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What is the Discovery Rule in Alabama?

Feb 28, 2020 - Personal Injury by

Tuscaloosa Injury Attorney Helping You When You Need it Most In Alabama — as in other jurisdictions — personal injury claims are subject to a statute of limitations period.  The statute of limitations sets a “deadline” by which the claim must be brought.  If the limitations deadline passes, then the claim cannot be pursued in an Alabama court of law (absent various exceptions). If you have suffered injuries caused by another’s negligence or intentional misconduct, then you may have an actionable claim for damages — but bringing a claim isn’t always as straightforward as one might think.  In many cases, an injury might be suffered where the plaintiff doesn’t realize (at first) that they are entitled to pursue a lawsuit.  They might not know that their injuries were caused by someone else. For example, if your car spins out of control and slams a tree, you might think it was your own mistake that caused the accident.  Further investigation could reveal that the steering wheel was faulty, however, thus giving rise to a claim against the auto manufacturer. The discovery rule works by extending the applicable statute of limitations period.  It suspends the running of the limitations period until the date that the defendant discovers that they have suffered a legally actionable injury. Let’s take a closer look at the rule and its inner workings. Basics of Alabama’s Discovery Rule The basic statute of limitations in Alabama for personal injury claims is two years from the date of injury.  This […]

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Sidewalk Trip and Fall Lawsuits: A Look at the De Minimis Rule

Jan 31, 2020 - Personal Injury by

If you have tripped and injured yourself while walking on a sidewalk in Alabama, the law may entitle you to bring a claim against the landowner for damages.  It’s worth noting, however, that such claims may be difficult to prove, as certain defenses, such as the application of the de minimis rule, can prevent a lawsuit entirely. Still it is not impossible to succeed, particularly when you have the help of a skilled Tuscaloosa trip and fall attorney. Understanding these barriers to recovery is necessary for an effective lawsuit.  Let’s take a closer look. What is the De Minimis Rule? The de minimis rule works to prevent a lawsuit against a public and private defendant in which some central aspect of the case does not meet some minimum level of significant necessary to justify the action.  For example, if you cut your finger in a bike accident, that might be considered an “injury” in technical terms, but the severity of the injury is so minimal that a court is unlikely to deem the claim actionable.  De minimis is therefore best conceptualized as a barrier to an actionable claim. The De Minimis Rule and Sidewalks In Alabama and other jurisdictions, the de minimis rule applies to sidewalks, and more specifically, to trip and fall cases involving said sidewalks.  Though the relevant landowners (i.e., municipalities, private landowners, etc.) have a responsibility to maintain sidewalks in a reasonably safe condition, the law does not impose a duty to keep sidewalks in a perfect […]

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Potential Defendants in an Alabama Car Accident Lawsuit

Dec 31, 2019 - Car Accidents by

For many first-time plaintiffs, the prospect of car accident litigation may seem quite straightforward.  In truth, however, it may the case that the defendant-driver is not the only one responsible for the injuries at issue.  The dispute could grow in complexity due to the presence of multiple liable defendants. In Alabama, this increased complexity is associated with a significant advantage: joint and several liability.  Stated in simple terms, joint and several liability allows the plaintiff to sue and recover their damages (in full) from any of the defendants, regardless of their specific level of fault. For example, suppose that you are injured in a car accident and the court finds that the defendant-driver is 50 percent at-fault, and that the city government is 50 percent at-fault (for failing to properly maintain the traffic lights).  You would be entitled to recover all 100 percent of your damages from either party, which can be extremely beneficial in situations where one or more of the defendants lack adequate insurance coverage. Plaintiffs often do not realize that there are a number of potential defendants they could hold responsible in a car accident lawsuit.  Consider the following. Drivers in Tuscaloosa and Elsewhere in Alabama Drivers are the obvious defendants in a car accident lawsuit, and for good reason.  It’s worth noting that multiple drivers could be responsible for your injuries, however.  In multi-car pileup scenarios, there could be several negligent drivers whose actions contributed substantially to the suffered harm.  Splitting liability among multiple drivers is […]

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5 Roadway Hazards That Can Contribute to a Car Accident

Nov 29, 2019 - Car Accidents by

Car accidents — in Alabama and elsewhere — can be caused by a variety of factors, from negligent drivers to roadway defects.  If you’ve been seriously injured in a car accident, then securing maximum compensation for the losses you suffered will require that you comprehensively evaluate the various avenues for recovery.  In many car accident disputes, the individual or entity who controls the roadway (and adjacent property) may be significantly responsible for the harm caused. Contact a Tuscaloosa car accident attorney today to discuss your options. As you explore the prospect of car accident litigation, let’s take a brief look at five common roadway hazards that can contribute to the occurrence of a car accident.  Consider the following. Poor Visibility Poor visibility is among the most significant factors contributing to car accidents.  There are a range of situations that can create poor visibility conditions: inadequate street lighting, objects that block the field-of-view of drivers (and have not been cleared by the defendant), or even sharp distinctions on the vertical or horizontal plane that interfere with the ability of drivers to spot incoming traffic. Physical Hazards Physical road hazards, such as construction barriers that have been misplaced, or large potholes, can create a significant risk of harm for drivers on the roadway.  If a driver suddenly tracks their tires across a pothole, that tire-road contact can cause damage to one’s drivetrain and suspension systems and may even penetrate the tires.  In extreme scenarios, a pothole can cause the driver to lose […]

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Does the Existence of a Warning Sign Affect My Slip and Fall Claim?

Oct 31, 2019 - Personal Injury by

Experienced Injury Attorney in Tuscaloosa, AL If you’ve been injured in a slip and fall accident on another’s property, then you may be entitled to significant compensation under Alabama law.  In Alabama, premises liability law gives injured persons the right to sue and recover damages in cases where they have been unreasonably exposed to a property hazard, and subsequently harmed. In some instances, however, the property owner may have installed a warning sign that alerted you (and other entrants) as to the hazard at-issue.  How does that influence your ability to bring a successful action for damages? Property Owner Liability Property owners have a duty to maintain a reasonable safe premises for entrants.  If they fail to do so (either by failing to inspect the property to identify dangerous conditions, or by failing to correct those dangerous conditions once discovered), then they can be held liable. It’s worth noting that property owners are given other options under Alabama law.  Rather than correct the dangerous condition, they can put up a sign warning premises entrants of the dangerous condition.  That way, premises entrants have an opportunity to avoid the risky area, or to exercise additional caution when traversing the property. Shifting Responsibility Through Warning Signs In premises liability disputes, obviousness is a critical issue.  If the dangerous condition (that caused the injury) was known or obvious to the plaintiff, then they cannot bring a successful action for damages.  The existence of a warning sign serves as “notice” in the sense that […]

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Personal Injury Plaintiffs Should Be Aware of the Statute of Limitations

Sep 30, 2019 - Personal Injury by

If you have been injured in an accident due to the fault of another, you may be entitled to compensation under the law.  Many plaintiffs focus on their medical care (and rightfully so, as medical care should be a priority), but do not necessarily seek legal assistance until it’s too late.  Waiting too long to consult an attorney and bring an action against the liable defendants could have a significant impact on your ability to recover damages for your claims. Let’s take a closer look. Basic Principles Throughout the United States — every jurisdiction — personal injury claims are subject to different statute of limitations deadlines.  In Alabama, for example, the statute of limitations for most personal injury claims is two years from the date of the accident. Statutes of limitations are meant to give the defendant a bit of breathing room, so that a plaintiff cannot hassle them with claims too far into the future (there is, of course, also the issue of gathering evidence when a claim is filed at a significantly later date). As the plaintiff, if you do not follow proper procedure and file your claims before the statute of limitations deadline passes, then the court will automatically dismiss the claims, leaving you without an opportunity to secure compensation through the litigation. The Discovery Rule Fortunately, even if you think you’re late in filing your claims, exceptions may apply.  The discovery rule is perhaps the most significant exception to the application of the statute of limitations […]

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Suing a Property Owner in a Motor Vehicle Accident Case

Aug 30, 2019 - Car Accidents by

Experienced Injury Attorney in Tuscaloosa, AL If you’ve been injured in a motor vehicle accident in Alabama, then you may be entitled to bring a right of action for damages against the liable parties.  As you consider the prospect of litigation, it’s important that you identify and sue every potentially responsible defendant.  Most motor vehicle accident plaintiffs do not realize that they might actually have a legitimate claim for damages against multiple third-party defendants — not just the negligent driver. For example, if you are injured in an accident due to a defective traffic light, then you would likely have a claim against the City for damages, as the City (who is responsible for maintaining the traffic light in a reasonably safe condition) failed to properly inspect the traffic light, to discover the defect, and to repair it in a timely manner, leading to the accident. As in the above example, it is not uncommon for motor vehicle accident plaintiffs to find that a third-party property owner — such as the City, State, a school district, or even a private landowner — negligently contributed to their injuries.  These disputes do not necessarily proceed in the same way as more “standard” motor vehicle accident litigation, as the legal basis for the action against the property owner defendant is fundamentally different. Here at Cross & Smith, our team has extensive experience working with injured plaintiffs in Alabama.  Over the years, we have gained key insights necessary for investigating complex facts, identifying all […]

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Liability Insurers Are Not Your Allies

Jul 31, 2019 - Car Accidents by

Insurers generally present themselves as good faith actors who provide a generous service to their customers — the policyholders — and while comprehensive liability insurance coverage is a valuable protection in the event that you have suffered harm in an accident, it’s important to remember that the insurance company is a profit-oriented business. Insurers are not driven to provide financial compensation merely out of kindness.  If and when they can avoid their duties under contract (to the extent that it will benefit them), they will do so.  This can all come as a nasty surprise to policyholders who are seeing their claims being mishandled firsthand by their insurer — before the accident, they might have reasonably relied on their insurance coverage to payout for their losses, only to discover that engaging with the insurer is not as straightforward as initially anticipated. For clarity, let’s dive into this issue a bit more in-depth. Insurer Interests Oppose Those of Policyholders The foundational issue that drives an insurer’s adverse decisions is the fact that the insurance company gains an advantage when their policyholder fails to secure the payout to which they’re entitled by their coverage.  The insurance company’s bottom-line is benefited substantially when a policyholder with a legitimate claim is denied or has that claim undervalued, or simply chooses not to submit the claim to the insurer. Given this dynamic, insurer misconduct and underhandedness in the wake of an accident is not particularly surprising — if an insurance agent contacts you after an […]

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What Happens if You Delay Seeking Medical Assistance for Your Injury?

Jun 30, 2019 - Personal Injury by

If you’ve been injured in an accident due to the fault of another party, then you may be entitled to compensation under Alabama law, but your first priority should be recovering from your injuries — it’s critical that you seek out the medical care you need in a timely manner.  Failure to do so could cause a number of problems for you in subsequent litigation. Let’s explore the issues. Painting Your Injuries as Minor Even if you have injuries that do not require “immediate” medical care, and are not worsened by a small delay, the fact that you waited before seeing a healthcare professional could be used by the defendant to paint you as irresponsible, and more importantly, to paint your injuries as relatively minor.  By doing so, the defendant would be attempting to undermine your claim and reduce the overall damages to which you’re entitled. Contributory Negligence If you delay seeking medical assistance, then the defendant may argue that your injuries (and the impairments and losses associated with such injuries) were caused or enhanced by the delay, and naturally, this gives rise to an assertion of contributory negligence. Alabama is one of only a few states that completely prohibits recovery if the plaintiff is even partially at-fault for their own injuries.  As such, you could be put in “dire straits” if you have contributed to your own injuries by failing to secure medical care in a timely manner. Suppose, for example, that you fracture your arm in a motorcycle […]

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Product Defect Claims Based on Breach of an Express Warranty

May 31, 2019 - Personal Injury by

Hire an Experienced Injury Attorney in Tuscaloosa, AL Today Breach of warranty disputes can be somewhat confusing for first-time plaintiffs who are just getting a handle on personal injury and product defect law.  In Alabama, as is the case in most other states, the breach of an express product warranty can give rise to a claim for significant damages, depending on the circumstances. What would be considered a breach of an express warranty case? Suppose that you are injured while using a ladder.  The ladder is rated to handle a certain amount of weight.  Though this is not listed specifically as a “warranty” on the box, it suffices as a guarantee equivalent to an express warranty.  Later, you use the ladder while removing heavy materials from the roof of your house.  Despite the fact that the ladder is rated to handle more than the amount of weight you are carrying, it fails and the ladder collapses, causing you to sustain serious injuries. Given the above fact pattern, you would almost certainly have an actionable product defect lawsuit, one aspect of which would involve the breach of an express warranty. Basics of an Express Warranty Warranty law is based on contract, and as such, there must be privity between the end-user and the defendant.  If the retail store makes a warranty that is not in the manufacturer’s marketing materials, for example, then you would not have an actionable claim against the manufacturer — your claim would exist solely against the seller […]

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