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Alabama Summertime Car Heat Dangers

Summer brings a hundred great reasons to get on the road, and to bring friends along for the ride. But the rising temperatures mean rising heat inside the car during an Alabama summer.

For your most vulnerable passengers—children and pets—summertime car heat can pose a serious risk to their well-being.

We’ve created the infographic below to help Alabama residents be extra aware of protecting their loved ones from heat inside the car during Alabama’s summer season. Some of the facts may surprise you. Just remember that the smaller the passenger, the more intense the effects of summertime car heat.

Don’t take a chance on accidentally causing harm—the last thing you want is to return from a quick errand to find your little passenger suffering. Follow the tips below to keep your kids and furry friends safe and happy during the summer season.

Alabama dangerous summertime car heat

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Please include attribution to Pittman, Dutton & Hellums with this graphic.

Who Is Responsible When Driverless Cars Crash?

The driverless car has officially expanded beyond the futuristic concept of high-end manufacturers. Companies renowned for reliability and safety—such as Toyota, Honda, and Ford—are throwing their efforts (and their investment dollars) into self-driving car R&D.  The reason is simple: these companies believe that cars with driverless technology have the potential to improve driver safety.

But as driverless car technology has developed, and with it more test drives attempted, there has been a greater incidence of crashes with these self-driving vehicles. The mounting number of driverless car crashes creates more questions not just about the technology, but about the legal implications around self-driving car accidents.

Who Is Responsible When Driverless Cars Crash?Woman navigating in driverless car

When any car accident takes place, the first question on everyone’s mind is who is liable? That question becomes much more complicated to answer in a case of a driverless car accident.

This problem was highlighted in May 2016 by the tragic car crash that took place in Williston, Florida when a semi-truck made a left turn in front of a self-driving Tesla. The incident raised many questions about the trustworthiness of a system that failed to recognize and stop an unmistakable emergency situation.

Many personal injury and product liability attorneys are contemplating this question and anticipate more cases of this nature as car manufacturers push forward with autonomous driving technology. Far from lightening the workload of personal injury attorneys, it seems as though driverless car technology could just as easily bring in a lot more work in the coming years. And at this point, it is unclear if the driver of a traditional vehicle would have a claim against the “driver” of an autonomous vehicle. In fact, it may be possible that both drivers would have a claim against the vehicle manufacturer for the autonomous technology not working well enough.

Other Legal Questions

You may think that the definition of “safe driving” is the same no matter where you are in the United States. However, driving rules can differ greatly from one state to another.

For example, most states have laws about what constitutes a safe distance between vehicles on the road. Some driving codes specify the number of feet that should be maintained between bumpers, while other codes simply direct drivers to keep a “reasonable and prudent” distance.

This law may invalidate one of the purported advantages of autonomous driving vehicles. That advantage is that self-driving cars could be programmed to drive bumper-to-bumper at highway speeds. The theoretical benefit is fuel efficiency and reduced congestion, but the logistics of regulating that distance could be a nightmare, particularly if the self-driving cars are sharing the highway with traditional vehicles.

In another example, some states’ laws dictate that safe driving involves a driver keeping their hands on the wheel at all times. In the event of a crash, this would be an important point to prove regarding liability. But where does that leave the passengers in a self-driving car crash?

To clarify this point and many others like it, the U.S. Department of Transportation is working to formulate a new set of traffic guidelines that merges the two concepts.

“The idea here is to try to avoid a conflict between safety and innovation,” said one federal official working on the U.S. Department of Transportation’s new set of traffic guidelines for self-driving cars.

Safety Enforcement for Driverless Cars

Another big question is who would be responsible for enforcing these guidelines. Up to this time, the federal government has only regulated vehicle safety, leaving driving law enforcement up to individual states. But if autonomous driving technology is federally regulated to a uniform standard, it would seem necessary for there to also be a uniform standard to state traffic laws.

As the Washington Post reports, “Without some guidelines, both state laws and technological advances may end up at odds with one another.”

In the meantime, while technology and the state work out their differences, personal injury attorneys might as well prepare for a heavier-than-usual workload. The number of driverless car crashes may still be minimal, but proving liability in these cases is likely to take a lot more time and effort.

Four PDH Attorneys Nominated to 2016 Super Lawyers

Our firm is pleased to announce that three attorneys were again selected for inclusion in the 2016 list of Super Lawyers and one attorney was selected for inclusion on the Super Lawyers “Rising Stars” list.

Super Lawyers, published by Thomson Reuters, is a rating service of outstanding lawyers from more than 70 practice areas who have attained a high degree of peer recognition and professional achievement.

The four-step selection process is quite rigorous. No more than 5 percent of attorneys in a state ever make the list. To achieve this an attorney must first be nominated by peers, undergo a twelve-point independent research process, and pass through peer evaluation all before the final step of selection.
PDH attorneys nominated for awards
Lee Pittman, Tom Dutton and Chris Hellums have all been named on this prestigious list as Super Lawyers. This is the ninth consecutive year for Lee Pittman and Tom Dutton to be included and is the fifth consecutive year for Chris Hellums to be included.

Jon Mann has been recognized by other Super Lawyers as a Rising Star for the second year in a row. To be eligible for inclusion in Rising Stars, a candidate must be either 40 years or younger or in practice for 10 years or less. While up to 5 percent of attorneys in a state are named Super Lawyers, only 2.5 percent are named to Rising Stars.

Super Lawyers Magazine will feature this list and the profiles of each attorney selected, and issues will be sent to attorneys in the state or region as well as the ABA-accredited law school libraries.

When choosing a lawyer for a class action, medical device, dangerous drug, or car accident matter, it is critical to select a team of lawyers with the experience and resources to ensure a maximum recovery on your behalf. Take a few moments to speak with our team if you are in need of legal help. Our consultation are always free and 100% confidential.

Leigh King Forstman Named Top Local Lawyer in 2016

Leigh King ForstmanOn behalf of the entire firm, we are pleased to announce that our partner, Leigh King Forstman, was nominated to a list of distinguished female lawyers in Alabama. To view the list click here.

Ms. Forstman is Chair-Elect of the Women Lawyers Section of the Birmingham Bar Association and serves as its Liaison to the Alabama State Bar Women’s Section.

This is the latest distinction for Forstman, who has been practicing law for over 25 years. She was previously selected for the 2011 Inaugural Edition of the Bar Register of Preeminent Women Lawyers in the field of Civil Trial Practice. This was because of her AV rating by the Martindale-Hubbell Law Directory – the highest possible rating. She is a Senior Fellow of the Litigation Counsel of America, Top 100 Trial Lawyers and recently appointed by the Alabama Supreme Court to another term on the Standing Committee on Alabama Rules of Appellate Procedure.

Ms. Forstman dedicates her practice on behalf of individuals who have suffered due to negligence of others in workplace and industrial accidents, car accidents, nursing home abuse, aviation disasters, and protecting the rights of those in consumer fraud claims.

Ms. Forstman can be reached at 205-332-8880

6 Coolest Things to Do in Birmingham This Summer

As summer moves into its third act, temperatures continue to rise. Average temperatures throughout July hovered at about 80 degrees with humidity reaching as high as 84 percent, and August promises more of the same, not to mention generous helpings of our region’s notorious thunderstorms.

Despite the sweltering weather, Birmingham residents show no sign of slowing down and the month of August offers plenty of opportunities for you to soak up every last drop of the summer.

The folks at Birmingham Magazine have put together a Birmingham Bucket List with 55 quintessential things to do in Birmingham this summer. Below are some of our personal picks from this very thorough list, along with a few of our personal additions.

Float Down the Cahaba RiverRiver Float To Do Birmingham

If you’re one of the 65,000 people to move to Alabama in the last few years, you should know the Cahaba River is one of the hands-down most popular things to do in Birmingham this summer. Rent a tube at Bulldog Bend, the put-in just south of Montevallo, and hop a shuttle that takes you upriver. From there, sit back and float, drift and spin your way back down the to where you started, high-fiving your neighbors as you go.

If you’re a longtime resident of Magic City, you’ve probably already done this…but why not take one more trip down the river?

Insider tip: Bring a cooler full of cold beverages, strap it into an extra tube and tether it to one of the tubes in your flotilla. It’s a great way to make new friends along your way.


Top Desserts To Do BirminghamLocally Made Frozen Treats

It goes without saying that staying cool is among the top things to do in Birmingham this summer. One of our favorite ways is to seek out the frozen treat emporiums that abound in every neighborhood of our city. Ice cream at Big Spoon Creamery, popsicles at La Sabrosita, Italian Ice at Doodle’s, Good People beer floats at the ballpark…the list goes on and on.




Nature WalkHiking To Do Birmingham

Far too few Birmingham residents realize the amazing treasure hiding in plain sight among us. Our city’s natural forests are head and shoulders above the “green spaces” of our much larger neighbors.
Between Red Mountain Park and Ruffner Mountain Nature Preserve, there are over 2000 acres of hiking trails that offer a serene, shady respite from the heat.

Insider tip: if you fancy an adventure among the trees, Red Mountain Park offers zip lines, a ropes course and even treehouses to explore.


Outdoor Music To Do BirminghamOutdoor Music

What’s summer without a music festival? Birmingham has plenty throughout the summer, but one of the best (and most unique) happens at the beginning of August. Secret Stages features 60 or so up-and-coming acts rocking out in hidden venues around Birmingham’s Loft District. Along with discovered untapped talent, part of the fun is finding where they’re playing. Get a group of friends together and start a fan club that can truly say “we liked them before they were cool.”



Outdoor MoviesDrive In Theatre To Do Birmingham

Birmingham has a wealth of outdoor film venues that take full advantage of the lower temperatures and lighter humidity that comes with the
setting sun. Spend a balmy summer night watching movies the old-fashioned way—under the stars—at the Coyote Drive-In. Bring the whole family and the dog (the drive-in is pet-friendly); come early to secure the best spot and enjoy a round of mini-golf before the feature starts. We prefer Double Feature Tuesdays when you get to enjoy two movies for the price of one.

If you’re just dying for the benefit of air conditioning, the Alabama Theatre’s summer movie series shows celluloid classics in every genre—Jaws, The Sound of Music, Raiders of the Lost Ark, and Gone with the Wind are just a few of this summer’s selections.

Insider tip: If you’re headed to the Alabama Theatre, get there early for a singalong session with the theatre’s vintage Wurlitzer.


Storytelling To Do BirminghamStorytelling Nights

Southern culture is known for its storytelling; Arc Stories puts this tradition on full display. A regular Saturday evening event at the Avon Theatre, this gathering is where locals of all ages come to regale their neighbors with true stories, personal memories and local histories that will inspire new friendship and fuel your pride in this great state.




For more great things to do in Birmingham check out the full Birmingham Bucket List here, and make sure to add your own suggestions to the list by posting photos on social media with the hashtag #BhamBucketList.

Pittman Dutton and Hellums

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