how much is my case worth?

What is my Personal Injury Claim Worth in Alabama?

After someone experiences a personal injury, one of the first things they usually want to know is, “how much is my claim worth?” Unfortunately, there is no simple and straightforward answer to this question. No two cases are exactly alike, and the value of your claim depends on a number of specific factors. To find out the most accurate estimate of what your personal injury claim is worth, the best place to start is to speak with an experienced attorney.

During the initial consultation, your lawyer may be able to give you some idea of what you can expect for a settlement, but in many cases, it is not possible to provide a precise valuation shortly after an injury. For one thing, it may take some time for all the facts and evidence of the case to be uncovered. In addition, it might be a while before you know the full extent of your injuries, your prognosis for recovery, and/or when you expect to reach maximum medical improvement (MMI).

How Much is a Personal Injury Claim Worth in Alabama?

Before determining how much an injury case is worth, you need to figure out if you are entitled to receive any damages at all. In Alabama, this may not be as cut and dry as you may think. Alabama is one of the few states that still operates under the “contributory negligence” legal standard. This means that if an injured party is found to have “contributed” in any way to the underlying incident that caused their injuries (even 1%), they can be barred from recovering damages. 

So, even if your injury was caused mainly by the negligence of another person or party, if they can find a way to pin some of the blame on you, you may lose out on the compensation you need and deserve. This is one of many reasons it is very important in a state like Alabama to obtain strong legal counsel as early as possible after an injury, so your right to recover compensation can be protected.

In addition to establishing liability, you must also be able to show that the incident the defendant is liable for was the proximate cause of your injuries. Sometimes, this is cut and dry, such as when an automobile runs a red light and collides with a motorcycle, causing the motorcyclist to fracture his leg. However, there are some instances in which there are questions about whether or not the plaintiff had a preexisting injury, and this is an area that the other side you sure to thoroughly investigate.

Damages Available in Alabama Personal Injury Claims

If you are able to prove that the defendant(s) were totally liable and proximately caused your injuries, you may be entitled to damages for both economic and non-economic losses.

  • Economic Damages: These are actual monetary losses that result from the injury, such as hospitalization costs, costs for surgeries and other types of medical treatment, rehabilitation expenses, costs for ongoing medical care, lost wages, loss of earning capacity, and property damage.
  • Non-Economic Damages: These are losses that are real but intangible and more difficult to assign a dollar figure to. Examples of non-economic damages include physical pain and suffering, psychological distress, diminished quality of life, disfigurement, permanent disability, and loss of consortium.

In more rare cases in which the actions of the party responsible for the injuries were willful or malicious, the plaintiff may be eligible for punitive damages. Punitive damages operate under a completely different system than compensatory damages. They are not meant to make a victim whole after a personal injury, but rather to punish the wrongdoer and help deter them (and others) from committing similarly egregious actions in the future. 

In Alabama, punitive damages are capped at three times the amount of compensatory damages. However, there is also a hard cap on punitive damages of $1.5 million, regardless of how much the plaintiff receives in compensatory damages.

Settle or Litigate?

One wild card that might make it more challenging to place a value on a personal injury claim is what a jury might do. Juries are unpredictable, and you never know how much they will award a plaintiff in damages. Since both sides know this, and because going to trial is costly and time consuming, it is generally in everyone’s best interests to reach a reasonable settlement. However, there are times when it is necessary to litigate a claim, such as when the other side is not willing to negotiate in good faith. Your lawyer should be someone who has the proven ability to successfully litigate personal injury cases, and someone who is fully prepared and willing to go to trial when the need arises.

Contact an Experienced Personal Injury Lawyer in Dothan, Alabama

If you or someone close to you has suffered a personal injury that was the fault of another person or party, contact M. Adam Jones and Associates for a free consultation. We will meet with you to thoroughly assess your case and advise you of your legal rights and options. Call us today at 334-581-9238 or send us a message through our online contact form to schedule your free consultation.

A&J Lab Collections

Class Action Filed Against Alabama DHR Vendor’s Falsified Lab Results

Brandy Murrah, the 36-year-old owner of A&J Lab Collections, was arrested last month on two counts of forgery for falsifying drug test results. Murrah’s company is a vendor for the Alabama Department of Human Resources (DHR), and she had a contract to perform drug and paternity tests on individuals involved in child custody cases or dependency (CPS) court cases in several counties throughout the state.

Murrah was arrested for performing falsified tests on two women, producing positive results for illegal drugs. Because of these false positive tests, these women had their children taken away and put into the foster care system. Both were later re-tested at independent drug testing facilities and medical clinics, and all their tests were negative. Although the independent tests have vindicated them, they still do not have custody of their kids.

Authorities now say that this could be just the “tip of the iceberg”, and they have no idea how many individuals and families may have been affected by Murrah’s wrongdoing. Investigators are now scrambling to find out how many other families have had to deal with the agony of children being wrongly separated from their parents because of falsified lab results.

The two women, Amy Farver and Tiffany Long, are lead plaintiffs in a lawsuit that was filed against A&J Lab Collections and other defendants in the Henry County Circuit Court. Attorneys M. Adam Jones and Jordan S. Davis of M. Adam Jones and Associates are representing the Plaintiffs in this suit, which they have filed to have certified as a class action.

Thousands of drug tests were performed by Murrah and A&J Lab Collections in multiple counties throughout Alabama, and there are countless individuals and families who may have been negatively impacted by receiving false positives on these tests.

If you or someone you know tested positive falsely on a lab test done by Murrah or A&J Lab Collections, you may be entitled to compensation. Call M. Adam Jones and Associates today at 334-581-9238 to discuss your case and join our lawsuit.

A&J Lab Collections Owner Was Hired by the DHR Even Though She Had a Checkered Past

There are a lot of questions that have yet to be answered in the A&J Labs case. For one thing, how was Murrah ever allowed to become a contractor for the Alabama DHR when she already had a criminal history?

In 2013, Murrah was arrested and found guilty of five counts of credit card fraud. She served three years of probation for these offenses. Despite this record of fraud, Murrah was hired by the DHR in several counties to perform some of the most sensitive tests, tests that have major implications regarding the relationships of parents and their children and the ability of individuals to obtain employment.

Law enforcement officials also believe that Murrah somehow profited from the falsified lab results. This would indicate that this case may go far beyond simple negligence. Although we do not yet know exactly why the test results were falsified, A&J Labs clearly acted willfully and wantonly, causing major harm to the plaintiffs in this case.

Damages suffered by the victims of Murrah’s action include loss of custody, visitation, and time spent with children, loss of reputation, loss of freedom, loss of time and expenses dealing with legal matters related to this case, mental anguish, and emotional distress.

Call M. Adam Jones and Associates Today to Join the A&J Lab Collections Lawsuit

What has happened to Farver, Long, and the numerous other victims in the A&J Labs case is one of the most egregious acts that has ever been perpetrated on Alabama families in our state’s history. To think that the Alabama DHR, the very agency charged with protecting Alabama families, would contract with a vendor who had a record of fraud, and this vendor goes on to mess with other peoples’ lives apparently for her own profit. We must ensure that all parties who played any part in this fraud are held fully accountable, so this type of conduct is never allowed to repeat itself.

If you or someone close to you has been affected by this case, call M. Adam Jones and Associates today at 334-581-9238 to discuss your legal rights and options. You may also message us through our online contact form or stop by our Dothan, AL office in person at your convenience.

seat back injury attorney

The Dangers of Seat Back Failures in a Motor Vehicle Accident

We go to great lengths to protect drivers and passengers while they are out on the road. In recent decades, wearing seat belts has become mandatory in nearly every state. And in all 50 states as well as the District of Columbia, there are laws that require children to ride in specially-designed car seats with proper restraints up until a certain age.

In Alabama, for example, children are required to ride in a booster seat until age six, although the best safety practice is for kids to continue riding in the seats until they are run around ages 8 to 10, depending on how big they are. While there has been a lot of attention paid to the safety of motorists in recent decades, there is a hidden danger that has not been properly addressed; seat back failures.

What is a Seat Back Failure?

The seat back is the upright portion of the vehicle seat. It is adjustable and can be moved forward and backward to ensure that the driver and front seat passenger are comfortable. Seat backs are there for comfort, and to reduce the momentum individuals experience during a collision, thus reducing the chances of a severe injury.

A failure can happen when the force of a vehicle collision causes the seat back to collapse backwards and land on top of one of the back seats. This can cause serious injuries to occupants of the front seat as their head and body are thrown hard against an object or person in the back seat. Seat back failures most commonly occur when the vehicle is rear-ended at a moderate to high speed.

The dangers of seat back failure injuries are worse when there are occupants in the back seat.  Those riding in the back seat are often struck unexpectedly by the force of the seat back collapsing on them. Those most vulnerable to serious injury are children, particularly those who are strapped into booster seats or are secured by another type of restraint.

Some of the most common injuries that occur as a result of seat back failures include:

  • Facial and head injuries
  • Traumatic brain injuries (TBI)
  • Fractures/broken bones
  • Neck and back injuries
  • Spinal cord injuries and paralysis
  • Amputations/loss of limbs
  • Wrongful death

Low NHTSA Standards and Industry Negligence are Major Contributors to Seat Back Failures

Most of us believe, based on conventional wisdom, that the back seat is the safest place for children to ride. We base this belief largely on the assumption that there are adequate governments standards in place for seat backs, and the assumption that, by now, auto makers should be able to create seat backs that more than meet adequate safety standards. Unfortunately, a 2016 CBS investigation found that both of these assumptions are false. 

It turns out that the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA), the agency responsible for setting auto safety standards, has not updated its standards for front car seats since 1967. The standard is so low, in fact, that even a banquet chair would qualify. And although every vehicle produced today meets this paltry standard, a large percentage of seat backs failed in crash tests that CBS conducted.

Some of the other key findings of the CBS investigation included:

  • The NHTSA has been aware of its need to update front seat safety standards since the early 1970s, but after decades of studying the issue, new standards had yet to be put in place;
  • Auto makers have been aware of the potential problem of seat back failures since at least the mid-1990s;
  • The cost for automakers to make front car seats safe for consumers would be minimal, “on the order of a dollar or so” according to one industry engineer.

CBS found that over 100 individuals (that we know of) have been killed or seriously injured because of seat back failures since 1989. And while this is not a huge number compared to many other vehicle defects, it makes no sense that the NHTSA would continue to take no action on this issue. Even the loss of one life is one too many, especially for something that would take minimal cost and effort to address.

It should be noted that several auto manufacturers have had recalls in recent years over seat back safety issues. These include:

  • Audi
  • Toyota
  • Nissan
  • Honda
  • Ford
  • Mercury
  • Tesla

Unfortunately, because the standards are so low, consumers have very little way of knowing which vehicles are safe for themselves and their children to travel in. CBS did name three automakers in their report that have been proactive and strengthened their car seats to well above government safety standards; Mercedes Benz, BMW, and Volvo.

Injured in a Seat Back Failure? Contact an Experienced Alabama Personal Injury Lawyer

Seat back failures are not the most common occurrence, but when they happen, the results can be disastrous. If you or a loved one has been seriously injured or killed resulting from a seat back failure or any other type of auto defect, you need skilled legal counsel by your side to help ensure that you receive just compensation, and that those responsible are held fully accountable. 

At M. Adam Jones and Associates, we have extensive experience representing clients who have been injured in auto accidents in Alabama. We have a successful track record with even the most complex cases, and we work closely with our clients, exploring every potential legal avenue toward obtaining full and fair compensation for their injuries.

For a free consultation with one of our seasoned Alabama personal injury attorneys, call our office today at 334-581-9238 or send us a message through our online contact form.

Adam Jones & Associates

“…But I’m Not The Only One.”

When I was a boy one of my favorite cartoons began with a sheepdog and a wolf. “Mornin’ Ralph,” said the sheepdog. “Mornin’ Sam,” said the wolf. They would clock in to work, the sheepdog would casually sit down, and the wolf would begin some ingenious scheme by which he hoped to abscond with a sheep. Inevitably Sam, always a step ahead of Ralph, would catch his nemesis in the act, grab him by the throat, and send him over a cliff with a mammoth punch. But sometimes, a split-second before Sam could give Ralph the business, the lunch whistle blew. Sam would release his grip from Ralph’s neck, the two retrieved their lunch pails, and they both enjoyed a nice, quiet lunch together. When the whistle blew again, they dutifully re-assumed their respective positions – you know, with Sam’s hand around Ralph’s neck – and over the cliff went the wolf with a fresh black eye.

As a lawyer, the work I do often reminds me of this cartoon. I show up with my briefcase, another lawyer shows up with his (or hers), and we exchange pleasantries. Then the whistle blows, and we proceed to use all of our training, skill, intelligence, and wit to pummel each other. It’s a pretty unique occupation, if you think about it. After all, my success depends upon the other side’s failure, and vice versa. Outside of professional sports, who else can say that? Sure, it can be frustrating. It can be aggravating. It can even be devastating. But it is never, ever personal. Not for the lawyers. At least, it’s not supposed to be. At the end of the day we clock out, and then we stand in the parking lot for a while and talk football. Or family. Or hunting season. Or politics.

Speaking of politics, that’s another subject that brings Sam and Ralph to mind these days, especially during an election cycle. I’m sure you’re aware of it, how some people – nice, happy, genuinely good people – become angry, raving lunatics when espousing their personal political beliefs. If you’re reading this on Facebook, then you already know what I’m talking about. But in case you don’t, then take a moment to just scroll up or scroll down.

Nasty, huh?

Now, before you send me an email, I do know that I’m as guilty as anyone else. You are, too. Most of us are. Probably all of us. We’re all crazy. But not half as crazy as the idiots and morons who can’t see things our way. The truth as we see it. The truth as we know it. Right?

So let’s talk about Justice Antonin Scalia.

Scalia, who was arguably the most conservative of the nine justices on the U.S. Supreme Court, passed away on Saturday. For those of you not in the business of reading Supreme Court opinions, I won’t even attempt to catch you up. I couldn’t begin to try. However, the New York Times did an excellent piece on Scalia, which you can read here. In short, he was a conservative’s conservative. His opinions leaned so far right that, sometimes, they seemed to make a full circle. As a lawyer who represents average, everyday people being taken advantage of by insurance companies and big business, I will admit that I was not a member of the Scalia fan club. But I can’t deny that his legal opinions, and the wit with which he delivered them, often cracked me up and, more importantly, challenged me to think through my “beliefs” very carefully. Scalia may not have always received my agreement, but he always had my admiration.

And I’m not alone. If Scalia stood at the farthest right flank of the Supreme Court, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg most certainly holds down the left flank. A liberal’s liberal, Ginsburg has never seen a progressive cause that she wouldn’t champion. Ideologically and otherwise, she seemed to be the anti-Scalia. Ginsburg, the Jewish woman appointed by Bill Clinton; and Scalia, the Roman Catholic appointed by Ronald Reagan. They were polar opposites of each other.

They were also best friends.Washington’s version of the Odd Couple, Scalia and Ginsburg attended operas and spent every New Year’s Eve together. In Ginsburg’s words, they were “best buddies,” and after Scalia’s death she penned him a warm and bittersweet tribute, in which she wrote:

“’We are different, we are one,’ different in our interpretation of written texts, one in our reverence for the Constitution and the institution we serve.”

It’s certainly ironic that these two people with such extremely opposite viewpoints, two people charged with the profound responsibility of interpreting laws in such a way as to shape the course of the greatest nation the world has ever seen, could….well, get along at all. And yet the rest of us – you, me, and 99.9% of everyone we know – we who have virtually no impact whatsoever on national or global politics, insult each other daily.

On Facebook.

From the beginning, our Founding Fathers warned us that political parties are “to be dreaded as the greatest political evil under our Constitution.” Let’s be honest. Most of us are neither sheepdogs nor wolves. We’re the sheep. But you wouldn’t know it by looking at how we treat one another. Half of us cheer for Sam, while the other half cheer for Ralph. And when the whistle blows and they walk off arm in arm, where does that leave us?

Divided.

This may sound corny or naive, but I dream of the day that we refuse to allow special interests to manipulate us by our emotions rather than our intellect. And I dream of the day when we finally realize that we can respectfully agree to disagree, because maybe that’s the day we truly understand what @AndyStanley means when he says that all this bickering back and forth is, quite frankly, scaring the children. But most of all, I suppose I dream of the day when we all throw Ralph and Sam off the cliff, and we figure this stuff out together. So yeah, I guess it does sound corny and naive, but I dream of the day when We Are One.

As a lawyer, I suppose that whole idea might be bad for business. But as for the boy still inside of me…hey, a boy can dream.