Articles Posted in Personal Injury

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Punitive damages are an important part of the law but the business community has done a great job of “demonizing” punitive damages (except when a business has been harmed then it is “ok” to get punitive damages).

So what are punitive damages?

Punitive damages are awarded in rare circumstances where the defendant (the one sued) has caused injury intentionally or recklessly.

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Ultimately you show the jury enough evidence to convince them the other driver was at fault. So how do you do this?

Right After The Wreck

Take pictures of your car, the other car, the scene, and any injuries you have. Make sure to save those pictures on your computer and a back up — dropbox, google drive, etc.

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This is known as a “pre-existing” injury and you can still be compensated for a negligent person making your pre-existing injury worse.

Practical Reality

If you are over the age of 20, you likely will have some pre-existing injuries. Maybe in high school you hurt your knee. Or you hurt your back on your job.

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Alabama is one of only a few states in the nation that has what is called contributory negligence. This means if you, the injured victim, were at fault in any way for the car wreck, slip and fall, etc. then normally you cannot recover any damages against the party that was primarily at fault.

Most states have something called comparative negligence which means that the court “compares” your degree of negligence with the degree of negligence of person or company that you sue. Normally your damages will be reduced by whatever percentage you are at fault.

But in Alabama if you are even 1% at fault, the normally the defendant will win the case based upon contributory negligence.

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Almost every car insurance policy has a provision called “medical payments,” which will pay for medical bills if you are involved in any type of wreck in your car. Many people who are injured in a car wreck do not think about this provision of their insurance but we want to spend some time talking about this important part of your insurance.

How much med pay do I have?

Normally, your medical payments or med pay will be around $5000. You can ask your insurance agent or check your insurance card as it may have the amount listed.

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Why do you need to give your medical records to your attorney when you file suit for an Alabama car wreck case?

Clients often wonder why we will need to get their medical records when they hire us to either file suit for a car wreck case or they want for us to negotiate with the insurance company.

We understand the questions about this because our medical records are private and in everyday life we understand that we do not have to give out our medical records.

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One unfortunate reality in Alabama is if you have a potential personal injury or wrongful death claim due to someone else’s negligence, you will likely be solicited in an unethical manner by lawyers.

The typical way is an “investigator” will contact you to say he has some wonderful information from the police officer, from the paramedic, etc. and he wants to share this with you. But you will need to meet with his lawyer, who is the greatest Alabama car wreck/truck wreck/train wreck lawyer around.

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STLToday.com has posted an interesting article about a Maryland hospital’s ban on photographing or videotaping of births. Meritus Medical Center, in Hagerstown, MD, even requires cell phones and cameras be turned off and only allows photographing to begin after the medical staff have given the okay.

The hospital is trying to protect both its patients and staff. The medical staff won’t be distracted by electronics and can better focus their attention on the safety and health of the mother and baby. Also, hospital staff really don’t want to be popping up on Facebook and YouTube videos, so their privacy is being protected as well.

This hospital’s reasoning is backed by a variety of lawsuits, of which video can be used as evidence. For example, in 2007 a baby was born in the University of Illinois Hospital with permanent shoulder injuries. The video the baby’s father took in the delivery room showed the midwife using “excessive force” and the family was paid $2.3 million in damages.

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USA Today has posted an article about a recent Supreme Court ruling that says car company Mazda can be sued for not having certain safety equipment in some of their vehicles, even though the vehicles met the government’s safety standards. The decision allows a lawsuit over a woman’s death in 2002 to progress forward.

Ms. Than Williamson was sitting in the middle seat of the second row of a 1993 Mazda MPV and was wearing her seatbelt, but it was only a lap belt. Upon collision, Williamson’s body “jackknifed” around the lap belt, killing her. Her family is suing Mazda because the middle seat was not equipped with the standard 3 point seatbelt that is required for the outboard seats, even though the lap belt met federal safety requirements.

Mazda argued it was immune from lawsuits because the government in 1989 gave it a choice of a lap or three-point belts in the middle rear seat. A suit forcing them to use lap-and-shoulder belts, it argued, would invalidate the choice offered by regulators.

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