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Category: Car Accidents

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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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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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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Negligent Entrustment Claims in Alabama

Aug 31, 2018 - Car Accidents by

In Alabama, those who are injured in a motor vehicle accident that was caused by the negligence or otherwise wrongful misconduct of the driver are entitled to sue and recover damages — and under certain circumstances, may have a legitimate right of action against the owner of the vehicle itself. Oftentimes, motor vehicle accidents involve vehicles that are owned by different individuals than the drivers whose negligence actually caused the accident.   If a vehicle owner is aware (or should be aware) of an unreasonable risk of injury posed by the driver, but permits use of the vehicle anyway, then such conduct could expose them to significant liability pursuant to the doctrine of negligent entrustment. As the injured plaintiff, negligent entrustment represents an excellent opportunity for securing damages.  In many cases, the driver may not have the necessary insurance coverage to payout your damages in full — by looping in other liable defendants, such as the vehicle owner, you can spread liability around, thus maximizing your chance of a successful and adequate recovery. Elements Necessary to Prove Negligent Entrustment In Alabama, you can successfully hold the vehicle owner liable if you can prove that the following elements are true: The driver was incompetent; The vehicle owner permitted the driver to use the vehicle; The vehicle owner knew or should have reasonably known that the driver was incompetent; and The driver’s incompetence substantially contributed to the plaintiff’s injuries. For example, imagine that you suffer injures in a motor vehicle collision.  As it […]

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Smart Phone Addiction Can Contribute to the Increase in Auto Accidents

Apr 14, 2017 - Car Accidents by

According to PewResearchCenter, nearly 20 percent of Americans rely on their smart phones for Internet access to some degree. For about 7 percent, phones provide the only option for Internet access. While there are many valid reasons for extensive smart phone use, however, CNN reports a poll in which about half of teens indicated that they are addicted to their phones. Just as the use of addictive substances like alcohol and drugs can lead to injuries and fatalities on the road, our Tuscaloosa car accident attorneys warn that device addiction can be just as harmful. Addiction Typically Leads to Poor Choices It may be surprising to learn that smart phone addiction has become a recognized psychological condition, but it is less surprising when looking at the following symptoms, which resemble those of other types of addictions: A need to increase use in order to achieve the same desired effect Inability to reduce usage after trying repeatedly Psychological dependence demonstrated by turning to the phone to fix feelings of anxiety or depression, while experiencing withdrawal symptoms when the phone is not available The loss of a sense of time while using the phone excessively Putting relationships or employment at risk because of too much smart phone use Unfortunately, addicted individuals often make poor choices, regardless of the type of addiction. While teen children might make more poor decisions than adults, it is clear that the risk to passengers and other motorists is significant, regardless of the age of a smart phone-addicted […]

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Every Week Should be Child Passenger Safety Week

Feb 17, 2017 - Car Accidents by

Child Passenger Safety Week occurred last September. However, considering that road injuries are the leading cause of unintentional deaths to U.S. children, every week is important for paying attention to the younger passengers in any vehicle. Any experienced Tuscaloosa auto injury lawyer would assert that a single auto accident case involving injured children is one too many. All drivers who are responsible for child safety need to regularly review the special precautions that help protect young passengers throughout the year. Age and Size Make a Difference in Child Passenger Safety As a general rule, safety devices are designed for use by children based on age group. However, age limitations may change when children are smaller or larger than the norm. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend that children remain in the back seats of vehicles while offering the following guidelines based on age, but this advice does not replace the need to read the instructions and guidelines for any safety device: Rear-facing car seats are generally appropriate for children from birth to age 2. Still, these seats can pose certain issues when the seat back starts creating issues for longer legs. Forward-facing car seats are designed for use by children from the age of 2 until or even exceeding age 5. Regardless of age, these seats become inappropriate when a child no longer fits into them properly. Booster seats are the next step until such time that children fit properly into a standard seat belt. As a […]

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Apps Can Convert Smart Phones Into Distracted Driving Preventers

Jan 13, 2017 - Car Accidents by

It is no secret that the use of cell phones while driving significantly increased car accident rates across the U.S. That impact increased sharply when smart phones brought everything from text messages to full Internet access behind the wheel of moving vehicles. Until recently, each Tuscaloosa auto injury lawyer at our firm believed that powered-off smart phones are the only safe phones to have in moving vehicles. However, the development of apps that focus on driving safety can help reduce the inherent risks. No Need to Power Off When Phones Can Be Smarter According to Consumer Reports, a number of cell phone companies now offer free apps that help drivers automatically avoid texting while driving with these features: Automatic activation: Most apps activate automatically when vehicles reach a specified speed. However, some apps must be turned on by the user before driving. Disabled texting: Drivers cannot send or receive text messages as long as any of the apps are activated. Auto responders sent for incoming text messages: Some of the apps automatically respond to incoming text messages to notify senders that they must wait for a response until drivers reach their destination. This feature is particularly helpful for stopping texters who send more and more messages when they do not receive an immediate response Monitoring of young drivers: Some apps allow parents to monitor the driving and texting activities of their children. Certain apps even assign points for safe-driving behavior, which parents can use to provide positive incentives for avoiding […]

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NHTSA Urges Drivers to Proactively Check for Vehicle Recalls

Sep 23, 2016 - Car Accidents by

In 2015, about 51 million vehicles were affected by recalls. Yet, 25 percent of those vehicles are left unrepaired. This is why the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) started 2016 off with the Safe Cars Save Lives campaign, which urges vehicle owners to check for vehicle recalls even when they have received no recall notice. Each Tuscaloosa auto injury lawyer at our firm has seen too many cases of accidents that might have been avoided by simple auto repairs. It takes only a small amount of effort for motorists to find out if their vehicles are safe. Every Driver Should be Aware of Vehicle Safety Defects Many drivers have experienced the frustration of a car that stalls out in traffic. The frustration increases when the drivers learn that an active recall exists. If notified, they might have avoided an inconvenient situation. This is an example of a recall that is not specifically safety-related. However, some recalls pertain to defects that pose imminent danger, such as might be the case in situations such as the following: Airbags that inflate prematurely or with too much force, as is the case in the nation’s largest product recall Defective wheels that can cause drivers to lose control Wiring system defects that can cause fires Faulty accelerator or braking controls The chances are that individuals who purchase their cars new from a dealership will receive timely notification of serious defects such as these. However, vital notices can get lost in the mail, particularly when […]

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New Vehicles, Old Airbags

Aug 26, 2016 - Car Accidents by

Our Tuscaloosa car accident attorneys have touted the importance of airbags for a long time, and we will continue to do so. However, consumers need to know that it has been years since the first reports of defective airbag recalls were announced, and additional recalls make the news with alarming regularity. According to a June 2016 Office of Oversight and Investigations Minority Staff Report, the recall completion rates across automakers are unacceptably low, ranging from .04 percent to 57.1 percent. Just as disturbing is the fact that defective airbags continue to be installed in new vehicles. One Technical Detail Permits Recall Noncompliance A simplified explanation of the general issue behind the defective airbags involves the use of non-desiccated inflators. Due to the use of ammonium nitrate propellants, these airbags can inflate over-aggressively in a crash, exposing vehicle occupants to metal and plastic shrapnel. Even though airbags are intended to make driving safer, these accidents have resulted in at least 10 U.S. fatalities and more than 100 injuries. In fact, it is possible that accident victims might have fared better in accidents without the airbags in some cases. As recently as June 2016, the Minority Staff Report stated that four auto manufacturers acknowledge that they continue to install airbags known to be defective. They explain that this practice is within legal boundaries, however, since the official recall is set for the end of 2018. The reasons for the extended recall date are not clear, but they most likely pertain to supply […]

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Hear What Our Clients Have To Say

"I was injured in an accident and I chose Justin Smith to handle my case. I worked with every staff member there by the end of the ordeal and was treated like family but also with true professionalism. They worked diligently on my case and never faltered or backed down regardless of the obstacles. I am so happy with the outcome and highly, highly recommend Cross & Smith, LLC to anyone that needs someone they can trust."