Alabama traffic statistics paint a grim picture: on average, there are more than 420 car crashes a day in Alabama. That equates to more than 47,650 people who are injured a year, and nearly 1,000 people who died in car crashes in 2016. Those who drive in Alabama are twice as likely to die in car crashes compared to average Americans.
Car crashes in Alabama are largely caused by preventable causes. Driving issues like tailgating, failing to yield the right of way, improper lane change and speeding are all preventable causes of car crashes. When someone’s negligence causes a car crash that results in serious personal injury or death, the offending party may be liable for damages.
To avoid becoming a car crash offender, it’s important to be aware of and follow all Alabama driving laws. These laws are in place to keep you and other drivers on the road safe. Following them can help you avoid an accident and protect you in case you’re a party involved with a car crash.
First Thing’s First: Carry Legal Driving Documentation
Only get on the road if you are licensed to drive in the United States. Proper Alabama driving documentation identifies you to police who come to the scene of a car crash. If you drive without it, you could face fines and bigger problems if you’re involved in a crash.
If you’re going to drive in Alabama, make sure you have:
- Valid driver’s license from your home state or home country
- Driver’s insurance
- International Driving Permit if you’re from outside of the United States
It doesn’t matter if you’re coming from out of state or out of the country when you drive in Alabama. All drivers in Alabama must adhere to Alabama driving laws, detailed below.
Obey the Speed Limit
Obey all speed limit postings. On interstate highways in Alabama, the maximum speed limit is 70 miles per hour, unless otherwise marked.
Drive in the Right Lane
Using the left lane on interstate highways in Alabama is illegal unless you are using it for passing. Otherwise, long-term driving must be done in a lane other than the left lane.
Your car must have two highbeam headlights that can illuminate objects at least 350 feet away. You must turn on headlights from 30 minutes after sunset to 30 minutes before sunrise. If you’re driving in the rain, Alabama law requires the use of lowbeam headlights.
Contact Police After an Accident
Never leave the scene of an Alabama car crash. Contact law enforcement. If someone involved in an accident needs first aid, a capable driver involved should also call for emergency services.
Don’t Drive Drunk or Transport Alcohol into Alabama
Driving while intoxicated is illegal, and drivers driving under the influence of alcohol with a blood alcohol content of 0.08 percent or above may be charged with driving under the influence. Bringing alcohol into Alabama when it was purchased outside of Alabama is also illegal. Don’t carry it in your car if you purchased it from another state.
Don’t Smoke or Transport Tobacco If You’re Under the Age of 19
It’s illegal for those ages 18 years old and younger to use, possess or transport tobacco or tobacco products. If you’re underage and are caught smoking while driving or have cigarettes or other tobacco products in your car and are pulled over, you may face a charge.
Be Aware of Buses
If a school, church or other bus that is marked with flashing lights and stop signals stops in your vicinity, you are required by law to stop and wait until passengers get on or off. Even if you’re approaching the bus from a road and are not directly behind it, you must still stop and let it proceed before crossing it.
If you’re riding in the front, either as the driver or a front-seat passenger, you must wear a seatbelt, according to Alabama law. Any children under the age of 15 years old must wear a seat belt wherever they are in the vehicle or be in a child safety seat, which is mandatory for children ages 4 years old and younger.
Stop at Red
Right turns after stop signs and red lights are only permitted after a driver makes a full stop and sees that the lane is clear. If a sign is posted that forbids a right turn, the driver must obey the sign.
Put Down the Phone
Texting or using one’s smartphone to send an email while driving is illegal in Alabama. If you’re looking at your phone and cause a car crash, the victim could claim your distracted driving negligence was the car accident cause and pursue a claim against you.
Pay Attention to Emergency Vehicles
If you see an emergency vehicle with flashing lights, move as far to the right as possible, and stop until the emergency vehicle passes. If a driver in Alabama is approaching an emergency vehicle that is stopped and has flashing emergency lights activated, the motorist’s next action will depend on how many lanes there are.
If there are four or more lanes, like on a freeway, the driver must move over at least one lane or slow down to at least 15 miles per hour below the posted speed limit if moving over is not possible. If there are two lanes, the driver must move over as far as they can without exiting the lane and slow down to at least 15 miles per hour below the posted speed limit.
Follow Motorcycle Laws
If you’re riding a motorcycle in Alabama, be aware of these additional laws:
- You must wear a helmet while on a motorcycle.
- You must have a passenger seat if you are carrying a passenger.
- You must have at least one mirror on the motorcycle.
- Motorcycle handlebars must be no higher than 15 inches above the seat.
- You are not allowed to pass another vehicle in the same lane.
- You are not allowed to ride between lanes.
What to Do If Someone Breaks the Law and Causes Your Car Crash
If you are following all Alabama driving laws and someone breaks the law and causes your car crash, you may be entitled to compensation. Make sure to:
Pittman, Dutton & Hellums offers free no-obligation car accident consultations. Contact us online or at (866) 722-0250 for information on if we can help you.
If you’re the owner of a 2017 Ford Focus, you may have received an important safety recall notice in December 2018. In October 2018, Ford announced it was recalling more than 1.2 million of its 2012 to 2018 Ford Focus cars because of a faulty part that may cause unexpected stalling. The company discovered the problem stemming due to a stuck canister purge valve within the fuel vapor system, which can lead to excessive vacuum and cause the plastic fuel tank to malfunction. This can result in:
- An erratic or inaccurate fuel gauge indication
- An inaccurate distance to empty
- Other drivability concerns, which can all lead to an engine stall while driving
Ford says it will have parts ready for a repair by the first quarter of 2019. Owners of affected vehicles can get their cars repaired for free through Ford.
Getting a safety recall like this for your vehicle can be alarming. We use our cars for so much of our daily lives, so you might be wondering how to proceed and how to stay safe. Read on for information on when a recall is necessary and what to do if your car is recalled.
Why Do Recalls Happen?
Vehicle recalls may originate from the manufacturer or from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) when it’s determined that a vehicle component creates an unreasonable safety risk or does not meet minimum safety standards. Manufacturers have the responsibility to ensure their products are safe to use.
Vehicles are serious machines. They weigh thousands of pounds and can be deadly when they don’t work properly.
When there is a safety problem with a vehicle, it is up to the manufacturer to fix it. This may mean replacing entire vehicles or reimbursing customers for them, or repairing the problem.
How Will You Be Notified of a Vehicle Recall?
Vehicle recall notifications are sent by letters in the mail. The recall will be sent to your address that is on your vehicle registration, so you should always make sure that address is up-to-date.
You can also sign up for the NHTSA’s email recall notification system. You’ll receive automatic updates on vehicles and parts that have been recalled, including school buses, motorcycles, car seats and tires, or you can select your make and model and whatever parts you’re interested in for custom notifications.
You can also always look up possible recalls on your car here. Make sure you have your 17-digit Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) to look up the recall. You can idenfity the VIN on the lower left part of your vehicle’s windshield, on your vehicle’s registration paperwork, and possibly on your insurance information.
Even if you don’t receive a notification from the manufacturer about a recall, if your vehicle is affected, you are entitled to receive the free remedy the manufacturer is offering.
Steps to Take After a Vehicle Recall
Follow all instructions set forth in the recall notice. If dealers are ready to make repairs, schedule an appointment with your dealer as soon as possible. Bring your recall letter with you.
If your dealer refuses to make the repair according to the recall letter for free, you should notify the manufacturer. Try to gather as many details as possible, including the name of the dealership and any employees you dealt with. You can also make a complaint at www.safecar.gov.
What If Your Car Is Not Recalled, But There’s a Safety Issue?
If you’re experiencing safety issues with your vehicle, other drivers may be, too. Get it repaired and listen to your technician’s recommendations.
You can then report your vehicle or the equipment safety problem to the NHTSA here. If there are similar reports from other drivers, the NHTSA may open up an investigation that can help keep you and other drivers safe. All personal information you submit is kept private, but an NHTSA investigator may call you to follow up. The NHTSA reviews every online report it receives, and it may open up an investigation at any time, not only after it receives a certain number of reports.
What to Do If You’re a Victim of a Recalled Vehicle
If you are seriously injured in a car accident due to a recalled vehicle or recalled vehicle part, you should contact a Birmingham car accident lawyer as soon as possible. Manufacturer negligence can result in serious injuries or even death. Your rights as a consumer deserve to be protected.
Contact the Pittman, Dutton & Hellums car accident attorney team for a free, no-obligation consultation. We only take on your case if we think we can win, and you don’t pay unless we do.
After a car accident, you might feel completely shocked or angry or scared about the situation. That’s all normal, but you shouldn’t let the jarring experience of a car accident affect whether or not you take care of yourself.
You might be tempted to avoid calling police, or you might want to leave the scene quickly because you need to get on with your life. You might view the car accident as minor, and not realize that you need medical treatment. As we’ve covered, there are dozens of injuries that can have delayed symptoms but result in life-long injuries. Just a few signs a car accident is delayed include:
- Back pain
- Headaches and dizziness
- Neck and shoulder pain
- Abdominal pain
- Deep bruises
- Numbness and tingling
- Vision problems
- Jaw issues
- Ringing ears
- Mental health issues
Not going to see a doctor after a car accident can also seriously affect your ability to successfully pursue a car accident claim in the future, if another driver’s negligence was to blame for the accident. Here are some reasons to get medical attention after any car accident you’ve been in.
If You Delay Treatment, the Cause of Pain May Be Questioned
Say you are in a car accident, and a few days later, you experience back pain that was caused by the accident. You get medical treatment and decide to file a claim against the other driver.
Having waited, the defendant can claim:
The back pain was caused by something else, anything else, that happened in-between the car accident and the doctor’s visit. It’s more difficult to prove that the pain was caused by the accident, when you could have tweaked your back making a sudden sharp movement, performing a work duty, exercising or a whole host of other behaviors you did after the accident.
The pain was always there, and the car accident did nothing to exacerbate it. If you’ve seen a chiropractor in the past or visited a doctor for back issues previously, the defendant could point to previous pain as the cause.
You’re making up the pain. If the pain is so bad now, why didn’t you go to a doctor immediately after the car accident? The defendant could argue maybe you decided to try and file a lawsuit, but you never really had severe pain to begin with.
For your own legal protection, you should visit a doctor after a car accident to get a medical opinion and to show that you were serious enough about any possible pain or injury to get treatment. If emergency services are offered to you at the scene, take them. At the very least, visit an urgent care office or your primary physician as quickly as possible right after the accident.
You Could Suffer More Severe Injuries
After a shocking event like a car accident, it’s common for the body to go into a fight-or-flight mode that is powered by endorphins and adrenaline. These hormones may mask pain to prepare the victim to stay safe and alert in a dangerous or high-pressure situation. For example, there are many cases of professional athletes breaking bones but continuing to finish a game without noticing their injury. These hormones could affect you after a car accident, too, making you feel physically fine but really covering up an injury that will only get worse with time.
A doctor will be able to feel your body for broken bones, perform an X-ray if they think that’s wise, and see symptoms of injuries that may not be noticeable to you but that are apparent to medical professionals. You might blame your dizziness for feeling anxious due to the car accident, but it could be an early sign of a brain injury. Waiting days or weeks for treatment can cause an injury to develop into something far worse that doesn’t respond as well to treatment.
Even if a doctor concludes you aren’t injured at your initial visit, you can get advice for symptoms to watch out for. If those do develop, you can revisit your physician for treatment.
A Doctor’s Visit Begins a Vital Paper Trail
Visiting a doctor results in proof that you took every precaution to get treatment for any possible injuries from a car accident. This proof can be essential if you decide to file a claim in the future. Because injuries can develop in a variety of ways, you may not decide to file a claim until several months down the road. Those doctor visit records can keep you protected and be used as evidence if you decide to file a claim.
Always review all records you receive from your doctor, and work to correct any errors you spot. You should also review your medical history. For example, if a doctor notes that you’ve had neck problems in the past, but you had never mentioned those to your doctor or received treatment for them, then make sure the record is corrected and updated to reflect the truth.
If you are in a car accident, no matter how severe it is, it is in your best interest to visit a doctor. If you feel the negligence of another driver is to blame for the accident and your injury, contact the Birmingham car accident lawyer team at Pittman, Dutton & Hellums for a free consultation for how we can help you.
Pittman, Dutton & Hellums is honored to receive five 2018 regional rankings in the U.S. News – Best Lawyers® law firm rankings for Birmingham compilation. Our firm has received regional recognition as follows:
- Tier 1 in Medical Malpractice Law – Plaintiffs
- Tier 1 in Personal Injury Litigation – Plaintiffs
- Tier 1 in Product Liability Litigation – Plaintiffs
- Tier 2 in Commercial Litigation
- Tier 2 in Mass Tort Litigation / Class Actions – Plaintiffs
The U.S. News – Best Lawyers® ranking takes into account 14,000 law firms across the United States. We are thrilled to receive these distinctions, as we strive to provide the very best service to all our clients. These include those in both the Birmingham, Alabama, area, as well as clients we represent throughout the country. We have settled or gone to trial for hundreds of million-dollar lawsuits.
In addition to the recognition our law firm has received, we are proud to have four lawyers on the Best Lawyers® ranking, as well.
- Thomas E. Dutton: Commercial Litigation, Medical Malpractice Law – Plaintiffs, Personal Injury Litigation – Plaintiffs, Product Liability Litigation – Plaintiffs
- Chris T. Hellums: Mass Tort Litigation / Class Actions – Plaintiffs, Product Liability Litigation – Plaintiffs
- Jonathan S. Mann: Mass Tort Litigation / Class Actions – Plaintiffs
- W. Lee Pittman: Medical Malpractice Law – Plaintiffs, Personal Injury Litigation – Plaintiffs, Product Liability Litigation – Plaintiffs
Honors like these continue to inspire our firm to hold only the highest of standards in our work and our relationships with our clients. If you need a personal injury attorney, product liability lawyer, commercial litigation attorney, medical malpractice lawyer or a lawyer who will fight for your rights, please contact the Pittman, Dutton & Hellums law firm.
A recent vape device explosion has increased concerns for the Food & Drug Administration (FDA). Already, the FDA has recommendations to avoid “vape” battery explosions. The latest explosion in September 2018 mimicked a smoke bomb detonation in a vehicle. One passenger was airlifted to a hospital, and the driver suffered severe burns.
The vape device shattered and exploded, causing a fire in the vehicle and burning a hole in the driver’s seat. The driver had allegedly recently purchased new batteries for the device.
As we’ve covered, vape pens have posed dangers for years. In May 2018, the first known fatality from an exploding vape pen was reported. Vape pens’ lithium-ion batteries are thought to be the cause of vape pen explosions, which have also caused house fires. The batteries are the same ones used in cell phones, laptops and other electronics. Here’s the latest on the dangers of vape pens and how to stay protected.
More Vape Pen Users Are at Risk
The first modern electronic cigarette, or vape pen, was invented in 2003. Since then, vape pens have become commonplace and can even take the form of actual pens or USB flash drives. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that vape pens are not safe for kids, young adults, pregnant women or adults who do not currently use tobacco products. Given that they’ve caused at least 195 explosions and fires from 2009 to 2016, vape pen safety is questionable for all users.
Vaping is particularly popular with teens, who are more likely to use vape pens than cigarettes. A 2017 study reported by the American Psychiatric Association found about 13 percent of junior high students and nearly 28 percent of high schoolers in America used a vaping device in the past year.
More than 30 percent of teen vape pen users will start smoking within 6 months, compared to only 8.1 percent of teens who don’t use vape pens. Two-thirds of teens don’t realize nicotine, which can harm adolescent brain development, is in most vape pens, saying only flavoring is in the pen.
In 2018, the FDA called vaping an “epidemic” for high school students, with more than 1.7 million high school students using vaping devices on at least a monthly basis. The FDA has stated the agency may ban flavored electronic cigarettes, which attract some younger users. While vape pens have been useful in helping some adults quit smoking, the FDA is considering those benefits against the risk of kids becoming addicted to tobacco, with vaping as a gateway.
Dangers of Vape Pens
It wasn’t until only recently that the FDA required vape pens to submit product ingredients listings. Besides the sometimes harmful ingredients vape pens contain, they also may have been manufactured with inherent dangers that can cause explosions or fires at any time.
Lithium-ion batteries are dangerous because if the strip in the battery that keeps electrodes from touching is breached, the electrodes can come into contact and emit heat that causes an explosion. Some of these batteries contain a skin-burning compound, too. Since a person is often holding on to their vape pen when it explodes, these dangers become more intense.
While lithium-ion batteries are widely used in a variety of devices, minor design errors can be deadly. Anyone who uses a vape pen can protect themselves by researching the brand to investigate past problems and complaints. Some manufacturers may cut corners. That’s why buying vape pens without proper research, like buying them from a classmate or off the street, increases likelihood of danger.
The following can all contribute to an increased likelihood of lithium-ion battery failure:
- Excessive vibration
- High heat
- Batteries that are charged below freezing
When a lithium-ion battery is overheating, some warning signs to watch out for include excessive heat, hissing and bulging. It’s best to put the device in a safe place (outdoors on a non-compusitble surface) and move as far away from it as possible if you notice these signs.
Some ways to increase safety while using vape pens include to:
- Use vape devices with safety features
- Keep loose batteries in a case to prevent contact with metal objects
- Only charge the vape device with the charger that came with it, never with a phone or tablet charger
- Don’t leave a vape device charging unattended, including while you’re sleeping
- Replace the batteries if they get wet or damaged
The vape device should also come with thorough instructions and recommendations. Read all those and follow them when you use your device.
When Is the Manufacturer to Blame for Exploding Vape Pens?
Lithium-ion batteries can pose significant dangers, and it’s the manufacturer’s responsibility to keep all consumers safe, especially when these are used in vape pens. If you, your teen or a loved one is a victim of an exploding vape pen, the manufacturer’s negligence may be to blame.
Some warning signs of negligence include when a manufacturer fails to test vape pen devices altogether or rushes a product to market without proper testing, knowingly uses defective components, and doesn’t provide clear warnings to consumers about dangers.
If you or a loved one has experienced serious injuries because of an exploding vape pen, contact the Pittman, Dutton & Hellums Birmingham defective product attorney team. We offer free consultations and can help you recover the compensation you deserve.