Choosing Between Jury and Bench Trials in Injury Cases

Oct 23, 2015 - Personal Injury by

When the Washington Post and other news outlets reported that a Virginia patient won $500,000 after his secret cell phone recording during a medical procedure captured an anesthesiologist insulting him and even planning to diagnose a non-existent condition, portions of the recording went viral. Like Alabama, Virginia law allows the use of recordings as courtroom evidence as long as one party permits it. Used in front of a jury, that recording provided powerful evidence in court. Presented in front of a judge (known as a bench trial), however, a case like this one might have different results. Plaintiffs in personal injury cases have a choice between jury and bench trials and many case details go into deciding which type of trial offers the most benefits. Each Tuscaloosa injury attorney at our firm carefully assesses those details before making recommendations to our clients. Facts, Perception and Emotion Drive Courtroom Verdicts Surprisingly, studies show that judges agree with jury decisions on liability as much as 80 percent of the time. However, while judges may award larger damages in about 40 percent of cases, they favor smaller awards in over 50 percent of cases. One study indicated that the differences may be due to judges’ lower susceptibility to two specific cognitive illusions: • Framing, which involves treating economic gains differently than losses, even though their value is actually equal • Representativeness, in which a reduced value is placed on background statistical information or base rates that are relevant to the case Additionally, even […]

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Would Transparent Semis Increase Road Safety?

Oct 9, 2015 - Car Accidents by

It seems as if new safety technologies appear on motor vehicles almost every year. Considering the devastation that our clients experience on the roads on a regular basis, our Tuscaloosa car accident attorneys applaud these developments — especially when they allow small cars to share the roads with big trucks more safely. It may be early in the game, but it is not too early to start thinking about one of the latest developments: the transparent truck. A New Invention That Addresses Visibility Issues for Small Vehicles Anyone who is forced to drive behind a huge semi knows that it is like driving behind a solid wall. Without the ability to catch a glimpse of traffic in front of the truck, it is virtually impossible to safely pass these slow-moving vehicles, much less remain aware of potential hazards on the road ahead. In June 2015, Samsung announced the development of its Safety Truck, which could vastly reduce these visibility issues. The concept behind the Safety Truck is simple: Put wireless cameras on the front of trucks and transmit the images to screens on the back, allowing motorists to see the road almost as if the truck was not in front of them. Early prototype tests in Argentina (which has some of the most dangerous roads in the world) showed positive results. The screen images made passing safer on two-lane roads, while also reducing accidents caused by sudden braking or animals on the road. Samsung is now working with the U.S. […]

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Truck Drivers Tend to Extend the Concept of Distracted Driving

Sep 25, 2015 - Truck Accidents by

Anything from adjusting the radio to grabbing some pretzels is common behavior for many drivers, especially when commute times are long. Of course, any behavior that takes a driver’s attention from the road or hands off the wheel can lead to accidents. However, it is not uncommon for a Tuscaloosa truck wreck lawyer to see cases of severe injuries caused by behind-the-wheel activities that only semi drivers are likely to do. Living Life Behind the Wheel Can Lead to Unusual Distractions Most people engage in countless activities every day, but they perform a limited number of tasks while driving. While typical driver distractions probably involve cell phones, food or drink, truck drivers generally have hands-free devices and other equipment in their semis to help keep their hands on the wheel. That said, however, long-haul truck drivers may be in the cabs of their massive vehicles for more hours than they spend anywhere else. They still have to get things done, so they sometimes find creative ways to accomplish those tasks while on the road. In addition to using cell phones and CB radios, the following are some of the more common trucker activities: • Reaching in a pocket or reaching to the floor • Looking at paperwork • Smoking-related activities • Looking in mirror while using a toothpick • Making grooming and clothing adjustments Of course the list does not stop there. In January 2015, Reuter’s reported a massive traffic shutdown near Tuscaloosa after a trucker veered off the road, […]

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Surgical Errors: Never Say Never

Sep 11, 2015 - Personal Injury by

Back in 2012, John’s Hopkins reported that surgical “never events” occur at least 4,000 times per year. These are errors that should never happen because they are easily preventable when surgical staff members take common-sense precautions. At the time, the report was major news within the medical community and our Tuscaloosa personal injury lawyers believed that knowledge of these issues would prevent them in the future. Unfortunately, current reports show that some of these easily-preventable issues still exist today. Some Never Events Still Happen Today Three years after the Hopkins report, JAMA Surgery states that three of these events are still prevalent: • Retained surgical items: Many items are used in surgery and anything from sponges to surgical tools are still being left inside of patients. Taking inventory before surgery begins and again before closing the incision can easily help prevent this type of error. • Wrong site surgery: This type of error can happen most often when a patient has more than one similar site, such as limbs or eyes and the surgeon operates on the healthy site by mistake. A common way to prevent such an accident is to carefully review the patient’s records prior to surgery and then mark the correct surgical site directly on the patient. • Surgical fires: Most surgeries require the use of the “fire triangle,” which is essentially a fuel source (ranging from alcohol-based skin preparation to the patient’s own skin or hair), an igniter (such as a laser) and an oxidizer (commonly […]

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Dangerous Drug Lawsuits Can Become Complicated

Aug 28, 2015 - Personal Injury by

Take a commonly-used drug, add some serious side-effects and a seemingly-endless number of lawsuits suddenly appear. This phenomenon is not unreasonable — individuals who suffer injury or illness from a dangerous drug deserve compensation that covers their full range of losses. When the number of individual complaints rises into the thousands, however, our Tuscaloosa personal injury lawyers warn that the legal process can become very complex. Valuable Drugs Often Pose Risks Anyone who has ever seen a prescription drug advertisement in a magazine or on TV knows that side-effect warnings seem to make up a large portion of the message. Advertisements for Chantix, a smoking-cessation drug, are a prime example. Warnings seem to focus primarily on mood or behavioral risks, ranging from confusion and anxiety to suicidal thoughts. These black box warnings were mandated by the FDA in mid-2009. Still, most doctors weigh the risks and benefits of any drug to allow patients to make informed decisions. Clearly, an effective smoking cessation drug carries health benefits by helping smokers quit a potentially-deadly habit. One Court, One Drug Company and Thousands of Lawsuits Before the FDA mandate, many Chantix users attempted or actually committed suicide, resulting in the filing of more than 2,500 lawsuits against Pfizer between 2009 and 2012. According to Alabama Media Group, all suits were consolidated within one Alabama federal court, which used a number of methods to virtually eliminate the caseload: • Dismissal with prejudice: About 660 cases were permanently dismissed relatively early in the process. Even […]

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Tuscaloosa Truck Wreck Lawyer Explains Why Large Trucks Pose Significant Accident Risks in Work Zones

Aug 14, 2015 - Truck Accidents by

Sudden lane shifts and unexpected road debris pose challenges for any motorist maneuvering through roadway work zones. However, such challenges are immeasurably more difficult when behind the wheel of a big rig. Every motorist on the road affects everyone’s safety. To best maintain control, it is essential to obey all work zone laws — and understand the special considerations faced by truckers in these areas. Why Trucks are More Prone to Work Zone Accidents According to the Federal Highway Administration, almost 30 percent of all crashes in roadway work zones involve large trucks. The number of fatalities from these accidents continues to increase, with over 1,000 fatalities and 18,000 injuries occurring in recent years. Semi-tractor trailer trucks are at greater risk than smaller passenger vehicles for a number of reasons, including the following: • Increased stopping distance: Any driver must stop suddenly for road debris or after a vehicle in front of him or her comes to a quick stop. However, smaller vehicles can stop much more quickly than a big truck. Even at reduced speeds, being rear-ended by a truck can result in severe injuries or even fatalities. • Reduced steering control: A sudden lane change can be challenging for passenger car drivers. Truck drivers pulling one or more trailers cannot always make this type of maneuver safely. As cargo shifts and trailers swing, they can hit nearby vehicles or even jackknife. • Tire blowouts: Anyone who has ever seen blown tire parts on the road can imagine that […]

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A Recent Workplace Accident Could Qualify for a Third Party Lawsuit

Jul 24, 2015 - Tuscaloosa by

A primary underlying principle behind the Alabama workers’ compensation system is the elimination of liability issues. With a few exceptions, workers can obtain benefits regardless of whether the worker or employer negligence causes an accidental injury. Of course, this means workers cannot sue employers for negligence, but they can sue negligent third parties. To protect the rights of workers and their families, an experienced Tuscaloosa workplace injury lawyer looks beyond workers’ compensation claims to determine if an outside party needs to be held accountable. A deadly January 2015 construction site accident shows how this might work. Guilt and Negligence Are Not the Same Things According to WVTM-TV, a truck driver hit and struck a young construction worker from behind while he directed traffic in a Birmingham construction zone. The driver admitted that the accident happened because she ran off the road while reaching for her coffee. Perhaps surprisingly, the police decided not to file charges against the driver. In spite of the police decision, the following are reasons why the construction worker’s family may have a good case if they decide to file a wrongful death suit against the driver — and probably her trucking company, as well: • As long as the trucker is not directly connected with the construction company, workers’ compensation liability limitations do not apply. • Police reports would substantiate that distracted driving caused the driver to run off the road. • Distracted driving amounts to negligence, which is a primary requirement for prevailing in a […]

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Workers’ Comp Retaliation Can Become a Federal Case

Jul 10, 2015 - Tuscaloosa by

After a recovery from serious injury on the job, most employees want to put the experience behind them when they return to work. This can seem impossible if an employer starts retaliating in often-subtle ways — just because a worker claimed much-needed benefits that are granted by law. Perhaps more disturbing, some employers use veiled threats to convince workers not to file a workers’ compensation claim, leaving them to find other ways to pay for medical care after a workplace accident. Our Tuscaloosa workers’ compensation lawyers want to clarify that retaliation is illegal at both the state and federal level. It is important for workers to recognize the signs so they can seek the legal help they need to ensure their claims receive fair treatment. Filing a Workers’ Compensation Claim is a Right of Employment With very few exceptions, individuals injured as a result of their employment have the right to file workers’ compensation claims. While most employers handle these claims fairly, some see a claim as a black mark on their record that increases the premiums they pay. Perhaps this kind of thinking was a factor when a supervisor from the New York- and Connecticut-based Metro North railroad took advantage of the time spent driving an injured employee to the hospital to make threats of damaging write-ups on the employee’s record. The injured employee was recording that conversation, according to the New Haven Register. That recording provided evidence of a direct violation of the Federal Railroad Safety Act. In […]

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How an Injury Attorney Can Assist with Nursing Home Abuse Situations

Jun 26, 2015 - Nursing Home Neglect by

One of the most difficult decisions in life involves placing elderly loved ones in a nursing home. This choice may be essential to ensure their wellbeing and about 90 percent of Alabama nursing home residents and their families rate their facilities as excellent or good. However, it only takes one errant caregiver — or even another resident — to turn a highly-regarded facility into a dangerous nightmare for defenseless seniors. Filing a Complaint is a Multi-Step Process After hearing about abuse and neglect concerns from several viewers, WSFA published a story pertaining to these issues. During their investigation, a representative from the Alabama Nursing Home Association laid out the process that concerned families should follow when they have concerns: • The process begins by expressing concerns to facility administration and then watch for improvements. • If no changes occur, it is time to contact the Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH). • The ADPH then has to contact the facility and request information about the concerns. • The facility must quickly respond to the ADPH request, which then needs to review the information and decide if they need more information or if they need to perform an on-site investigation, which requires additional time. Although every step of the process has strict time limits, it is easy to expect that senior family members may see little or no relief for an extended time period. During this time, families typically must make numerous visits to their loved ones to help ensure their […]

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Patients are Encouraged to Learn More about Prescribed Medications

May 22, 2015 - Personal Injury by

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approves medications for specific uses which are posted on the labels. Less known, however, is the fact that the FDA does not regulate “off-label” prescribing. This term refers to a common practice when physicians prescribe a drug for something other than its intended use. In many cases, off-label prescriptions can be valuable to patient recovery. Still, patients need to make sure they are fully aware of every detail about the prescriptions they are about to take. Reasons Why Physicians Prescribe Medications for Off-Label Purposes Particularly in the case of minor medical conditions, off-label use of prescription drugs can be very effective. For example, a person with a minor external skin irritation may benefit by applying a sore throat medication containing Lidocaine. Even for more serious conditions, however, doctors may prescribe medications off-label in situations such as the following: A lack of a known treatment: A drug may not exist to treat a medical condition, but physicians may be aware of drugs known to help or even cure a condition, even if it is not intended for this particular use. Standard medications fail to work: Perhaps the most common example pertains to cancer. Once patients stop responding to the known treatments for their type of cancer, doctors may turn to other medications that have some potential for prolonging a patient’s life or reducing painful symptoms. Unaffordable medications: Most doctors know that some patients may not fill an outrageously-priced prescription, while others will stretch their dollars […]

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"I have been friends with Dell Cross since we were roommates at UA Law and have had the pleasure of conferring with Cross & Smith, LLC in a professional capacity for many years. As a law office which specializes in domestic relations and family law matters, it is imperative that my office maintain a consistent client referral relationship with a law firm which can effectively address personal injury matters brought to us by our clients."
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