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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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Trial Readiness is Critical to Securing a Favorable Result

Apr 30, 2019 - Personal Injury by

Experienced Injury Attorney in Tuscaloosa, AL There is no easy formula for success in personal injury litigation.  A variety of factors — some predictable, others unpredictable — can influence whether you are able to secure a favorable result, whether through a trial verdict or pre-trial settlement negotiation.  To a significant degree, then, maximizing one’s likelihood of success depends on identifying the relevant factors and executing a case strategy that takes advantage of the opportunities unique to the situation at-hand. Despite the fact that there is so much variation from case-to-case, it’s reasonable to say that your attorney’s “trial readiness” will give you a substantial competitive advantage when it comes to litigating nearly any personal injury claim. Let’s take a closer look. Being Ready, Willing, and Able to Litigate — and What it Means for the Lawsuit Many personal injury firms base their business on a high volume of customers.  They are looking to invest the minimum amount of time, attention, and resources into each client necessary to secure a “win,” typically through a settlement negotiation with the defendant.  Though this may be effective for securing something of a recovery, in many cases, you may be compensated inadequately.  These high volume firms do not necessarily have substantial experience trying cases to conclusion, and insurers (and defense counsel) recognize this deficiency — the defendant knows that they have leverage in settlement negotiations, since the plaintiff’s counsel may not be able to effectively argue the case at trial. Here at Cross & Smith, […]

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Litigating a Construction Worker Injury Claim

Mar 29, 2019 - Workers' Compensation/Work Injury by

Tuscaloosa Work Injury Lawyer If you’ve been hurt while on-the-job at a construction worksite, then under Alabama law, you may be entitled to compensation for your losses.  Depending on the circumstances surrounding the injury, you may be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits, have an actionable lawsuit against the employer/third-party, or both. Here at Cross & Smith, we have extensive experience advocating on behalf of injured construction workers.  Get in touch with our firm today for comprehensive guidance on how to proceed. Workers’ Compensation Could Be Insufficient Workers’ compensation is a benefits scheme that covers medical expenses and that provides for a wage replacement (i.e., pays out for lost wages due to time off from work after receiving an injury).  In Alabama, and elsewhere, workers’ compensation coverage provides an exclusive remedy for on-the-job injuries — in other words, an injured construction worker who is covered by workers’ compensation may not bring a lawsuit against their employer for damages for injuries suffered on-the-job.  In exchange for this default prohibition against suing one’s employer, however, the worker is empowered with the ability to seek compensation for any injury they suffer while on-the-job, even if the employer is not actually at fault. So, what’s the problem? Though workers’ compensation benefits are valuable, they can be a barrier to making a full and adequate recovery in situations where the injured construction worker has experienced significant losses.  Workers’ compensation benefits are not only subject to a maximum under Alabama law (which is less than the worker’s […]

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Factors Contributing to Poor Roadway Visibility

Feb 28, 2019 - Car Accidents by

Tuscaloosa Injury Attorney If you’ve been injured in a motor vehicle accident while traveling on a roadway, then you may have a right of action for damages under Alabama law. Motor vehicle accident disputes do not always proceed in an obvious manner, however — if you were injured due to poor roadway conditions (such as a lack of visibility), then you may have a right to sue and recover damages from the entity responsible for building/maintaining the roadway.  Property owners have a responsibility to exercise reasonable care so as not to expose others to an excessive and foreseeable risk of harm. Let’s explore some of the factors that contribute to poor roadway visibility, and that may give rise to a lawsuit against the party responsible for the roadway. Upward or Downward Slant Upward and downward elevation changes in the roadway can lead to significant visibility impairment.  If a driver is traveling down a hill road with sudden changes in elevation, for example, then they might not be able to see “over” the hump, thus preventing them from anticipating an accident with upward traffic. Blind Turns Blind turns pose a genuine risk of harm to drivers, no matter how well-prepared and cautious the driver.  For example, suppose that a turn is so sharp that a driver cannot actually see incoming traffic coming around the bend — under such circumstances, visibility is sufficiently poor that it could contribute to an accident if one of the drivers (making the turn) does not exercise […]

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Property Owners Can Be Held Liable for Exposure to Criminal Harm

Jan 31, 2019 - Personal Injury by

Tuscaloosa Injury Attorneys Helping You When You Need it Most If you’ve been injured by a third-party while on the defendant’s commercial property, then you could be entitled to bring an inadequate security claim against the defendant for the damages you suffered. In Alabama, and elsewhere, commercial property owners are responsible for shielding premises entrants from unreasonable and non-obvious risks of harm.  This duty can be resolved by correcting dangerous conditions of property, or by warning premises entrants of the dangerous condition itself. When the dangerous condition of property is not an object-based defect, but the risks posed by criminal activity in-and-around the property, then the owner must either provide adequate security to protect entrants or warn entrants so that they are aware of the inherent dangers. Let’s take a closer look. Inadequate Security Claims Can Be a Challenge When bringing an inadequate security claim against the property owner, you’ll have to show that the risk of harm from a third-party was reasonably foreseeable.  Property owners cannot be held liable for the unexpected acts of third parties. Reasonably Foreseeable Harm Whether third-party harm is reasonably foreseeable is a determination that depends on the total circumstances.  There is no clear objective standard. We’ll explore the basics using an example. Suppose that you are injured by a mugger just outside of the defendant’s retail store, in their parking lot.  With the aid of a qualified attorney, you begin to investigate the case and discover that there have been multiple muggings outside the […]

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A Look at Liability When Your Vehicle Rolls Over

Dec 31, 2018 - Car Accidents by

Contact a Tuscaloosa Injury Attorney For Help Rollover accidents can be devastating to all involved.  When a vehicle rolls over, the driver loses all control — this is in stark contrast to other motor vehicle accident scenarios, where the driver may be able to steer the vehicle to relative safety.  Such accidents are common in Alabama (and elsewhere), especially in the truck and SUV accident context.  Trucks and SUVs sit “higher” and are therefore more prone to rolling over due to a loss of balance. What happens if you are involved in an accident in which your own vehicle rolls over?  Let’s take a closer look at the liability issues that may impact your injury claim under such circumstances. Road Hazards Road hazards often contribute to rollover accidents.  For example, a large enough pothole on a sharp turn could lift one side of the vehicle and force a rollover.  If you were involved in a rollover accident where there were road hazards that contributed to the accident, then you could ostensibly sue and recover damages from the entity that controls the roadway (i.e., the City, or perhaps even a private entity). Vehicular Defects If your vehicle “rolls over” during operation, then it’s possible that the auto manufacturer designed a defective vehicle.  There have been numerous product recalls and lawsuits over the decades relating to vehicles that are prone to rolling over during operation and therefore pose an unreasonable risk of harm to users. In Alabama, it’s worth noting that you […]

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If My Brakes Fail and Cause an Accident, Do I Have a Claim for Damages?

Nov 30, 2018 - Personal Injury by

Tuscaloosa Injury Attorney In Alabama, as in other states, those who are injured in motor vehicle accidents — whether a car, truck, or motorcycle accident — may be entitled to damages, depending on the circumstances surrounding the harm at-issue.  Many people unfamiliar with personal injury litigation may be confused about the particular circumstances under which they might be entitled to bring a claim against the defendant for damages.  In fact, they might not be sure who the defendant actually is! So, what happens if you experience a brake failure?  Can you sue, and (if possible) who can you sue? If you’ve been injured in an accident that was caused due to a brake failure, then Alabama law may give you a right of action for damages against the relevant manufacturer — either the brakes manufacturer, motor vehicle manufacturer, or some other distributor in the supply chain that is responsible for the defect. Confused about how liability is applied?  Let’s take a closer look. Product Defect Basics In Alabama, a product may be defective if it is unreasonably dangerous for its intended or foreseeable uses.  Whether a product is “unreasonably dangerous” depends on the circumstances, however, and the industry space that the product occupies.  For example, if motor vehicle brakes fail 10 percent of the time, most industry experts would agree that the failure rate is indicative of an unreasonably dangerous product. Brakes may be defective due to their design, or due to some manufacturing issue that caused it to become […]

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How Negligence Per Se Works in Alabama

Oct 31, 2018 - Personal Injury by

Alabama — as with other states — allows those who have been injured due to the negligent conduct of another to sue and recover damages as compensation.  Negligence can be difficult to prove in some cases, however, or may cause delays (even in more straightforward cases) where the defendant is particularly aggressive in denying liability. Negligence per se is a unique legal principle that can strengthen your position in litigation and give you substantial leverage during early negotiations.  Let’s take a brief look at how it works in Alabama. Establishing Negligence Per Se is Advantageous Negligence per se can be quite advantageous in an injury lawsuit, as it allows the plaintiff to move forward with a presumption of negligence.  Normally, negligence-based injury claims require that the plaintiff establish: That the defendant owed the plaintiff a duty of care; That the defendant’s conduct violated the applicable standard of care; That the defendant’s violation proximately caused the plaintiff to suffer harm; and The plaintiff actually suffered harm. With negligence per se, “proof” of negligence isn’t necessary, as the violation of law creates the presumption of negligence.  The plaintiff must simply satisfy the negligence per se requirements and show that the defendant’s violation of the law caused them harm.  This is simpler (and more favorable to the interests of the injured plaintiff) than establishing the applicable standard of care and then showing that the defendant’s conduct violated that standard of care. Requirements for Negligence Per Se Negligence per se in Alabama is applied […]

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"I am a practicing lawyer who has from time to time referred clients and litigation cases to Cross & Smith for handling. Without exception, the effort and attention to detail by these attorneys have been incredible. I think that is what sets them apart - they leave no stone unturned in their diligent pursuit of justice and fair compensation to those cheated, injured or killed. I highly recommend these guys."