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 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.

Workplace Injury attorneys in Birmingham, AL

Who is Responsible for Your Workplace Injury?

If you have suffered an injury or illness at your place of employment, you deserve to be compensated. Your avenue for recovering compensation will be determined by who is responsible for your workplace injury. In a large number of cases, you will be eligible for benefits under your employer’s workers’ compensation policy. Workers’ comp provides coverage for medical expenses, lost wages, and permanent disabilities.

In Alabama, most private businesses are required to provide workers’ compensation insurance for their employees. There are a few exceptions, such as companies with fewer than five employees, casual or seasonal employees, household domestic workers, agricultural workers, railroad workers, and certain workers in the trucking and transportation industry.

Workers’ compensation provides no-fault coverage, meaning that, with a few exceptions, employees are eligible for benefits regardless of who was at fault for the workplace accident. In exchange for the no-fault provision, benefits more limited than what would be available through a personal injury lawsuit. For example, you cannot recover damages for physical pain and suffering, emotional distress, and diminished quality of life through a workers’ comp claim.

Although most employees who are injured on the job are eligible for workers’ compensation benefits, employers sometimes dispute a claim and/or put up unnecessary roadblocks to frustrate the injured employee into giving up. For this reason, it is always best to have your case reviewed by a seasoned workers’ compensation lawyer to help ensure that you are able to recover the compensation you deserve.

What if Another Party is Responsible for my Workplace Injury?

There are times when you may be able to recover compensation outside of workers’ comp if a party other than your employer was responsible for your injuries. Here are some examples:

Your Injury was Caused by the Negligence of a Third Party

There are times when a workplace injury may be caused another party who is not your employer or coworker. One of the most common scenarios in which this may apply is when an employee is involved in an auto accident that is the fault of the other driver. For example, if you are out making a delivery for your company and someone runs a red light and crashes into you, you may be able to file a personal injury claim against the at-fault driver and receive damages over and above your workers’ compensation benefits. Another frequent scenario is when construction company employees are working at a job site alongside third-party subcontractors who have been hired to perform certain tasks. If one of those subcontractors causes the injury, you may be able to sue them for damages.

Your Injury was Caused by a Product Defect

Employees in many industries frequently work with heavy machinery and equipment. If a machine or piece of equipment is defective, malfunctions, or is inherently dangerous and causes injury to an employee, the injured employee may be able to bring a product liability claim against the designer, manufacturer, supplier, or distributor of the faulty product.

Your Injury was Caused by the Willful Conduct of a Coworker

In general, Alabama does not allow injured employees to bring a personal injury claim against a negligent coworker. In rare cases, however, an injured worker may have a claim against the coworker under Alabama Code Section 25-5-11 for willful conduct that caused the injury. To be successful, however, you must prove that your coworker knowingly engaged in conduct that was intended to injure you. There is a high standard of proof with these types of claims, and they should not be initiated without the assistance of an experienced attorney.

Contact the Seasoned Workplace Injury Lawyers at Burge & Burge

If you have been injured in a workplace accident, there is a good chance that you are eligible for workers’ compensation benefits. The workers’ comp claims process can be complex and confusing, however, and many eligible employees have their claims denied. There may also be other options for recovering compensation, depending on your situation.

At Burge & Burge, we have extensive experience successfully representing clients for workers’ compensation claims, Federal Employer Liability Act (FELA) claims for railroad workers, and all other types of personal injury actions. Our in-depth knowledge of these areas of the law allow us to thoroughly evaluate your case and explore every potential legal avenue toward obtaining full and fair compensation. For a free consultation with one of our attorneys, call our office today at 205-251-9000, or send us a message through our web contact form.

Drowsy Driving and Truck Accidents

Drowsy Driving and Truck Accidents

Drowsy and fatigued driving is a major problem in the United States. According to a Harvard School of Medicine Study, fatigue-related crashes account for approximately 1.2 million accidents and over half a million injuries each year. 60,000 of those injuries are serious and debilitating, and 8,000 of them result in a fatality. The Harvard study also cites a Department of Transportation survey that found that 7.5 million drivers admit to having fallen asleep behind the wheel within the past month, and another 7.5 million admit to having fallen asleep within the past 2 to 6 months.

Drowsy driving happens when a motorist is tired or fatigued, does not have enough sleep, is driving under the influence of alcohol or other certain types of substances, and various other factors. Those who are most susceptible to driving while drowsy include:

  • Male drivers between the ages of 16 and 29;
  • Drivers with untreated sleep disorders;
  • Those who work long hours and have long work weeks;
  • Individuals who work evening and overnight shifts; and
  • Commercial truck drivers.

Those who drive when they are drowsy or fatigued put themselves and others in danger. When someone is driving while in this condition, they have slowed reaction times and they are not able to pay proper attention to the road. This frequently results in poor driving decisions and the inability to handle adverse conditions that may arise.

Fatigued Driving in the Trucking Industry

Those who work in the trucking industry are among the most likely to be driving while drowsy or fatigued. Truckers put in long hours during the week, and much of this time is spent driving during the evening and overnight hours. A Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) study also found that nearly one-third of commercial truck drivers suffer from mild to severe sleep apnea. The study went on to say that those with untreated sleep apnea have a harder time staying awake, focusing your eyes, and reacting properly while driving.

The problem in the industry is made worse by the pressure truckers are frequently under to deliver their loads on time. Although the FMCSA has strict hours of service guidelines that mandate drivers to take a break after a certain number of hours on the road, drivers are often faced with the choice of either violating these regulations or failing to meet unrealistic deadlines imposed by their employers. Although they know they should take a break, they often turn to coffee, energy drinks, and other substances to help them stay awake.

Drowsy Driving and Commercial Trucking Accidents

When a big rig truck is involved in an accident, it can result in disastrous consequences. Tractor-trailers that are fully loaded typically weigh 80,000 pounds or more, making them 20 to 30 times heavier than a regular passenger vehicle. Because of the sheer size and weight of the vehicle, it can do serious damage when it collides with another vehicle, object, or pedestrian.

Occupants of passenger vehicles are in greater danger when they are involved in an accident with a commercial truck. Passenger vehicles have a lower ground clearance and less protection, putting those inside more at risk of serious injuries and fatalities. In fact, according to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA), passenger vehicle occupants are 28 times more likely to be injured or killed (than occupants of the commercial truck) when their vehicles collide.

Determining Fault in a Commercial Truck Accident

When someone is involved in an accident with a big rig truck, it can be difficult to recover compensation for their injuries. These types of cases are complex, because there are several potential parties that may be at fault, and there are numerous laws and regulations that govern the industry. In addition to the truck driver, other responsible parties may include the company that employs the driver, the owner or lessor of the truck, the cargo company that may have overloaded or improperly loaded the truck, the party responsible for properly maintaining the truck, or the manufacturer, supplier, or distributor of a faulty vehicle or vehicle part that may have contributed to the accident.

In such cases, an extensive investigation is required to determine exactly what happened and which parties are responsible. This is not always easy, because trucking companies are often very reluctant to hand over information that may prove that they are liable for an accident. Things can get more complicated if the accident occurs in a state like Alabama where they apply the contributory negligence legal doctrine. Under “contributory negligence”, if the injured party is found to be even 1% at fault for the underlying accident, they can be barred from recovering damages. For these reasons, it is critical to bring in an experienced attorney as soon as possible after the accident, so your legal rights can be preserved.

Injured in a Drowsy Driving Accident in Alabama? Speak with a Skilled Personal Injury Lawyer

If you or a loved one was injured in a truck accident due to drowsy driving, or any other type of motor vehicle accident in Alabama, you need strong legal counsel in your corner advocating aggressively for your rights and interests. At Burge & Burge, we have extensive experience successfully representing clients with even the most complex cases, and we work tirelessly to obtain full and fair compensation, and to help ensure that all responsible parties are held fully accountable. Call our office today at 205-251-9000 for a free consultation. You may also send us a message through our online contact form. We handle all personal injury cases on a contingency fee basis, so you never have to pay upfront attorney fees to receive the experienced representation you need and deserve.

teen driving laws in Birmingham, AL

Teen Drivers and Distractions in Alabama

Distracted driving is a growing problem among all age groups. Statistics show that driving while distracted now accounts for approximately one-fourth of all motor vehicle crash fatalities. At any given moment during daylight hours, 660,000 motorists are texting while driving or doing something else with their electronic devices while behind the wheel. Distracted driving is an even greater problem among teenagers than the public at large.

According to a survey by AAA, more than half of all teens reported that they used a cell phone while driving, and one out of four admitted that they have sent a text message while driving during the past 30 days. This has resulted in higher instances of distracted driving-related accidents among this age group. Consider these statistics:

  • Driver distraction is responsible for 58% of all teen crashes;
  • Those ages 16 to 19 are three times more likely to be involved in a fatal crash than any other age group.

While all motorists must deal with distractions on the roadways, teenagers are the most inexperienced group of drivers, which makes them more susceptible to the hazards posed by distracted driving.

Teen Drivers and the Distractions they Face

Drivers deal with numerous distractions on a daily basis. These can be separated into three general categories:

  • Manual: A manual distraction is something that causes the driver to take one or both hands off of the wheel. Examples may include tuning the radio, adjusting the GPS, reaching for food or drink, digging for change in your purse or pocket, dialing a phone number on your cell phone, and holding the phone up to your ear to talk.
  • Visual: A visual distraction is one that causes drivers to temporarily take their eyes off of the road. Drivers can be distracted visually by their GPS, signs and billboards, passengers, and many others. When a driver takes his/her eyes off the road for too long, it can result in deadly consequences.
  • Cognitive: This type of distraction is one that causes a driver to take their mental focus off of the road. Drivers can be mentally distracted by talking on the phone or to other passengers, listening to the radio, or just letting their mind wander.

The increased use of electronic devices on the road has created a whole new level of danger for teen drivers and motorists in other age groups as well. While distractions have always existed on the road, those that involved using an electronic device are especially hazardous. The reason is that sending a text, responding to an email, or doing something similar distracts you manually, visually, and cognitively. This means your full attention is taken away from the road while you are sending an electronic message.

Alabama Distracted Driving Laws

The state of Alabama has been relatively slow to adopt laws that can effectively deter teens and other motorists from distracted driving. While there are laws against distracted driving, they only impose a $25 fine for a first offense, $50 for a second offense, and $75 for a third offense. It is widely believed that texting while driving is more dangerous than driving drunk, but if that is the case, the penalties should be far more reflective of the hazards this type of behavior poses.

Tips for Helping your Teen Avoid Distracted Driving

Parents can play an essential role in helping teens stay safer on the road. Here are some ways to accomplish this:

  • Explain to your teen the dangers of falling prey to distractions on the road. Talk to them not only about texting while driving, but other distractions such as eating, drinking, personal grooming, horseplay with passengers, watching videos, and similar hazards.
  • Prohibit your teen from having other teen passengers while driving. Other teens can be a major source of distraction for a new driver. This is why Alabama law prohibits drivers under age 17 from having more than one passenger in the vehicle (other than a parent or guardian).
  • Set a good example for your teen. Many teens pick up bad habits by watching what their parents do. You can change that by being a good example and not succumbing to driving distractions yourself.
  • Encourage your teen to sign the AAA Smart Parent-Teen Driving Agreement. This agreement provides some good ground rules for teens to follow when they first get behind the wheel.

What to Do if you are Injured in a Distracted Driving Accident

With distracted driving nearly reaching epidemic proportions, there is always a chance of being injured due to the negligent or reckless actions of a driver who was not paying proper attention to the road. When this occurs, it is important to speak with an experienced personal injury attorney, so you understand your rights and options.

At Burge and Burge, we have many years of experience representing victims injured in all types of motor vehicle accidents. We have in-depth knowledge of Alabama personal injury laws, and we put our experience to work to ensure that those responsible for injuries sustained are held fully accountable.

For a free consultation with one of our skilled attorneys, call us today at 205-251-9000, or you may send a secure and confidential message through our online contact form.

motorcycle helmets in insurance cases in Birmingham, AL

Do Motorcycle Helmets Impact an Injury Claim

Motorcycle accidents have been on the rise in recent years. The increasing number of distracted drivers on the roadways puts riders at the mercy of motorists who cannot seem to stay off of their cell phones. This leads to more and more accidents that are totally unnecessary; and we know that when a motorcycle rider is involved in an accident, they are 26 times more likely to be severely injured or killed.

In addition to distracted driving, there are a number of other reasons motorcycle accidents occur. Some of the most common include:

  • Speeding/Reckless Driving: When a motorist is speeding excessively or otherwise driving recklessly, they are often in a state of mind in which they have willful and wanton disregard for the safety of themselves and others on the road. So, when they encounter a motorcycle, they may not take the measures needed to avoid an accident.
  • Unsafe Lane Changes: Sometimes, it is hard to spot a motorcycle that has entered into the blind spot of another vehicle. When drivers try to change lanes without seeing the motorcycle, it can lead to disastrous consequences.
  • Turning Accidents: Similar to lane changes, turning (particularly making left turns) can also be dangerous if a motorist fails to see a motorcycle that is inside their blind spot.
  • DUI/DWI: Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs can affect reaction times and make it more difficult to avoid a motorcycle accident.
  • Defective Vehicle Parts: A faulty vehicle (or vehicle part) that goes bad at just the wrong time can be the cause of an accident. Examples may include computer dashboard malfunctions, faulty brake lines, and tire blowouts.

How Does the Use of a Helmet Impact an Injury Claim after a Motorcycle Accident?

The question of whether or not a motorcycle rider wore a helmet is not usually related to the cause of a motorcycle accident. In most cases, the accident most likely could not have been prevented even if the rider had a helmet on. That said, insurance companies may still use that fact that a rider was not wearing a helmet as a reason to argue that they share some fault for the accident.

The use of a helmet may very well become a factor, however, in determining how much the responsible party (or their insurer) will end up paying in damages. This depends on several variables, among the most important being the helmet laws in the state in which you were riding when you had the accident.

Alabama is one of 19 states along with the District of Columbia that has universal helmet laws. Everyone in this state, regardless of age, is required to wear a helmet when they are out riding a motorcycle. In addition, the state has strict requirements on the specifications of helmets to be worn by riders and passengers, and it is illegal to sell any helmet in the state that does not meet these specifications. This means that if you were a rider in a motorcycle accident in Alabama and you were not wearing a helmet, this could be a major factor if you are pursuing an injury claim.

There are a couple ways the other party and their insurer might use the fact that you were not wearing a helmet against you. First of all, they might argue that you are a reckless rider and that not wearing a helmet makes you partially at fault for the accident. Alabama applies the legal doctrine known as contributory negligence, which holds that even if you are 1% at-fault for an accident, you are barred from recovering compensation. So, if the defense can successfully argue that your failure to wear a helmet makes you partially responsible, you might not be able to recover damages for your injury.

Another argument the defense might make is that your injuries would have been less severe if you were wearing a helmet. This could be a particularly effective argument if you suffered head injuries as a result of the accident. In such cases, you need an experienced advocate in your corner who can skillfully argue that your head injuries would have been just as severe even if you had been wearing a helmet.

Speak with a Seasoned Alabama Motorcycle Accidents Lawyer

If you or someone close to you was injured or killed in a motorcycle accident, it is important to understand your rights and options. Regardless of whether or not you were wearing a helmet, you might still be entitled to compensation, depending on the specific circumstances of the case. At Burge and Burge, we have represented countless clients who have suffered injury in all types of motor vehicle accidents, and we have a successful track record with even the most complex and challenging cases.

For a free consultation with one of our skilled personal injury attorneys, call us today at 205-251-9000, or you may send a secure and confidential message through our online contact form.

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What Do I Need to Know After a Motorcycle Accident?

Each year, thousands are killed and tens of thousands are injured in motorcycle accidents throughout the country. When a motorcycle crashes into a passenger vehicle, motorcyclists are 28 times more likely to be killed than those driving and riding in other vehicles. Some of the leading causes of these types of accidents include alcohol, speed, and distracted driving.

Being involved in a motorcycle accident is an unsettling experience. Immediately afterward, you may be shaken up and it might take a while to collect your thoughts. Once you have calmed down and assessed what happened, it is important to know what to do next. The actions you take right after a motorcycle crash will have serious repercussions with regards to dealing with your insurer and ensuring that your legal rights are protected. Do your best to remain calm and keep your composure during the aftermath of the incident.

Here are five steps you should take right after a motorcycle accident:

  1. Seek Medical Attention for Anyone who is Injured

The first priority is to make sure that anyone who is hurt gets medical help immediately. Check yourself and others for injuries and call 911 if anyone is hurt. Some injuries may be difficult to detect right away. For example, if a car collided into your motorcycle and your head hit the ground, you may not feel anything immediately, but you should definitely get something like that checked out ASAP. Another type of injury that is hard to detect is internal bleeding and other internal injuries. Injuries to internal organs can become fatal if not treated promptly, so be sure to have everyone checked for that as well.

  1. Take Multiple Photos of the Scene

Once you have ensured that the accident scene is safe, take as many photos as possible from several different angles. The more photo documentation you have, the easier it will be to prove who was at fault for the accident. This is especially important in states like Alabama, where they use the legal doctrine known as “contributory negligence”. Contributory negligence means that even if a plaintiff is just 1% at fault for an accident, they are barred from recovering damages. So if you want to be successful with any type of legal action, you need to have extensive amounts of evidence to prove your case.

  1. Gather Information

Exchange information with the other driver(s) involved in the accident. Obtain their name, address, phone number, insurance information, and driver’s license numbers. In addition, note plate numbers and the make, model, and description of the vehicles. You will also want to speak with any witnesses that saw what happened and obtain their contact information. If possible, take note of (or even record on your smartphone) what the witnesses say while everything is still fresh in their mind. Memories can fade, and it will help your case to have as much information as possible before everyone goes their separate ways.

  1. Call the Police

If anyone is hurt or there is substantial vehicle damage, contact the police. The police will interview those involved in the accident as well as any witnesses and prepare a report. Having a police report on file will be another piece of evidence that can help your case. However, be sure to review the report as soon as it is available for any discrepancies that may need to be corrected.

  1. Report the Accident to your Insurance Company

As soon as is convenient, contact your insurer to report your motorcycle accident. Most insurance companies want to be notified within 72 hours of the incident, so do this sooner rather than later. Be ready to present your insurer with all the facts about what happened. Also, it is very important when you talk to them or anyone else that you do NOT admit any fault at all for the accident.

As stated earlier, any admission of fault severely damages your chances of recovering compensation. Along these same lines, do not give your insurer any detailed information about property damage or injuries. Insist that you will wait for an estimate from an auto shop and for a full medical exam, so you can provide the most accurate assessment.

Speak with an Experienced Alabama Personal Injury Lawyer

After a motorcycle accident, it is not uncommon for the other party’s insurer to approach you with a settlement offer. Insurance adjusters often make lowball offers in hopes of settling quickly and getting the case off the books. Before accepting any offer from an insurance company, speak with a seasoned accident injury attorney, so you fully understand your rights and options.

At Burge and Burge, we have more than five decades of combined experience handling motorcycle accidents and other types of personal injury cases. Our extensive knowledge and successful track record in this area of the law give our clients the assurance that when they work with us, they are in the best possible position to obtain a favorable result.

For a free consultation with one of our skilled attorneys, call us today at 205-251-9000 or send us a private and confidential message through our online contact form.

school bus accident lawyers in birmingham alabama

Our Kids are Back in School: School Bus Safety Rules

Earlier this month, most Alabama kids returned to the school. State school districts operate more than 7,000 buses, and they travel a combined 150 million miles per year transporting our kids to and from school. The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) says that students are 70 times more likely to get to school safely riding a school bus than a private passenger car. But while school bus accidents are less common other types of auto accidents, when they do occur, they can result in severe and catastrophic injuries.

Now that school is back in full swing, it is a good time to focus on safety and what we can all do to keep our kids protected. Here are five things motorists can do to avoid school bus accidents:

  1. Avoid Distractions while Driving

Mornings can be pretty hectic. Sometimes, we are in a rush to get our breakfast and coffee and get to work on time. On top of that, we have people texting us or trying to call us because they need something. We need to do our best to stay focused and avoid distractions any time we are driving, but especially in the morning when you are around school buses. Allow yourself plenty of time to get ready and take care of everything you need to before going to work. And put your cell phone away, it is not worth risking a life to answer a text – whoever it is can wait until you get where you are going.

  1. Be Mindful of Young Pedestrians

Children are at risk not only of an accident while riding a school bus, but also when they are walking to school or walking to and from the bus stop. When you are approaching a bus stop, slow down and watch for kids gathered around the stop and those that might be rushing to make the bus. Kids are unpredictable, and they often dash across the street at the last minute without paying attention to traffic. This is especially true with younger kids. Stay alert and be aware of kids walking nearby.

  1. Be Mindful of Young Bicyclists

Lots of Alabama kids like to ride their bikes to school, especially when the weather is nice. Kids on bikes can also be unpredictable. Sometimes, they ride through intersections paying no mind to vehicles that are stopped and waiting for them to cross. They also tend to make turns in front of cars without looking or signaling. Be extra careful and watch for kids on bikes in school zones and residential areas.

  1. Slow Down while Driving near a School Bus

Buses tend to drive much slower than regular vehicles. They also make frequent stops to pick up and drop off kids, and they are required to come to a complete stop at a railroad crossing. When you are driving behind a school bus, it is best to drive slowly yourself and give the bus plenty of extra space. A good rule of thumb is to stay at least 10 feet behind the bus at all times.

  1. Never Pass a School Bus Illegally

Alabama drivers are not allowed to pass stopped school or church buses under most circumstances. And if you are driving behind a school bus, you are required to stop when the signal arm is raised and remain stopped until the signal arm is lowered again. You also must stop while the signal arm is raised if you are approaching the bus from the other direction. The only exception is if you are driving on a divided highway with either four or six lanes, and there is a barrier or unpaved area between the directional lanes.

The state of Alabama is cracking down on motorists who pass school buses illegally. In 2016, a new law went into effect that gave school districts the option to install stop-arm cameras on their buses. Motorists who are caught on video violating school bus passing laws can be ticketed $300 and have points added to their driving record.

What to Do if You are in a School Bus Accident

Accidents can happen even if we drive safely and follow all the rules. This can occur because of poor driving conditions, negligence on the part of other drivers, mechanical defects, faulty vehicle parts, and other reasons. If you or a loved one was seriously injured in a school bus accident that was the result of another party’s negligence, you may be entitled to compensation.

At Burge and Burge, we have extensive experience with even the most complex personal injury cases, including those involving school buses and other types of government and commercial vehicles. We are aggressive advocates on behalf of our clients, and we have the skills, resources, and commitment to ensure that parties responsible for vehicle accidents are held fully accountable.

For a free consultation with one of our seasoned attorneys, call us today at 205-251-9000, or you may send us a private and confidential message through our web contact form.