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.

commercial truck and car accident

Causes of Trucking Accidents

Accidents involving commercial vehicles are some of the most devastating that occur on the roadways. Big rig trucks often weigh in excess of 80,000 pounds when they are fully loaded, which is 20 to 30 times heavier than a regular passenger vehicle. Large commercial trucks are also much taller and wider than other vehicles, with higher ground clearance that can sometimes result in smaller vehicles and motorcycles sliding underneath them during a collision.

With all of these factors in play, it comes as little surprise that, when big rig trucks are involved in collisions with smaller vehicles, occupants of the other vehicle usually take the brunt of it. In fact, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), 68% of those killed in truck accidents are occupants of cars and other vehicles, 17% are occupants of the commercial truck, and another 14% are motorcyclists, bicyclists, and pedestrians.

What Causes Commercial Trucking Accidents?

In 2017 (the last year we have full records for), more than 4,100 individuals were killed in large truck accidents, and more than 50,000 individuals sustained serious injuries. There are several reasons these types of accidents occur, here are six of the most common:

Driver Fatigue

Drowsy driving is far more common than most people realize. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), drowsy or fatigued driving is a contributing factor in as many as 6,000 fatal crashes each year. The CDC goes on to say that commercial drivers are among the groups who are most likely to drive while drowsy. Truck drivers put in long hours over-the-road, often during evening and overnight hours when it is harder to stay awake. To make matters worse, trucking companies typically impose unrealistic deadlines for drivers to deliver their cargo. This often forces them to make a choice between staying on schedule or pulling over and getting the rest they need.

Speeding/Aggressive Driving

Another way that truck drivers try to stay on schedule is by driving over the speed limit and other aggressive driving behaviors. Examples include tailgating, refusing to yield the right of way, erratic and unsafe lane changes, running red lights, and dangerous or illegal passing maneuvers. By driving aggressively, truckers may be able to save a few minutes here and there, but by doing so, they put themselves and others they share the roads with in greater danger.

Drug and Alcohol Use

In order to deal with the stress of the job or to try to stay awake, some truckers turn to alcohol and various types of illicit or prescription drugs. It is widely known that substances like these can adversely affect a motorist’s driving behaviors. Some intoxicated motorists drive more aggressively, while others get tired, have slower reaction times, and sometimes even fall asleep at the wheel.

Overloaded/Unevenly Loaded Trucks

There are industry rules that must be followed with regards to loading cargo onto commercial vehicles. Unfortunately, shipping companies and others who are responsible for loading the trucks do not always follow these guidelines. Some tractor-trailers are loaded beyond their weight limits in an effort to deliver more cargo in the same shipment and save money. At other times, the trucks are loaded unevenly or otherwise improperly in a rush to save time. When this happens, it greatly increases the chances that the truck could flip over or tip to its side, resulting in severe and sometimes catastrophic injuries.

Vehicle/Vehicle Part Failure

Semi-trucks log thousands of miles over-the-road each month. This makes it absolutely critical that these trucks are properly maintained. Sometimes, those in charge of maintenance do not complete all of the required checks in order to keep the truck safe, which can result in an accident if something goes wrong on the road. In other cases, a vehicle or vehicle part can fail because of a faulty or defective product. Examples include brake line failures, computer dashboard malfunctions, and tire blowouts. When this happens, the product manufacturer and other parties within the product’s supply chain may be responsible for the accident.

Distracted Driving

Texting while driving and other smart phone activity while behind the wheel is rapidly becoming one of the leading causes of motor vehicle accidents. This is a problem with both commercial truckers and other vehicle drivers, and it is especially dangerous, because when you look down at your phone to send or receive a text, your focus is away from the road. Taking your eyes off of the road for just five seconds (about the minimum amount of time it takes to send a text) at 55 miles per hour is roughly the equivalent of driving blindfolded the entire length of a football field.

Injured in a Trucking Accident in Alabama? Call the Experienced Attorneys at Burns, Cunningham & Mackey, P.C. for Legal Help

If you or a loved one was injured a commercial truck accident, you may be entitled to compensation for your losses. However, you can expect the other side to move aggressively to defend the driver and other potential parties who were at fault. In order to protect your right to be compensated, it is very important to obtain strong legal counsel as early as possible.

If the accident occurred in Alabama, call Burns, Cunningham & Mackey, P.C. today at (251) 260-3815 to schedule a free consultation and case evaluation. You may also send us a message through our web contact form or stop by our Mobile office in person at your convenience.

how are damages calculated

How are Damages Calculated in Alabama Accident Cases?

When someone is injured in a car accident or another type of accident in Alabama, they may be entitled to compensation in the form of monetary damages. Calculating damages is a complicated process, however, and this process will vary with each case depending on the individual circumstances.

Were you Partially at Fault for the Accident?

Before discussing how are damages are calculated in Alabama accident case, we must first determine whether you are entitled to any damages or not. Alabama is one of the few states in the nation that applies the defendant-friendly “contributory negligence” legal standard. Under this standard, if an injured party is found to have “contributed” in any way to the underlying accident, they can be barred from recovering any compensation at all.

Most other states apply some type of comparative negligence standard, which means that an injured party could still collect damages even if they were partially at fault. Their damage award is reduced in proportion to the percentage of fault they share, but they are still able to recover some compensation when they get hurt in an accident.

Contributory negligence is a much higher bar to clear, and this is one many of reasons it is vitally important for someone who is injured in an accident in Alabama to get an experienced attorney involved as early as possible. Without strong legal guidance, it is very easy to make a critical mistake that the other side will seize upon in order to deny you the compensation you rightfully deserve.

Types of Damages Available from Alabama Accident Cases

Assuming you are able to prove that the other party is 100% at fault for the accident, there are several different types of damages that can be recovered. Compensatory damages can be divided into two general categories:

Economic Damages

These are actual monetary losses the injured party incurs, and they are fairly easy to quantify.  Damages in this category may include:

  • Medical Bills: Medical costs are among the largest expenses that an accident injury victim will incur. Through an injury claim, damages can be sought for expenses such as hospitalization costs, costs for surgeries and other types of medical treatment, rehabilitation, and ongoing medical care (in the event of a long-term or permanent injury).
  • Lost Wages: When someone gets hurt in an accident, they often need to miss a good number of days from work while they are recovering. Lost wages for days missed from work should be fully compensated.
  • Loss of Future Earning Capacity: If an accident victim suffers a long-term or permanent injury, they may not be able to go back to work for a while (if they are able to return to work at all). When this is the case, you must calculate the value of wages you could have reasonably been expected to earn in the future.
  • Property Damage: In many accident cases, there is property damage in addition to physical injuries. For example, in the case of a car crash, there is most commonly damage to the vehicles involved. 

Non-Economic Damages

These are damages that, although they are real, they are more intangible and difficult to quantify. Non-economic losses may include:

  • Pain and Suffering: Damages for the excruciating physical pain and suffering an injury victim has to endure after an accident.
  • Psychological Distress: In addition to physical pain, there is also a high amount of emotional pain; such as fear of an uncertain future, anxiety, sleepless nights, and similar problems.
  • Diminished Quality of Life: An injury victim may not be able to participate in the same activities they once enjoyed, such as running or playing a certain sport.
  • Loss of Consortium: When there is serious injury or death, someone who is close to the victim may be able to pursue damages for loss of consortium and in the case of a wrongful death, loss of companionship, guidance, and support.

In Alabama, non-economic damages are capped at $400,000 if the injury occurred because of medical malpractice.

Punitive Damages

In more limited cases in which the actions of the party responsible for the accident were willful or malicious, punitive damages may also be awarded. Punitive damages are not meant to compensate the injured party, but rather to “punish” the wrongdoing that resulted in the injury and help discourage similarly egregious actions in the future.

Injured in an Accident in Alabama? Call the Experienced Personal Injury Attorneys at Burns, Cunningham & Mackey, P.C.

If you or someone close to you was injured in an accident in Alabama, it is important to act quickly to protect and preserve your right to recover damages. Call Burns, Cunningham & Mackey, P.C. today at (251) 260-3815 to schedule a free consultation and case assessment.  You may also send us a message through our online contact form or stop by our Mobile office in person at your convenience.