personal injury attorneys

What Types of Compensation Are Available in a Personal Injury Case?

You’ve suffered a fall, car accident, dog bite, or other type of injury caused by someone else’s mistake. What now? With a personal injury lawsuit, Alabama victims can seek compensation from the party liable for their injuries. If this is your first time navigating the legal process, you likely have lots of questions. Many victims wonder exactly how much compensation they can recover, and which types of compensation are available. Damages are broken down into several categories, allowing you and your attorney to figure out how much you may be entitled to.

Economic/Special Damages

The first category is economic damages. This includes all costs that are measurable and are directly linked to the injury. These expenses include:

  • Medical expenses incurred because of your injury. After an accident, you may quickly rack up debt from ambulance trips, ER expenses, surgical procedures, medications, and follow-up visits. The settlement or jury award you receive should cover all of these expenses. Furthermore, it should pay for the future medical care you’re likely to need because of the accident. This is common for victims of serious accidents.
  • Physical therapy and other rehabilitative needs. If the accident leaves you injured to the point that you need rehabilitative therapy to heal your muscles and relearn basic life skills, the costs add up quickly. Many care providers require weekly visits or multiple trips per week. A settlement should cover the extensive costs associated with rehabilitative care.
  • Loss of income, both present and future. Short-term, an accident often means taking time off work or spending time on light duty to recover. Long-term, a serious accident may permanently limit or eliminate your ability to work.
  • Property damage. If you suffered any property damage in the accident, this should be compensated for in your settlement.

Non-Economic/General Damages

Beyond the obvious and easily calculated damages of your injury, there are other losses that are more difficult to assess. These include:

  • Pain and suffering. No matter how well your injury heals, you undoubtedly sustain a substantial amount of pain during the process. The legal system compensates victims’ pain and suffering under the umbrella category of non-economic damages.
  • Disfigurement and impairment. If you suffer permanent loss of senses, loss of limbs, or other bodily changes, you may be entitled to additional compensation. The same is true if the accident places new permanent restrictions on your movement or activities.
  • Mental anguish. Many victims suffer PTSD, anxiety, and depression after an accident. This type of compensation seeks to remedy that.

Punitive Damages

In Alabama, victims may be entitled to punitive damages under certain circumstances. While the goal of economic and non-economic damages is to right a wrong by making a victim whole, the goal of punitive damages is to punish an offender and discourage future similar behavior. Because of this, punitive damages are only awarded when the plaintiff can prove that the defendant engaged in malice, wanton neglect, oppression, or fraud. For example, in a car accident, a driver that has racked up 4 DUI arrests and was drunk at the time of the accident may have acted in obvious disregard for the victim and others.

Under Alabama law, punitive damages awarded to victims should not exceed an amount three times higher than a victim’s compensatory damages or $500,000. If the plaintiff suffered a physical injury, punitive damages cap at $1.5 million.

Remember, punitive damages are rarely awarded in Alabama. Getting this type of compensation requires an attorney who can conclusively prove that a defendant engaged in wanton disregard or malice for others’ safety. This is one reason you should work with an experienced personal injury attorney after your accident.

How Our Team Can Help

Determining how much compensation you may be owed depends largely on the details of your accident, and without a legal background, it is extremely difficult to make a fair assessment. The team at Burns, Cunningham & Mackey, P.C. is here to fight aggressively for what you deserve. By investigating your accident and subsequent injuries, we will determine how much the other party is at fault and fight for a settlement or court award that properly compensates you for your losses.

The clock starts ticking as soon as you’re injured, and waiting too long could mean that you recover nothing. It’s crucial to move quickly and retain an attorney who will take over the claim process for you. To discuss your case and take the next step, reach out to Burns, Cunningham, & Mackey, P.C. online or call us at 251-260-3815.

car accident

What Percentage of Car Accidents Are Caused by Human Error?

When you get behind the wheel of your car every day, you feel confident about your ability to drive safely and reach your destination. Without this assumption, roads across the United States would be empty every day. However, a shocking amount of people consistently underestimate their driving skills and experience. Once you find out how many car accidents are caused by driver error, you may choose to keep your distance from other drivers.

Causes of Car Crashes

One of the primary agencies that conducts research on roadway and driver safety is the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. In a study looking at critical reasons of car accidents, they found that 94% of car accidents are caused by drivers. Vehicles, environmental factors, and other unknown reasons are responsible for 2% of crashes each.

Within the category of driver-caused crashes, there are several additional categorizations, including recognition errors, decision errors, and performance errors.

Recognition Errors

Recognition errors are those caused by a driver failing to identify, see, or recognize an obstacle or change in road conditions. If a driver fails to pay attention to the road, is distracted while driving, or isn’t properly watching conditions around them, a recognition error could cause a crash.

According to the Insurance Information Institute, a substantial amount of fatal crashes are caused by recognition errors. About 5.7% of fatal crashes are caused by distracted drivers.

Decision Errors

If a driver is properly watching the road and the conditions around them but does not properly assess the safety of a specific choice, they could be guilty of a decision error. Common decision errors include:

  • Driving too fast for weather conditions
  • Misconstruing others’ actions
  • Performing illegal maneuvers
  • Misjudging other drivers’ speed
  • Misjudging distance between cars
  • Driving too fast around a curve

These are significant factors in many fatal crashes. Per the III, nearly 17% of fatal crashes are caused by driving too fast for conditions or driving higher than is legally permitted. Failure to yield right of way is responsible for more than 7% of fatal crashes and failing to obey traffic signals or signs causes another 4% of fatal accidents.

Performance Errors

Performance errors are those caused by actual physical mistakes made by drivers. Again, these are separate from decision errors, which are errors in judgment. Performance errors occur when you recognize a threat, properly assess it, but err in your physical execution. Examples include poor directional control and overcompensation.

Overcorrecting causes 3.5% of fatal car crashes in the United States and failure to stay in proper lane causes more than 7% of fatal accidents.

Accounting for Human Error After a Car Crash

After a car accident, no one wants to accept blame. The driver who caused the crash may claim that they did the right thing to avoid a crash and allege that their car malfunctioned. They may indicate that unclear road signage caused the crash. These situations are quite rare. Remember, research indicates that about 94% of accidents can be traced back to human error.

This is one reason that we always recommend speaking to a personal injury attorney after a car accident.  No matter how apologetic the other party is or how much they vow to change their driving habits in the future, they absolutely must be held accountable for the errors they made that led to your injuries. A personal injury attorney can investigate your accident, figure out how the other driver erred in their judgment or perception, and ensure that they are held accountable for your injuries, lost wages, and other accident-related expenses.

Call Us for Help with Your Car Accident Claim

Have you been injured in a car accident? If you have, you need to act quickly to get the compensation you deserve and avoid being taken advantage of by insurance companies. The team at Burns, Cunningham & Mackey P.C. has handled countless car accident cases, and we are fiercely dedicated to making sure every client gets what they deserve. If you or someone you love has been in a car accident caused by someone else, we are here to help. Fill out our contact form or call us at 251-260-3815 to set up a consultation.

commercial truck accident attorney in mobile alabama

Tips for Avoiding Accidents with Commercial Trucks

Commercial trucks are an important part of the economy, so you can spot them on roadways all over the United States. As a result, it’s important to know how to drive safely and appropriately while near a tractor-trailer. While all car accidents can have tragic outcomes, collisions with tractor-trailers are far more likely to be fatal or severe than crashes involving two passenger vehicles. Following these key safety tips can help you avoid disaster.

1. Stay Out of Their Blind Spots

Commercial trucks have extremely large blind spots, and it is crucial to move out of a truck’s blind spot as quickly as possible while passing. The worst place to be is on the truck’s passenger side, as the passenger side’s blind spot is significantly larger than the blind spot on the driver’s side. When passing, always pass on the driver’s side. Try to avoid staying directly next to a commercial truck, since it is easy to move into their blind spot without even knowing it.

2. Leave Plenty of Space

The larger a vehicle is, the more time it needs to slow down and stop to avoid an obstacle. If you are following a truck too closely and they experience a tire blowout, brake to avoid an obstacle, or lose control of the vehicle, you are at serious risk of being involved in an accident. Leave four seconds of distance between you and the truck at all times. Follow this rule even as they slow down to turn. Trucks often need two lanes to make wide turns.

3. Pass and Switch Lanes with Caution

Move carefully while passing a truck and switching lanes in front of it. If you do not leave enough space between your vehicle and the truck, they may not be able to stop quickly enough to avoid an accident. Avoid passing while going up or down hills, always pass on the driver’s side, and leave plenty of space when moving into the truck’s lane of travel.

4. Think Twice When Merging

Merging onto the highway is challenging when the road is full of commercial trucks and traffic is barely moving. You may be tempted to squeeze in wherever possible and force the drivers around you to let you in. However, doing this near a truck can have disastrous consequences. Even if a truck is moving very slowly in heavy traffic, you could cause an accident by merging directly in front of them if you do not leave enough space. Wait to merge until there is enough space for you to merge safely.

5. Use Extra Caution While Driving in Poor Weather

Snow, ice, wind, and fog are dangerous for those in passenger vehicles, but they are especially risky for those in large tractor-trailers. Truck drivers are often relegated to driving extremely slowly when visibility is low, as they may need even more time to stop if the weather is dangerous.

Tractor-trailers, by design, are much more difficult to handle and maneuver than smaller, lighter passenger vehicles. The difficulty increases with bad weather. If you must drive in bad weather, be exceedingly cautious around tractor-trailers. Remember that they need more time and space to slow down, so you should maintain as much distance as possible. Trucks that hit icy patches or high winds could roll over or spin out, and if that happens, you do not want to be in their path or be so close that you collide with them.

6. Be Patient

Drivers of passenger vehicles often get frustrated with commercial drivers. Road rage and aggressive driving are not the answer. If you put your passenger vehicle up against a truck twenty times its size, your vehicle is unlikely to win. Be patient and remember that trucks often have speed caps that may prevent them from traveling at the speed of traffic. Commercial drivers are not trying to aggravate you—they simply want to reach their destination safely, just like you. Remembering this and taking a deep breath can prevent unnecessary collisions.

What to Do If You Are Involved in a Trucking Accident

No matter how safely you drive, you could still be the victim of a trucking accident. The greatest cause of collisions is human error, and you could be entitled to compensation if the other driver is responsible for the crash. Find out what your options are by calling Burns, Cunningham & Mackey, P.C. Call us at 800-574-4332 to discuss your case.

construction accidents

4 Common Construction Accidents

Construction is an important part of the Alabama economy, but it also one of the most dangerous occupations. In 2018, there were 23 fatalities in the construction industry in our state and 24 nonfatal injuries, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

In the U.S., every day there are at least 14 deaths on-the-job and more than 20 percent are among workers in the construction industry. Next to transportation and mining, the construction industry is one of the top three professions that pose a safety hazard for workers.

OSHA (the Occupational Safety and Health Administration) is a division of the federal government which oversees safety on construction sites, in the workplace, and in manufacturing plants.

OSHA has dubbed the “Fatal Four” injuries responsible for more than half of construction worker deaths nationwide in 2018.

The Fatal Four

If you or a loved one works in construction, understand that these are the inherent workplace injury dangers.

They include:

  1. Being struck by an object – A construction site is in constant motion with many people and equipment coming and going. It is not surprising then that there are loose objects falling and debris on the site as well as scaffolding, ladders, and cranes that are part of the necessary equipment to get the job done.  These are not stationary tools of the trade, so moving, shifting, or falling objects can cause injury.  
     
  2. Electrocution – Accidents involving electricity accounted for about 8% of all construction accident deaths, according to OSHA. Loose wiring in a building can easily come in contact with a worker and any nearby power lines may not be properly secured.

  3. Slip and Fall – During the construction process there are often unsecured platforms of different elevations that workers must move among. If steps and railings are not secured, if an area is dark and not marked, if there are different platform levels, or no guardrails, a construction worker can easily be injured on-the-job. Construction slip and fall accidents accounted for nearly 40% of construction worker deaths in 2018, according to OSHA.
     
  4. Being Stuck Between Objects and Machinery – With heavy machinery and some of it not properly secured, it is not uncommon for a worker to be caught between big equipment and a structure that has collapsed. This can result in a body being squeezed, crushed, or compressed between parts of an object. Strangulation can result if someone is caught in running machinery and equipment.

Workers’ Compensation

Workers’ compensation is the insurance program that provides compensation when you are hurt on-the-job. Any Alabama business with five or more employees is required by law to have workers’ compensation coverage.

In return for providing compensation to workers, the injured employees agrees not to sue the employer.

You are entitled to file a claim for workers’ compensation benefits if you are injured in a workplace accident, but do not expect to receive your normal weekly or bi-weekly check. Workers’ compensation will only pay up to two-thirds of your normal wages.

A Third Party

What if a third party contributed to your accident and injuries?

Our lawyers may be able to help you file an additional personal injury claim against that at-fault third party which will allow you to receive all of the compensation you deserve for an accident that was not your fault.

An example of a third party involvement in your injury might include a truck that strikes your vehicle while you are on-the-job, defective heavy machinery or equipment is delivered to your place of employment, a subcontractor may cause you to be injured, or the owner of the property may not have it in a safe condition for workers on-the-job.    

Burns, Cunningham and Mackey understands the pain and stress that a construction accident can bring.  We understand that you will need rehabilitation while you continue to pay the bills during this very stressful time.

Our lawyers will seek all of the compensation you are eligible for, because we understand all of your options including pursuing a third party involved.

Let us take the burden off of you during this difficult time. Call us our Mobile office at 800-574-4332 for a free consultation to discuss how we can help you.