Alabama Law Blog

seatback failure can lead to lawsuits

The Dangers of Seat Back Failures in an Accident

Car seats are designed to stay in place when there is an auto accident, or at least that is what most consumers believe. We know the dangers of being thrown hard against the dashboard or windshield in the event of a crash, and this is why almost every state requires vehicle occupants to wear a seat belt. We also know the dangers of small children being hurt in a car crash, which is why every state has some type of law requiring child car seats. But there is a lesser known danger that the auto industry has done very little to address; seat back failures.

What is a Seat Back Failure?

The seat back is the upright portion of the car seat, and in most passenger cars, the front seats are the only ones that have them. Some larger SUVs, minivans, and full-size vans have back seats that also contain an upright portion (seat back). Seat backs can be adjusted by drivers and passengers for comfort, and they are also there to reduce the momentum those sitting in these seats experience if there is a crash. This should keep them safer and minimize the chances of a serious injury.

What most people never think about is what would happen if the seat back could not stay in place during an accident. Seat back failures happen when the force of a collision causes the upright portion of the seat to collapse backwards. When this happens, the seat back can land on top of one of the back seats, crushing whomever or whatever is situated there. If there are passengers in the back seats, these seat occupants can be seriously injured. And if one of the rear seat occupants happens to be a child, there is also a risk of them getting trapped underneath that collapsed seat back.

Seat back failures can also cause severe injuries to front seat occupants as the momentum of the backward collapse can cause their head and body to be thrown hard against an object or person or whatever is situated behind them.

Seat back failures can result in a wide range of injuries, which include:

  • Fractures/broken bones
  • Head and facial injuries
  • Traumatic brain injuries (TBI)
  • Back and neck injuries
  • Spinal cord injuries and paralysis
  • Amputations
  • Wrongful death

Investigation shows Government and Auto Industry not doing Enough to Prevent Seat Back Failures

Most people assume that back seats are safe to ride in, and that the last thing they need to worry about is a seat back collapsing on a rear seat occupant. We assume that government standards are adequate, and that automakers are doing everything they can to make their seat backs safe. Unfortunately, this is not the case.

During a 2016 investigation by CBS News, it was found that seat back safety standards are extremely low, and in fact, the government has not updated the standards since 1967. At that time, the standard was so low that even a banquet chair would qualify. The government has studied the idea of raising the standards for the past four decades or so, but to date, no action has been taken.

CBS also found that automakers have known about the potential problem with seat backs since at least the mid-1990s, and during the past three decades, more than 100 individuals (that we know of) have been killed or seriously injured because of a seat back failure. According to one industry engineer, the cost to make seat backs safer for consumers would be “on the order of a dollar or so”.

With the cost of making their seat backs safe being so minimal, you would think that automakers would do this on their own without the government telling them they have to. Several companies have had recalls over this issue; including Toyota, Honda, Nissan, and Audi. But CBS named only three companies that have taken steps to make cars with seat backs that are well above the paltry government safety standards. These are BMW, Volvo, and Mercedes-Benz.

Injured in a Seat Back Failure? Contact a Skilled Auto Accident Lawyer

Faulty seat backs do not fail nearly as often as many other types of vehicle defects, but these statistics do not matter if it happens to you or someone you are close to. Seat back failures can cause serious and catastrophic injuries, and if this has happened to you, it is important to hold those responsible fully accountable; not only so you can receive full and fair compensation, but also to help ensure that this does not happen to others in the future.

At Burge & Burge, we are ready to go to work for you and to aggressively pursue that just compensation you deserve. For a free consultation with one of the experienced Alabama personal injury lawyers, call our office today at 205-251-9000. You may also send us a message through our online contact form.

Parking Lot Accidents in Birmingham, AL

Collisions in Parking Lots and Parking Garages

During a typical weekday, parking lots and parking garages in the downtown areas are filled with vehicles of those who are at work. On the weekends, lots and garages at restaurants, retail stores, and shopping malls tend to get busy and fill up as well. During these busy times, there are greater risks of collisions between two vehicles, or a vehicle striking a pedestrian. Although these types of accidents usually happen at a much lower speed than collisions that occur on the roadways, those involved can still end up with significant injuries.

Who is at Fault in a Parking Garage or Parking Lot Accident?

Determining fault is very important in a parking lot collision, especially in states like Alabama where they apply the “contributory negligence” legal doctrine. Under contributory negligence, if an injured party is determined to be partially at-fault (even 1% at fault) for the accident that led to the injury, they can be barred from recovering compensation.

Parking lot and parking garages typically have numerous lanes with cars parked on both sides of the lane. There are also “through” lanes around the perimeter of these areas in which vehicles can enter and exit the parking areas. In general, drivers in the through lanes have the right of way and drivers merging into the through lanes from the parking lanes usually have to yield. One exception to this rule would be if there is a “stop” or “yield” sign in the through lane that gives vehicles from the parking lanes the right of way. 

Another common type of collision that occurs in parking lots and parking garages is when two vehicles are backing out of their parking spaces at the same time. With these types of cases, the vehicle that started to back up first usually has the right of way. Therefore, the driver of the other vehicle would normally be at-fault if the vehicles collide. That said, many of these incidents involve vehicles that seem to be backing up simultaneously, and it can be difficult to determine which one started backing up first. If this happens to you, you should not assume that you are at-fault for the collision.

These days, many lots and garages have video cameras, and if video footage does exist, there is a good chance that a fault determination can be made later. For now, do not admit to anything, document as much as possible what happened through notes and by taking photos of the scene, get checked right away for any injuries you may have suffered, and leave it to the experts to sort out whose fault it was. 

Third-Party Liability in Parking Lot and Parking Garage Collisions

In some instances, the driver of the other vehicle may not be the only party at fault for a parking garage or parking lot accident. Under the legal theory known as “premises liability”, the owner or manager of the lot could be held responsible if there were dangerous or hazardous conditions that contributed to the collision.

One potential hazard could be a poorly designed garage or lot. A poor design may be one that is confusing for drivers with lanes going in multiple directions and unclear signs and arrows that make it difficult to determine who has the right of way in various situations. Another common problem is the size of parking spaces. Oftentimes, they are not wide enough for all types of regular passenger vehicles to fit into.

Other hazards that the owner or manager of the lot might be responsible for include:

  • Potholes
  • Uneven Pavement
  • Unmarked Construction Areas
  • Standing Water
  • Icy and Slippery Areas

An experienced personal injury attorney should review your case to determine if any of these hazards existed, and if the injured party may have a case against the garage or lot owner.

Injured in a Parking Lot or Parking Garage in Alabama? Contact the Skilled Attorneys at Burge & Burge

Parking lot collisions do not usually result in severe injuries, but they do happen sometimes. If you or someone close to you was injured as a driver or pedestrian in a parking lot or garage, you may have a right to compensation. Call our office today at 205-251-9000 for a free case evaluation. You may also send us a message through our online contact form.

How Does a Whiplash Brain Injury Occur? Burge & Burge

How Does a Whiplash Brain Injury Occur? 

Whiplash is a rapid and forceful jolt to the neck that causes the neck to quickly fling back and forth. This motion is similar to cracking a whip. When many people think of whiplash, they think of the severe pain and stiffness it causes in the neck, and the requirement for many sufferers to wear a brace in that area. For many decades, scientists and medical professionals have been aware of the affects of whiplash on the cervical spine. Recently, some professionals have come to believe there may be a link between whiplash and mild traumatic brain injury (TBI).

Brain damage can occur with or without a direct blow to the head, and the back-and-forth motion that is characteristic of whiplash injuries can cause the brain to become compressed, twisted, or distorted inside the skull. There is still widespread debate and speculation about how much of a link there may be between whiplash and brain injuries. Many believe that it is largely dependent upon the speed at which the acceleration/deceleration motion occurs. The more rapid and forceful the jolt, the more likely that brain compression, twisting, and distortion will occur.

Symptoms of Whiplash Brain Injury

Those who suffer from whiplash and concurrent TBI can experience a wide range of symptoms. These may include:

Symptoms of whiplash do not always show up immediately. This is largely due to the nature of the events that cause this type of injury. When you experience a major jolt to the neck that causes a back-and-forth motion, it tends to accelerate your heart rate and create an adrenaline rush. This is similar to what an athlete experiences when they are injured in the middle of a game do not realize they are hurt until afterward. The same thing can happen to a whiplash injury victim, and it can sometimes take several hours or even a few days to start noticing the symptoms.

What Causes a Whiplash Brain Injury?

There are several ways a whiplash injury can occur, some of the most common causes include:

  • Motor vehicle crashes are one of the leading causes of whiplash brain injury. The force of the collision on impact jolts the neck back and forth. This type of injury happens frequently to the lead driver in a rear-end collision.
  • Whiplash brain injuries happen a lot in contact sports. Sometimes, this involves a direct blow to the head that thrusts the neck into a back and forth motion, such as with a helmet-to-helmet football collision. Other times, this happens without the head or neck experiencing a direct blow.
  • Whiplash can occur when someone is punched or violently shaken. This type of injury is all-too-common in domestic abuse cases, and children under the age of four are most vulnerable to suffering a severe brain injury due to domestic violence.
  • Falls can cause whiplash injuries if they happen at a rapid speed and the neck is thrown around before the individual reaches the ground. This could happen with an activity such as horseback riding when the horse makes a sudden stop that throws the rider to the ground.

Suffered a Whiplash Brain Injury? Speak with a Skilled Alabama Personal Injury Lawyer

If you or someone close to you has suffered a whiplash injury and you believe another party was at fault, it is important to contact an attorney as soon as possible to review the case and determine your legal options. Alabama applies the “contributory negligence” legal doctrine in personal injury cases. This means that an injured party can be barred from recovering damages if they are found to be even 1% at-fault for the incident. With such a high bar to clear, you need strong legal counsel in your corner fighting hard to obtain full and fair compensation.

At Burge and Burge, we have extensive experience successfully pursuing accident injury cases, and we work closely with our clients to provide the skilled and personalized representation they need and deserve. For a free consultation with one of our seasoned attorneys, call us today at 205-251-9000, or send us a message through our online contact form.

Signs of Nursing Home Abuse - Burge & Burge

Three Commonly Missed Signs of Nursing Home Abuse

Over three million adults in the U.S. live in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities. With aging demographics and the Baby Boomers entering full retirement, the nursing home population is expected to grow rapidly in the coming years. This is creating higher patient loads and staffing shortages, and when facilities are not able to find enough workers, they often hire employees who are not properly vetted and are not qualified for the job.

The current state of America’s nursing facilities has led to a growing number of nursing home abuse cases. An ABC News investigation from almost two decades ago found that elder abuse occurs in approximately one out of every three nursing homes. The numbers are even worse today. It is now estimated that as many as five million elders are subjected to abuse each year. Sadly, this is most likely a very conservative estimate, because only about one out of every 20 elder abuse cases are ever formally reported.

It is far too easy for nursing home staff to cover up the abuse that occurs within their walls. Those under their care depend on the staff to care for them, and the elderly are often intimidated into silence. Another difficult problem to overcome is that abusers often target Alzheimer’s and dementia patients, because they are less likely to remember clearly that they were abused, let alone report it to anyone.

This makes abuse victims feel hopeless, because they don’t believe they have anywhere to turn for help. Many who have aging loved ones in nursing homes are horrified to learn that a facility they entrusted to care for a close family member has allowed their trust to be so egregiously violated.

Commonly Missed Signs of Nursing Home Abuse

There are several signs of elder abuse occurring in nursing homes. Some things to look for when you are checking up on your aging loved one include:

Some signs of abuse are more difficult to detect. Here are three signs of nursing home abuse that are commonly missed:

Slick Explanations for an Injury: Abusers are often very good at conning people with stories that sound believable. They can be really friendly and outgoing, acting like they “want to help you” make sure your elderly loved one stays safe. How do they explain the fact that your loved one seems to get hurt so much? They always have a story, and they are good at telling it, because oftentimes, they’ve convinced themselves that it’s true. So, if your loved one displays some of the previously mentioned signs of abuse and the caregiver’s story always sounds too good to be true, it is time to become suspicious and dig deeper.

Disorientation or Confusion: An elderly person who is being abused can start to become increasingly confused and disoriented as time goes on. This can happen because of the emotional exhaustion related to the abuse, malnutrition or dehydration because of neglect, or similar issues. The reason this sign is commonly missed is because confusion and disorientation are relatively common among individuals over age 65, and this could be a symptom of a medical problem such as Alzheimer’s, dementia, or just problems with sight and hearing. If your loved one is experiencing these symptoms, do not accept the facility’s explanation at face value. Take a closer look and find out if there are any other signs of nursing home abuse. 

An Attitude of Resignation or Ambivalence: Nursing homes are not always the happiest places to live in. And sadly, many seniors reach the point where they “just don’t care” anymore. This is another commonly missed sign of nursing home abuse because, again, it could be a sign of abuse, or it could be a sign that the senior is generally giving up on life for other reasons; such as the realization that their health is declining, and the fact that they are likely going to die in that facility. Take any signs of withdrawal, resignation, or ambivalence very seriously and ask additional questions to get to the bottom of what is causing it.

What to Do if Your Loved One is a Victim of Nursing Home Abuse

If you believe that your loved one is being abused or neglected in an Alabama nursing home, the first step is to report the abuse to the Alabama Department of Public Health by calling 800-356-9596. Next, get in touch with an experienced Alabama nursing home abuse lawyer. At Burge and Burge, we are outraged by the widespread abuse that occurs in nursing facilities, and we work tirelessly to ensure that those responsible are held fully accountable. We can guide you through the legal process from start to finish, and we will fight hard to recover the full and fair compensation your loved one deserves.

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

Negotiating a fair settlement in your injury case - Burge & Burge

Negotiating a Full and Fair Settlement for your Injury Claim

If you have been injured in an accident that resulted from the negligence or reckless actions of another party, you are most likely dealing with an insurance adjuster in pursing compensation for your injuries. The adjuster may represent the insurer for the responsible party, or they may represent your own insurer in cases where the responsible party was uninsured or underinsured. The process of negotiating a full and fair settlement with the insurance company begins when you report the injury and initiate a claim.

As soon as you begin the process, you must remember that this is a negotiation, and that the insurance adjuster you are dealing with is working for the other side. You may be called early on by the adjuster with concern about your condition, best wishes, and assurances that you will be taken care of. This is all part of the negotiation, and the adjuster is trying to build rapport and earn your trust, so you will be more likely to accept their offer later on.

During a negotiation, it is helpful to understand the objectives of both parties. You are trying to obtain a full and fair settlement for your injuries, this is your goal, and this is also what you are legally entitled to. The insurance company, on the other hand, it trying to mitigate their losses by paying out as little as they can to settle the claim. You need to approach the process with these competing and contradictory interests in mind.

Steps to Negotiating a Personal Injury Settlement

While processes may vary slightly from one insurance company to another, the general steps to negotiating an injury settlement are as follows:

As mentioned earlier, the process starts when you file a claim with the at-fault party’s insurer (or your own insurer in the case of an uninsured or underinsured party). Most insurers allow you to file a claim over the phone, and some have online forms you can fill out and submit. This should be done as soon as possible as insurance companies typically have tight deadlines.

One of the first ways the insurance company will contact you after filing a claim is by sending you a “Reservation of Rights” letter. This letter typically states that they received your claim and will investigate it and be in contact with you about it. In the meantime, they are not admitting any liability for your injuries. Shortly before or after you receive this letter, you may also be called by the insurance adjuster to discuss the claim.

Once you have been treated for your injuries, you understand the extent of them, and you have either fully recovered or recovered as much as your doctor expects you to, you can calculate your overall damages and send a demand letter to the insurance company asking for compensation. This letter should lay out your case clearly and present your total damages (both economic and non-economic). Damages may include medical bills, rehabilitation costs, lost wages, loss of earning capacity, physical pain and suffering, emotional distress, and diminished quality of life. To ensure that you negotiate a full and fair settlement, it is important to understand how to accurately calculate the damages for your injury.

Shortly after you send your demand letter, you will receive a call or letter from the insurance adjuster either agreeing to pay the damages you have asked for, offering a lower amount, or denying the claim. Most of the time, they will try to claim that your injuries are not as severe as you are making them out to be, and offer you a lower amount, sometimes much lower. They may also try to claim that you are at least partially at fault for the injury, which, because of Alabama’s “contributory negligence” standard, they can use as a basis to deny your claim. This is where the real negotiations begin.

At this point, there may be several letters and phone calls back and forth with offers and counteroffers. Eventually, the insurance company may give you what they say is their “final settlement offer.” If this offer is fair and adequately compensates you for your injuries, you can accept their final offer. If the offer is unreasonable, then you may need to file a personal injury lawsuit in court to pursue fair compensation.

The Importance of Working with a Personal Injury Attorney

The negotiation process can be difficult and grueling. You need to be well-prepared, patient, and persistent to bring negotiations to a successful conclusion. This process can be especially challenging if you try to go it alone. Insurance adjusters are professionals who are trained negotiators, and this gives them an inherent advantage going in. You may also have difficulty preparing a demand letter that accurately calculates damages. Finally, if you negotiate alone, an insurance adjuster will be fairly confident you are not going to take the case to court. And without the threat of litigation, the insurer does not have nearly as much incentive to offer a fair settlement.

If you or a loved one has been injured because of the reckless actions or omissions of another party, it is important to at least speak with an experienced attorney, so you understand your rights and legal options. At Burge and Burge, we have extensive experience with all types of personal injury cases, and we have a strong track record of success obtaining just compensation on behalf of our clients. We are skilled litigators and strong negotiators. Whenever possible, we seek to negotiate full and fair settlements for our clients. If the other side is not willing to be reasonable, however, we are ready and able to aggressively advocate for your rights and interests at trial and upon appeal.

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

Parking Lot Accidents in Birmingham, AL

Tactics used by Insurance Companies during an Injury Case

If you have been injured in an accident that was the fault of another party, there is a good chance you will be dealing with the other party’s insurance company to work out a settlement. Though the insurance adjuster for the other side may seem nice, polite, respectful, etc. it is important to understand that their interests are inherently opposed to yours. You want (and deserve) fair and full compensation for your injuries. The insurer for the other side wants to pay out as little as possible to settle the claim.

Since insurance adjusters represent their employers’ interests, it is not in their best interests to help you. With that in mind, what they say and do must be viewed with skepticism, and you must understand that their end goal is to deny, or at the very least devalue, your claim. Insurance adjusters are professionals who process and negotiate injury claims (like yours) day in and day out. They are very good at what they do, and there are a number of tactics they typically employ to minimize the value of your claim and mitigate their employer’s losses.

Here are six common tactics used by insurance companies during an injury case:

Contacting You very soon After the Injury

It is not uncommon for an insurance adjuster to call an injury victim within a couple days of the incident, sometimes even the same day. They are usually very friendly and express their regrets over what happened, ask how you are doing, and generally assure you that you will be taken care of. The main purpose of this tactic is to catch you off guard when you are vulnerable and have not had a chance to fully assess the extent of your injuries. In this conversation, they are also hoping that you will let your guard down and say something that could be used against you later on.

Asking you For a Recorded Statement

Once the adjuster believes he/she has earned your trust, you may be asked to give them a recorded statement regarding what happened and how the injury occurred. This might seem like a reasonable request, especially if you are under the impression that the adjuster is looking out for your best interests and is planning to “take care of you”. However, as mentioned earlier, the insurance company’s interests are not aligned with yours, and a recorded statement will most likely be used to devalue or deny your claim. If you are asked to provide a recorded or written statement, politely decline their request, unless you are advised otherwise by your attorney.

Making a Lowball Settlement Offer in Exchange for a Release of your Claim

Injury victims typically have pressing financial needs, and many are in a hurry to settle their claim. Insurance adjusters know this, and they often try to use this to their advantage. One common tactic used by insurance companies in an injury case is to make a settlement offer quickly before there is time to fully assess the injuries, in exchange for the injury victim providing a signed or verbal release of the claim. This allows the insurance company to say that your claim is settled, and you cannot pursue any further compensation in the future even if your injuries get worse and you require additional medical treatment.

Claiming You are Partially At-Fault for the Accident

If the insurance company for the other side can find any room in the case to argue that it is at least partially your fault, they will do it. This is one of the main reasons you should never give them a recorded statement or let your guard down and admit any fault at all for the incident. This is especially important in Alabama, where they apply the legal standard known as “contributory negligence.” With this standard, a plaintiff can be barred from recovering compensation even if they are found to be just 1% at-fault for the accident.

Delaying the Claim

If you refuse to provide a recorded statement and/or refuse an early settlement offer and the insurance company does not believe they have a basis to deny your claim, they may just decide to go dark and stop contacting you. This delaying tactic is typically designed to accomplish one of two things; cause you to become desperate and willing to settle for a low amount or run out the clock so litigation is no longer an option. Alabama has a two-year statute of limitations for most personal injury cases, and if the deadline passes, you lose the leverage of being able to pursue your claim in court if the insurer does not give you a reasonable offer.

Advising You that You do Not Need to Hire an Attorney

When an insurance adjuster contacts you early in the process and tries to earn your trust, they may also throw in a phrase like “you are totally free to hire an attorney, but it won’t change the amount of your settlement.” This type of phrase is designed to give the impression that the insurance adjuster is looking out for you, and that there is no need to retain the services of an attorney because ultimately, your settlement will be the same either way.

The truth is, injury victims needs someone by their side who is looking out for their interests, and not the interests of the other side. By working with an experienced personal injury lawyer, you have a strong advocate in your corner who understands the complexities of this area of the law, the common tactics used by insurance companies in an injury case, how to value your claim, how to successfully negotiate with the insurance adjuster, and how to successfully pursue your claim in court if necessary.

premises liability in Birmingham, AL

I Was Hurt on Someone Else’s Property

When you visit another person’s property, there is always the chance of an accident occurring. This may happen when you are over at a friend’s house, shopping in a grocery store or retail establishment, dining out at a restaurant, visiting a museum or another public building, vacationing at a resort, or any number of other places. These are occasions when you are supposed to be enjoying yourself, and the last thing you want to deal with is an injury.

Sometimes these types of accidents produce minor injuries. At other times, however, the injuries are more serious, requiring medical attention and causing you to miss some time from work. In the most severe cases, being hurt on someone else’s property can result in temporary or permanent disability, which can take a major physical, emotional, and financial toll on victims and their families.

There are several types of injures that frequently occur on the property of another party, some of the most common include:

  • Slips, trips and falls;
  • Dog bites and animal attacks;
  • Swimming pool accidents;
  • Amusement park accidents;
  • Fires and floods;
  • Elevator and escalator accidents;
  • Defective conditions on the premises;
  • Inadequate premises maintenance;
  • Inadequate premises security;
  • Exposure to hazardous substances.

If you were injured on someone else’s property, you may be able to bring a premises liability claim against them. In order to determine if it may be worthwhile to pursue legal action, however, there are a couple important questions you need to ask:

  1. Did you have a right to be on the property?

Property owners and occupants owe a duty of care to take reasonable measures to keep the property safe and free from known hazards. The duty of care owed is different, however, depending on the type of visitor that enters the premises. In Alabama, there are three different categories of visitors:

  • Invitees: The highest duty of care is owed to those who have explicit or implied permission to be on the property. These may include those who enter the property for commercial or business purposes, such as customers, clients, or hotel guests. A landowner must use reasonable care to keep the premises safe for invitees, and adequately warn them of any known hazards.
  • Licensees: The next category of visitor is a licensee. This might be a salesperson, social guest (such as a friend who is invited to a party), or neighbor. The duty of care owed to licensees is higher than that of trespassers, but lower than invitees. Landowners must refrain from willfully or wantonly injuring a licensee or injuring a licensee by negligently exposing them to various dangers and hazards.
  • Trespassers: The lowest duty of care is owed to those who enter a landowner’s property without permission, commonly known as trespassers. The only obligation a landowner has with regards to trespassers is to refrain from willful or wanton misconduct or entrapment.

If you were injured on someone else’s property and fall into the category of an invitee, a premises liability claim might have a chance to be successful. Your chances are reduced if you were a licensee, and if you were trespassing, legal action against the landowner is probably not a realistic option.

  1. Who is Responsible for the Incident?

Landowners are not always responsible for injuries that occur on their property, even if the injured party was an invitee or licensee. They are only responsible if you can prove the following:

  • The owner/occupant owed you a duty of care;
  • The owner/occupant breached the duty owed to you;
  • This breach is the proximate cause of your injury;
  • The injury resulted in compensable damages.

Alabama uses the doctrine of “contributory negligence”. This means that if a plaintiff shares any of the fault for their injury, they are not allowed to collect damages. In a premises liability case, there is a good chance the defendant will claim that you are at least partially responsible for the injury.

For example, they may claim that you were not watching where you were going, you were in a restricted area, the dangerous condition was clearly marked, the dangerous condition was open and obvious to a reasonable person, or another defense. If any of these claims stick, you will not be able to collect compensation for your injuries. For this reason, it is important to thoroughly document the incident with multiple photographs, favorable statements from witnesses, and any other evidence you can gather that will help your case.

Speak with an Experienced Alabama Premises Liability Lawyer

Premises liability cases can be complex and are very difficult to win in Alabama. If you were hurt on someone else’s property and you believe you might have a claim, it is important to speak with a skilled personal injury lawyer as soon as possible. At Burge and Burge, we have extensive experience with this area of the law, and we can assess your case to determine if bringing a premises liability claim is a viable option.

For a free consultation with one of our attorneys, contact our office today at 205-251-9000.

attorney in alabama

How to Stay on Top of your Case after you Hire a Lawyer

Hiring an attorney is an important step toward resolving a legal matter. Before you retain legal counsel, you should ask several questions, such as “how long have you practiced law?”, “how many cases have you handled that are similar to mine?”, “what is the likely outcome of my case?”, and “what should I expect from you going forward?”

Your lawyer should demonstrate a high level of competence with the particular case you are hiring them for. They should be able to speak in-depth about this area of the law, what your various legal options are, how the legal process will work, what to expect from your attorney, and what you can do to help ensure a successful outcome. The more closely you work together with your attorney, the better your chances of a favorable result.

How to Stay on Top of the Case Once You Hire an Attorney

After you are satisfied that you have chosen the right lawyer and signed all the retainer agreements, there are some important things you should do to keep on top of your case:

  1. Be honest from the outset

Legal cases will be thoroughly investigated by both sides, especially if you end up at trial. During the course of discovery, the facts are bound to come to light. For this and many other reasons, it always best to be honest with your attorney from the very beginning, even if the facts you give them may not be favorable to your case.

  1. Follow through on everything you agreed to do

After you hire an attorney, it is likely that they will ask you to do some things to move your case forward. Examples may include helping to gather useful evidence, going to doctor’s appointments, and other important tasks. Be sure to make these tasks a priority, because they will likely need to be completed before you are able to make any significant progress in your case.

  1. Document everything

It is always a good idea to keep a file with all the documents you have that are related to your case. You should keep a journal summarizing the dates you met with or spoke with your attorney, what was discussed, and what to expect next. Keep an electronic file as well with any email communication and digital documents.

  1. Reply promptly to any requests made by your attorney

While the case is progressing, there is a good chance your attorney will ask for some additional information and/or ask you to complete some additional tasks. For example, you may be asked to make a follow up visit to the doctor or secure an important document that only you have access to. Be sure to act on these requests as soon as you can.

  1. Report any new evidence to your attorney immediately

There are times when new information/evidence comes to light after the case is already in progress. If you become aware of any new evidence regarding your case, report that to your lawyer right away. You never know what bits of information or evidence can impact the success of negotiations or litigation. What may seem to you like a minor piece of information could end up making a major difference in the outcome of the case.

  1. Inform your attorney ASAP if you are unable to fulfill a commitment

If you have a medical appointment, hearing, or another commitment that you are not able to make, let your attorney know about it right away so it can be rescheduled or otherwise handled. Sometimes life gets in the way of a legal proceeding, but when it does, give your attorney as much advance notice as possible.

  1. Contact your attorney whenever you have questions or concerns

The most important factor in staying on top of your case after you hire a lawyer is communication. You should expect regular communication and ongoing updates from your attorney, and you should be able to contact them whenever an important question or concern arises. You may not get an immediate response as attorneys are often attending hearings or meeting with other clients, but you should expect to have your question or concern addressed within a reasonable period of time.

Speak with an Experienced Alabama Lawyer

If you have a legal issue, you deserve experienced representation from attorneys who will treat you with dignity and respect. At Burge and Burge, we have in-depth knowledge of a wide range of practice areas; including personal injury, workers’ compensation, Social Security Disability, professional negligence, and many others. We work closely with our clients to provide the skilled and personalized representation they need and deserve.

For a free consultation with one of our seasoned attorneys, contact us today at 205-251-9000.


accidents in the swimming pool

Pool Safety & Children – Who is responsible when accidents happen in the pool?

It has been a hot summer so far in Alabama, and there’s still a lot of warm weather left in the season. That probably means that you and your children spend a fair amount of time at both public and private swimming pools. While you have taught your children how to swim and other safety rules, accidents can still happen. Should this ever happen to your family, it’s important to understand who has liability.

Swimming Pools and Alabama’s Premises Liability Laws

The premises liability portion of Alabama’s personal injury law states that swimming pool owners have the legal obligation to keep them safe. This includes such actions as putting a fence around the pool and a lock on the fence to keep uninvited neighborhood children from accessing it. The law recognizes that children don’t have the same ability as adults to perceive danger and that seeing an open swimming pool would appeal to their natural sense of curiosity. All neighborhood swimming pools fall under the legal category of attractive nuisance for this reason.

In addition to securing the outer parameter of the pool, owners must ensure that the pool itself is safe. For example, drain covers must meet federal safety regulations to ensure that a child doesn’t become seriously injured by sitting on one or even walking by it. This law came about after several children died due to the suctioning power of a swimming pool drain that didn’t have proper covering.

Pool owners should also remove tripping hazards from walkways to avoid a slip and fall injury. It is important that they realize that not every swimming pool accident happens in the water. Owners of public facilities must meet specific fencing requirements as well as have the following signage available:

  • Opening and closing time of the pool
  • A warning during the hours that no lifeguard is on duty
  • A warning that children should not use the pool unless supervised by an adult

Pool owners who don’t abide by these regulations may be liable for injuries sustained by visitors to their property.

Tips to Keep Your Children Safe in the Swimming Pool

One of the most important things you can do to ensure your children remain safe at the pool is to always supervise them around water. Plan to hold very young children in the water and to be within an arm’s length of preschool aged children for the duration of your stay. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends that one adult assume the responsibility of designated Water Watcher. That means that he or she agrees to only watch the children in the swimming pool and not use a smartphone, listen to music, read, or engage in any other type of distraction.

Never rely on a lifeguard to watch your child as there’s no substitute for one-on-one supervision. A single lifeguard could have the responsibility for looking after hundreds of swimmers and not notice a problem right away. Some lifeguards and swimming pool owners who hire them are negligent as well. Perhaps the lifeguard saw it as an easy summer job and doesn’t take the responsibility as seriously as he or she should.

All children should have swimming lessons before they spend time in the water without an adult right next to them. Many pools and community organizations such as the YMCA offer formal swimming lessons for kids of all ages. Even babies can take lessons with their parents to help them get comfortable with the feeling of being in the water.

We also recommend that you learn CPR to enable you to jump into immediate action in an emergency. Even if you never have to use CPR on your own child, knowing this skill could save a life. Lastly, never consume alcohol when you’re supervising children in or near a swimming pool or going for a swim yourself.

Help for Families of Swimming Pool Accidents

Burge & Burge, PC is a personal injury law firm that can help you file suit against the negligent party that caused your child’s swimming pool accident. We offer free case reviews to determine the likelihood of proving negligence and winning your case. Please contact us at our Birmingham, Alabama law office at 205-251-9000. You can also reach us toll-free at 800-633-3733 to reserve a time for your consultation.

electrocution injuries attorney in Birmingham, AL

What Are the Effects of Electrocution Injuries?

We often take electricity for granted as a modern-day convenience. Most of us expect to plug in various items and use them without being hurt. Although most electrical items are safe and designed to prevent injury, the storage and transmission of electricity has inherent dangers.

There is an average of 4,400 injuries and 400 deaths each year in the U.S. that are attributed to electrocution. Specifically, electrocution is defined as a serious injury or death that results from an electric shock or electrical current traveling through the body.

How Common Are Electrocution Injuries?

An electrical injury can happen anyplace that electricity is present. These can occur in everyday situations in the home, while at work, or when visiting another property.

  • The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) reports that electrocution is the second leading cause of death among construction workers.
  • According to U.S. industry experts, more than 30,000 electric shock accidents happen each year in the workplace.
  • Hospitals treat approximately seven children each day that were injured from tampering with electrical outlets.
  • More than 14% of electrocution injuries result from household current (120/220 volts).

Different Types of Electrical Injuries

Electrocution injuries can lead to severe and life-changing injuries. If the victim doesn’t lose their life, they could face painful and debilitating consequences from one of these events. Some of the common types of electrical injuries include:

  • Burns. Burns are the most common result of contact with electricity. This refers to external burns as well as the death to deeper tissues. Flash or flame injuries occur when there is an intense high voltage current or flash of light. Thermal injuries result from contact with hot objects such as steam, boiling water, fire, or electricity. Arc blast injuries occur when someone is close to an electric fault such as deteriorated wiring.
  • Musculoskeletal injuries. These are a range of conditions that involve injury to the body’s muscles, tendons, bones, nerves, blood vessels, and other soft tissue. These injuries occur in about 40% of electrocution cases.
  • Internal injuries. An injury victim can also suffer traumatic brain injury, acute renal failure, and other neurological injuries from electrocution.
  • Amputations. Roughly 11% of people who have power line electrocution injuries have to undergo multiple amputations.
  • Loss of consciousness. About one-third of electrocution injury victims suffer brain injuries that lead to loss of consciousness and the potential for permanent impairment.
  • Ventricular fibrillation. Electrocution can lead to the uncoordinated contraction of the heart’s muscles, which could result in cardiac arrest.
  • Secondary injuries from falls. When a person or worker comes into contact with electricity while on a ladder or other height, they might fall due to the startle reaction and suffer other serious injuries.
  • Death. Death is a common result when there is a severe electrocution injury linked to contact with high-voltage power lines.

Who is to Blame for an Electrocution Injury?

Since most electrocution injuries are preventable, you have a right to seek compensation for your losses. Who is responsible will depend on where and how an injury occurred. For example, if your injury happened on the job, you will need to go through your employer’s worker’s compensation coverage for benefits. If a third party was to blame, it’s possible that you might also have a separate case for damages.

Not all electrocution injuries happen in the workplace. If you were on someone else’s property when your accident occurred, you might have a premises liability claim. Electrocution injuries can also result from unsafe products, which could result in a personal injury case against a designer or manufacturer.

Hire the Experienced Legal Representation You Need

If you or someone you love has been injured in an electrocution accident, you may be facing significant emotional and financial pressure due to medical care requirements and lost time from work. You might be unsure about who is at fault in your accident, and that’s ok.

At Burge & Burge, P.C., our experienced Alabama personal injury attorneys will investigate your case and identify any parties that might be liable for your injuries. We understand the seriousness of electrocution injuries and will work on your behalf to get you the compensation you need and deserve.

Contact our Birmingham office now at 205-251-9000 or reach us online to schedule a free consultation.