9 daily hours of flying. In comparison, the feds reduced the number of trucking hours some drivers can log each day from 11 hours to 10. The revised rules were trumpeted as increased enforcement after a relaxation of old rules passed under the Administration of George W. Bush.

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Alabama Travel Breakdown: Stay Alert, Stay Safe

Aug 9, 2012 - Car Accidents by

Our Tuscaloosa personal injury attorneys understand the dangers that motorists face in the wake of a breakdown, or when they run out of gas. The side of the road, with traffic flying by, poses serious risks. And the fact of the matter is that these secondary accidents are quite common. There are things you do in the event of a breakdown to help avoid such secondary collisions. It can happen to any of us — an accident, a breakdown or running out of gas. Whatever the reason may be, it’s dangerous to pull over. You want to make sure that you pull your vehicle as far off of the road as possible. Flip on your car’s hazard lights, particularly if your vehicle is causing an obstruction to passing motorists. There are shoulders on the side of the road. They’re there to help motorists in a bind. Only use these areas in an emergency. Your best bet is to drive to a safe place before stopping, if you can.

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ATV Accidents in Alabama are a Summer Risk

Aug 6, 2012 - ATV/SUV Rollover Accidents by

ATV accidents in Alabama are a summer risk. Our personal injury attorneys understand that there are ATVs all over this state during this time of the year. We typically see more ATV accidents during this time of the year because kids are out of school and many residents are out enjoying summer vacations. Both parties are likely to hop on their ATV and head out. With more riders there are more risks for accidents. The problem is a little more serious than some might think. As a matter of fact, there were more than 780 people who died in ATV accidents across the country in 2009. According to ATVSafety.gov, another 132,000 people were injured in these kinds of accidents. The state of Alabama sees its fair share of riding accidents, particularly during summer and fall months. There were more than 50 ATV accident fatalities reported in the state from 2/?p=1007 to 2009.

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Trucker Shortage Increasing Accident Risks in Alabama

Aug 1, 2012 - Truck Accidents by

A shortage of truckers could be increasing your risk for an accident on Alabama roads. The Truckload Carriers Association estimates there are as many as 200,000 long-haul trucker job openings nationwide. And the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics expects more than 330,000 new trucking jobs by 2020. That’s a 20 percent increase on top of the 1.5 million commercial truck drivers already on the nation’s roads. The median annual wage for a trucker is just under $38,000 — the top 10 percent of drivers make more than $58,000 annually. Alabama trucking accident attorneys know there are a number of hurdles to reducing the risk of tractor-trailer accidents. CNN Money reports hurdles in the certification process contribute to the shortage. Still, a licensed driver can take an 8-week course at a cost of about $6,000 and graduate with all the skills the law requires to drive a big rig up and down the nation’s highways. Drivers can spend 7 days a week on the road, often living in the cramped quarters of a truck cab, for weeks at a time.

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