Why you should never hire a billboard advertising lawyer - Jones & Associates

Why You Should Never Hire a Personal Injury Lawyer from a TV Ad or Billboard

It has been over 40 years since Bates v. State Bar of Arizona, the U.S. Supreme Court case that struck down bans on commercial advertising by attorneys. Bates was a landmark case that paved the way for the current glut of personal injury attorneys who run endless television ads and have bigger-than-life pictures on billboards in metro, suburban, and even rural areas all over the country. Consumers are inundated with these ads on a daily basis, and they are often the first ones that personal injury victims call when they are looking for legal representation.

It is easy to understand why so many injury victims call the firms that do the heaviest advertising. Many consumers have no experience dealing with a lawyer; and, consequently, they do not know anyone in the legal profession. Therefore, they often assume that a firm with a large advertising budget has the most experience, expertise, and resources to help them obtain full and fair compensation for their injuries. Sadly, in many cases, the exact opposite is true, as many of these firms are what have come to be known as “settlement mills”.

Why the Settlement Mill Business Model is Bad for Your Business

Settlement mills are high-volume personal injury firms that advertise aggressively (especially on TV, radio, and billboards) and process mass volumes of claims in as short a time as possible. Many of these firms have advertising budgets that are well in excess of $1 million annually, with some spending ten times that amount. In order to cover these large advertising bills, they need to get as many cases through the door as possible, all while spending as little time as possible on each case. This is basically a “churn and burn” approach, and most of these firms are not all that interested in repeat business. The end result is that the client’s case is often settled for far less than if they had opted to work with a skilled attorney who provides more individualized service.

There are several disturbing characteristics of settlement mills that consumers should be aware of, including:

High Volume Processing: As mentioned earlier, the business model of a settlement mill depends on volume. They blanket the airwaves with advertising, hoping to pull in as many cases as possible to cover advertising costs.

Clients Obtained from Aggressive Advertising: Nearly all of the clients that settlement mills sign come from their massive volume of advertising, as opposed to more traditional firms who may tend to receive most of their clients through referrals from other lawyers or people within the community. Settlement mills know that a large segment of the population is not familiar with the legal profession, and they count on bringing in consumers through their slick TV, radio, and billboard ads.

Very Little Involvement by an Attorney: Because of their high volume of clients, most of the actual work performed on each case is done by paraprofessionals rather than attorneys.

Lack of Personalized Representation: Settlement mills tend to advertise all over the region and, with some firms, throughout the country. In fact, we have several in Alabama that advertise massively here and in neighboring states like Tennessee, Georgia, Florida, and Mississippi. This type of firm will usually not have a local office near you, and you will rarely ever meet an attorney face-to-face.

Cases Almost Never Go to Trial: Perhaps the worst characteristic of a settlement mill from the standpoint of an injured party is the fact that they settle nearly all of their cases and rarely, if ever, take a case to trial. These firms need to process high volumes of cases quickly, and going to trial is simply incompatible with their business model. The consequences of settling high numbers of cases without going to trial are twofold. First, it is obviously bad for injured parties, who are often entitled to far more compensation (for their injuries) under the law than what was accepted out of court. Second, this is bad for other injured parties as well, because these cheap settlements drive down case values and make it more difficult for other plaintiffs who suffer similar injuries to recover full damages.

Injured in an Accident? Contact an Attorney Who Truly Cares About your Well-Being

If you or a loved one has been injured due to the negligence or reckless actions of another party, don’t settle for less than you deserve. Rather than hire an attorney in a slick TV ad wearing a ridiculous costume, speak with an attorney who has a proven track record and who can provide the strong personalized representation you need and deserve.

At M. Adam Jones and Associates, our team of award-winning lawyers is here to serve your needs. We have an “AV Preeminent” rating from Avvo.com (the highest possible rating), and we have been listed among the Top 100 Trial Lawyers in Alabama every year since 2007. We routinely go up against well-funded adversaries such as large corporations and their insurance companies in personal injury cases, and we always work hard to secure full compensation for our clients. If the other side is not willing to negotiate in good faith and offer a fair and reasonable settlement, we are always ready and able to aggressively advocate for your rights in court.

Toschedule a free consultation with one of our skilled personal injury attorneys,call our office today at 334-699-5599, or send us a messagethrough our online contact form.

personal injury calculator

How are Damages Calculated in an Alabama Injury Case?

Individuals who are injured in an accident that is the fault of another party are entitled to compensation. This is commonly referred to as “damages”. The injured party (plaintiff) is required to prove the damages sustained from the incident. The standard of proof is higher in Alabama than most other states, however, because of our state’s contributory negligence standard (more on this later).

Compensatory Damages in Alabama Injury Cases

Compensatory damages are meant to compensate the injured party for injuries and other losses that resulted from the incident. These can be divided into two general categories; economic damages and non-economic damages.

Economic Damages

These are actual costs incurred by the injured party to make them whole after the accident. Examples may include:

  • Medical Expenses: One of the largest expenses an injury victim has to incur is for hospital bills, medical treatment, rehabilitation costs, and ongoing medical costs (if the victim suffers a debilitating injury). In cases when the victim sustains severe and catastrophic injuries, medical expenses can add up to tens of thousands or even hundreds of thousands of dollars.
  • Loss of Earnings: When someone is seriously injured in an accident, they often have to miss several days or even several weeks from work to recover. The injured party should be compensated for lost wages, and if the injury is permanent and debilitating, they may also need to be compensated for loss of future earning capacity.
  • Property Loss: In many Alabama injury cases, there is also damage done to the injured party’s property. For example, when there is a car accident, the vehicle the injured party was driving is often severely damaged or totaled.

Non-Economic Damages

These are damages suffered by the injured party (and their loved ones) that you cannot assign a dollar figure to. Examples may include:

  • Pain and Suffering: Injury victims should be compensated for the physical pain they suffer because of their injuries, as well as for psychological distress, such as fear, anxiety, sleepless nights, and similar issues.
  • Diminished Quality of Life: Serious injuries often rob victims of the ability to participate in activities they used to enjoy, such as running/walking, exercising, gardening, shopping, or other physical activities. Injured parties should be compensated for the diminished quality of life they experience because of the accident.
  • Loss of Consortium: Spouses may be able to pursue their own compensation for loss of consortium in certain cases involving serious injury or wrongful death.

Punitive Damages

In rare cases in which the reckless actions or omissions of the responsible party were especially egregious, punitive damages may be awarded to punish the wrongdoer and help deter them or others from committing similarly egregious acts in the future. Punitive damages are typically only awarded in wrongful death cases, and in cases when the victim sustains serious and catastrophic injuries and it can be clearly proven that the responsible party acted with deliberate recklessness or conscious malice. The state of Alabama has various restrictions on how much a jury can award a plaintiff (or their loved ones) for punitive damages.

Alabama Contributory Negligence Laws

As mentioned earlier, Alabama applies the contributory negligence legal doctrine to personal injury cases. Under this doctrine, plaintiffs can be barred from recovering damages if they are found to have “contributed” in any way to the incident. This means that even if the defendant is 99% at-fault for the incident and the injured party shares only 1% of the blame, they may not be able to recover compensation. With such a high burden of proof to overcome, it is imperative for injury victims to obtain skilled legal representation as soon as possible after the injury. The earlier you can begin putting together your case, the better your chances of securing a successful outcome.

Speak to the Experienced Alabama Injury Lawyers at M. Adam Jones and Associates

If you or someone close to you has been injured because of the negligence or reckless actions of another party, it can turn your whole world upside down. Mounting medical bills and time missed from work can put a severe financial and emotional strain on the entire household. You deserve to be compensated for your losses, but with Alabama’s high standard of proof, you cannot afford to leave the pursuit of your injury claim to chance.

The award-winning attorneys at M. Adam Jones and Associates understand what you are going through, and we have helped countless Alabama injury victims secure full and fair compensation. We have a proven track record of success with even the most complex cases, and we routinely go up against well-funded adversaries such as large corporations and large insurers. Our initial consultations are free, and we accept all personal injury cases on a contingency basis, so you never have to pay upfront attorney fees to receive the skilled and personalized representation you need and deserve.

For a free consultation with one of our attorneys, call our office today at 334-699-5599, or you may send a secure and confidential message through our online contact form.

construction accident in alabama

The 4 Most Common Types of Fatal Construction Accidents

According to the Occupational Safety and Hazard Administration (OSHA), just under 5200 workers were killed on the job in the U.S. in 2016, the most recent year on record. This translates to more than 99 deaths per week, or roughly 14 deaths per day. Tens of thousands of workers were also injured on the job, and many of these injuries were severe and catastrophic.

More than one out of five (21.1%) of work-related deaths in 2016 were in the construction industry. At a typical construction site, there are several workers alongside each other, and many are working in higher elevations and with heavy equipment. These conditions create numerous hazards, especially if the construction company is not in compliance with government rules and regulations and does not adhere to proper safety standards.

The hazardous work conditions and general failure to ensure a safe work environment result in thousands of construction accidents each year. OSHA refers to the four most common types of fatal construction accidents as “Construction’s Fatal Four”, and they go on to say that eliminating these four accidents would save hundreds of lives on construction sites each year:

  1. Slips and Falls

Falls are the leading cause of death on construction sites, accounting for almost 40% of all construction worker fatalities. Working in higher elevations makes construction workers inherently susceptible to this kind of accident. The problem is made worse when steps are not taken to provide a secure platform to work from. Some common height hazards include poorly maintained or poorly designed equipment (such as scaffolds and ladders), obstructed vision, poorly lit areas, uneven walking surfaces, and cluttered work spaces.

  1. Being Struck by Objects

Just under 10% of construction worker fatalities are the result of being struck by flying, falling, or loose objects. Debris and other loose objects are common on construction sites, which is why workers are required to wear hard hats. Workers are also at risk of being struck by heavy overhead equipment, such as cranes and scaffolds.

  1. Electrocutions

Electrical accidents do not occur as often as many other types of construction accidents, but they still rank number three on OSHA’s “Fatal Four”, accounting for roughly 8% of all construction accident fatalities. Construction sites, by their very nature, have a lot of loose wiring and unfinished electrical systems that are being completed along with the building structure. If workers do not take proper precautions, they may come in contact with a loose wire, power line, or electrical system. This can cause an electrical shock, also known as electrocution.

  1. Being Caught In-Between

About 7% of construction-related fatalities happen because a worker is caught in-between or compressed by equipment, objects, or a collapsing structure. With so many workers performing various tasks at a fast pace, this type of accident can happen if workers are not careful and aware of their surroundings.

Legal Options for Injured Construction Workers

Aside from the “Fatal Four”, there are several other types of accidents that are common on construction sites that can result in serious injuries and fatalities. When a construction worker is injured, there is a good chance they are eligible for workers’ compensation benefits. In Alabama, most employers are required to carry workers’ comp insurance. Workers’ comp pays two-thirds of gross weekly wages, medical bills, rehabilitation costs, and death benefits for certain family members who were dependent (or at least partially dependent) on a deceased worker’s income. Unfortunately, the claims process can be complex and confusing, and workers compensation insurance companies often try to frustrate workers by delaying or denying claims for no valid reason.

When someone is injured or killed on a construction site, there may be another legal avenue to pursue, depending on the specific circumstances that led to the accident. For example, if the accident was caused by a third-party other than your employer, you may be able to file a personal injury lawsuit against the responsible party. This may be a third-party subcontractor, or the designer, manufacturer, supplier, or distributor of defective machinery or equipment.

Speak to a Skilled Alabama Personal Injury Lawyer

If you or a loved one was injured or killed in a construction accident in Alabama, it is important that you understand all of your rights and options, so you know which legal avenue to pursue.

At M. Adam Jones and Associates, we have extensive experience with both workers’ compensation and personal injury claims. We have in-depth knowledge of these areas of the law and how the two areas may converge when someone is injured in a workplace accident. We have a successful track record with these types of cases, and we work tirelessly to ensure that our clients receive full compensation and that the responsible party is held fully accountable.

To schedule a free consultation with one of our experienced attorneys, call our office today at 334-699-5599. You may also send a secure and confidential message through our web contact form.

personal injury lawyer in alabama

How Long Will it Take to Settle My Injury Case?

When someone is injured because of another party’s reckless actions or omissions, they are usually anxious to receive their settlement, so they can start paying off their bills and move forward with their life. Unfortunately, things don’t usually happen too quickly. Even the simplest injury cases typically take at least a couple months to settle, and highly complex cases can sometimes take years. Each case is unique, and there are several factors that will affect the timeline of the case and when it is eventually resolved.

Some of the most important variables that may impact the timeline of a personal injury case include:

  • The extent/severity of your injuries;
  • Whether or not fault has been proven;
  • The insurance adjuster/insurance company you are dealing with;
  • The attorney who is representing you (if you have obtained legal representation).

How Badly were you Injured?

It is difficult to assign a value to your case if you are still undergoing treatment. If your injuries are serious, it may take several weeks or months to recover, or to reach maximum medical improvement (MMI). MMI means that you have recovered as much as you are ever going to recover. You should have extensive documentation of your injuries, current condition, and future prognosis, and this should be verified by a reputable medical professional. It would be a mistake to accept any settlement offer until you have this information.

Is there a Problem Determining Liability for your Injuries?

One of the major factors in reaching a settlement in a personal injury case is determining the cause and who is at-fault for the injuries. If there is a question about liability, a settlement offer may not be forthcoming. In such cases, the insurance company may try to discredit you and claim that you are at least partially at fault. Alabama is a contributory negligence state, which is very unfavorable for plaintiffs in an injury case. Under this legal doctrine, all the defense has to do is prove that you are at least 1% at fault and you are barred from recovering compensation. For this reason, it is very important to retain extensive documentation of the incident (e.g., multiple photographs, police reports, statements from witnesses, testimony of expert witnesses, etc.) to ensure that you are able to prove that the other party was at-fault.

How is the Insurance Company treating You?

Picking up on the previous point, your settlement may be delayed if you are dealing with an insurance adjuster who is not acting in good faith. Some examples include claiming you are partially at-fault and/or downplaying the severity of your injuries. Another tactic they might use is to delay. Alabama has a two-year statute of limitations (from the date the injury occurred) to file a personal injury lawsuit. Sometimes, the insurer may become unresponsive if they believe they can run out the clock on the two-year deadline. This is especially common when an injury victim does not have legal representation.

Do you Have an Experienced Attorney Representing You?

Settling a personal injury case can be very difficult if you decide to go it alone. Even if the other party was clearly at-fault and you are entitled to damages, they may take advantage of the fact that you do not have an attorney by giving you a lowball settlement offer or trying to poke holes in your case. Having legal representation shows the insurance company that you are serious and compels them to change their approach. That said, it is also very important which lawyer you choose.

There are some attorneys that never take cases to trial. Instead, they rush their clients and try to pressure them to accept a settlement offer early on in the process. While most injury cases are settled without going to trial, it is important that your lawyer thoroughly prepares your case and is ready and able to take it to trial when necessary. They should also have a successful track record litigating cases for other clients. Oftentimes, an insurance company that has been dragging their feet for several months will suddenly come to the table and make a reasonable settlement offer once they know they are dealing with a seasoned personal injury attorney.

Speak to a Skilled Alabama Personal Injury Lawyer

If you or a loved one was recently injured (or killed) because of someone else’s negligence or reckless actions, having strong legal counsel by your side can make all the difference in ensuring that you receive full compensation for your injuries in a timely manner. At M. Adam Jones and Associates, we have extensive experience with even the most complex personal injury cases, and insurance companies know that we have the knowledge, skills, resources, and commitment to successfully litigate your injury case if they are not willing to negotiate in good faith.

For a free consultation with one of our attorneys, call our office today at 334-699-5599 or send us a secure and confidential message through our online contact form.

nursing home attorney in Alabama

5 Signs of Nursing Home Abuse

Placing an aging loved one in a nursing home is always a difficult and heart-wrenching decision. Sometimes, it reaches the point when there are no other viable options for the family. Nursing home residents and their family members have the right to expect that they will be well cared-for as they live out their golden years. Sadly, many of today’s nursing facilities are not living up to their obligation to take care of our seniors.

There are over 2 million seniors living in nursing facilities in the U.S. In recent years, the quality of care in these facilities has severely diminished. Aging demographics have led to higher patient loads, inadequate staffing, and the hiring of poorly-trained and/or poorly-vetted staff. At the same time, consolidation in the industry has created fewer available options at a time when more seniors are in need of care.

Current conditions in America’s nursing homes have resulted in a growing number of cases of abuse and neglect. How widespread is the problem? In 2013, ABC News reported that the elderly are abused at one out of every three nursing homes in the United States. A joint report by USA Today and the Boston Globe from earlier this year found that the problem is even worse in VA nursing homes. These numbers should be concerning for anyone who has a loved one living in a nursing facility.

If you have someone close to you who is living in a nursing home, it can be hard to detect abuse or neglect. When you come to visit, the staff will typically put on their best face and do anything they can to cover up any wrongdoing. Fortunately, there are some signs to look for if you suspect that your elderly loved one is being abused.

Here are five common signs of nursing home abuse:

Unexplained Injuries: As we get older, we become more susceptible to bruises, falls, fractures, and other types of injuries. So, it is no surprise that many seniors suffer these types of injuries while they are in a nursing home. That said, be very suspicious if your loved one or staff have a hard time explaining how a certain injury occurred. There are legitimate reasons why people become injured, but this can also be the result of physical or sexual abuse, or even neglect. Along these same lines, an unexplained death could also be the result of abuse or neglect. This is a definite possibility if your loved one was in fairly good condition when passed away suddenly.

Malnutrition or Dehydration: Be aware of sudden changes in weight and overall health. This could be a sign that your loved one is malnourished, dehydrated, or both. Malnutrition and dehydration can occur because of understaffing or poorly trained staff who are unable or unwilling to take the time to ensure that their patients eat properly and receive the right amount of fluids. Common signs of malnutrition and dehydration include dry mouth, cracked lips, a swollen tongue, reduced frequency of urination, and fatigue.

Poor Hygiene: One common symptom of elder abuse is a deterioration in hygiene. Signs of this include soiled bedding and/or clothes, unwashed hair and body, overgrown nails, poor dental care, and generally unsanitary and unsafe living conditions.

Sudden Changes in Mood or Behavior: You know your loved one’s personality better than anyone else. So, if you notice that he/she is suddenly depressed, anxious, angry, agitated, or withdrawn and this is out of character, it may be a sign that abuse is occurring.

Reluctance to Talk in the Presence of Staff: When a nursing home resident is being abused, they are often intimidated or threatened by the staff into staying silent about it when family or friends are around. If you find that your loved one suddenly clams up when certain employees are around, this is a serious cause for concern. On a related note, if you are not allowed to visit with your loved one without a certain staff member being present, that is even further indication that there is a serious problem here.

What to Do if you Suspect Nursing Home Abuse

If you believe that someone close to you is being abused in a nursing home, it is important to take immediate action, even if the abuse does not seem life-threatening. If this is a life-threatening or emergency situation, call 911 or your local police and get help right away.

Here are some other steps you should take:

  • Fully document all signs and symptoms of abuse;
  • Speak with your loved one privately (if possible) to discuss what is happening;
  • If the abuse has occurred in an Alabama nursing facility, you should can report this to the Alabama Adult Protective Services by calling (334) 242-1350 or toll-free at (800) 458-7214;
  • Speak with an experienced nursing home abuse and neglect attorney to discuss your legal rights and options.

At M. Adam Jones and Associates, we understand the combination of grief and outrage family members feel when they learn that a nursing facility they entrusted to look after their aging loved one betrays that trust. We share your frustration and outrage, and we work tirelessly to ensure that those responsible for this egregious behavior are held fully accountable. We have extensive experience and a successful track record representing clients who have been mistreated in nursing homes, and we have the skills, resources, and commitment to provide our clients with the strong legal representation they need and deserve.

For a free consultation with one of our seasoned attorneys, call our office today at 334-699-5599 or send us a secure and confidential message through our online contact form.

Holiday Season and Toy Safety - Jones & Associates

Toy Safety for Holiday Shoppers in Alabama

The holidays are rapidly approaching, and, before long, shoppers will be out looking for the latest and greatest toys to get their kids for Christmas. Toys are a big part of the holiday fun, and they can also provide the means for kids to learn new things and become better problem solvers. There are some toys, however, that are dangerous or defective and should never have been put on the market in the first place. Use of these products can result in serious injuries and, in the most extreme cases, fatalities.

Toy Injury Statistics

Toy-related injuries have been on the rise in the last decade or so. According to the Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC), the estimated number of toy injuries (among children ages 15 and under) that have required emergency room treatment has been over 200,000 each year since 2005. In recent years, this number has topped 250,000 several times. It is scary to think that products that are supposed to entertain and educate our children could be causing so many injuries and deaths.

Around 60% of toy injuries happen to boys, while the other 40% happen to girls. The most common body regions affected are:

  • Head/Face: 45%
  • Arm: 23%
  • Leg: 17%
  • Other: 15%

The most common types of toy injuries are:

  • Lacerations: 23%
  • Contusions and Abrasions: 16%
  • Fractures: 11%
  • Strains and Sprains: 11%
  • Other: 39%

Most Dangerous Toys for 2018

Earlier this year, World Against Toys Causing Harm (WATCH) put out its list of the most dangerous toys to be careful of this year. Toys on the list included:

  • Water Balloon Slingshots: These are slingshots that shoot a water balloon with force, with the potential to hit kids in the face and eyes. Water balloon slingshots can travel up to 150 feet, and one of the major manufacturers boasts that you can fill “hundreds of balloons in minutes”. Tiny pieces of broken balloons also present a choking hazard for younger kids and pets.
  • Low-Riding Wheeled Toys: Wheeled toys with a lower center of gravity tend to fall over more easily, which is especially dangerous around swimming pools, where children have been known to fall off them and drown. Their low profile also makes it difficult for other vehicles to see them when they are riding around in the driveway or (God forbid!) on the street.
  • Toys with Small Parts: Toys with small parts that can be detached are always a hazard for younger children. Kids can choke on the smaller parts or use them to injure themselves or others.
  • High-Powered Toy Guns: Water guns, bows and arrows, and any other type of toy that takes aim at another kid can pose a danger of an eye or head injury.
  • Toys with Blunt Edges and Projectiles: Toys that have blunt or sharp edges have the potential to cause serious eye injuries or injuries on impact.

Keeping your Children Safe During the Holidays

When shopping for toys for your kids, you need to do everything possible to keep your children from being exposed to danger. With that in mind, here are a few holiday toy shopping tips:

  • Research the Product Before you Buy: You cannot always tell just by looking at a product whether it is safe or not. Many times, you need to dig a little deeper. Read all the tags and warning labels to be sure. Then go a step further and read through reviews from others who have purchased the product. Not all reviews are legitimate, but if a product has enough independently verified reviews, you may be able to see a recurring safety issue that reviewers keep bringing up.
  • Avoid Toxic Toys: Children, particularly those that are younger, are highly vulnerable to putting toxic substances in their mouth, which could cause them to be poisoned. Read the available information carefully and be sure that whatever you purchase for them is labeled “non-toxic”.
  • Think Big: Make sure that the toy is large enough so that none of its parts can fit into the child’s mouth. This again is especially critical for younger kids who are susceptible to choking on small toy parts.

What to Do if Your Child is Injured by a Dangerous or Defective Toy

Some parents do all they can to purchase safe toys, but still end up with a product that injures their child. When this happens, the company that designs, manufacturers, or distributes that toy should be held responsible. At M. Adam Jones and Associates, our skilled product liability lawyers have several years of experience representing clients who have been injured by dangerous or defective products in Alabama. We have an in-depth understanding of the complexities involved with these types of cases, and we have a strong track record of success going up against even the most well-funded adversaries.

For a free consultation with one of our attorneys, call our office today at 334-699-5599 or send us a secure and confidential message through our online contact form.

 

dealing with insurance after personal injury

Dealing with Insurance after a Personal Injury

When an individual is injured because of the negligence or reckless actions of another party, they should receive damages for their injuries. Unfortunately, it is almost never as simple as asking the responsible party to compensate you for your losses. In the vast majority of cases, the negligent party will deny fault or, at the very least, try to downplay or minimize what they’ve done or even argue that the injured party was partly to blame.

In most types of personal injury cases, there is an insurance company involved. This is especially common with incidents such as automobile accidents, truck accidents, motorcycle accidents, product liability, and premises liability cases. When there is an insurer involved, you generally no longer deal with the responsible party directly. Instead, you are now dealing with an insurance adjuster.

Most of the time, this adjuster will be for the other party’s insurer. One notable exception to this is when the other party does not have insurance or is underinsured, in which case you may be dealing with the adjuster for your own insurer, or possibly the adjusters for both companies.

Who is the Insurance Company Working For?

When dealing with an insurer after a personal injury, it is very important to understand that they are not looking out for your best interests. Insurance companies are for-profit entities, and what is most important to them is their bottom line. This means that, at the end of the day, the primary concern of the insurer is the company’s bottom line, not your financial well-being. With this in mind, you need to be very careful how you deal with insurance carriers after an auto accident or any other type of personal injury.

Here are some guidelines for how to handle your insurer and the insurer for the other party:

Dealing with Your Own Insurer

In many cases, such as with motor vehicle accidents, you will need to report the incident to your own insurance provider. Carriers want you to contact them within a reasonable period of time after the accident. This usually means within about 72 hours. When you call your insurer, be ready to present all the basic facts of the case and nothing more. If they ask about your injuries, do not give them any details. Instead, tell them you want to wait until you have an extensive medical report, so you have a more accurate assessment to provide.

The most important thing to keep in mind when talking to your insurer or anyone else about the accident is do NOT admit any fault whatsoever for the incident. In Alabama, it is very difficult to pursue a personal injury claim because our state uses a legal doctrine known as “contributory negligence”. Under this doctrine, negligent parties are barred from recovering compensation, even if they are only 1% at-fault for the accident.

Your words can be used against you, even by your own insurance company. Do not engage in any casual conversation about the accident; and, in particular, refrain from speculating about who did what. Hopefully, you have already collected multiple photos (and perhaps video footage) from the accident, there is a police report on file, and you have some eyewitnesses that saw what happened and have already provided statements to the police. There is no need to say anything further than what is already documented.

Dealing with the Insurance Company for the Other Party

Within a few days or so after a personal injury occurs, you will most likely be contacted by the adjuster for the other party’s insurer. Keep in mind again that this is the person representing the party that injured you, and their ultimate goal is to pay nothing or as little as possible in damages.

In many cases, one of the first things the adjuster will do is ask to record your conversation and/or for you to make a recorded statement. They may even try to imply that this is required and that the case cannot proceed without it. This is not true and, in fact, you are under no obligation to say anything to the other party’s insurance adjuster. When they call, let them know that you have nothing to say, and that your attorney will be in touch with them.

Contact a Skilled Personal Injury Lawyer ASAP

When you are injured due to someone else’s negligence or reckless acts, you should not go through this alone. Even before the insurance adjuster for the other party calls, it is best to speak with a seasoned personal injury attorney. Once you retain an attorney, they can deal directly with insurance, putting their experience to work to ensure that your rights and interests are fully protected.

At M. Adam Jones and Associates, we have seen the ways insurance companies try to evade responsibility for their clients’ actions. We know their tricks, and we are not intimidated by the games they play. We work closely with our clients to put together a rock-solid case that will stand up at trial and, in most cases, compel the other side to negotiate a reasonable settlement.

For a free consultation with one of our attorneys, call our office today at 334-699-5599 or send us a secure and confidential message through our online contact form.

 

Expert Witness - Medical - Jones & Associates

The Role of an Expert in an Injury Case

In a personal injury case, the burden of proof is on the victim to show that they have a right to compensation. Winning an injury case in Alabama is even more difficult than most other states because the state uses a legal doctrine known as “contributory negligence”. Under this doctrine, plaintiffs are unable to collect damages if they are determined to be partially at fault for the incident.

Most states use a more plaintiff-friendly doctrine known as “comparative negligence”. Under “comparative negligence”, a plaintiff can still collect damages if they share fault, but the damages are reduced in proportion to the percentage they are determined to be at fault in the case.

Because of the high burden of proof in Alabama injury cases, it is important to collect as much evidence as possible. Evidence can come in many forms; accident reports, multiple photographs of the scene, medical records, video footage of the incident, statements from eyewitnesses, and statements from expert witnesses. While all forms of evidence are helpful in proving an injury case, the testimony of expert witnesses can often be a deciding factor.

What is an Expert Witness?

An expert witness is distinguished in his/her area of specialty because they have achieved a high level of education, knowledge, skills, and training. Expert witnesses are almost never eyewitnesses to the incident. Their value to the case is in their credibility and ability to speak authoritatively regarding a particular factor (or set of factors).

There are numerous professionals who may serve as expert witnesses in an injury case. Some of the most common include:

  • Accident Reconstruction Experts
  • Surgeons
  • Physicians
  • Medical Examiners
  • Dentists
  • Rehabilitation Specialists
  • Pain Management Professionals
  • Dentists
  • Mental Health Professionals
  • Financial Professionals
  • Life Care Planners
  • Vocational Experts
  • Phone Records Specialists
  • Forensic Evidence Experts
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The Role of Expert Witnesses in Alabama Injury Cases

Expert witnesses are called upon to lend their scientific, technical, or specialized knowledge to a case. This level of expertise allows them to clarify certain facts and evidence in a case and put it in proper perspective for the judge or jury.

There are two ways expert witnesses are typically used in injury cases:

Consulting Experts

A consulting expert works behind the scenes to review certain facts and evidence, provide advice, assist with the legal strategy, and provide other types of support for the legal team. Unless the consulting expert is later converted to a testifying expert, the other side may never know that they were consulted in the case.

Testifying Experts

A testifying expert is a specialist who the attorney is prepared to call and testify in front of a judge or jury. Testifying experts must be disclosed to the other side, and for this reason, they must be chosen carefully. This type of expert typically has strong communication skills and the ability to make complex factors understandable for the average layperson. They also tend to have in-depth experience testifying in a courtroom.

Testimony from injury victims, family and friends, and eyewitnesses can all be helpful, but their testimony may be viewed as biased by those deciding the case. And because they are usually not experienced on the witness stand, it may be easier for the other side to poke holes in their testimony during cross-examination. Testifying experts tend to speak with authority and confidence, which makes their testimony more credible to a judge or jury.

It is important to note that not all testifying experts are called to the stand. In fact, a large percentage of injury cases are settled before they ever get to trial. That said, a strong legal team will be well-prepared to aggressively litigate the case at trial and upon appeal. Having expert witnesses on the team that are highly reputable and are ready to provide testimony that will help shed a favorable light on the client’s case is often enough to compel the other side to seek a reasonable settlement.

Speak with a Skilled Alabama Personal Injury Lawyer

The use of expert witnesses can be critical in proving fault and securing full damages in an injury case. This is one of many reasons it is important to work with a seasoned attorney who is not afraid to bring in experts when needed. At M. Adam Jones and Associates, we have in-depth experience successfully litigating even the most complex personal injury cases. We have relationships with numerous reputable professionals whom we routinely call on to bolster the credibility of our clients’ cases. Our firm has the skills, resources, and dedication to ensure that our clients receive the strong representation they need and deserve.

If you or a loved one has been injured due to the negligent or reckless actions of another party, contact our office today at 334-699-5599 for a free consultation.

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How to Avoid Accidents with School Buses

Fall is upon us and school is starting again for most Alabama students. We all hope for a fun, productive, and safe year for the kids, and this all starts with their ability to travel safely to and from school. The school districts in Alabama operate more than 7,000 buses that travel approximately 150 million miles each year. With the kids going back to school, this is a good time to focus on school bus safety and what we can all do to avoid accidents with school buses.

Though school bus accidents are not as common as other types of motor vehicle accidents, they can result in some of the most catastrophic injuries. Buses are large vehicles that are usually transporting several children inside. When one of them crashes, kids inside can suffer serious harm. While it is impossible to prevent all accidents, it is important that we do our part to keep the streets safe for our school kids.

Here are five things we can do to avoid accidents with school buses:

  1. Watch for Kids Walking and Biking to School

School safety awareness starts from the moment we back out of our driveway in the morning. While many kids take the bus to school, some walk or ride their bikes. As you begin your morning commute, watch out for children that are walking or biking to school or walking to the bus stop.

  1. Be Mindful of Kids When Approaching Bus Stops

Children are not only vulnerable to being injured when they are inside a school bus, they are also at risk when they are walking to the bus stop or waiting for the bus. We all know that children can be unpredictable, especially younger kids. Many times, you see them darting across the street and running furiously to catch the bus with little awareness of nearby vehicles and other dangers. It is up to us to be aware of these potential hazards as we approach bus stops.

  1. Slow Down when you are Behind a Bus

For most of us, it is not our favorite thing to get stuck behind a school bus, especially when we are late for work or in a hurry to be on time for an important obligation. Though we might not enjoy it, the best approach when driving behind a bus is to accept the fact that you will need to drive slower for a while, similarly to when you hit a traffic jam.

  1. Give the Bus Plenty of Room

Buses tend to drive much slower than other vehicles, and they also make frequent stops to drop off and pick up children. Buses are also required to come to a complete stop at all railroad crossings. One of the most important ways to avoid an accident with a school bus is to give the bus plenty of space when you are traveling behind it. To ensure that everyone remains safe, it is best to stay at least 10 feet behind buses at all times.

  1. Never Pass a Bus Illegally

In most cases, motorists are not allowed to pass a school or church bus in Alabama. In addition, motorists who are driving behind a school bus are required to stop when the signal arm comes up and remain stopped until the signal arm is lowered. You are also required to stop when the signal arm is up when you are approaching the bus from the opposite direction, unless you are driving on a divided highway with four or six lanes and there is a barrier or unpaved area between the directional lanes.

Illegally passing a school bus is not only unsafe, it can also result in hundreds of dollars in fines (even for a first offense) and points on your driving record that can lead to a license suspension and higher insurance rates. A new Alabama law that went into effect in 2016 also gives school districts the option to install stop-arm cameras on their school buses. In buses where the camera is installed, motorists can receive a $300 ticket if they are caught on video passing a bus illegally.

What to Do if You are Involved in a School Bus Accident

Even if you do everything right and take all the safety precautions, it is still possible to end up in an accident with a school bus. This can happen because of negligence or carelessness on the part of the bus driver, mechanical failures, vehicle part defects, poor driving conditions, and many other factors. If this occurs and you are seriously injured, you need skilled legal counsel in your corner to ensure that your rights and interests are protected.

At M. Adam Jones and Associates, we have extensive experience with even the most complex accident injury cases, including those involving school buses, 18-wheeler trucks, and other commercial vehicles. We are strong advocates for our clients, and we fight hard to obtain maximum compensation and to ensure that responsible parties are held fully accountable.

For a free consultation with one of our attorneys, contact our office today at 334-699-5599.

Social Security Disability - Alabama Law Firm - Jones & Associates

What Conditions Automatically Qualify for Social Security Disability Benefits?

The Social Security Administration (SSA) publishes a list of debilitating impairments which describes the physical and mental impairments that make applicants automatically eligible for Social Security Disability (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits. Individuals who are able to meet the medical criteria for one of the listed impairments automatically qualify for benefits and are usually approved during the initial application process.

SSDI and SSI Qualifying Medical Impairments

The following conditions are listed as qualifying impairments in the Social Security Administration’s adult “blue book”:

  • Musculoskeletal Conditions: Includes major joint dysfunctions, spine disorders, amputations, tarsal bone fractures, upper extremity fractures, and soft tissue injuries.
  • Respiratory Conditions: Includes many chronic respiratory disorders, asthma, cystic fibrosis, chronic pulmonary hypertension, and lung transplants.
  • Cardiovascular Conditions: Congenital or acquired disorders that affect the functioning of the heart or circulatory system. Examples include chronic heart failure and coronary artery disease.
  • Special Senses and Speech Problems: Includes visual disorders such as statutory blindness and loss of hearing.
  • Digestive Disorders: Includes gastrointestinal hemorrhaging, chronic liver disease, inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), and short bowel syndrome (SBS).
  • Genitourinary Problems: Includes chronic kidney disease and complications resulting from this condition.
  • Hematological Disorders: Includes hemolytic anemias such as sickle cell anemia and bone marrow failure disorders.
  • Skin Conditions: Includes ichthyosis, bullous diseases, dermatitis, and other chronic infections of the skin or mucous membranes.
  • Endocrine Disorders: Hormonal imbalances that lead to complications in various parts of the body.
  • Neurological Disorders: Includes cerebral palsy, multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, and Parkinson’s disease.
  • Mental Disorders: Includes anxiety, depression, autism, schizophrenia, and intellectual disability.
  • Cancer: Includes most types of cancer affecting numerous areas of the body.
  • Immune System Disorders: Includes HIV/AIDS, rheumatoid arthritis, and lupus.
  • Multi-Body System Congenital Disorders: These are congenital disorders (disorders that were present at birth) that affect multiple body systems.

These are the conditions listed in the SSA’s blue book as of 2018. The blue book is updated annually to include new debilitating conditions as the SSA becomes aware of them. The SSA also publishes a children’s blue book, but it is mostly the same as the adult book. The one medical condition that is covered for children under age 18 that is not covered for adults is growth impairment.

What if My Condition Does Not Appear in the SSA Blue Book?

If you have a debilitating condition that does not appear on the SSA’s list of qualifying medical impairments, you are not alone. The majority of applicants do not have a qualifying match initially. The good news is that this does not mean you cannot ultimately become approved for SSDI benefits.

Individuals who do not satisfy the exact requirements for a listed medical impairment can become approved if they convince the SSA that their condition is “medically equivalent” to one of the impairments that appears on the list. This may occur if your condition is similar to one of those listed in the SSA blue book and/or you have multiple conditions that are medically equal in severity.

Even if you do not have a condition that is similar to one listed in the SSA blue book, you may still be able to get approved for benefits. If the condition is “medically determinable” and it reduces your residual functional capacity (RFC) to the point where you can no longer work, you may be eligible for benefits. The key is to follow the steps in the application process in proper order and stay persistent even when you run into seemingly insurmountable roadblocks.

Speak with an Experienced Alabama Social Security Disability Attorney

Applying for Social Security Disability (SSDI) benefits is a long and complicated process. In Alabama, only about 30% of applicants are initially approved for benefits. Much of the reason for the high rate of denials has to do with the confusing nature of the process and the difficulty applicants have in navigating its complexities. If you have a debilitating condition and need to get approved for benefits, it is best not to fight this battle alone.

At Jones and Associates, we have extensive experience and in-depth knowledge of the Social Security Disability (SSDI) approval process. We are skilled, compassionate, and dedicated to ensuring that our clients receive the guidance necessary to become approved for the benefits they need and deserve. We provide free consultations, and we take all SSDI cases on a contingency basis, so you only pay attorney fees if we secure benefits for you. For a free, no-obligation case analysis, contact our office today at (334) 699-5599.