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Personal Injury Blog In Alabama
Archive for March, 2009
Wednesday, March 25th, 2009
Assuming that you are not too injured to function adequately, move your car out of harm’s way. If it cannot be moved, turn on your hazard lights and use flares or cones to warn oncoming vehicles. If you have no cones or flares, ask other people at the scene if they can loan you any.
If you or anyone else involved in the accident is injured, call 9-1-1, or make sure that someone else does. The 9-1-1 operator will call an ambulance for you, the police, and a fire truck if necessary. The police will also help with calling for a tow truck if your vehicle is unmovable.
While waiting for the police and other services to arrive, exchange contact information with other drivers involved. To make this easy, all the drivers can show each other their driving licenses and vehicle registrations. Also obtain contact information from any witnesses. Make notes about what happened and if you have a camera, take photos of the scene, vehicle damage and injuries. See our blog of March 23 “ Preserving Evidence After a Car Accident” for more on these things.
Dealing With the Police
Answer all questions put to you by the police. There is no need to be defensive in your answers or to accuse anyone else of wrongdoing. You can just be factual and neutral and give clear, straightforward answers. Ask the officer for a copy of the police report when it is ready. If for some reason no police arrive, be sure to file an accident report at a police station as soon as possible.
If a police officer gives you a ticket, go ahead and sign it. You are not admitting any guilt by signing it; you are just agreeing to either pay it later or contest it in court. Wait for a police officer to give you permission before you leave the accident scene.
Contact Your Insurance Company
Report the accident to your insurance company as soon as you possibly can. Prompt reporting is important as your company may deny coverage if you report it too late.
It is also a good idea to contact a car accident attorney as soon as you can. If you are injured, one of our experienced personal injury lawyers can make your recovery period a lot easier. We can do paperwork for you, deal with your insurance company and any others involved, and provide reassurance that you will not be injured legally on top of everything else.
For a free case evaluation, please contact our auto accident attorneys today.
Monday, March 23rd, 2009
When you suddenly find yourself involved in an auto accident, it usually shakes you up. Even if you are not seriously hurt, the suddenness and unpleasantness of being in that predicament is upsetting and you may want nothing more than to go home and recover.
However, to protect yourself later, and to maximize your chances of obtaining fair compensation for any vehicle damage, medical costs, and lost work time, there are some things to do at the accident scene. As much as you are able, try to create a record of how this car accident happened.
It is a good idea to keep a disposable camera in your vehicle for this purpose. Hopefully you will never need it. But in this unexpected situation it can be a huge ally. So take some snapshots of:
- Your vehicle damage, close-up and from further back to show the entire vehicle
- Any skid marks or debris on the road which will help to reconstruct the event later on
- Your injuries, if you can. If you can’t and don’t have a passenger who can, see if a bystander or witness can do that for you.
- Your passengers’ injuries, if any
- The scene in general, showing the lighting, weather, nearby signage, any road curves or anomalies, etc.
Most people have paper and pen in their car, purse or briefcase. Use it now to document what happened. If you do not finish while at the accident site, be sure an finish it as soon afterwards as possible. If there is any litigation about this car accident, it may take a year or longer. So you will need these on-the-spot notes to refresh your memory and strengthen your case.
Others involved in the accident may well have different accounts, not necessarily truthful and your notes, being fresh, will stand up well against any contradictions or denials coming from other parties.
- Note the accident time and exact location
- Get contact information from any witnesses and from other drivers involved
- Write down information on the circumstances such as weather or signage (or lack thereof) that you may have also photographed. Two sources of the same information will be a stronger statement.
Be sure to request a police report when it is available.
Keep both written notes and photographic documentation of your healing process. Note down your pain levels, medications, follow-up visits, and recovery measures such as dressings you have to change per your doctor’s instructions. Keep detailed notes on all expenses related to this accident, such as medications or special food.
If you have been seriously injured in a car accident, we can help. We can deal with insurance companies for you, obtain your medical records, take care of all paperwork, and you will be able to focus on your recovery. Please contact one of our car accident attorneys to schedule a free consultation.
Thursday, March 19th, 2009
It would seem to be common sense that talking on the phone while driving would reduce your safety. There have been a lot of studies done recently about this and one question studied is whether talking on your cell phone is more dangerous than talking to a passenger. Again, it would seem obvious that it would be, since besides talking, you must dial the number correctly and perhaps redial and perhaps look the number up in your database to begin with.
Study at the University of Utah
Late in 2008 researchers studied the driving of 41 young adults, each paired up with a “passenger” to converse with. They created three driving/conversation scenarios:
- Conversation on a hands-free cell phone
- Conversation with passenger
- No conversation
The study used a simulator with a 4-lane highway (two lanes in each direction), on and off ramps, overpasses, and other “drivers”. Realistic traffic was simulated, with other “vehicles” changing speeds and lanes. Drivers were instructed to tell their passenger or phone partner a story about their life being threatened and how they came out of it safely.
Researchers found that the group engaging in a cell phone conversation performed worst in driving skills. They swerved more often and came closer to collisions more often. The group conversing with a passenger drove more safely and the group not conversing at all showed the best driving skills.
Another study, published in 2005 in the Human Factors quarterly journal found that each year in the U.S. cell phone distraction is involved in 2,600 deaths and 330,000 injuries. Those numbers are surely higher now since cell phones have proliferated more since then.
Some Legal Aspects
Some states and some cities have enacted laws to restrict cell phone use while driving. If you drive on any long trips, be careful with your cell phone use. A driver involved in an accident who was using a cell phone at the time can be charged with negligence.
Further, if that driver was making a work-related call, their employer might also be found negligent. However to date, no wireless carrier has been found negligent for a subscriber’s cell phone use.
If you have been injured in an accident where another driver was using a cell phone be sure to let your car accident attorney know. At Long & Waite we have extensive experience with automobile accidents and will be able to immediately start gathering information for your case. For a free case evaluation, please call or email our motor vehicle accident lawyers today.
Monday, March 16th, 2009
TapouT is a popular brand of mixed martial arts clothing. The co-founder, Charles Lewis, Jr. (nicknamed “Mask”) began selling T-shirts in the 1990s and grew the company’s gross income to $100 million in 2008. From being too poor to buy his own T-shirt, he ended his life owning a $300,000 red Ferrari
In the early morning of March 11 he somehow wrapped it around a telephone pole (or light pole), bisecting it, ejecting his passenger, and killing himself. It is not yet clear how this came about but apparently he was speeding alongside a Porsche, driven by one Jeffrey Kirby, aged 51. At some point the two vehicles collided and spun away and the Ferrari hit a curb before knocking down the pole.
Newport Beach police were patrolling the area and are quoted as describing the Ferrari and Porsche both “spinning out of control on Jamboree Road between Bison Avenue and East Bluff Drive”. Lewis’ partner, one Lynn Nabozny, was in the Porsche and was arrested for public intoxication and then released. Kirby was found on a nearby street, arrested and charged with vehicular manslaughter. He is jailed at this time on a $1 million bail.
The ejected passenger was taken to a hospital where she is in either “serious” or “stable” condition or perhaps both.
Is an Accident Always an Accident?
We call them “auto accidents” but almost always, by the time they are investigated, accidents turn out to have been caused by somebody’s carelessness or irresponsibility. They are not arbitrary or random. Perhaps Lewis’ accident was caused by alcohol, but that is not yet established. Drunk driving certainly causes many serious accidents, as does road rage or activities like chasing or racing.
If you have been injured in a car accident or truck accident because of another person’s negligence, you may have a valid legal claim. We may be able to obtain fair compensation for your medical costs, vehicle damage, lost wages, and pain and suffering. Please call or email our personal injury law office today to schedule a free consultation.
Friday, March 13th, 2009
In 2006, a gas station north of Baltimore leaked about 25,000 gallons of gas which contaminated water wells in the area. The leak continued for 37 days before it was discovered. It came from an underground pipe and when ExxonMobil discovered it, they began cleaning it up.
Almost 300 people whose water supply and property values were affected sued ExxonMobil Corp. On March 12, 2009, a Baltimore County jury awarded them $150 million for:
- Medical expenses — amounts between $4,000 and $90,000
- Property devaluation — according to the value of each family’s house; amounts ranged from $300,000 to over $1 million
- Emotional stress — about $1 million per family
The jury foreman took two hours to read the entire verdict, as it was broken down into specific amounts for each individual plaintiff. It took the jury 12 days to make their decision. They did not find ExxonMobil guilty of any fraud and therefore awarded no punitive damages.
The plaintiff’s attorney stated that the verdict is fair and the Exxon lead attorney said, “All in all, we’re satisfied.” Some of the plaintiffs are complaining that they should have received punitive damages as well.
So far ExxonMobil has spent over $38 million on cleanup under oversight and direction from the Maryland Department of Environment.
Please contact our personal injury attorneys at Long & Waite in Mobile, Alabama if you have suffered harm from another’s negligence. We will be happy to give you a free case evaluation.
Tuesday, March 10th, 2009
Metoclopramide is the generic name of a drug sold with trade names of Reglan, Octamide and Maxolon. It is prescribed for people suffering from Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD). When stomach contents move upwards into the esophagus they damage it with their acidity, causing heartburn.
Metoclopramide works by:
- Strengthening the lower esophageal sphincter muscle which normally prevents stomach contents from entering the esophagus
- Stimulating the stomach muscles to speed movement of food into the intestines
In doing this it also reduces nausea. It was approved by the FDA in 1985 and over two million Americans have been using it. Although it is recommended that you not take metoclopramide for more than three months, many people have taken it for much longer.
Risk of Repetitive Involuntary Movements
The FDA’s Black Box is the strongest warning they require. Many reports have been made of people suffering from involuntary movements after taking metoclopramide, even long after they stopped taking it. These movements are known as tardive dyskinesia and may consist of:
- Smacking the lips
- Rapid eye blinking
- Tongue protrusion
- Finger movements
- Jerking of the arms or legs
There is so far no way to treat tardive dyskinesia once it has started. In some people it fades after they discontinue use of metoclopramide but in many it remains. Its occurrence is directly related to how long a person has been taking the drug, and in how large a dose.
The FDA is still receiving reports of tardive dyskinesia in people who have been taking metoclopramide.
All drugs have side effects. The manufacturer’s task is to make them as insignificant as possible and make them known to medical professionals and their patients. The Black Box warning is a danger signal to ensure that doctors will exercise caution in who they prescribe the medication for, and that they will advise their patients of the risk.
If you have been harmed by a prescription medication and are wondering if you might have a valid legal claim, please contact our defective drug attorneys today for a free case evaluation.
Friday, March 6th, 2009
Humanity has known for over 2,000 years that lead is poisonous. There are numerous references to its harmful effects in early Roman writings, and many more throughout the centuries since then. People have continued to use it however, as it has some very useful properties — it resists corrosion, it has a low melting point, and it is easy to work with.
Symptoms of Lead Poisoning
Lead can cause kidney disease, heart problems, reproductive problems and permanent nerve damage. When severe enough, lead poisoning causes coma and death. Specific symptoms include:
- Abdominal pain
- Chest pain
- Poor appetite and loss of weight
- Gastrointestinal problems
There is no known positive function for lead in the human body. Once it is in the body it is very hard to get rid of. It mostly leaves in the urine, but very little at a time and if exposure continues it builds up in body tissues, 95 percent in the bones.
Recent Product Recalls
The federal government has set standards for lead content in paint, and products which violate them are recalled. Some recalls in February, 2009 were:
- Children’s toys made in China — mini pull-back cars and battery-operated bubble guns.
- Golfer’s Billiard Games, sold by Dick’s Sporting Goods and Golf Galaxy. These are also made in China and the paint on the golf balls had high levels of lead.
New Enforcement Policy
On February 6, 2009, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) issued a new policy for lead content. As of February 10, 2009, it has decreed that any toy for children under age 12 must have less than 600 parts per million of lead in any component that a child can access.
There are some exceptions and the CPSC has issued alternative lead limits for some electronic devices, as a way of avoiding unnecessary withdrawal of children’s products from stores. Manufacturing and marketing companies are expected to tell the CPSC if they learn of any product that exceeds these new limits.
Defective products are continually being recalled from the market, or at least adding warnings to their labeling. Excess lead is just one way that a child’s toy can be harmful. Other ways are by having small removable parts a child can swallow and by allowing a child to fall or become trapped.
If you or a loved one have been injured by a defective product, please call or email our defective product attorneys today. We will be happy to give you a free case evaluation.
Tuesday, March 3rd, 2009
When a person sustains a brain injury, the initial trauma causes primary injury. The brain and spinal cord are surrounded by three layers of membranes for protection:
- The dura mater, which is tough, thick and attached to the skull
- The arachnoid membrane, which is the delicate middle membrane with a web-like appearance, attached to the dura mater
- The pia mater, which is also delicate and adheres to the brain’s surface. Between the pia mater and the arachnoid there is a narrow space filled with cerebrospinal fluid.
These three layers together are known as the meninges.
When the brain is hurt in an accident or trauma, primary injury can take several forms:
- Brain tissue bruising from the impact
- Bleeding (hemorrhage) within the skull. The layers of the meninges have veins penetrating them which branch off into smaller capillaries. Any of these blood vessels can break and bleed between the meninges layers.
- Nerve damage, where the fibers that carry electrical impulses are stretched or torn
These primary injuries give rise to secondary injuries. Secondary brain injury is the indirect result of the initial trauma or impact and does not necessarily happen at once. There may be hours or days, even weeks before they surface. Many TBI deaths occur because of these secondary injuries, rather than immediately from the primary injury.
Examples of secondary injuries are:
- Inadequate oxygen to the brain because of blood vessel damage
- Inadequate blood flow to the brain (ischemia)
- Swelling (edema) of the brain from fluid build-up
- Low blood pressure from bleeding
- Increased intracranial pressure (inside the head), from swelling and bleeding
- Meningitis — infection of the meninges
- High levels of carbon dioxide in the blood
Not much can be done medically about the primary injury, since it happens quickly and is a fait accompli by the time the injured person receives any medical care. It is regarded as irreversible. However, much can and should be done to prevent or care for all secondary injuries.
Therefore, if you or a loved one have sustained a head injury, you should seek medical care immediately. Even if there appears to be no major harm done, you should still go for an examination. There may be damage to blood vessels or nerves which you cannot see and may not feel at once. By the time you feel a severe headache or start to lose your balance, memory, or speech, it may be too late and you may suffer secondary injuries which immediate care could have prevented.
Once you have medical care, please consider your legal situation. If the injury was caused by another person’s negligence you may have a valid legal claim. Our brain injury attorneys are highly experienced and stand ready to give you a free case evaluation. Please call or email our personal injury law firm today.