If You Drive an Older Jeep Cherokee Beware of Gas Tank Vulnerability

Recently, a Georgia jury awarded $150 million to the family of a four-year-old boy killed when a Jeep Cherokee caught fire after a crash. This was in Decatur County near Atlanta and they found that Chrysler acted with reckless disregard in selling the 1999 Jeep with a gas tank mounted behind the rear axle, thus making the vehicle more prone to fire on impact.

The child was riding with his aunt when the vehicle was hit from behind by a pick-up truck in March 2012. The tank thereafter leaked and the victim’s Jeep was engulfed in flames, killing the boy.

The jurors held that Chrysler was 99% at fault in the crash and the pick-up truck driver was 1% at fault. Chrysler had recalled over 1.5 million of these vehicles in June of 2013 under pressure from regulatory agencies of the government. The rear-mounted tanks have little structure to protect them if struck from behind. They are highly susceptible to punctures and fires. This firm has been involved in a case in that same area where the front windshield of the Chrysler vehicle was compressed downward, thus decapitating the driver.

If you or any of your friends or loved ones have been injured in such a tragedy, please call an attorney as soon as possible to make sure your rights will be protected.

Stapleton Traffic Accident Kills Father, Injures Son

On Wednesday morning, a tragic traffic accident that occurred near Stapleton took the life of one and injured another.

According to an Alabama Department of Public Safety release, Earl Norman Boyington, Jr., of Bay Minette, was driving north on Alabama 59.  Department of Public Safety Sgt. Bryon Piggott said the 37-year-old Boyington was attempting a left turn onto U.S. 31 when he pulled into the path of a tractor-trailer driven by Thomas Christian of Mobile.  Christian was driving his rig south on Alabama 59 when the collision occurred.

Tragically Boyington’s father, Earl Mune Boyington of Bay Minette, was killed when the two vehicles collided.  According to the accident report, the 77-year-old Boyington was wearing his seat belt at the time of the crash.

The driver of the car, Earl Boyington was injured in the crash and was transported to the University of South Alabama Medical Center, where, according to Sgt. Piggott, he is being treated for non-life threatening injuries.

No charges have been filed and the accident is still being investigated by state troopers.  The Department of Public Safety reported that alcohol is not believed to be a factor in the accident.

When you have been injured or lost a loved one in an automobile accident, seek the counsel of an experienced Alabama personal injury attorney.   A compassionate, but assertive personal injury attorney understands that each incident is life-transforming, and can not only cause painful injuries, but mental suffering and significant economic loss as well.  An experienced Birmingham attorney will assist you in determining your legal rights and options, and will pursue the compensation you deserve.

Original article here.

UA Bus Collision Leaves Student with Life-Threatening Injuries

A chartered bus carrying University of Alabama cheerleaders returning from the BCS game in Miami was involved in a three car collision in Montgomery on Tuesday night, leaving one student in critical condition at the Baptist Medical Center South in Montgomery for injuries she received in the crash. 

According to the University of Alabama’s spokeswoman Cathy Andreen, the three-vehicle accident involved the chartered bus carrying the university’s cheerleaders, four students  riding in a car, and two students riding in a pick-up truck.  The critically injured student, Natalie Baine, was a passenger in the truck.

The accident occurred at 10:20 p.m. on Western Boulevard at Interstate 65, and, according to the Montgomery Police Department, involved the chartered bus carrying 31 passengers, which included UA the cheerleaders, a pick-up truck and a car.  According to the report, no cheerleaders were injured; however two individuals in the car were transported to a local hospital with minor injuries.

The investigation into the accident is ongoing and, at this time, no other details were available.

The Alabama Department of Transportation reports that an automobile accident happens in Alabama approximately every four minutes, and drivers in Alabama have a 1-in-3 chance of being involved in a car accident that causes death or injury in their lifetime.  In 2009, a total of 123,690 car crashes took place in Alabama, and in  those crashes, there were 35,153 injuries, and 848  fatalities.

If you have been injured or have lost a loved one in an automobile accident, seek the counsel of an experienced Alabama personal injury attorney.  A compassionate, but assertive attorney will assist you in determining your legal rights and options, and will pursue the compensation you deserve. 

Original story can be found here.

Troopers Warn Less Daylight, More Danger for Motorists and Pedestrians

Alabamians will turn their clocks back Sunday as Daylight Savings time ends.  Because of doing so, there will be less daylight, which, according to Alabama State Troopers, could mean more danger for pedestrians on the state’s roadways.  Troopers are urging both motorists and pedestrians to take more precautions than usual as they drive and walk the roadways of Alabama. 

“We need you, the motoring public, to help us to prevent traffic injuries and fatalities involving pedestrians, especially as our days grow shorter,” Col. Hugh B. McCall, director of the Alabama Department of Public Safety said.

In the past several weeks alone, three pedestrians have been killed by motor vehicles.  One pedestrian, Amos Holt Jr., 51-years-old, died after he was struck by a pick-up truck on October 20.  Two other victims were riding their bicycles when struck and killed, one in Birmingham and one in St. Clair County.  A hit and run accident left a woman pedestrian in critical condition this past week.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) offers these safety tips for individuals who walk, jog or run along roadways:

  • When possible, cross a street or roadway at a designated crosswalk
  • Always stop and look right, left, and right again before crossing.
  • Increase visibility at night by carrying a flashlight when walking and wearing reflective clothing.
  • It is always safer to walk on a sidewalk, but if you must walk along the street or a rural roadway, always walk facing traffic.

Troopers reminded drivers they are to yield the right of way to pedestrians crossing streets in marked or unmarked crosswalks, and to always be especially careful when turning onto another street for pedestrians in their path, as this is where the failure to yield right-of-way most often occurs.

By following Alabama Troopers and NHTSA safety suggestions, motorists and pedestrians can prevent traffic injuries and deaths involving pedestrians on Alabama’s roadways.

Family of Three Killed in Birmingham Crash

A controversial subject in the news today is that of police pursuits.  Yes, society does want criminal apprehended, but, no, society does not want innocent bystanders or law enforcement officers hurt in the process.  Unfortunately, this at times, is difficult to accomplish, and a recent tragic collision in Jefferson County this week highlighted just how dangerous a police pursuit can be.

A Hanceville family of three was killed instantly in a horrific crash when two suspects fleeing police crashed into their vehicle.  A young couple and their 10-month-old baby died in the accident. 

Authorities say that Monday Dominique Smith, 20, and Jeffrey Howe, 18, of Mulga, pistol whipped an elderly man in Cordova and then fled in their SUV.  Dora police spotted the fleeing SUV, gave chase, but lost the suspects in the Wylam/McDonald Chapel area.  A Jefferson County sheriff’s deputy spotted the suspects, but in turning his patrol car around, crashed and was unable to follow the suspects. 

The suspects continued fleeing, eventually running a red light at the intersection of Minor Parkway and Birmingport Road, crashing into and killing the young family of three.  The suspects jumped out of the SUV and ran from the police.  One suspect turned himself and police captured the other suspect the following day. 

Randy Christian, Jefferson County Chief Deputy, pointed out that police were not actively pursuing the suspects when the collision occurred.  “I’m not sure that calling this a high-speed chase has been accurate, fair to the victims and their families or fair to the officers involved and it certainly hasn’t helped anyone,” Christian said.  “Were the suspects fleeing from a violent crime?  Yes.  Were they trying to avoid capture?  Absolutely.  Was anyone hot on their trail when they hit and murdered this family?  No.  I have heard this called an accident.  This was no accident.  It was a wreck, and it was murder.”

Birmingham Police Chief A.C. Roper stated that all police pursuits do involve risks in that the fleeing suspect is the one who selects the speed and the routes to avoid capture.  A police decision to pursue a fleeing suspect has to be balanced between the benefit of catching the suspect now and environmental conditions.  What constitutes a “good pursuit at 2:00 a.m. may not constitute a good pursuit at 2:00 p.m.”  When the potential danger to the officer and citizens outweigh the advantage of apprehending the suspect, a pursuit is generally not recommended.  Roper said that even if an officer does not pursue or stops the chase, a suspect usually will continue his reckless driving in an attempt to not only elude officers, but to place greater distance between himself and officers, as well.

Under Alabama law, an heir may file a wrongful death lawsuit against the person who is responsible for the death of their loved one.  It is very important to seek counsel with an experienced Alabama wrongful death lawyer soon after the accident as a lawsuit needs to be filed within two years of the victim’s date of death.  An experienced, competent attorney will conduct a comprehensive investigation and will work diligently to bring the responsible party to justice and seek punitive damages against him, as well.

Alabama Pediatricians Enlisted to Fight Teen Driver Fatalities

Allstate Insurance in a 2008 study, ranked Alabama as the second most dangerous state in the country for teen drivers.  According to the study, of the nation’s fifty largest metropolitan areas, the Birmingham-Hoover area was the fifth deadliest for teen drivers, as well. 

Allstate has given a safe driving grant to the Alabama Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics to help combat the problem of teen driving fatalities in the state.  The director of the injury prevention division of the Alabama Department of Health, Richard Burleson, said, “In any given year, vehicular deaths account for a third to half of all preventable child deaths in Alabama.”  According to Burleson, many are not aware of the the modification made to the graduated driver’s license by the Alabama legislature in 2010. 

Under the 2010 law, it is illegal for a 16-year-old driver to drive with more than one non-family member passenger.  These drivers also cannot drive between the hours of midnight and 6 a.m. unless they are with an adult, going to or from work, a school event or a church event.  There are some exemptions to the law that pertain to emergencies or hunting and fishing excursions, as well.

The Alabama Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics is taking steps to spread awareness of the graduated driver’s license law.  One way they are doing so is by using the $25,000 Allstate grant to distribute a “tool kit” of safe driving information to doctors at a conference on Friday.  Dr. Carden Johnston, an emergency medicine physician, stated, “Pediatricians are a credible resource in society.  Adolescents, believe it or not, will sometimes listen to them.  Very often, not always, they will comply.”

Contained in the kit is a driving log for both parents and teens to track how often the teen practices driving with parents.  The recommendation for teen’s with permits is to drive for fifty hours before either obtaining a driver’s license or driving alone.  The kit contains a driving agreement which outlines what teen drivers will and won’t do behind the wheel, as well.

Perhaps with the additional information and push coming from their doctor, Alabama teens will heed the advice in the safety driving kits, take the steps to drive more maturely and, thus,  help make Alabama roadways safer for themselves and other drivers, too.

Rear Seat Belt Warning System

On July 2, Congress passed a highway bill that calls for providing a “safety belt use warning system for designated seating positions in the rear seat.”  The law won’t take effect for another three years, which will give regulators time to determine the best way of implementing the plan. 

A spokesman for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) said that the specifics remain unclear and that the “agency is in the early stages of establishing performance requirements for rear seat belt reminder systems.”   The law has been a long time in coming.  Seat belt reminders for front seats have been around since the 1970’s and are required for the driver’s seat.  Almost all 2010 models, three-fourths, include a seat belt warning for the passenger seat, too.  A study by the government in 2007 found that “enhanced seat belt reminders” improved seat belt use by 3.9 percent.  A study by Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) in 2010, found driver fatality rates were 6 percent lower in vehicles with enhanced belt reminders.

Russ Rader, IIHS spokesman, said that unbelted backseat occupants are a major problem, noting that those backseat passengers wearing lap and shoulder belts face a 44 percent lower risk of fatal injury in cars and 73 percent lower risk in vans and SUV’S.  Teenage passengers, according to NHTSA, buckle up less frequently than adults and, thus, are more at risk for injury and death than other passengers.  In a 2008 study, 56 percent of 16-20 year-olds involved in fatal accidents were unbuckled.

Not only are unbuckled passengers a risk to themselves, but they are a risk to other backseat passengers and those people in the front seat as well.  According to Joseph Colella, a consultant who works for Traffic Safety Projects, an unbelted backseat passenger can become a projectile and injure or cause death to other people in the vehicle.

The bill gives the Secretary of Transportation up to three years to issue a final rule as to what type of seat belt reminder – audible, visual symbol or textual – will be required, but until then, make sure you remind those back seat passengers as well as those in the front, to buckle up.

Cabaret Sued by Family of Teen Killed by Drunk Driver

Many states have dram shop laws which regulate both the distribution and sale of alcohol by imposing liability on bars, clubs, restaurants, liquor stores or convenience stores that sell alcohol to those individuals who are noticeably intoxicated or to minors.  When a drunk driving accident occurs, it is not just the driver who will be held liable, but the company that served alcohol to the intoxicated driver as well.  The reason for this liability is the idea of foreseeable harm that might be caused if the visibly intoxicated person gets behind the wheel of a car.  Unfortunately, some businesses do not heed the dram shop law and serve those drinkers that are visibly intoxicated.

One such business that disregarded the dram shop  law was Rick’s Cabaret, a strip club in Texas, according to a lawsuit filed by the family of Katherine “Emily” Jones, a victim in a drunk driving accident.  According to the lawsuit, Erasmo Ramirez was drinking at Rick’s Cabaret on the night that Emily was killed,   The lawsuit alleges that Rick’s policies encourage the over serving of alcohol in that entertainer’s are required to pay a nightly house charge to keep their jobs, and this charge was paid by selling the customers drinks to earn credits.  This policy, according to the Lanier Law Firm which is representing the family of Emily Jones, allegedly makes it more profitable to keep selling drinks even if the customer is already visibly intoxicated.

To prove liability, the family of Emily will have to show that Rick’s Cabaret served Ramirez after he was visibly intoxicated.

The Lanier Law Firm attorneys have this liability point covered.  Ramirez was served 15 or more double drinks during the night by his server, and was only kicked out of the club when he ran out of money.  Just thirty minutes after leaving the club, Ramirez’s car traveling at 130 mph, smashed into Jones’ car killing the 18-year-old high school senior.  “Investigators determined Ramirez’s blood alcohol content was 0.295, more than three times the legal limit in Texas,” the law firm said.  Ramirez was charged with intoxication manslaughter and was sentenced to fifteen years in prison.

Rick’s Cabaret spokesman stated that the establishment had not been served with any suit and would not comment on the case.

If you have been injured, or have tragically  lost a family member, as a result of the actions of a drunk driver, a personal injury lawyer can assist you in not only bringing that driver to justice, but in seeking compensatory damages for medical bills, pain and suffering, and for loss of income as well.

Ford Issues Recall for 2001-2004 Escape

When a motor vehicle company either discovers a faulty part in their vehicles, or receives complaints about faulty parts in their vehicles, they issue a recall.  Consumers are notified to bring their vehicles  to a dealership to either have the part replaced or repaired.  Unfortunately, there are times when these recalls are not made soon enough, and people suffer injuries and sometimes even death as a result of the faulty products.

Ford Motor Company issued a recall last month for 2001-2004 Ford Escapes because the cruise control has a sticky  wire that can cause the vehicle’s accelerator to stick and speed out of control.  Approximately 500,000 3-liter V6 models have been recalled.  According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 99 instances of this happening have been found, and the organization has received 68 complaints for this issue.

A report from NHTSA states the the defect in the Escapes may be connected to thirteen accidents that included nine injuries and one fatality. 

The fatality occurred north of Phoenix, Arizona, when a teen, who had just purchased a used Ford Escape, was driving it back to her home in the town of Payson, about one hour north of the Phoenix metro area. 

Saige Bloom, a junior at Payson High School, had just purchased the vehicle and was driving to her home when the accelerator stuck.  Just before one in the afternoon, Bloom called her mother, who was following in her own car, as she was traveling north approaching Payson, informing her that she was having a mechanical problem with the car.  She told her mom that she could not get the car stopped and that the Escape was accelerating on its own.  Bloom’s mother called the police to alert them to the problem.  Police raced to clear intersections as the 17-year-old girl entered town, which led some motorists to believe the officers were involved in a chase.  According to police, the teen’s car was going approximately 55-60 mph, in a 35 mph zone. 

Several motorists reported they were nearly struck by Bloom’s SUV while it sped down Beeline Highway, the main street through Payson.  Unfortunately for one family, they were sitting in the center lane of the highway, waiting to pull into a fast food restaurant when Bloom’s SUV headed straight for them.  Joanna Carroll, the driver in the car, said that somehow the young driver managed to not only miss her, but maneuver the out-of-control Escape through cars without causing injury.

However, Bloom’s luck soon ran out and she  clipped the fender of a vehicle turning onto the highway from Wal-Mart.  This caused Bloom’s Escape to roll several times, which resulted in Bloom, who was not wearing a seat belt, being thrown from the SUV.  Bloom was airlifted to Phoenix in critical condition.  The next day, she was taken off life support.

Perhaps if this young driver had more driving experience, she would have had the knowledge of what to do in this situation.  Unfortunately, she did not, and she died as a result of the defective Escape.

Ford said in a statement, “Should drivers experience what they believe is a stuck throttle, they should firmly and steadily apply the brakes without pumping the brake pedal, shift to neutral, steer the vehicle to a safe location, shut the engine off and place the transmission in park after the vehicle is safely stopped.”

Although this recall is for older Escapes, Ford is launching its all new 2013 Escape model, which already has under gone two recalls recently.  With the dangers of the older Escapes and with two recent recalls, consumers may be leery of purchasing this new model of the Ford  Escape.

Mom Says Her Late Daughter’s Memory Alive Through Organ Donorship

The loss of a child, no matter what age, is most undoubtedly the most difficult loss a parent can suffer in his or her life.  The loss affects parents in different ways.  Some are bitter, sorrowful and never seem to get over the loss of their child.  However there are those parents who, even though they miss their child, move on and make the decision to let their child help others live by the donation of the child’s organs. 

When Monica Chambless of Bay Minette, Alabama, received the call two years ago that her 21-year-old daughter, Cristina Hadley, had been hit by a car, she made the long drive to Baton Rouge, Louisiana to see her daughter in the hospital.  Cristina and her younger brother were walking along a road and were hit by a car. She knew, as soon as she saw her brain-dead daughter, who was on life support, that her “first baby” was gone.  Two years later, though, Chambliss says Cristina’s spirit is very much alive, thanks to organ donorship.

Cristina became an organ donor two years before her death, and now because of her generosity, six people have a new lease on life.  Doctors in Louisiana were able to transplant Cristina’s kidneys, lungs, pancreas, heart and liver and all recipients were doing great. 

The Alabama Organ Center stated there are more than 3,500 people waiting for organ transplants in the state, and also that nationally 19 people a day die before they receive a needed organ.  Ann Rayburn, the organ donor center’s senior management of professional education, said  about 30 percent of Alabama drivers are registered organ donors, and  in 2011, 110 donors were responsible for 332 organs being transplanted.

The center said the easiest way to become a donor is through drivers license registration and renewal.  Those who wish to become donors can also call 800-252-3677 or register online at www.alabamaorgancenter.org.