Personal Injury Blog Posts

lawyers in Birmingham, AL

What are the Most Important Considerations when Hiring a Personal Injury Attorney?

When someone is injured or killed because of the negligence or reckless actions of another person or party, they will most likely need to hire a lawyer to help ensure that they receive just compensation. But hiring a personal injury lawyer is not a decision that should be made hastily.  Not all attorneys are the same, and with so much at stake, it is very important to take some time to consider which attorney you want to work with.

Before we discuss what to look for in a personal injury attorney, here is some advice on what to avoid. Beware of direct solicitations from lawyers or representatives for lawyers. They will sometimes pose as “investigators” and show up uninvited to your home or hospital room after an accident. 

In Alabama, these types of solicitations are against the law unless you already know the lawyer, have been represented by them in the past, or you have a family member or close personal friend who knows the lawyer. Other than these exceptions, this type of conduct is illegal, unethical, and the lawyer they are soliciting for is most likely unqualified to handle your case.

You should also be very skeptical of lawyers who have billboards all over town and run numerous ads on the radio, TV, and in the newspaper. These are usually firms that work on high volume and put very little time into each case. Cases are usually handled by an inexperienced associate in the firm, and their goal is to settle quickly and move on to the next case. A firm like this almost never takes a case to trial, and if things get complicated, they will often bail out or hand the case over to another firm.

Top 5 Considerations when Hiring a Personal Injury Lawyer

Now that we have covered what to watch out for and avoid, here are some of the things you should look for in a personal injury attorney:

Experience

It is great if the lawyer that has extensive personal injury experience, but it needs to go deeper than that. Personal injury is a very complex area of the law, and it can encompass all types of injuries; from auto accidents to medical malpractice to workplace injuries to Social Security disability claims. For this reason, it is best to work with a lawyer who focuses exclusively on this area of practice. A lawyer with this level of experience will have dealt with numerous scenarios and most likely will have handled some of the more complicated cases. This will help provide the confidence and assurance that they can handle your claim as well.

Commitment and Resources

We talked previously about “settlement mills” – firms that work on a high volume and never take a case to trial. The lawyer you choose should not only have experience practicing personal injury law, they should also have the in-depth experience, ability, and willingness to take your injury claim to trial. The other side needs to know that you are ready and able to pursue litigation if necessary. Otherwise, they will have very little motivation to give you a fair settlement offer.  Along these same lines, your lawyer should also have the resources to call on top specialists to serve as expert witnesses (when they are needed) to help substantiate your claim.

Communication, Personalized Attention and Care

Your lawyer should be a trusted confidant who provides strong legal guidance and moral support to help get you through a difficult time. Choose a lawyer or firm that will work closely with you throughout the process, communicate with you frequently, and treat you with the dignity and respect you deserve.

Results

When it is all said and done, what matters more than anything else is whether or not you will be able to recover the full and fair compensation you need and deserve (for your injuries). As such, your lawyer should have a successful track record with other cases like yours, and they should be highly regarded by the top reputable and impartial legal rating services. Bottom line: look for a lawyer who has proven to get results for other clients who have already been in your situation.

Your Gut Feeling

There are a lot of factors to weigh when deciding who you want to represent you in your personal injury claim. If you are still considering a handful of good candidates and you are having a hard time making a decision, you will ultimately have to go with your gut feeling. How did you feel about the lawyer after talking to them? Did their answers to your questions make sense? Who do you think you would feel most comfortable working with? These and similar questions will help you decide which lawyer you want to work with.

Speak with our Skilled Personal Injury Lawyers in Birmingham, AL

If you or someone close to you has suffered a personal injury in Alabama through no fault of your own, we at Burge & Burge welcome the opportunity to earn your trust. Call us today at 205-251-9000 or message us through our web contact form to schedule a free consultation. You may also stop by our Birmingham office in person at your convenience, or we will come to you.

work after an injury

Should I Be in a Hurry to Return to Work after an Injury?

If you have suffered a work-related injury or illness and you are on workers’ compensation, it is understandable that you may be anxious to get fully recovered and back to work as soon as possible. Being out of work means less income for you and your family, and you may also be worried about how long your employer will hold your job for you. And at the end of the day, most people want to get back to a normal life, a large part of which includes going back to their jobs.

While you may be motivated to return to work, be careful about being in too much of a hurry to get back to your job. While your employer might want you back as quickly as possible, this might not always be in your best interests.

After a work-related injury, you need to make sure that you are physically able to handle all of the demands of your job again. And if you try to come back too soon, you could end up getting re-injured and making your condition worse. In the long run, this could lower your chances of ever making a full recovery and ultimately end up costing you your job and your workers’ compensation benefits.

Some employers put undue pressure on injured employees to come back to work. They might make statements like, “we really need you back, and we really hope the doctor will clear you to work again soon”. They may even tell you that they have a new position available for you if you can just get cleared by the doctor, or they may imply that your position will not be there much longer if you don’t get back to work soon.

If you are feeling any type of pressure to return to work before a doctor has cleared you, or you are feeling pressure to try to persuade the doctor to issue a clearance before you are fully healed, it would be in your best interests to speak with an experienced Alabama workers’ compensation lawyer to discuss your legal rights and options.

When am I Required to Return to Work after an Injury?

The short answer is – as soon as your doctor releases you and issues a “return to work date.” Each time you see your doctor (about your injury), they usually make a notation that updates your work status. At some point, you might be released to return to work with restrictions (such as doing “light duty” or “seated only” work), or you may be released to go back to your previous job without restrictions if the doctor believes you have made a full recovery or reached maximum medical improvement (MMI).

Pay very close attention to your doctor’s evaluation and your disability and work status after each visit, because sometimes you might be released to work on paper without the doctor telling you this verbally.  If you are released to work in any capacity, you must inform your employer right away. In addition, you are supposed to report to work on your “return to work”. If you disagree with your doctor’s evaluation and do not feel like you are ready to return to your job yet, the only way to avoid going back to work is to appeal their directive.

Your employer may have a “return to work” policy in place to help injured workers transition back into their jobs. This type of policy is intended to establish a work plan between the employee and the employer, which may include restricted work and reasonable accommodations that are in keeping with the recommendations of your doctor. Be sure to stay within the parameters of any work restrictions your doctor imposes – this will help ensure that you have a healthy and successful return to your job.

Can I be Fired for Not Returning to Work Quickly Enough?

While your employer cannot fire you strictly for filing a workers’ compensation claim, they are generally not required to hold your job open for you unless you have a specific employment contract that states otherwise. One exception to this is if an employee qualifies for unpaid leave under the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) due to a serious health condition. All that said, most employers will take an employee back after recovering from an injury as long as the employee stays in regular contact with them and the employer has an available position.

Contact Burge & Burge Today for Skilled Legal Representation

Suffering a work-related injury can be wrought with legal complications, and it is often advisable to retain the services of a seasoned workers’ compensation lawyer to help navigate the complexities of your claim. At Burge & Burge, we have several decades of experience standing up for injured workers in Alabama and helping ensure that they receive the benefits they are entitled to.

Call our office today at 205-251-9000 to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation. You may also message us online or stop by our Birmingham office in person at your convenience.

how to win your truck accident case

What Must I Prove to Win my Truck Accident Claim?

Trucking accidents are some of the most devastating incidents that occur on the roadways. When an 18-wheeler that can weigh in excess of 80,000 pounds collides with a regular passenger vehicle, it can result in disastrous consequences. And the majority of the time, occupants of the passenger vehicle are the ones who sustain the most serious injuries from these types of accidents.

If you or a loved one has been injured in a truck accident that was the fault of another party, you have a right to compensation. Unfortunately, recovering compensation is not usually a simple and straightforward process.

The truck driver, trucking company, and their insurers will aggressively defend their interests in an attempt to minimize the amount of damages they have to pay, and this is particularly true when there are severe and catastrophic injuries and they are facing the prospect of paying out a large settlement. For this reason, you will need strong legal counsel by your side as early as possible after the accident, so they can go to work immediately to protect your interests.

What is Needed to Prove a Truck Accident Claim?

In order to recover full and fair compensation after a trucking accident, you will need to prove several elements: 

  • The party (or parties) responsible owed you a duty of care;
  • The party (or parties) responsible breached this duty through negligent or reckless actions or omissions;
  • This breach was the proximate cause of the accident, resulting damage to your vehicle and injury to your person;
  • The property damage and physical injuries you suffered resulted in compensable losses (both economic and non-economic).

The first thing you need to determine with a truck accident claim is who are the responsible parties. With these types of cases, there are often multiple parties that could be at fault. These may include the truck driver, the trucking company that employs the driver, the owner or lessor of the truck, the shipping company that loaded the truck, the party responsible for maintaining the truck, or the manufacturer or distributor of a faulty vehicle or vehicle part. 

Your lawyer will conduct a thorough investigation of the accident to uncover all the key facts and pieces of evidence and get to the bottom of who was to blame. From there, they will prepare the strongest possible claim to present to the insurance company during settlement negotiations, or in front of the court if the case ends up at trial.

It is important to note that the standard of proof for personal injury claims is not the same as in a criminal case. In a criminal trial, you must prove “beyond a reasonable doubt” that the defendant is guilty of a crime. With civil cases, a much lower standard of proof is applied which is known as “preponderance of the evidence.” Preponderance of the evidence essentially means that it is “more likely than not” that what the plaintiff has alleging his true.

If the truck accident took place in Alabama, there is another hurdle that must be overcome in order to win your truck accident claim. Alabama is one of just a handful of states that applies the “contributory negligence” legal doctrine to personal injury claims. This means that if an injured party is found to have “contributed” in any way to the underlying accident (even 1%), they may be barred from recovering damages. 

You can be absolutely certain that the other side will do everything possible to try to pin at least some of the blame (for the accident) on you, so they can avoid paying out damages. This is another good reason why it is important to get an attorney involved right away. Otherwise, you may jeopardize your legal right to recover just compensation for your injuries.

Injured in a Truck Accident in Alabama? Contact Burge & Burge Today for Skilled Legal Representation

Trucking accidents often result in serious injuries; but proving this type of claim is far more complicated than with a standard car accident case. At Burge & Burge, we have extensive experience successfully representing individuals who have been injured in truck accidents in Alabama. We work closely with our clients, and we have the knowledge, skills, resources, and commitment to help ensure that our clients recover maximum compensation.

Call us today at 205-251-9000 or message us through our online contact form. You may also stop by our Birmingham office in person at your convenience.

railway accident attorneys in birmingham alabama

What are the Causes of Railway Accidents?

Trains are widely presumed to be a safe way to travel. However, railway accidents are more common than most people believe. Each year, there are thousands of accidents with injuries involving trains, and hundreds of individuals are killed in these types of accidents. There are also dozens of train derailments each year that result in the spilling of toxic substances, thus requiring those nearby to be evacuated.

There are several different types of train accidents, these include:

  • Derailments
  • Train-Train Collisions
  • Train-Vehicle Collisions
  • Train-Bicycle Collisions
  • Train-Pedestrian Collisions

The majority of railway accidents are train-vehicle collisions, and most of them occur at railroad crossings. There are nearly 6,000 of these types of crashes each year in the U.S., killing approximately 600 people and injuring about 2,500 more. 

What Causes Railway Accidents?

There are number of reasons why train accidents occur, some of the most common causes include:

  • Train Operator Error: Human error is a contributing factor in a large number of railway accidents. This could be due to poor training, inexperience, reckless behavior, or a combination of these. Some examples of reckless behavior include operating the train while intoxicated and driving the train too fast.
  • Track Problems: Track owners are responsible for keeping their tracks maintained and in good repair. Over time, tracks become worn and broken, which can cause train derailments and other problems.
  • Lack of Warning Signals: A large number of railroad crossings in Alabama and throughout the country do not have warning signals installed. This is particularly common in rural areas, where those in charge of these crossings often do not have the budget to make them safer. Without a warning signal, motorists, bicyclists, and pedestrians may not realize that a train is coming until it is too late.
  • Warning Signal Defects: Many crossings have warning signals installed, but they have not been maintained properly or there may be a faulty part that malfunctions. Whichever is the case, a defective warning signal is nearly as bad as having no warning signal at all.
  • Obstructed View of the Railroad Crossing: Those responsible for railroad tracks and crossings are supposed to keep the area clear and maintain a line of sight for vehicles to see them. If trees and other vegetation become overgrown, it can obstruct the view of the crossing, making it difficult for motorists, bicyclists, and pedestrians to see it.
  • Stalled Vehicles: Some train-vehicle crashes happen because a vehicle gets stalled on top of the track, often due to a mechanical failure or a faulty vehicle or vehicle part.
  • Distractions: Some railway accidents are caused by distractions such as sending texts or other smartphone activity. Anyone is susceptible to the temptation of being distracted by their smartphone; this can happen to the train operator, or a driver, bicyclist, or pedestrian who may be crossing the track.
  • Faulty Equipment: A train accident can happen because of a defective train or train component, or some type of mechanical defect. For example, if a train experiences a brake failure, it may not be able to stop in time to prevent a collision.

How to Prevent Railway Accidents

Trains typically weigh between 80,000 and 400,000 pounds, and the last thing any of us want is to collide with one of them at a high speed. Here are some tips for preventing railway accidents:

  • Always be on the lookout for warning signs and signals when approaching a railroad crossing;
  • Always assume that a train could approach at any time;
  • Whether you are walking, biking, or driving, only cross railroad tracks at designated crossing areas, and never walk on or alongside the tracks;
  • Always look both ways before crossing a railroad track;
  • Be aware that trains cannot stop quickly, and never try to beat a train across the tracks;
  • Never stop your vehicle on top of a track, and if your vehicle stalls, get out of it immediately;
  • Never, under any circumstances, attempt to board a moving train.

Injured in a Railway Accident in Alabama? Call the Experienced Train Accident Lawyers at Burge & Burge

Even if you do everything possible to prevent a railway accident, they can still happen because of the negligence or reckless actions of other parties. And when these accidents occur, filing a claim to recover compensation for your injuries can be a complicated process. There are multiple parties that could be potentially liable, and this could include a government entity, which would involve an entirely different set of procedures. 

At Burge & Burge, we have many years of experience representing clients injured in railway accidents and those who have suffered all other types of personal injuries in Alabama. We have in-depth knowledge of this area of the law, and a successful track record with even the most complex cases. We can meet with you to thoroughly assess your case and advise you of your legal rights and options.

For a free consultation with one of our attorneys, call us today at 205-251-9000. You may also message us through our web contact form or stop by our Birmingham office in person at your convenience.

motorcycle accident attorneys in Birmingham

How Distracted Drivers Endanger Motorcyclists

There has been a major increase in motorcycle accident fatalities in recent years. Over the past couple decades, the average number of motorcyclists killed in accidents each year has nearly doubled. During the 1990s, the number of individuals killed in motorcycle crashes were less than 3,000 per year. Today, motorcycle fatalities routinely exceed 4,000 or even 5,000 in any given year.

Many believe that the sharp increase in motorcycle crash fatalities is largely due to the evolution of the electronic age. In the early 2000s, texting started to become popular. And by the time Apple introduced its first iPhone in 2007, many motorists were regularly sending and receiving texts. That same year, the number of motorcycle accident fatalities exceeded 5,000 for the first time.

Today, just about everybody uses texting to communicate. Smartphones also provide numerous other ways to stay connected, such as emailing, social media messaging, social media status updates, and watching YouTube videos. All too often, this proves to be far too much of a temptation for many motorists.

What is Distracted Driving?

Motorists have always had distractions, and any activity that diverts a driver’s attention from the road is considered to be distracted driving. Examples include tuning a radio, adjusting a music player, eating and drinking, grooming, using a GPS/navigation system, talking on the phone, talking with passengers, and of course, smartphone activities.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) separates driver distractions into three general categories:

  • Manual: Any distraction that causes a motorist to take their hands off of the wheel.
  • Visual: Any distraction that causes a motorist to take their eyes off of the road.
  • Cognitive: Any distraction that causes a motorist to take their mind off of driving.

Any of the aforementioned examples can be dangerous, especially those that fall into two or more of the general categories of distraction. Texting while driving and similar activities are particularly hazardous, however, because they fall into all three categories, thus taking the focus of the motorist completely away from the primary task of driving.

Distracted Driving and Motorcycle Accidents

The CDC says that distracted driving kills thousands of individuals and injures hundreds of thousands more each year. And while everyone is at risk of being involved in an accident that is caused by a distracted driver, the risk of serious injuries and fatalities from these types of accidents is much greater for motorcyclists.

Motorcyclists already have a lower profile than other vehicles, and they are not as easy to see, especially when a motorist is distracted or inattentive. In addition, motorcyclists do not have a steel cage and a seatbelt to protect them, and when there is a collision with another vehicle, there is not much that separates their bodies from the pavement. These are just a couple reasons why motorcyclists are approximately 28 times more likely to be killed in a collision (per vehicle mile traveled) than occupants of motor vehicles.

Just how bad is the problem of distracted driving and motorcycle accidents? According to a Milwaukee Journal Sentinel article from 2017, approximately 40% of all motorcycle accidents are caused by driver distractions.

Most states now have bans on texting while driving, including Alabama. And numerous surveys have shown that the vast majority of motorists believe that this type of activity is dangerous and unacceptable. Unfortunately, many of these same people continue to give in to the temptation to send messages through their smartphones while driving.

Many experts believe we need stricter penalties to help deter drivers from engaging in this behavior. For example, in Alabama, the penalty for a first-time distracted driving violation is only $25.00 and two demerit points on your driving record. A second-time offense is just $50.00, and a third time offense is just $75.00.

For motorcyclists who are at the mercy of distracted drivers, defensive driving is more important than ever. Motorcyclists should be on the lookout for signs that a motorist may be distracted. Some behaviors that may indicate distracted driving include:

  • Vehicles weaving over the center line;
  • Vehicles moving back and forth between lanes;
  • Vehicles stopping for extended times at stop signs;
  • Vehicles remaining stopped at a stoplight even after it turns green.

If you see signs of distracted or inattentive driving, keep your distance from these vehicles, give them plenty of space, and be cautious when you pass them.

Injured in a Distracted Driving Accident in Alabama? Call the Experienced Car Accident Attorneys at Burge & Burge

Even with all the caution in the world, accidents can still happen. And when these accidents are caused by the negligence or reckless actions of a distracted driver, those who suffer injuries deserve to be fully compensated. If you or someone close to you has been injured in a distracted driving accident, contact Burge & Burge for a free consultation and case assessment.

Call us today at 205-251-9000 or message us through our web contact form. You may also stop by our Birmingham office in person at your convenience.

senior motorcycle riders and injuries

Are Senior Motorcycle Riders at Greater Risk for Injury?

Motorcycle riding is a favorite pastime in Alabama, and because of our warm weather, riders can enjoy the scenic beauty of the Yellowhammer State throughout the year. There is simply nothing like the exhilaration and sense of freedom you get when you glide down the open road with the wind in your face on a warm sunny day.

Riding a motorcycle is wonderful, but it comes at a cost. Because riders are not protected by a steel cage, they are at much greater risk of injury when they are involved in a collision. Motorcyclists are 28 times more likely to be killed in a crash than occupants of a motor vehicle, and in the majority of cases, these types of accidents are the fault of the motorist.

Study Shows Senior Motorcycle Riders at Greater Risk for Injury

All motorcycle riders run a risk for injury, but research indicates that the risk of serious injury is heightened as we get older. A study that was published in 2013 by Consumer Reports shows that the injury risk is highest among senior motorcyclists, defined as riders age 60 and above. This is significant, because the senior riding population has risen sharply over the past couple decades.

The primary reason for the increase in senior motorcyclists is our aging population. Baby Boomers, who have loved riding since they became adults, are now entering retirement. This gives them more free time to enjoy the open roads.

As we get older and our bodies experience more wear and tear, it stands to reason that we would not be as durable as we were during our 20s and 30s. And this is exactly what the study showed. Younger riders, those between the ages of 20 and 39, are involved in far more accidents than those in the senior age group (which is another finding that makes sense). However, motorcycle accidents seem to be much harder on older riders. The study found that:

  • Riders age 60 and over are 2.5 times more likely to require emergency room treatment in a motorcycle accident than riders in the youngest age group;
  • Middle-aged riders (those between the ages of 40 and 60) are 66% more likely to require emergency room treatment than younger riders;
  • Senior riders are three times more likely to require hospitalization than younger riders.

Fractures are among the most common types of motorcycle accident injuries among riders in all age groups, but younger riders tend to suffer broken arms and sometimes broken legs, while riders in the 60 and above age group often suffer more serious fractures, such as in places like the chest and back. When we age, our bone density decreases, making our strongest and most solid bones more brittle, and this helps explain why seniors tend to end up with more severe injuries after a motorcycle accident.

How Senior Motorcyclists Can Protect Themselves

The authors of the study listed several recommendations to help seniors stay safer when they are out riding: 

  • Take a Motorcycle Safety Course: Many Baby Boomers are new to motorcycle riding or they are just getting back into it after hanging up the helmet for a few decades while they were raising their family. Whatever your level of skill, it is good to take a motorcycle safety course or refresher course, so you are up to speed on all the best safety practices.
  • Wear DOT-Approved Helmets: In Alabama, all motorcycle riders are required to wear helmets that are made of non-shattering materials and contain a hard, exterior shell. Be sure to wear a state-approved helmet whenever you are riding.
  • Wear Extra Chest Protection: Middle-aged and senior riders can better protect vulnerable areas of their body by wearing extra chest protection.

Another precaution that all motorcycle riders should take is to wear reflective clothing to help other motorists see you better. Distracted driving is a growing epidemic these days, and because of driver inattentiveness, motorists often fail to notice motorcycles that are riding nearby. By wearing bright and reflective clothing, you can vastly reduce the chances of this happening.

Injured in a Motorcycle Accident in Alabama? Contact a Skilled Personal Injury Lawyer

Sometimes, you do everything right and still end up in an accident. If you have been hurt in a motorcycle crash that was the fault of another person or party, you need strong legal counsel by your side advocating forcefully for your rights and interests.

Call the experienced motorcycle accident attorneys at Burge & Burge at 205-251-9000 for a free consultation and case assessment. You may also message us through our web contact form or stop by our Birmingham office in person at your convenience.

pedestrian accidents in the summer

Do Pedestrian Accidents Increase in the Summer?

Pedestrian accidents claim the lives of thousands of individuals each year. The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that nearly 6,000 pedestrians were killed in traffic-related events in 2017. This works out to about one pedestrian death every 88 minutes. Initial estimates for 2018 by the Governor’s Highway Association show that pedestrian accident fatalities increased to about 6,200 last year, the highest number of fatalities since 1990.

The GHA lists several reasons why pedestrian accidents have been on the rise in recent years:

  • Increased Foot Traffic: Simply put, more people are walking than in years past. This is due to several factors; including an increase in the overall population, a more health-conscious society, and more people choosing to use public transportation to get to work. This has translated into about a 4% increase in foot traffic during the past decade.
  • More Motorists Driving SUVs: As the price of fuel has dropped, the number of consumers driving SUVs has increased. Today, SUVs are the top-selling type of passenger vehicle on the market. This is significant, because these types of vehicles are wider and heavier, and when they collide with a pedestrian, there is a greater risk of a serious injuries or fatalities.
  • Poor Driving Habits: Another major contributor to the rise in pedestrian accidents is driver negligence. Behaviors like speeding, aggressive/reckless driving, drowsy driving, and driving while intoxicated are still big problems, and a growing concern is the increased use of smartphones, resulting in more motorists sending texts while driving and engaging in similar forms of distracted driving.

Pedestrian Accidents During the Summer Months

All types of traffic-related accidents, injuries, and fatalities increase during the summertime, including pedestrian accidents. There are a number of reasons why this occurs:

  • More Inexperienced Drivers on the Road: With the kids out of school, teens have more time on their hands, which means they spend more time driving. Because teen drivers are be less experienced than older drivers, they tend to make poorer driving decisions that heighten the chances of an accident.
  • More People Taking Vacation Road Trips: In addition to the increase in teen drivers, summer means an overall increase in traffic as many families plan their vacations and take their road trips during the summer months.
  • Increased Alcohol Use: During the summertime, there are many festivals, concerts, parties, and other events that involve alcohol. Unfortunately, increased alcohol use causes more people to make the very poor and often fateful decision to get behind the wheel after having too much to drink.
  • More Pedestrian Traffic: During the warmer months, there are more people out walking. In particular, people in humid climates like what we have here in Alabama enjoy going out for a walk during the evening hours when it is cooler and starting to get dark. This makes pedestrians more difficult for motorists to see.
  • Increased Road Construction: Most road construction projects are planned for the summer months. Road construction means more traffic and congestion, and for pedestrians, it may also mean having to sacrifice sidewalk space and walk more closely to nearby vehicles.
  • Greater Chance of Vehicle Malfunctions: When the temperatures rise, so do the chances of problems with vehicles. The greatest danger overheating poses with regards to accidents is with the tires. Heat causes the air in your tires to expand, which can result in a tire blowout, particularly if your tires are of substandard quality or the tread is worn thin.

Injured in a Pedestrian Accident in Alabama? Call the Experienced Personal Injury Attorneys at Burge & Burge

During the summer months, pedestrian accidents tend to increase. If you or someone close to you was injured by a motor vehicle while walking and it was the driver’s fault, you may be eligible for compensation. At Burge & Burge, we have over five decades of combined experience successfully representing pedestrians, bicyclists, motorcyclist, motorists, and all others who have suffered personal injuries in Alabama. We work closely with our clients, and we have the knowledge, skills, resources, and dedication to help ensure that our clients receive the full and fair compensation they need and deserve.

For a free consultation and case assessment with one of our seasoned attorneys, call us today at 205-251-9000. You may also message us through our online contact form or stop by our Birmingham office in person at your convenience.

car accident attorney in Birmingham, AL

5 Things to Do if You are in an Accident with a Commercial Vehicle

Commercial trucking is a major industry in Alabama, employing over 100,000 individuals and accounting for one out of every 15 jobs in the state. From Tuscaloosa to Auburn and Mobile to Huntsville, big rig trucks log thousands of miles every week shipping goods to and from destinations throughout the Yellowhammer State. 

When a commercial vehicle causes an accident, it can be an unsettling experience for those involved. Tractor-trailers weigh upwards of 80,000 pounds when they are fully loaded, which is up to 30 times heavier than a regular passenger vehicle.

If you are involved in a collision with a semi-truck, it is important to stay calm and gather your thoughts. Taking the right steps after an accident will help ensure that those who are injured are properly treated, and that your legal right to recover compensation is preserved.

Whether you are reading this article at the scene of an accident that just occurred or you are researching this topic to prepare in case something like this happens in the future, please take note of the five most important things you should do if you are in an accident with a commercial vehicle:

Call 911

After any type of motor vehicle accident, health and safety are the top priorities. If anyone has been injured, call 911 right away to bring an ambulance to the scene. In general, it is always best to call for medical help, even if there appear to be no immediate injuries. When you are involved in a collision, some injury symptoms do not show up right away. Even if you do not feel hurt, call an ambulance just in case. This will not only help ensure that everyone who is hurt gets treated right away, but it will also help establish a legal connection between the accident and any resulting injuries. Usually, the 911 operator will also call the police to the scene to help regulate traffic and produce an official accident report. If the operator does not do it for you, be sure to call the police on your own.

Secure the Scene of the Accident

After you have called for medical assistance, you will need to get your vehicle and any other vehicles involved in the accident as far away from traffic as possible. If you are able, pull your car off to the side of the road where it is not in the line of sight of oncoming cars. Have your hazard lights on, and put up flares, cones, or flashers to alert other motorists that there is an accident scene ahead.

Gather Important Information

Stay calm and be polite as you exchange information with the truck driver and anyone else who was involved in the accident. Do not admit fault, apologize, or speculate in any way as to what may have caused the accident. Obtain the truck driver’s name and contact info, driver’s license number, U.S. DOT serial number (if it is available), insurance information, and the name and contact info of their employer. It is also important to document the incident for your own records, so you have this information in case legal action is required. Take multiple photographs of the accident scene from as many angles as possible. Also, write down in detail what happened while it is fresh in your mind. If you are not able to write at the moment, use the voice recorder on your smartphone to record your report and transcribe it later.

Get Statements from Witnesses

If there were any witnesses that are willing to provide statements, be sure to obtain statements from them. Many witnesses will allow you to record a video statement with your smartphone, which can be very useful if you need to prove what happened in an accident injury case. Also, be sure to get their contact information ,so you or your attorney can get in touch with them later in case you need them to testify.

Report the Accident to your Insurer

Most insurers require that an accident be reported within about 1 to 3 days after it occurs. At your earliest convenience, call your insurance company to report what happened. As mentioned earlier, do not admit fault for anything, and do not provide any recorded statements without first talking to your lawyer. Just give them the facts as you know them and let the experts to sort out who was to blame for the accident.

Injured in a Trucking Accident in Alabama? Call the Experienced Personal Injury Attorneys at Burge & Burge

If you or a loved one suffered injury in a truck accident that was the fault of another party, you have a right to be compensated. Alabama is a “contributory negligence” state, however. This means that if you are found to be even 1% at fault for the accident, you may be barred from recovering damages. For this reason, it is absolutely essential to obtain skilled legal counsel as early as possible in the process, so your right to compensation can be protected and preserved.

For a free consultation and case assessment with one of the seasoned truck accident attorneys at Burge & Burge, us today at 205-251-9000. You may also message us through our online contact form or stop by our Birmingham office in person at your convenience.

Motorcycle Accident Attorney in Birmingham, AL

I was Injured in a Motorcycle Accident, do I Need to Retain an Attorney?

Motorcycle accidents can be severe and life-changing, often resulting in serious and catastrophic injuries. In fact, according to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA), nearly 100,000 individuals are injured in motorcycle crashes each year. And because they are less protected than drivers and occupants of other types of vehicles, motorcyclists tend to sustain the most severe injuries after a crash.

Many people who are injured in a motorcycle accident wonder if they need to retain an attorney to help them with their accident claim. Of course, an attorney will collect a portion of your compensation as their fee for handling your claim, and this is definitely a major consideration in deciding whether or not it is worthwhile to retain legal counsel.

There are times when it may be fine for you to handle your motorcycle accident claim on your own. For example, if the accident was unquestionably the fault of another party, you sustained relatively minor injuries, and the insurance company has offered a settlement you believe is fair, then you can probably handle the claim on your own, take the settlement, and move on with your life.

If, on the other hand, your injuries are moderate to severe (and maybe you do not even know the full extent of them yet), there is some question about who was at fault, and there are other complicating factors, retaining an attorney is highly recommended. Accident injury cases can be complex and confusing, and there are numerous potential pitfalls that could trip you up and cause you to receive less compensation than you deserve, or even lose out on receiving any compensation at all.

An experienced personal injury attorney is familiar with the claims process and the common tactics insurance companies use to try to diminish the value of the claim or deny it all together.  Here are just a few ways an attorney can help you successfully pursue a motorcycle accident injury claim:

Your Attorney can Protect your Legal Right to Compensation

If you were injured in a motorcycle accident in Alabama, you may be facing an uphill battle trying to recover compensation. Alabama is a “contributory negligence” state. This means that if an injured party is found to have “contributed” in any way to the underlying accident that caused their injuries (even 1%), they can be barred from recovering compensation.

There is no doubt that the insurance company will attempt to use the state’s defendant-friendly legal standard against you by trying to get you to admit fault or otherwise show that you bear some responsibility for the accident. If you retain an attorney early on in the process, they will advise you on what to say and what not to say, and they will go to work immediately to gather important evidence to help prove that the other party is 100% at-fault for the accident.

Your Attorney can Accurately Value your Claim

If you have never dealt with an accident injury claim in the past, you may not be familiar with the various types of damages that may be available and how much compensation you should ask for. If you work with an experienced attorney, they will have handled numerous cases like yours before, and they will have the in-depth knowledge necessary to thoroughly assess your case, determine the full extent of your injuries, call on the assistance of outside experts when necessary, and aggressively pursue full and fair compensation.

Your Attorney can Negotiate Directly with the Insurance Company

If you are not familiar with the process, it may also be difficult for you to negotiate a fair settlement with the insurance adjuster. These adjusters are trained negotiators whose interests are not aligned with yours. They work for the insurance company, and as such, their goal is to pay out as little as possible for your claim. In this situation, you need a skilled negotiator in your corner who is looking out for your interests. Your attorney will negotiate directly with the adjuster, and if the adjuster is not willing to negotiate in good faith, they will be ready and able to pursue full damages through litigation.

Injured in a Motorcycle Accident in Alabama? Call the Skilled Personal Injury Lawyers at Burge & Burge

If you or someone close to you was injured in a motorcycle crash, it is a good idea to at least talk with an attorney free of charge to discuss your case and go over your rights and options. That way, you can make the most informed decision on how you wish to proceed. For a free, no-obligation consultation and case assessment, call Burge & Burge today at 205-251-9000. You may also message us through our web contact form or stop by our Birmingham office in-person at your convenience.

neck and lower back pain after car accident

What is Causing my Neck & Lower Back Pain after a Car Crash?

Motor vehicle accidents are an everyday occurrence. And oftentimes, they result in minor injuries and minimal vehicle damage. Some injuries are immediately noticeable; such as cuts, scrapes, bumps, bruises, and broken bones. Other injuries are not always noticed right away, however. This is especially common with neck and lower back pain that happens after a car crash.

There is a good reason why you don’t always feel the effects of an injury immediately after an auto accident; adrenaline. When you are involved in a vehicle collision, it creates any immediate change in your emotional state. Your heart beats faster and your mind starts racing as you try to figure out what all this means and how you should deal with the situation.

The adrenaline rush you experience often masks the pain of an injury, much like what happens to an athlete when they are injured in the middle of a game but continue playing and do not feel the injury until after the game is over. In the case of a car accident, it may take several hours or even a few days or longer to start to feel the effects of some injuries.

What causes Neck and Back Pain after an Auto Accident?

If you start to feel pain in your back and neck after being in a car crash, this could be a sign of a whiplash injury. Most vehicle accidents, regardless of the force or intensity of the collision, will involve a jerking motion. The force of the collision throws your body rapidly back and forth, similarly to the motion of a horse whip.

Minor cases of whiplash may last only a few days, while severe cases can go on for several months or even years. The severity of the injury depends largely on specific factors, such as the speed in which the vehicles were traveling at impact, the position of the injured occupant(s) when the vehicles collided, and many others.

Whiplash tends to produce general neck and back pain, which as we discussed earlier, can happen right away or the onset of the pain may be delayed for a while. There are other symptoms that are associated with this condition, including:

  • Extreme headaches;
  • Stiffness in the neck and back;
  • Restricted range of motion in the neck;
  • Increased pain with neck movement;
  • Numbness or tingling in the arms;
  • Tenderness or pain in the arms, shoulders, and upper back;
  • Dizziness and blurred vision;
  • Anxiety and problems sleeping;
  • Difficulty with memory and focus;
  • Lower back pain.

In addition to whiplash, neck and back pain can be a sign of other conditions as well, such as:

  • Disc herniation
  • Spinal cord injury (SCI)
  • Lumbar spine injury
  • Thoracic spine injury

What to Do if you are Experiencing Neck and Back Pain after a Car Accident

If you were involved in a vehicle collision and you start to feel pain in your neck and back, this is not something you should ignore. If you do nothing about it, the condition may worsen over time and the effects could even become permanent. Another reason you want to address this type of injury right away it is to help protect your legal right to recover compensation.

If the car crash you were involved in was the fault of another party, you deserve to be compensated for losses such as medical expenses, time missed from work, and pain and suffering. If you fail to seek immediate medical attention, however, the other side may argue that your neck and back pain is not related to the car accident at all. They may also argue that by not seeing a medical professional right away, you did not do enough to fulfill your legal obligation to mitigate your losses.

This could make it very difficult to recover damages, especially if the crash happened in a state like Alabama, where they apply the “contributory negligence” legal standard. Contributory negligence means that if an injured party is found to have “contributed” in any way to their injuries (even just 1%), they can be barred from recovering compensation. For this reason, it is absolutely essential not only to seek immediate medical attention, but also to obtain skilled legal counsel as early as possible in the process, so you can preserve your legal rights.

Call the Seasoned Auto Accident Injury Lawyers at Burge & Burge

If you or a loved one was involved in a car crash in Alabama and you are experiencing any type of pain, see a medical professional right away, then contact Burge & Burge for a free, no-obligation consultation and case assessment. We will speak with you about your case and advise you of your legal rights and options, so you can make the most informed decision on how you wish to proceed.

Call our office today at 205-251-9000 for a free consultation or send us a message through our web contact form.