If you live in Alabama, we probably don’t have to tell you all the reasons why our great state is a tourist destination for people from around the world. AL.com reports Alabama has set records in the number of visitors coming to Alabama and tourism expenditures for seven years in a row, reaching an all-time high in 2017 with 26 million travelers. White-sand beaches, gorgeous state parks and some of the tastiest food available are just a few factors driving tourism to Alabama.
More tourists means more people on Alabama roads, especially during the summer. Being in a car accident at any time can be a scary experience, but when you’re in an accident with someone who doesn’t live in the state, you might be wondering how to handle the accident. Is anything different? What steps should you take to protect yourself? What things should you be aware of? Here are some answers to the question of what to do after an accident with a driver from another state.
What Driving Laws Apply?
With any car accident, typically the state in which the car accident occurs determines which driving laws must be followed. This means, if you’re in an accident in Alabama with a vacationer who is not from Alabama, they must still be following Alabama driving laws. If they’re not, that could affect a car accident claim.
Some interesting Alabama driving laws residents may not even be aware of include:
- Going down a hill in neutral is illegal.
- Driving over a fire hose in the street is illegal.
- It is illegal to drive while blindfolded.
If you’re in a car accident with a driver who is exhibiting illegal driving behaviors like these, it’s important to let the police who come to the scene know about them. Documenting evidence at any car crash is essential to help increase a claim’s likelihood of success. Even factors like dark window tinting may be illegal, so it’s important to note everything about the other driver’s vehicle and driving behavior after an accident.
Steps to Take When You’re in an Accident with a Tourist
After you’re in any car accident, you should take the following steps, whether it’s with someone who lives in Alabama or with someone who is in from out of town.
Move Out of Danger
Move the vehicles to the side of the road, unless there is threat of fire or an explosion. In that case, flee from the vehicle as far away as possible. If you are seriously injured and can’t move, ask for someone to dial 911.
Call Emergency Services
Even if you are not obviously seriously injured immediately after the accident, it’s wise to call emergency services. Before they arrive, note details about the other vehicle(s), including license plate number, state, and vehicle make and model, in case the other parties in the accident flee the scene. Police can document the accident and gather information from the other driver. You may have injuries that aren’t immediately apparent, so consider taking medical services offered, too.
Document the Scene
For the police report and for your own records, take photos of the vehicles and any injuries you have. Note what state of mind the other driver is in and anything they mention, such as an apology or an admittance of guilt. Be aware of any forms of negligence that may have contributed to the accident, such as a driver driving while intoxicated or while looking at directions on a smartphone. Be honest with what you communicate to police.
Make sure you get the full contact information of the other driver(s), including driver’s license number, license plate, insurance company and policy number, and vehicle description. If there were witnesses at the accident, also ask for their names and contact information, and point police to talk to them.
Don’t Incriminate Yourself
A common first instinct in car accidents is to apologize. Avoid doing this, because it can hurt your claim. Also, never sign anything that is not given to you by police or your insurance company. For example, if the other driver wants you to sign some sort of proof of the accident before police arrive, do not.
Contact a Birmingham Car Accident Attorney
Insurance companies will want to pay as little compensation as possible for an accident. The company that represents the other driver(s) will especially want to work on their clients’ behalf, which could mean less for you.
If you’ve had serious injuries while in a car accident with someone from another state, before talking with your insurance company, you should contact a Birmingham car accident lawyer. You may even experience a case where the out-of-state driver doesn’t have proper car insurance, or where the driver is not properly licensed. In instances like these, protection is vital.
A lawyer will be able to navigate the complexities of the insurance system and protect you so you get the full compensation you deserve. Dealing with another party who doesn’t even live in the same state as you can get complicated. An attorney will be your advocate and work on your behalf.
Defective medical device cases are some of the scariest types of lawsuits. Defective medical devices may be deadly. A patient thinks they’re receiving protection and treatment for a medical ailment, but a medical device could actually be causing them long-term harm or even put them in a position where they are killed because it malfunctions.
In some cases, defective medical devices may be implanted in a person’s body, serving a function such as a hip replacement or form of semi-permanent birth control. In other cases, the device may be used during surgical procedures. Damage may occur slowly over time, with few signs pointing toward the need for treatment or prevention, before it’s too late. In other cases, a procedure that is meant to fix a problem causes a whole host of new medical issues.
If you or a loved one plans on using any type of medical device or plans on having surgery, be aware of complications that may occur when medical devices are defective. Here is what constitutes a defective medical device, examples of some recent defective medical device cases, and how to get help if you’re a victim of a defective medical device.
What Constitutes a Defective Medical Device
In some cases, it’s the fault of the physician that causes a medical complication. Medical malpractice cases may arise when a doctor or other medical professional does not perform their duties within the expected standard of care. Neglect may occur when a doctor fails to give the correct diagnosis, mis-prescribes a patient, does not properly investigate symptoms or follow up on treatment, or a whole host of other factors.
With defective medical devices, it is the neglect of the manufacturer and brand selling the device that is to blame. Some reasons why a medical device is defective include:
- Improper testing
- Failure to warn physicians and patients about all side effects
- Rush to market that results in a lack of proper design
- Unidentified problems before the product is released
When a manufacturer discovers a problem with a medical device, the product may be recalled. A recall can include both a correction of the product (where the problem is addressed for future products) and a removal of the product. The U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) defines a medical device as defective when it could be a risk to health or when it is both a risk to health and is defective.
When a medical device is recalled, the company should alert physicians and patients about any potential dangers. This should be an immediate process, so that patients can take the actions they need to in order to stay safe. While some medical devices may be implanted and do not necessarily need to be removed, it is vital for patients and physicians to know all the dangers and ways to take precautions.
Examples of Defective Medical Device Cases
The FDA lists more than a dozen medical device recalls in the first half of 2018 alone. Sometimes, a recall is not enough to protect a company that put up to thousands of patients in danger because of their negligence. Some examples of defective medical device lawsuits that have been or are currently being pursued include the following.
Da Vinci Surgical Robot
Da Vinci surgical robots have been used to perform surgeries including hysterectomies, gastric bypass, bladder and abdominal procedures. While this device is marketed as less invasive, since abdominal surgeries may be performed without cutting open the body, the device has been accused in lawsuits of causing harm including excessive bleeding, severe bowel injuries and, in some cases, killing the patient.
Stryker Hip Replacement
Stryker recalled its Rejuvenate and ABG-II modular-neck stem products, after patients reported severe complications due to corrosion and fretting of the medical devices. More than 5,000 lawsuits against the manufacturer have been filed, and Stryker has settled with patients in excess of $1.4 billion. There may be more lawsuits, due to patients who were implanted with the devices and who continue to experience problems.
The Mirena intrauterine device is an implantable form of birth control. Bayer, the manufacturer of Mirena, has been accused by the FDA of misleading customers in marketing. The Mirena device has also been reported to cause serious side effects, including birth defects, ovarian cysts and ectopic pregnancy. Mirena is still on the market, despite thousands of Mirena lawsuits and side effects that continue to be reported.
These are just a few examples of serious medical device defects that can harm patients with everyday use and with serious procedures like surgeries.
What to Do If You’re a Victim of a Defective Medical Device
You deserve to be safe with any publicly sold product you use, but unfortunately, that’s not always the case. With medical products, safety is of even a greater concern. Medical patients already have enough things to worry about. The devices that are supposed to help them should not be an additional burden.
Personal injury claims are complicated by the statute of limitations, which places a time constraint on how long victims have to file claims. If you or a loved one has been seriously injured by a medical device, it’s vital to contact an attorney immediately. You may have received treatment a year ago or more and may be experiencing problems now. An experienced defective medical device attorney team will be able to work to get you the compensation you deserve. Sometimes this requires expert medical witness testimony. In other cases, you may be one of thousands of victims who have had similar problems.
Please contact Pittman, Dutton & Hellums if you’ve experienced complications due to medical device treatment. We offer free, no-obligation Birmingham defective medical device lawyer consultations and can help you understand your rights.
When you purchase a product, you expect it to be in perfect working condition and have the ability to fulfill the purpose it’s supposed to. Dangerous products that are released to the public may find themselves at the center of product liability lawsuits. When the product manufacturer is deemed negligent and puts consumers at risk, they may have to pay a settlement.
One unique product liability lawsuit was recently filed in May 2018. The Virginia Attorney General Mark R. Herring claimed Warren Retrievers Inc. and CEO Charles D. Warren Jr. sold non-functional “service dogs” to patients with “invisible diseases” like diabetes. The lawsuit cites more than 50 complaints by dog owners that the dogs were little more than untrained puppies, in an investigation covering several years.
Dogs may well be one of the most surprising entities named as products in a lawsuit like this. Here is more information about the lawsuit, how the lawsuit fits into product liability, and what you should know if you experience a similar situation.
Expensive Defective Products
The lawsuit against Warren Retrievers Inc. claims the nonprofit organization charged $18,000 to $27,000 for 3-month-old Labrador retriever puppies that were poorly trained and failed to carry out the duties they were advertised to, let alone execute basic tasks. The puppies cited in the suit were not able to come when commanded or walk properly on leashes, making them of little use to the patients who received them. Patients were told the diabetic alert dogs would be able to detect blood sugar levels, get help from humans, and dial emergency services.
The lawsuit seeks civil penalties of up to $2,500 per willful violation of the Virginia Consumer Protection Act. The lawsuit also seeks $5,000 per violation of the Virginia Solicitation of Contributions Law, as well as refunds for dogs that do not have the skills promoted by the nonprofit.
Something that may hurt the defense’s credibility is that Warren is also accused of claiming he served in the Marine Corps, trained dogs in the military, and was medically discharged due to diabetes. The lawsuit claims Warren never served in any military branch. Warren’s statement that he did may have influenced customers and donors, which adds to the complexity of the case. Warren’s lawyer denies all allegations of wrongdoing.
How This Dog Lawsuit Relates to Product Liability
Some product liability lawsuits involve deadly products like malfunctioning MRI machines and nail guns. Puppies might be cute and cuddly, but in this case, the threat of death as a result of their defects was also a reality. Patients who relied on these “service dogs” to protect them in cases of extreme blood sugar levels could have collapsed in a dangerous environment or experienced deadly kidney failure. Patients who obtained the dogs in hopes of getting vital protection in an emergency received no security.
On top of that, they had to pay up to tens of thousands of dollars for a service animal. The costs involved with the purchase and potential damages incurred all add up to what may be deemed as negligence in court.
Consumer protection laws mandate that products meet the ordinary expectations of a customer. The product does not necessarily have to be sold to the person who experiences an injury because of it. It may be a gift or a product that is used by someone who did not purchase it.
Product defects may include design defects, manufacturing defects or marketing defects. Proper warnings of dangers for any product must always be supplied, as well. In this case, a lack of training for the puppies may relate to the design of the product, while the way the dogs were marketed as service dogs is also an influential factor.
Because this case involves more than 50 complaints about the dogs/products, there is strength in numbers regarding the credibility of the claim. This case shows us that living and breathing life forms may be involved in future product liability cases.
What to Do If You Encounter a Defective Product
If you or a loved one is seriously injured by a defective product, you should keep the product intact, get medical help, keep organized records, and contact a Birmingham product liability attorney. You may be one of many people who has been hurt by the same type of defective product. Your attorney should offer a free consultation and work on a contingency basis, meaning there is no risk to you, and you only pay attorney fees if you win.
In a case like this, where you have purchased a service animal who doesn’t deliver the services provided, you may also want to consult with an attorney. Although the damage may not be immediately noticeable, your health and livelihood deserve to be protected, no matter what product you are using.
This case is also a reminder to donors that they should research and thoroughly consider the value of the “nonprofits” they’re donating to. Avoid giving your funds to a fraudulent organization that could actually be harming people. Evaluate case studies and testimonials so you know you’re supporting upstanding organizations.
A favorite American pastime in summer months is taking a road trip. Unfortunately, more people on the road driving longer distances also means more risk for summer car accidents. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, Highway Loss Data Institute, reports that summer is one of the top most dangerous times of the year on the road. In summer, weekends are deadlier, and July and August are the deadliest months of the road in the entire year.
Alcohol and drug use, distracted driving, improper car maintenance, inexperienced drivers on the road and more are all contributing factors to risky conditions on summer roads. If you’re planning on taking a road trip with family or friends this summer, use these tips to stay safe.
Check Your Car Out Before Hitting the Road
Hot summer temperatures can increase the risk that your car malfunctions. Summer heat particularly makes tires vulnerable and can increase the likelihood of blowouts on the road. Under-inflated tires produce more heat, so get your tires checked out before driving any considerable distance. Make sure you ride with a spare in case you need to replace it.
You should also check that oil, brake fluid, coolant, windshield wiper fluid, power steering fluid and other car components are all stocked and in great working order. A clean air filter will also help ensure your car runs at peak performance during a summer road trip. Make sure all lights and signals function perfectly before driving at any time.
Take an emergency kit with jumper cables, a flashlight, water bottles, first aid equipment and a phone charger with you. If you’re in an accident and are stranded in the middle of nowhere, you’ll want to be able to contact emergency services and stay safe.
Keep Distractions to a Minimum
Summer road trips are carefree times and ones you’ll likely be spending with other people in your car. The more people in a car, the more distractions you might encounter as a driver.
Distracted driving is highly dangerous. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports there were 3,450 deaths in 2016 and 391,000 injuries in 2015 involving distracted drivers. Minimize distractions by:
- Turning down music
- Never using a phone while driving
- Giving young children a quiet activity to stay busy, like a coloring book or game
- Researching routes ahead of time, or asking another passenger to navigate
As the driver, take ownership of keeping passengers safe. Make it understood that you may not be able to engage in discussions while driving because you need to focus.
Never Drive Impaired
Summertime may be party time for some, but that doesn’t excuse driving while impaired. There is one death because of an alcohol-impaired driver every 50 minutes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and marijuana users are 25 percent more likely to be involved in a crash than sober drivers.
In your road trip group, make a pact to never let an impaired driver get behind the wheel. That puts the entire car at risk, as well as others on the road.
Only Drive While Alert
Just like you should never get behind the wheel after drinking alcohol or using drugs, avoid driving while sleepy, too. Drowsy driving caused 72,000 crashes and 800 deaths in 2013, the CDC reports.
It may be tempting to keep driving on the road to get to your next destination, but it’s important to get proper rest. Drowsy driving decreases attention, slows reactions, and impairs decision-making. Make rest a part of your road trip schedule, or switch off driving so that only alert drivers are behind the wheel.
Be a Defensive Driver
One notable reason why summer roads are more dangerous is that there are more teen drivers on the road. AAA calls the days between Memorial Day and Labor Day the “100 Deadliest Days,” because an average of 10 people a day are killed by teen drivers during these times. This is a 14 percent increase compared to the rest of the year.
Knowing the increased risks during summer months, use defensive driving techniques like:
- Staying focused on the road
- Being aware of surroundings and the behavior of other drivers
- Always making the most cautious driving decision to avoid accidents
- Allowing up to 3 to 4 seconds to brake between you and any driver in front of you, and more in inclement weather
You should also be aware of changing road conditions, including construction zones. Especially when you’re driving in unfamiliar areas, be sure to drive at the speed limit and be proactively aware about evolving surroundings.
What to Do If You’re in a Road Trip Accident
Factors like distracted driving, neglecting to maintain a vehicle, impaired and drowsy driving, and reckless driving all contribute to negligent risks for car accident injuries and deaths. If you are a victim in a serious car accident, especially when out of state, contact emergency services. They can fill out a police report and make sure the other driver stays at the scene so information can be gathered.
Document the accident by taking photos of the scene and writing down your account of what happened. Contact a car accident attorney for a free consultation on whether or not pursuing action against the other driver for negligence is worth it. You may be entitled to more compensation than an insurance company is willing to offer.