railroad crossing accident

How Common are Accidents at Railroad Crossings?

Alabama has seen its fair share of railroad crossing accidents in recent years. In February, a tractor-trailer collided with a train in Pelham. Thankfully, there were no injuries reported, but this was one of the few times when the semi-truck took the brunt of the damages from a collision. Last December, a railroad accident in Birmingham did not turn out as well. In that accident, an Amtrak train headed from New Orleans to New York crashed into a passenger vehicle on its tracks, killing the two occupants of the vehicle.

Railroad crossing accidents like these happen less frequently than other traffic events, but when they occur, the results can be catastrophic. It is not uncommon for train collisions to result in serious injuries and fatalities, and typically there is also extensive damage done to vehicles that are involved in the collision.

What Causes Accidents at Railroad Crossings?

According to the Federal Railroad Administration, there are over 2,100 railroad crossing accidents in the U.S. each year, which amounts to about five or six each day. And when a vehicle collides into a train, the chances of a fatality are 20 times greater than a collision with another vehicle.

Driver negligence is certainly a factor in some railroad crossing accidents. However, there are a number of other reasons these types of accidents can occur. Examples include:

  • Warning signals not installed: A large number of railroad crossings in Alabama still do not have warning signals (such as crossing arms and flashing lights) installed to adequately alert drivers of an oncoming train. When there is no warning system, the chances of an accident are increased.
  • Warning signal defects: Some railroad crossings have warning systems, but they are defective due to lack of maintenance, faulty products, or other issues. When a warning system malfunctions, drivers again may not receive adequate warning that a train is coming.
  • Track defects: Damaged, broken or otherwise defective tracks can make it more difficult for cars to get through the crossing. Track defects also heighten the chances of a train derailment, which can endanger nearby vehicles, bikers, or pedestrians.
  • Steep or uneven roadway: The road leading up to a railroad crossing should not be too steep for vehicles to get through safely. The gradient, or steepness of the road must be in compliance with federal regulations.
  • Obstructed line of sight: Various impediments may block the view of drivers, preventing them from seeing an oncoming train. Examples may include overgrown trees and bushes and other vegetation that gets into the train’s line of sight.
  • Train operator error: Sometimes, the negligence of the train operator could contribute to a railroad crossing accident. This may happen because of chemical impairment, distractions, excessive speeding, and other negligent or reckless actions.
  • Defective train components/parts: Some train accidents can happen because of a mechanical failure or a train component or part that malfunctions. For example, if the train’s brakes fail, it may be unable to stop in time to avoid a collision with another vehicle, object, or person.

Who can be Held Responsible for an Accident at a Railroad Crossing?

As mentioned earlier, the driver of a vehicle that collides into a train is sometimes at-fault for a railroad crossing accident. Other times, however, another party may be liable. Potential parties that may be held responsible for a train accident include:

  • The train operator;
  • The railroad company;
  • The train track owner;
  • The designer or manufacturer of the train;
  • The government entity responsible for maintaining the roadway up to the track.

Railroad accident cases in Alabama are highly complex and challenging to pursue. There are numerous laws and regulations that govern the industry, and a thorough investigation is needed to uncover the exact cause of the accident. Things are further complicated by Alabama’s “contributory negligence” legal standard. Under contributory negligence, an injured party can be barred from recovering any kind of compensation at all if they are found to be even 1% at-fault for the underlying accident that caused their injury.

There is no doubt that railroad companies and other large entities (along with their insurers) will attempt to use this defendant-friendly standard against you if you decide to pursue an injury claim. For this reason, it is important to get an experienced attorney involved in your case as early as possible, so you can preserve your legal right to recover damages.

Call the Seasoned Alabama Railroad Crossing Accident Lawyers at Burns, Cunningham & Mackey

Accidents at railroad crossings can result in severe injuries and fatalities. If you or a loved one has been injured or killed in a train accident, you need strong legal counsel in your corner advocating aggressively for your rights and interests. At Burns, Cunningham & Mackey, P.C., we have extensive experience representing individuals injured in railroad accidents, and we work closely with our clients to provide the skilled and personalized representation they need and deserve. 

Call our Mobile office today at (800) 574-4332 for a free consultation. You may also send us a message through our online contact form.

truck accident lawyer

I Was in an Accident with a Commercial Truck – Who Can I Sue?

Truck accidents are some of the deadliest that occur on the roadways. Each year, thousands of individuals in the U.S. are killed and tens of thousands are injured in accidents with large trucks. And when a big rig truck that typically weighs in excess of 80,000 pounds when fully loaded collides with a regular passenger vehicle, occupants of the passenger vehicle are the ones who tend to sustain the most severe injuries.

Data published by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) helps illustrate this point. The IIHS reports that in 2017, a total of 4,102 individuals were killed in large truck crashes. Of those killed, 17% were occupants of the big rig truck, and 68% were occupants of cars and other passenger vehicles that were involved in the crash. Another 14% were bicyclists, motorcyclists, and pedestrians. The IIHS also reports that the number of people killed in large truck crashes in 2017 was 30% higher than the number killed and 2009, just eight years earlier.

Who do I Sue if I Was in a Truck Accident in Alabama?

Trucking accidents are far more complicated than most other types of personal injury cases.  There are numerous laws and regulations that govern the industry and there are often multiple factors that contribute to an accident.

Some of the parties that could be held liable in an 18-wheeler accident include:

  • The truck driver: Driver negligence plays a major role in a large number of truck accident cases. Some examples may include speeding, reckless driving, distracted driving, driving while drowsy, and driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. The driver may also have violated the Federal Hours of Service Regulations, which restrict the number of hours they are allowed to be on the road.
  • The trucking company: The company that employs the truck driver may share fault in the accident. Trucking companies often try to avoid responsibility by claiming that the driver is an independent contractor. This may or may not be the case, and the working relationship between the driver and the company needs to be closely examined to determine if the trucking company can be held liable. For example, the trucking company may be responsible if the driver displays the company placard with their logo inside the vehicle, even if the company claims to have an independent contractor relationship with the driver.
  • The shipping company: The company that is shipping cargo could play a role in a trucking accident if they overloaded the truck (beyond its legally allowed weight limit) and/or loaded the truck unevenly. Overloaded or unevenly loaded trucks are more susceptible to rolling over or being flipped on their side when they encounter heavy winds and other types of inclement weather while traveling at higher speeds.
  • The truck mechanic: Semi-trucks typically log thousands of miles over-the-road per month. For this reason, proper maintenance is absolutely critical to help ensure that the truck remains in safe driving condition. There are times, however, when the party responsible for servicing and maintaining the truck fails in this duty. This can cause a mechanical breakdown while on the road, putting the truck driver and those they share the road with in serious danger.
  • The vehicle or vehicle part designer or manufacturer: If a vehicle or vehicle part defect plays a role in a trucking accident, it may be possible to hold the designer, manufacturer, or other parties in the supply chain partly responsible for the accident. Examples of product defects that can cause a vehicle accident include brake line failures, tire blowouts, steering system failures, and many others.

Filing a Truck Accident Injury Claim in Alabama

As mentioned earlier, trucking accident cases can be very complex because they are often caused by the convergence of multiple factors. Things are further complicated if the accident occurs in Alabama. This is one of the few states that applies the “contributory negligence” legal standard. Under contributory negligence, an injured party can be barred from recovering damages if they are found to be even 1% at-fault for the underlying accident.

Defendants in a truck accident case will no doubt try to use Alabama’s defendant-friendly laws against you by claiming you were at least partially at fault. This is why it is extremely important to get an experienced personal injury lawyer involved as early as possible in the process, so you can preserve your legal right to compensation.

Call the Skilled Alabama Truck Accident Attorneys at Burns, Cunningham & Mackey

If you or someone close to you has been injured in a trucking accident, there are numerous parties that you may be able to sue for damages. In order to be successful with a personal injury claim, however, you need strong legal counsel in your corner. At Burns, Cunningham & Mackey, P.C., we have extensive experience and a successful track record with even the most complex accident injury cases, and we work closely with our clients, exploring every potential legal avenue toward securing full and fair compensation on their behalf. 

Call our Mobile office today at (800) 574-4332 for a free consultation. You may also send us a message through our web contact form.

commercial truck and car accident

When Cars and Trucks Collide, Serious Injuries Can Result

All car accidents have the potential to be serious, especially when high speeds are involved. Indeed, there is no doubt that car accidents which involve two passenger cars often result in serious or fatal injuries.

When a large truck is involved, however, the injuries incurred by the occupants of the smaller vehicle are almost always serious. In fact, in a single year in Alabama, more than one-quarter of all truck accidents that occurred result in injuries, and there were more than 150 truck accident-related fatalities (source: Alabama Department of Transportation).

When cars and trucks collide, serious injuries can result. Consider some of the most common truck accident injuries, as well as the various expenses and losses that those involved in a truck accident may face:

Truck Accident Injuries

The types of injuries that a party involved in a truck accident may suffer depends on numerous factors, ranging from whether or not the person was wearing their seatbelt at the time of crash, the safety features of the vehicle in which they were an occupant, the speed at which vehicles were traveling at the time of impact, and the type of collision (i.e. underride, override, jackknife, etc.).

With that in mind, some of the most common, and most serious, truck accident injuries include:

  • Crush and amputation injuries. The force and weight of a large truck can result in a smaller passenger vehicle being crushed, which can have devastating consequences for those within the vehicle. Crushed limb injuries may result, which could result in loss of use of the extremity or the necessity of amputation.
  • Traumatic brain injuries. When the head is hit with force, the skull is punctured, or the head is shaken back and forth rapidly or the neck is snapped back and forth in a whip-like motion, a traumatic brain injury (TBI) may result. A TBI can have long-term consequences on a person’s sensation, movement, thinking, language, emotion, memory, and more, sometimes leading to permanent impairment and disability.
  • Spinal cord injuries. There are few injury types more tragic than that of a spinal cord injury, which occurs when harm to the spinal cord occurs, disrupting the body’s ability to send messages between the brain and rest of the body. The consequence of a spinal cord injury is permanent partial or complete paralysis from the site of the injury downward.

In addition to the injury types listed above, a truck accident may also cause bone fracture injuries, soft tissue injuries, internal injuries, and psychological injuries. Depending upon the severity of these injury types, the ramifications may be felt for the remainder of the car accident victim’s life.

Serious Injuries Change the Course of a Life

When a person suffers serious injuries, the magnitude of loss that is suffered is great. To be sure, the victim will not just face pain and medical expenses; they must also deal with emotional anguish, distress, a reduction in quality of life, disability, the inability to do the things they love and enjoy, and the financial consequences associated with medical bills, lost wages, and future care expenses.

Our lawyers believe that those who have been harmed in truck accidents deserve to be compensated for the full extent of their losses, and we will work hard to recoup damages for:

  • The full extent of medical bills suffered, including all future medical expenses such as in-home care, modification to a home or car, hospital stays, future surgeries, and more.
  • The full value of your lost wages, future lost wages, and loss of benefits that you would have earned or been entitled to had you been able to continue working. We consider the value of income and benefits that you would have been able to obtain over the course of your life but for your injury.
  • All of your noneconomic losses, including the value of your pain, suffering, emotional distress, and other intangible harm.

Call Our Alabama Truck Accident Lawyers Today

Being involved in a truck accident can have serious long-term or permanent implications for your life. If you or a loved one has been seriously injured in a truck crash, we want you to know that you are not alone. When you call our Mobile truck accident lawyers at the law firm of Burns, Cunningham & Mackey, P.C., we will work hard to prove the fault of the responsible party and help ensure that you receive the full and fair compensation you need and deserve. 

To schedule your free consultation with our law office, please stop by our office in person, call us at 800-574-4332, or send us a message telling us more about your case using the intake form on our website.

The Most Common Mardi Gras Injuries and How to Avoid Them

The Most Common Mardi Gras Injuries — and How to Avoid Them

 

Mardi Gras is a well-known celebration that many people have attended at least once in their lives. While it’s one of the most fun events of the year, if you really think about it, it is a situation that is placing thousands of people at risk of injury.

Think about this: Multitudes of people flock to Mobile, New Orleans and elsewhere, pack the streets in such a way that there is, at times, very little room to move. Floats are driven through the crowds and things are thrown at spectators. When you consider what happens at Mardi Gras as risky rather than simply a fun time, you are better able to protect yourself from injury.

It’s not to say that people should be afraid to attend the carnival. In fact, it really can be a great time and something people should experience at least once in their lives. That said, anyone who attends should be acutely aware of the potential for injury and behave accordingly. Here are the most common injuries sustained at Mardi Gras, and how you can avoid them.

1. Sunburn

Are you surprised that sunburn is the number one injury at Mardi Gras? You aren’t alone. People think of sunburn as occurring during the summer months and, as such, don’t protect themselves adequately during Mardi Gras. Local doctors say they see more cases of serious sunburn during the carnival than they do during the summer.

It’s easy to protect yourself. Chances are you are going to be fairly covered up in the cool weather, so all you need to do is add a bit of sunscreen to your exposed skin and re-apply it every couple of hours.

2. Twisted Ankles

You would think that it would be difficult to sustain an ankle injury when you are remaining fairly still in the roadway, but they are common. People step up and off of curbs without watching where they are going. Or they may walk across the pavement without looking at your feet, causing them to step into a pothole or trip over road debris. It’s easy to avoid a twisted ankle, sprain or break; just watch where you are going.

3. Dehydration

Like sunburn, people tend to think of dehydration when they think of summer. If you become dehydrated during Mardi Gras, you could potentially faint, falling and injuring yourself more severely. Copious amounts of alcohol and soft drinks combined with hours without water leads to the condition.

If you are attending the party, carry a bottle of water with you. Carry two. You can easily stick bottled water in a bag or backpack to ensure that you have access to water all day long. Drink about every 15 minutes, even if you don’t feel thirsty.

4. Eye Injuries

Flying beads and other objects could easily strike you in the face, causing injury to your eyes. Stay on the lookout for people chucking objects your way, especially if you are near floats.

Consider wearing a pair of sunglasses to protect your eyes or put your hands over your face if you see something flying your way. A scratch to your eye likely won’t result in serious or lasting damage, but it can be fairly painful for a short while.

5. The Flu

Influenza is not technically an injury, but it’s something to be aware of this year. Alabama is still experiencing a high instance of the virus that has landed thousands across the country in the hospital. If someone close to you appears to be suffering with an illness, move away as soon as you have the opportunity. Keep hand sanitizer in your bag, and use it liberally and often.

You want lasting memories of Mardi Gras, not lasting germs. If you begin to feel ill after the carnival, experiencing symptoms like aches and pains, vomiting, diarrhea or a fever, seek medical attention for a proper diagnosis.

Mardi Gras is a great time and millions of people have enjoyed the show since the first carnival was held. Keep in mind that while you can certainly have a good time, you have to be aware of the potential for injury and take steps to protect yourself. Use the tips above to help ensure that you walk away from the carnival as healthy as you were when you arrived.

If you are visiting Mardi Gras in Alabama and sustain an injury that has been caused by someone’s negligence or misactions, call our office. We will review the details of your injury and help you determine if you have the elements necessary for a successful personal injury lawsuit.

Reach out to our team today and schedule your case evaluation. We will advise you of your legal rights and options and help you make the best decisions for your situation. You don’t have to suffer financial difficulty due to an accident that wasn’t your fault. We will help you hold the at-fault party accountable for their actions.