205-391-0618

Practice Areas

Monthly Archives: August 2014

Fatal Truck Crash Reportedly Caused by Fatigued Driver

Aug 25, 2014 - Birmingham by

A truck driver’s lack of sleep is blamed for a crash that critically injured comedian Tracy Morgan and killed another comedian in New Jersey. Authorities say the 35-year-old Georgia driver hadn’t slept for 24 hours before the crash, which occurred when he failed to stop for slowed traffic on the highway. Federal law limits driving to 11 hours in a 14-hour period, followed by 10 hours of rest, although the driver’s employer, Wal-Mart, insists he was operating within those guidelines. The truck was equipped with safety systems designed to slow the rig’s speed and notify the driver of stopped traffic ahead, but it’s unclear whether the technology was activated or that the system was operational at the time of the crash. Birmingham truck accident attorneys recognize that while this case is under investigation, truck driver fatigue continues to be a serious ongoing problem throughout the country despite recent legislation. Every year, truck crashes kill more than 5,000 people and injure nearly 150,000. And yet, just days before that deadly crash, the Senate Appropriations Committee moved to weaken safety rules pertaining to truck standards. Last summer, officials passed a number of “restart” regulations requiring truckers to rest for at least 34 straight hours from 1 a.m. to 5 a.m., prior to their next work week. The primary goal was to reduce the amount of driver fatigue. The new rules also limited the maximum work week from a maximum of 82 hours down to 70 hours, and drivers were also mandated to […]

Read More

Volcano Enterprises, Inc. v. Rush – Alabama Supreme Court Rules on DUI Death Lawsuit

Aug 25, 2014 - Birmingham by

Plaintiffs in Alabama personal injury cases should take care to exhaust every means of serving defendants notification of a complaint before proceeding with service by publication. That’s the lesson gleaned in Volcano Enterprises, Inc. v. Rush, recently decided by the Alabama Supreme Court. The decision effectively vacates an earlier award of $37 million in favor of a family whose choir minister husband/father was killed by a drunk, off-duty Birmingham police officer in 2009. Birmingham DUI injury lawyers know the officer received 12 years in prison on a charge of reckless manslaughter, and was also ordered to pay $3 million in civil damages. The criminal court additionally ordered him to pay $43,000 in restitution. The $37 million liability claim was against the strip club that had served alcohol that night to a patron whom plaintiffs allege was already visibly impaired by the time he arrived. He had reportedly consumed hard liquor in his vehicle while waiting for a friend to show up after their shift. Birmingham DUI injury lawyers know the officer received 12 years in prison on a charge of reckless manslaughter, and was also ordered to pay $3 million in civil damages. The criminal court additionally ordered him to pay $43,000 in restitution. The $37 million liability claim was against the strip club that had served alcohol that night to a patron whom plaintiffs allege was already visibly impaired by the time he arrived. He had reportedly consumed hard liquor in his vehicle while waiting for a friend to […]

Read More

Harris v. FedEx – Truck Crash Injury Case Intersects With Employment Law

Aug 12, 2014 - Truck Accidents by

Our Birmingham truck accident lawyers recognize that many of these cases involve claims brought against the driver’s employer, usually for negligent training, negligent supervision, and violations of various standards set forth by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. These theories of liability ensure that trucking agencies will be held accountable when they hire drivers who aren’t qualified, don’t properly supervise them on the road, encourage overloaded vehicles, or push for drivers to work long, uninterrupted shifts to make delivery deadlines. All of these are often cited as contributing factors in tractor-trailer crashes. Since we are dealing with the responsibilities of an employer, employment law sometimes intersects with injury law in these cases. Usually, in order for an employer to be held accountable for a trucker’s negligent actions, it must first be established that an employer-employee relationship existed. In some instances, this is a straightforward matter. However, larger firms routinely contract with various trucking agencies to provide delivery services, and this can complicate matters where the injury case is concerned.   The recent case of Harris, et al. v. FedEx National LTL, Inc. is a prime example. This appeal stemmed from an earlier summary judgment in favor of FedEx, the firm that the plaintiff alleged was responsible for injuries sustained when a driver hauling FedEx goods slammed into them on a highway in Missouri. The 2/?p=1007 crash occurred when the commercial truck driver lost control of his rig on the interstate, resulting in the tractor-trailer blocking both lanes of the highway. Another driver […]

Read More

Alabama Head Injury Lawsuits to be Filed in Wake of NCAA Settlement

Aug 9, 2014 - Personal Injury by

Usually, injury settlements end current and future litigation for the parties involved. However, the recent settlement reached with the NCAA over student athlete head injuries opens the door for more lawsuits to be filed. Our  brain injury lawyers understand the $75 million agreement will allow money to be used by current and former athletes to receive medical testing and monitoring for suspected head injuries. Those who suffered head trauma as a result of participation in sports will have the opportunity to file their own individual lawsuits. Of the settlement amount, $5 million will be dedicated to head injury research. The settlement was reached in the class action of In Re: National Collegiate Athletic Association Student-Athlete Concussion Litigation in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division. It also requires the NCAA to instruct schools to make changes to athletic program policies, specifically by implementing guidelines on “return-to-play” for athletes who have suffered a blow to the head.   As of February, AL.com counted the number of former college athletes suing the NCAA over the way it handled concussions at 65. The litigation followed after a similar case of 4,800 professional football players who successfully sued the National Football League on similar grounds. Of those 65 players, one was from Alabama. It was former Alabama running back Ray Hudson, who played from 2001 to 2004. Now 34, he says he was diagnosed with two concussions but believes he suffered more. He said he was forced to drop […]

Read More

Multiple Occurrences in Auto Insurance Claims

Aug 5, 2014 - Car Accidents by

As with almost all liability insurance policies, auto insurance policies contain provisions that limit liability. This provides a maximum amount that can be provided in case of a single “accident” or “occurrence.” Some of these policies indicate a per-person cap on damages awarded for bodily injury resulting from “each occurrence.” This seems like a fairly straightforward concept. However, our Tuscaloosa car accident attorneys recognize there are circumstances, particularly when multiple plaintiffs or vehicles are involved, where it can be claimed the injuries arose out of multiple occurrences. This is true even when the primary catalyst for a multi-vehicle crash was the negligence of a single driver. That may have been the “trigger,” but subsequent wrecks could potentially be considered separate “occurrences” for insurance purposes. Typically, the question of whether there have been multiple occurrences is a matter of law, to be decided by the court in advance of a trial. In most cases, the determination of the number of occurrences involves the court weighing whether there was repeated or continuous exposure to certain conditions. The reason this determination matters so much is because a determination of multiple occurrences will ultimately mean larger damages awards for each individual plaintiff. If a liability limit allows for up to $50,000 per accident and the court finds there was only one accident, $50,000 will be the most that the plaintiffs could collectively receive. However, if the court finds there were multiple occurrences, the plaintiffs could be entitled to receive $50,000 each. Insurers have tried […]

Read More

Brouwer v. Sisters of Charity Providence – Common Knowledge Exception to Expert Witness Requirement

Aug 3, 2014 - Medical Malpractice by

In most medical malpractice actions, expert testimony is essential for the plaintiff as a precursor to submission of a claim to a jury for determination on the merits. Absent the testimony of an expert witness on behalf of the plaintiff, most judges won’t allow the medical malpractice case to move forward. Tuscaloosa medical malpractice lawyers recognize one major exception:  the common knowledge challenge. This rule holds that even though there is a general prerequisite for expert testimony to establish the standard of care and its breach in malpractice cases, this kind of expert testimony isn’t required when the subject of the substandard conduct is within the common knowledge of persons who aren’t medically trained. In other words, it’s fully comprehensible to ordinary, non-medical members of the public. An example might be a dentist who takes out the wrong tooth or a surgeon who accidentally leaves an instrument inside a patient’s body. These cases would be relatively straightforward. Still, the expression “common knowledge” makes the whole process sound less challenging than is the reality. Expert medical witnesses are costly, and it can sometimes be difficult to find one who is both qualified and willing. It’s important not to spend time and money at the early stages if it isn’t necessary. However, there is a general lack of consensus among courts as to what qualifies as “common knowledge,” leaving the interpretation sometimes open, and varying from judge to judge or court to court. One Tennessee appellate court judge was quoted in 1978 […]

Read More

Gregory v. Cott – Alzheimer Patient Aggression and Rights to Sue

Aug 1, 2014 - Nursing Home Neglect by

One of the worst parts about the disease of Alzheimer’s is that it transforms the sufferer into a shell of his or her former self. Behaviors in which they might never have engaged previously now become commonplace as a side effect of the disease. Unfortunately, one of the most commonly-cited behaviors among patients is aggression. Stemming often from fear, confusion, or an unexpected change in routine, Alzheimer’s and other dementia patients have been known to lash out by kicking, biting, scratching, hitting, punching, and flailing. What the California Supreme Court recently ruled in its 5-2 decision in Gregory v. Cott was that in-home caregivers who agree to provide care for these individuals are not entitled to sue them, their loved ones, or their estate for injuries inflicted by a patient. The reasoning was that those hired specifically to assist these disabled persons can’t sue when they encounter a hazardous condition they are paid to confront. (The same reasoning had already been applied to nursing home staffers encountering such conditions.) However, our Birmingham nursing home abuse lawyers know that, by this logic, a patient in a nursing home setting should expect to be protected against other patients who display aggression. This is because, unlike dementia sufferers, nursing home administrators are fully aware and cognizant of the risk posed by certain patients. They also, armed with this knowledge, have a duty to protect patients from potential harm. That means facilities have a duty to recognize and address aggressive behaviors in residents. That […]

Read More

Hear What Our Clients Have To Say

"I highly recommend Cross & Smith. They are an excellent law firm with attorneys who care greatly about the individuals they are representing. "