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.

brain injury attorneys

How Long Does It Take to Recover from a Traumatic Brain Injury?

Your brain is an integral part of your body. It controls everything, from movement to thinking to critical functions like respiration. It is not hard to see that a brain injury can be devastating.

Once a person suffers a traumatic brain injury (TBI), the road to recovery can be long and painful. Of course, though every person is different, a TBI can impact your life in a variety of ways as you struggle to deal with these changes.

Physical Effects of a TBI

Most people who are the victims of a TBI do not have to deal with major physical limitations in the long-term. Those who do have physical impairment will generally recover most, if not all, of their functionality within a year or so.

A mild TBI such as a concussion can lead to short-term weakness and dizziness. Multiple TBIs and severe brain injuries can be a precursor for coordination and balance issues, as well as seizures in rare cases.

Cognitive Effects of a TBI

One of the most common problems associated with a TBI is cognitive impairment. This can range from mild to severe and can be either temporary or permanent. Some of the cognitive effects of a TBI include:

  • Difficulty recalling words and phrases
  • Trouble with motivation
  • Impaired visual abilities and perception
  • Issues with concentration
  • Forgetting what someone said or repeating the same thoughts
  • Problems with logical thinking and reasoning

Behavioral/Emotional Effects of a TBI

The human brain is divided into two hemispheres – the left and the right. The left hemisphere controls logical functioning and language as well as the right side of the body. The right hemisphere controls intuitive and spatial abilities as well as the left side of the body.

If there is an injury to the right side of the brain or the frontal lobe (which regulates self-control and personality), there is also a good chance that the victim will have behavioral and emotional issues. Some of these might include:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Impulsive behavior
  • Apathy
  • Fits of anger or outbursts

The Length of the TBI Recovery Process

TBIs have a tendency to heal quickly at first with many improvements before the progression slows. The first six months is generally when you will see the most improvement after an injury, and then patients continue to progress for another several years. After this, progress tends to slow. This is because the damage remains, but the severe symptoms (like bleeding and swelling) have receeded.

The TBI Model System provides detailed statistics on these injuries and recoveries. The data shows that, two years after an injury, most patients continue to show some increases in ability. This is good news, but the progress requires ongoing care and practice, which can be costly. Even two years out, 34% of injury sufferers require some type of supervision within a 24-hour period.

As you or a loved one struggle to recover from a TBI, this can be a stressful time. Health care isn’t cheap, and you may not be able to return to your job anytime soon, if ever. If someone else was to blame for your accident, you have the right to be compensated for this tragedy.

The Role of an Attorney in Traumatic Brain Injury Cases

TBIs are among the worst type of injury that a person can suffer. In the wake of one of these injuries, there are suddenly many new things to worry about that were never a concern in the past. It is in these early, crucial moments that you should speak with an experienced brain injury attorney.

The role of a traumatic brain injury lawyer is to provide you with strong legal advocacy to make sure that you are financially and emotionally compensated for the devastation that these injuries have had on your life.

At Burns, Cunningham & Mackey, P.C., we have extensive experience aggressively and effectively representing the interests of accident victims like yourself. Retaining one of our attorneys will cost you nothing upfront since we work on a contingency fee basis. This means that we are only paid if/when you are awarded damages.

Our firm works diligently to earn the trust of its clients and will fight for a successful outcome in your case. Contact our Mobile office today at (251) 260-3815 to schedule your free consultation.

expert witness in alabama

The Importance of Expert Witnesses in Personal Injury Cases

In a personal injury lawsuit, expert witnesses may be vital to the success of your claim. These witnesses can provide support for your case, reject claims made by the defendant, and prove your case’s true value.

The Importance of Expert Witnesses in a Personal Injury Case

It’s essential to understand that expert witnesses play a much different role in personal injury cases than regular witnesses. A regular witness is a person that was present at the time of the accident and can testify about what they saw or heard.

Expert witnesses weren’t on the scene, but have a high level of experience, proficiency, and education that qualifies them as an “experts” in particular fields. Depending on their expertise, they can testify about how the collision occurred, the amount and extent of future medical treatment, the permanency of the injuries and the amount of any future wage loss.

Experts are not always hired to appear at trial. Your attorney might consult with an expert to gain a better understanding of certain aspects of your case and help form the best strategy. Experts can run focus groups to help frame the issues and develop a theme for your case.  In these instances, the other side might never know that you have used an expert to improve your case.

You might also have an expert provide official testimony related to the circumstances of the accident, a piece of defective equipment, the extent of your injuries, or your resulting emotional trauma. These witnesses may be rebutted by the defense with their own set of experts, but they can often help your case.

Types of Expert Witnesses We Might Use

Whether you use a consulting or testifying expert witness in your case, there are many different types of authorities that you can bring in to strengthen your arguments and even increase the amount of your award. These include:

  • Medical Experts. Medical experts can testify about your specific injuries, your prognosis, as well as your options for recovery. In a medical malpractice case, these experts are generally required to testify about how a healthcare worker deviated from their normal standard of care. Some expert medical testimony will involve a review of records and a separate examination.
  • Accident Reconstruction Experts. These experts help attorneys and law enforcement agencies figure out what happened in an auto, workplace, or other accident involving property or machinery. They use their expertise and evidence collected to reconstruct how the accident occurred and can help pinpoint causation.
  • Mental Health Experts. Mental health experts can consult and testify about how an accident has impacted your mental and emotional state. This testimony can be used to support claims for pain and suffering and other damages.
  • Economics Experts. If you are claiming that your injury has affected your ability to earn a living, an economics expert can help place a dollar value on these damages, which could be significant.
  • Engineering Experts. When an injury is due to shoddy building construction or a defective piece of equipment, an engineering or design expert can testify about how certain defects were the cause of your accident and injuries.
  • Specialized Experts. Anyone who is an expert in a certain area may be able to contribute to the outcome of your case. Other expert witnesses that we’ve used in personal injury cases include phone records specialists, forensic toxicologists, and vocational specialists.

Your Role in Working with an Expert Witness

While it will be your attorney’s job to recommend and locate an expert witness, you may be involved as well. As your lawyer works on building your case, you might need to provide additional information to assist these witnesses in doing their job.

We may refer you to an expert medical examiner if it will help establish the facts of your injuries or allow you to receive the care you need in the future. Following up with diagnostic tests, medical records requests, and answering other questions posed by your attorney and the witnesses can help increase the chances of a positive case outcome.

Contact Our Mobile Personal Injury Attorneys

The subject of expert witnesses within a personal injury case can be complex. You and your legal team must first identify any issues within your case that would benefit from additional explanation. Your attorney can then locate experts that are willing to work on your case.

There are many expert witnesses in the Mobile area, though we may need to reach out to professionals regionally or nationally to secure what you need. When you are trying to prove liability or damages, no stone should be left unturned.

At Burns, Cunningham & Mackey, P.C., our personal injury attorneys aggressively fight for maximum compensation on behalf of every client. Contact our Mobile office now at (251) 260-3815 with any questions or to schedule a free consultation.