Personal Injury Blog Posts

construction accidents

5 Common Construction Accidents

Construction is one of the most dangerous industries in our economy. Workers do fast-paced jobs with heavy equipment and machinery, often in high places, all while having to deal with uncontrollable factors such as inclement weather, what the guy (or gal) next to them is doing, and many others. About 10% of all workplace injuries and illnesses happen in construction, and six different types of construction industry workers are listed in USA Today’s top 25 most dangerous jobs in America.

On a construction job site, accidents happen all the time. Many are minor mishaps, but others are more serious and can cause injury to workers. Here are five of the most common accidents that occur on construction sites:

  • Slips, Trips and Falls: About 40% of all construction accidents are slips, trips and falls, and these types of accidents account for a high number of construction fatalities. As mentioned earlier, construction workers are often situated in high places, such as on ladders, scaffolds, and roofs. When someone is working in a higher elevation and things are not set up properly, they can trip over tools, materials, or debris and sometimes slip and fall a great distance.
  • Being Struck by Falling Objects: At a typical construction site, there are typically a lot of materials, waste items, and debris, much of which is heavy and/or contains hard edges. There is always a risk of these and other objects falling and striking a construction worker. Workers are supposed to wear hardhats to protect them from this danger, but even with this protection, about 10% of all construction-related injuries happen because a worker is struck by a falling object.
  • Equipment Accidents: Modern equipment and machinery help construction companies get the job done faster and more efficiently. Cranes, hoists, bulldozers, nail guns, and other equipment can save companies a lot of time and money. But what happens if something goes wrong with one of these machines? For example, a nail gun misfires, or a bulldozer gets stuck in reverse and strikes a nearby worker. Some equipment accidents happen because of reckless use, while others are caused by negligent maintenance or a product defect.
  • Overexertion: Construction work involves hard physical labor, which is often performed in extreme heat and humidity. This is especially true in southern states like Alabama. Putting in long hours doing hard and repetitive tasks under the hot sun can cause heat stroke, muscle and joint damage, and repetitive stress injuries.
  • Getting Caught In-Between/Crush Injuries: Construction workers often work with heavy tools, machinery, and equipment in compact or enclosed areas. This can cause them to get trapped into these areas by the equipment they are working with, which can result in severe crush injuries.

This list is by no means exhaustive. There are numerous other accidents that happen on a construction site, such as:

  • Misuse of tools;
  • Electrical accidents;
  • Fires and explosions;
  • Collapsing structures;
  • Truck accidents;
  • Exposure to toxic substances.

Legal Options for Construction Accident Injuries

When a worker is injured in a construction accident, there are several potential legal avenues through which they can recover compensation. In Alabama, most employers are required to carry workers’ compensation insurance, and if the employer has this type of insurance, this would usually be the first legal recourse.

Workers’ compensation covers the injured worker’s medical expenses, two-thirds of gross wages while out of work, rehabilitation costs, and disability coverage. Worker’s comp is a no-fault system, meaning the employee should be covered regardless of the cause of the workplace accident.

While this is how workers’ compensation is supposed to work, it does not always play out this way. In some instances, employers put up unnecessary roadblocks in an attempt to frustrate workers into giving up on the benefits they deserve. If this has happened to you, speak with an attorney right away to discuss your rights and legal options.

Aside from workers’ compensation, there are several other legal remedies that may be available to recover losses incurred through a construction accident injury:

  • If the employer does not have workers’ compensation coverage, you may be able to sue them directly for damages;
  • If the injury was caused by a party other than your employer (such as a third-party contractor), you may be able to bring a personal injury lawsuit against the responsible party;
  • If the accident and subsequent injury was caused by faulty or defective equipment, you may have a product liability claim against the designer, manufacturer, or distributor of the equipment.

Suffered a Workplace Injury in Alabama? Contact an Experienced Attorney

If you or someone close to you was hurt working on a construction site, you need strong legal counsel in your corner working hard to protect your interests. If your injury occurred in Alabama, call Burge & Burge today at 205-251-9000 to schedule a free consultation with one of our attorneys. You may also message us online or stop by our Birmingham office in person at your convenience.

traumatic brain injury

Coping with Traumatic Brain Injury

The brain is the most complex organ in the human body.  It typically weighs only about 3 pounds, but it is made up of billions of nerve cells and other kinds of cells, all intricately connected and designed to send signals to other areas of the body. The brain controls not only how we think, but virtually every other function in our body as well.  In fact, it is not an understatement to say that the brain is the essence of who we are.

Thankfully, an organ this important is protected by a hard, exterior skull. The skull is a series of 8 bones that are fused together along suture lines. The brain is also protected by a covering of three thin membranes which are called meninges, and cerebrospinal fluid (CSF).  But even with this level of protection, brain injuries can still happen.

Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is caused by a bump, blow, or jolt to the head that disrupts the normal function of the brain. Not everyone who is struck in the head sustains a traumatic brain injury, and these types of injuries can vary greatly in their level of severity. 

Mild forms of TBI (commonly known as concussions) might only last from a few hours up to a few days or so, while more moderate to severe forms of this condition can last for several weeks, months, or even years.

TBI affects the lives of millions of Americans. In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), there are approximately 2.8 million emergency room visits, hospitalizations, and deaths each year that are attributable to this condition. This comes at an estimated annual cost of approximately $56 billion. Some of the leading causes of traumatic brain injury include slips and falls, motor vehicle accidents, being struck by hard objects, and sports injuries.

How to Cope with TBI

For those who suffer more moderate to severe forms of traumatic brain injury, it will be a slow road to recovery. And as much as we would like to say this road will be easy, it will not. There will be numerous challenges along the way, and you will need to enlist the help of those around you more than ever before. 

That said, you can get through this, and there are several things you can do to make it easier to cope with the injury:

Listen to your Doctor

No matter what type of injury you suffer or health condition you develop, it is very important to follow your doctor’s orders. This is especially true for those who suffer traumatic brain injuries.  TBI is a unique condition that manifests itself differently in each individual case, and it can be difficult to determine the right time to resume various activities; such as work, driving a car, and strenuous exercise. Listen very carefully to what your doctor says about your condition and follow his or her instructions to the letter.

Give Yourself more Time

Suffering from TBI can cause you to process information slower, and it can make it harder to focus on important tasks. The end result is that it generally takes longer than it did before you were injured to complete the tasks you need to get done. This can lead to untold stress and frustration if you try to pack too much into too short an amount of time. Realizing this, focus each day on only the most important things you need to do, and allow yourself plenty of time to do them. Do your best to avoid distractions, and make sure that those around you support you in this.

Keep Important Items in the Same Location

Do your best to simplify your life by keeping things in the same location. Create a designated place to keep your keys, wallet, phone, glasses, medication, and other important items. Keeping things in the same place can help avoid frustration and stress, allowing you to establish a routine that can help you function at as close to normal as possible.

Write Down your Experiences

Journaling helps those who suffer from TBI to stay in touch with their emotions and process their feelings. Take a few minutes each day to write down the events of the day and how you felt.  Having a written journal can be a great tool that you can refer to, refresh your memory and help track your experience. If you want, you can also share your journal with a doctor or counselor for additional insights.

Use Technology to Organize your Life

These days, there are numerous mobile phone apps available to help those with TBI stay organized. For example, there are apps that allow you to create shared calendars with family members, so your loved ones know your schedule and can remind you about important activities; such as doctor appointments, meal times, and when it is time to take medications. There are also apps with brain exercises, flash cards, phone and car locators, voice recognition software, and many others. With the help of your loved ones, make use of the mobile apps that will be most beneficial for you.

Obtain Legal Assistance

Those who suffer from traumatic brain injury incur a wide range of losses, which may include medical bills, lost wages, lost earning capacity, pain and suffering, psychological distress, and diminished quality of life. If this injury was the fault of another person or party, you deserve to be compensated. Recovering full and fair compensation is not always easy, however, and the insurance company for the responsible party will do everything possible to minimize the amount of damages they have to pay.  For this reason, it is very important to get an experienced attorney involved as early as possible in the process, so your right to recover compensation can be fully protected.

If your injury occurred in Alabama, contact Burge & Burge for assistance. Call our office today at 205-251-9000 to schedule a free consultation with one of our attorneys. You may also message us online or stop by our Birmingham office in person at your convenience.

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.