Delayed Injuries from a Car Accident

Millions of auto accidents happen every year, and in a large number of cases, it appears that those involved only suffer minor injuries, if any. You are very fortunate if you can walk away from a car accident without any broken bones or other severe injuries, but just because you don’t feel anything right away, you should not assume that you are unscathed.

For many people involved in car accidents, the injuries they sustain are not felt immediately. This is largely due to the adrenaline rush that we experience when we are involved in a traumatic event. The adrenaline produced by a high impact crash, for example, will often mask the pain associated with the injury, and it won’t be felt until later on.

For this reason, it is always best to get immediate medical attention if you get into a car accident, even if you do not feel like you need it. The sooner you get checked out, the sooner the doctor will be able to effectively treat any injuries you may have sustained before they get any worse. In addition, it is a very good idea to get in touch with an attorney right away to review your case.

Delayed Injuries that May Occur after an Auto Accident

Here are some of the most common delayed injuries that car accident victims may sustain:

Whiplash

Whiplash is a soft tissue neck injury that is very common in car accidents. This type of injury occurs when the head and neck are thrown back and forth in a rapid movement that resembles the cracking of a whip. Whiplash happens frequently to the lead driver in a rear end crash, because they are caught off guard and have no time to brace for the collision.

Whiplash damages the victim’s nerves, joints, and muscles in the affected area, and it is characterized by a number of different symptoms, including:

  • Headaches
  • Dizziness
  • Blurred vision
  • Ringing in the ears/tinnitus
  • Neck, shoulder, and upper back pain
  • Numbness, tingling, or loss of feeling
  • Sleep disruptions

Symptoms of whiplash often do not show up until at least 12 to 24 hours after a car accident. In some cases, it might take up to a week before the victim starts to feel anything. A mild case of whiplash might require chiropractic treatment and/or physical therapy, which may help the symptoms to subside within about a month or so. Moderate to severe whiplash injuries take a lot longer to heal, and in some cases, there may be permanent damage to the affected areas.

Head/Brain Injuries

The impact of a collision could produce an injury to the head and brain, commonly referred to as a traumatic brain injury (TBI). TBIs usually happen from a blow to the head, which is a frequent occurrence during car accidents. Concussions are the mildest form of TBI, and they are characterized by symptoms such as:

  • Headaches
  • Disorientation/loss of balance
  • Mood swings
  • Irritation
  • Significant changes in eating patterns

Mild concussion victims can usually recover within a couple of weeks, but more serious TBI’s can have long-term and even permanent effects.

Internal Injuries

Internal bleeding or other types of damage to internal organs is a very serious injury that is not always felt right away after a car accident. Sometime later, for example, you might start to feel abdominal pain from internal bleeding that could progress later into dizziness and fainting. This type condition is life-threatening and requires immediate medical care as soon as it is discovered.

PTSD

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a psychological condition that frequently occurs after a traumatic event. PTSD is commonly associated with members of the military who return home after being involved in combat and later experience the effects of it, but the same thing can happen to car accident victims, abuse victims, and others who have experienced some type of trauma.

Some common signs and symptoms of PTSD include:

  • Nightmares and flashbacks about the event
  • Anxiety
  • Sleepless nights
  • Mood changes
  • Depression
  • Risky or reckless behavior

Contact Hedge Copeland for Assistance with Auto Accidents in Alabama

If you or a loved one suffered injury in a car accident in Alabama, you may be entitled to compensation – even if the symptoms showed up later. However, in a case like this, the other side might try to argue that your injuries were from a pre-existing condition or otherwise not caused by the accident. Before speaking with the representative for the other side, contact Hedge Copeland to discuss your claim. We will provide a free consultation to thoroughly assess the specifics of your case and advise you of your legal rights and options.

To get started, message us online or call our office today at (251) 432-8844. We look forward to serving you!

Safe Driving Tips for Holiday Travel

The holiday season is one of the most joyous times of the year. This is the season when we try to take some extra time of to relax, refresh, and spend quality time with our loved ones. In a typical year, millions of Americans would be traveling by car, bus, plane, or another mode of transportation to get together with family and friends.

Travel might be scaled back some this year because of COVID-19, but a lot of people still plan to visit relatives and friends and try to make the most out of the circumstances we are in. This could mean driving across town or driving or riding to the airport to catch a flight, or it could mean going on a long holiday road trip.

If you are one of those who is planning to take a trip and drive a significant distance this holiday season, it is important to take steps to prepare for a safe journey:

Get your Vehicle Inspected and Serviced

Before you go on a long road trip, you should always make sure that your vehicle is in good repair. Here are some important things you should do to make sure your vehicle is ready:

  • Change the oil and top off all of the other fluids.
  • Make sure your tires are properly inflated and have plenty of tread depth.
  • Have your battery inspected to make sure it is charging properly, and clean off any corrosion that has built up within the terminals.
  • Make sure your wiper blades are in good working order and replace them if they are damaged or worn.
  • Check your spark plugs to see if you are due for a tune up.
  • Have your brakes inspected to ensure that there is plenty of wear left on them.

Prepare a Vehicle Emergency Kit

Put together some items that you will need in case you have an emergency such as the car breaking down. Consider the following items for your emergency kit:

  • Water and snacks
  • Jumper cables
  • Blankets
  • Warm clothing, hats, and gloves
  • A flashlight
  • A first-aid kit

Pack Plenty of Hand Sanitizer

When you stop off to eat, fuel up, or for restroom breaks, you will be touching a lot of surfaces that have been touched by others. We have obviously heard a lot about the risks of contracting COVID-19, but keep in mind that it is also flu season during the winter months, and the flu is very contagious as well. To help keep yourself and those traveling with you healthy, make sure everyone cleans their hands frequently with antibacterial sanitizer.

Plan your Route Ahead of Time

It is always good to know where you are going and how you are going to get there before you start out. It is also important to know some alternative routes in case you encounter road construction, a road closed, or a major traffic slowdown because of an accident. Look at two or three different routes before you leave and load them into your navigation system, so you will be ready to adjust your route if necessary.

Prepare for Adverse Weather Conditions

Check the weather report ahead of time for the areas in which you will be traveling. If you are staying in the Southeastern US, you are not likely to run into any heavy snowstorms, although it has been known to happen. But you could encounter heavy rain, high winds, or even freezing rain. And if you are traveling to one of the northern states, then you could easily run into any type of winter weather. Be prepared for inclement weather if it is in the forecast, and be ready to slow down and drive very carefully when you encounter it.

Get Plenty of Rest Before Heading Out

Before you head out for a full day of driving, be sure you have enough sleep the night before. For an average adult, this means roughly seven hours of sleep. Driving long distances can get very tiring, but you need to have enough rest to stay alert and drive safely. If you do start getting tired, pull into a rest stop or gas station to take a nap.

Keep your Cell Phone Fully Charged

You never know when you might have a problem on the road, and the last thing you want is to have your phone run out of battery. Before you leave, make sure your phone is fully charged, and it is also a good idea to have it plugged into a charger in your car as you are driving. On a related note, do NOT use your phone to send a text or do any other type of electronic messaging, let one of your passengers handle that (if you have passengers).

Review your Roadside Assistance Information

If your car breaks down in the middle of nowhere, you will want to have an emergency roadside assistance service available to come and help you. If you do not already have this service, purchase it from your insurer or through an outside company like AAA. Finally, locate the phone number for your roadside assistance and load it into your contact list on your cell phone. Having this phone number readily available will save you from a lot of stress and anxiety if you end up needing it.

Happy holidays from all of us at Hedge Copeland! Stay safe out there and enjoy this most wonderful time of the year with those closest to you.

Important Tips for Avoiding a School Bus Accident

The return to school has been a little different this year for Alabama students. Because of safety concerns over COVID-19, many school districts are doing a hybrid approach in which there is some distance learning combined with in-person classes a couple days a week. In some cases, parents are choosing to keep their kids home at least for the first couple of months to do distance learning exclusively.

These modifications have forced school buses to shuffle their schedule around as well. Because of the staggered student schedules, there are not as many buses on the road each day as there would be in a normal year. But even with these changes, there are still well over 100,000 Alabama students that are riding the bus to and from school every day.

School buses are generally considered among the safest ways for a child to travel. Buses are massive vehicles that provide plenty of protection for passengers, and there are fewer fatalities (per hundred thousand miles traveled by bus) than most other modes of transportation.

Although school bus travel is generally pretty safe, accidents do happen, and some of those accidents result in serious injuries and fatalities. Perhaps the greater concern for kids, however, is the exposure to hazards when they walk to the bus stop in the morning, wait for the bus to arrive, and walk home after being dropped off in the evening.

With school back in full swing (or as close as we are going to get while dealing with a global pandemic), it is a good time to go over some safety tips to help avoid school bus accidents:

FOR CHILDREN

Leave for the Bus Stop Early

Parents, make sure your school-aged kids get out the door early and in plenty of time to make their bus. The last thing you want is for your child to be running to the bus stop at the last minute to avoid missing it. When this happens, there is a much greater risk of injuries from slipping and falling, or being hit by a vehicle as they are dashing across the street. A good rule of thumb is to make sure they get to the bus stop five minutes before the scheduled arrival.

Be Careful while Waiting for the Bus

Teach your kids to behave and avoid horseplay while they are waiting for the bus to arrive. For example, if they are wrestling around with other kids and one of them tumbles over the curb and into the street, they could end up in the face of oncoming traffic. Teach your kids to stay at least 10 feet away from the road, so they don’t risk falling in the street, and so that the bus driver can see them when he/she pulls up.

Board the School Bus Carefully

When the bus arrives, instruct your kids to wait for it to come to a complete stop and for the driver to open the door before proceeding on board. Board the bus slowly and use the handrails to maintain balance. Once in your seat, fasten your seatbelt and remain seated until you reach your destination.

FOR MOTORISTS

Drive Slowly near School Buses

Whenever you see a school bus, slow down and proceed cautiously. When there are buses around, this means there are children nearby as well. In this type of situation, you want to make sure to drive slowly and give yourself enough time to react to something unexpected, such as a child running across the street.

Give the Buses Plenty of Space

When driving near buses, always give them enough space to perform their tasks safely. Buses frequently stop to pick up and drop off kids, and they are required to come to a complete stop at all railroad crossings.

Stay Free of Distractions

Motorists should avoid texting while driving in all circumstances, and especially when driving around school buses. When you are in a school zone, you should also avoid other distractions as much as possible, so you can stay focused on the road. Common distractions that could make it more hazardous to drive near school buses include eating, drinking, grooming, reading a GPS, and talking on the phone.

Follow Alabama School Bus Traffic Laws

It is very important to understand the Alabama laws around school and church buses, and follow them. In most situations, motorists are not allowed to pass a stopped bus. When driving behind a bus, drivers must stop when the signal arm is raised and remain stopped until it is lowered. The same rules usually apply if you are approaching a school or church bus from the opposite direction, unless you are traveling on a 4 or 6 lane highway in which the directional lanes are divided by a barrier or unpaved area.

Bear in mind that a growing number of Alabama school districts have installed stop arm cameras on their buses. This means you could be ticketed if there is video evidence that you are violating state traffic laws.

Injured in a School Bus Accident in Alabama? Contact an Experienced Auto Accident Attorney

Even if you follow all of the best safety practices for avoiding a school bus accident, you cannot control what others on the road will do. If you or someone close to you got injured in a vehicle accident that was someone else’s fault, Hedge Copeland, P.C. is here to help! For a free consultation with one of our attorneys, message us online or call our office today at (251) 432-8844.

Who is At Fault for a Multi Car Accident?

Most car crashes involve two vehicles that collide with each other.  However, we have handled several cases that involve multiple cars involved in a single crash; these are commonly referred to as “multi-car accidents” or “multi-car pileups”.  Car crashes like these tend to be far more complicated than a standard two vehicle collision, and there are many factors that determine who was at fault.

When several vehicles are involved in a crash, there is a greater potential for severe and catastrophic injuries.  It is also more likely that there will be more than one injured individual, and sometimes you could have numerous injuries depending on the circumstances of the case.

In situations like these, it is very important for someone who gets hurt to speak with an experienced personal injury lawyer as soon as possible.  This is not the kind of case that you want to handle on your own, as there will be multiple insurance companies trying to point the finger away from the at-fault drivers, and the sooner you get an attorney involved, the better the chances that you will be able to recover the just compensation you deserve.

What Causes of Multi-Car Accidents?

There are a number of different scenarios that could trigger a multi-vehicle crash, some of the most common include:

  • Rear-End Chain Reactions:  A lot of multi-car pileups happen simply because one car collides with the vehicle in front of them, setting off a chain reaction that involves several more vehicles.  Chain reaction accidents usually happen on highways or roads where vehicles travel at higher speeds. Although the driver of the first car that rear ends the vehicle in front of them is usually looked to as the one at fault, it could sometimes be another drivers fault if, for example, they slowed down abruptly and did not have functional brake lights and/or they slowed down because they were texting on their phone.
  • Careless Lane Changes:  Multi-vehicle accidents may happen because of a driver that changes lanes on the highway without checking their blind spots, causing the initial crash.  Texting while driving is often the culprit for this type of collision as drivers are so distracted by their phones that they tend to weave back and forth between lanes or straddle the center line.
  • Reckless Driving: A motorist who is driving recklessly is usually in a mindset in which they have willful and wanton disregard for the rules of the road and the safety of others. Unfortunately, this type of situation often does not and well. Multi-car pileups can result from various forms of recklessness, such as drunk drivers who are speeding excessively, vehicles who are drag racing with each other, and drivers who are attempting to evade arrest.
  • Falling Asleep at the Wheel: Driving while drowsy or fatigued can be extremely dangerous, and the worst possible result is that the driver falls asleep at the wheel. If this were to happen while traveling on the highway, it can cause the car to cross over several lanes and crash into a number of other vehicles. This is also a danger if someone has a seizure or another medical event that causes them to lose consciousness.
  • 18-Wheeler Jackknifes: Large semi-trucks are sometimes involved in multi-vehicle accidents, especially when the truck jackknifes on the highway and blocks several lanes of traffic. This can happen so quickly that vehicles in other lanes do not have a chance to stop. Jackknifes can be the result of speeding or driving too fast for conditions, or they can also happen because of a tire blowout or another type of vehicle failure.

Who is Liable in a Multi-Vehicle Accident?

A number of factors are looked at in determining liability for a multi-car crash.  It is important that all witnesses be interviewed as soon as possible.  Even more importantly, in multi-party crashes, is to document the scene and physical evidence involved in the crash.  Skid marks, gouge marks, and other physical evidence at the scene will disappear within days of the crash – so hiring an attorney early is your best option.

Every case is unique, and a thorough investigation will be required to examine all of the specific factors and get to the bottom of what happened and which party (or parties) were at fault. Some of the facts and pieces of evidence that may be reviewed include:

  • Photos of the scene that show skid marks that lead to the point of impact, vehicle damage, debris from various vehicles, etc.
  • Any dashcam or other video footage of the accident that may be available.
  • The testimony of eyewitnesses.
  • The official police report.
  • Cell phone records that might show that one or more of the drivers was texting at the time of the crash.
  • Any other records of traffic violations, such as drunk driving or speeding.

Injured in an Auto Accident in Alabama? Contact a Board Certified Personal Injury Attorney

If you or a loved one suffered injury in a multi-vehicle crash, you need someone who is not only aggressive, but has the financial resources available to go toe to toe with the insurance companies.  Hedge Copeland Law Firm has Board Certified Trial Attorneys who have over 30 years of experience handling these types of cases – Call for a free consultation and case assessment.

To get started, call our office today at (251) 432-8844 or send us an online message. We look forward to serving you!

Keeping your Teen Safe Behind the Wheel

If you have a teen in your house who just recently passed their driver’s license exam or is taking the exam in the near future, you have a lot of things to think about. For your child, this is one of the most exciting times of their life – the chance to finally have a license to drive a car on their own means the ability to move around more freely. Now they can drive to school, drive to and from work, or just hang out with their friends.

Amidst all of the excitement of helping your teen get licensed to drive, you cannot forget about safety. Teenagers are inexperienced, have strong emotions, and they tend to be less focused and more susceptible to getting distracted. This is why motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death among teens in the US.

Important Steps to Help Keep Teenage Drivers Safe

Educate your Teen on the Hazards to Avoid When Driving

You should work closely with your teen during the licensing process, taking time to discuss the common hazards that they need to steer clear from when they are driving. As we touched on earlier, teens are very susceptible to distractions, so you must stress the importance of not using their phone while they are operating the vehicle. Peer pressure is another common problem, so make sure to talk with them about not giving in to dangerous behaviors that may be encouraged by their friends like driving recklessly or driving after having too much to drink.

Put your Teen Driver Under Contract

In addition to educating your teen, many parents choose to take it a step further and have them sign a contract committing to follow certain rules when they are driving. This way, they will have no excuses later on if they violate one of your rules and you need to take away their driving privileges for a while.

AAA has a good parent teen driving contract that you can use which lays out several rules, such as:

  • Your teen must always drive within the speed limit and obey all other traffic laws.
  • No one else other than your teen is allowed to drive the vehicle.
  • All vehicle occupants must wear seatbelts at all times.
  • No one who is intoxicated is allowed to drive or ride in the vehicle.
  • No alcohol, drugs, or weapons are allowed to be inside the vehicle at any time.
  • Your teen must never conceal any warnings or tickets that they receive, or any accidents that they are involved in.
  • Your teen must never engage in any thrill-seeking stunts, such as street racing or playing “chicken”.

Understand the Alabama Graduated Driver’s License Process

Alabama has a Graduated Driver’s License (GDL) law for teens who are getting licensed for the first time. Under this law, a Restricted License is granted to 16-year-olds and 17-year-olds until they have been driving for at least six months. With a Restricted License, your teen is not allowed to have more than one non-family passenger who is under the age of 21. In addition, they are not allowed to operate the vehicle between the hours of 12 AM and 6 AM unless they are accompanied by a parent, legal guardian, or a licensed adult who is 21 years of age or older, or they are going to or from work or another approved activity. Understand the rules that your teen needs to abide by if they have a Restricted License, and make sure these rules are followed.

Give your Teen Driver Access to Emergency Roadside Assistance

No matter how new or how well-maintained a vehicle is, there is always the chance that something may go wrong when your teen is driving. To provide extra security and peace of mind, sign up for an emergency roadside assistance plan and instruct your teen on how to access the service if they need it. Most insurers offer roadside assistance these days for a nominal fee, or you can obtain more comprehensive coverage through a motor club like AAA.

Use Technology to Help Prevent Hazardous Results

Having a well-educated teen driver and a written contract are extremely helpful, but you might also want to take preemptive action through the use of available technology. For example, there are several apps that can be put on your teen’s phone to block them from texting or calling while driving. Some of these apps also allow you to map out their trips, so you know that they are going where they said they were going to go.

Set the Example of How you Want Your Teen to Drive

At the end of the day, much of your teen’s driving behavior comes from watching how you drive. No matter how much you preach safe driving to them, if they see you sending text messages, speeding, or taking other unnecessary chances, on some level they will believe that these behaviors are acceptable. If you want to keep your teen safe behind the wheel, the best place to start is by driving safely yourself.

Injured in an Auto Accident in Alabama? Contact Hedge Copeland, P.C. for Assistance

Driving safely and teaching your teen to be a safe driver will significantly minimize the chances of getting in a vehicle accident. Unfortunately, you cannot control the actions of other drivers. If you or someone close to you got hurt in a car accident in Alabama, Hedge Copeland, P.C. is here to help. Message us online or call our office today at (251) 432-8844 for a free consultation and case assessment with one of our lawyers.

Left Turn Accidents: Who is Liable?

Making a left turn is always a fairly dangerous maneuver. In countries like the US where we drive on the right side of the road, left turn drivers are going against the flow of traffic and a lot can go wrong when a driver is trying to complete the turn. This is especially true when you are trying to turn left at a stoplight that does not have a left turn arrow.

According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA), left turns are a contributing factor in approximately 61% of all accidents that happen while a vehicle is crossing an intersection, and they are a factor in 22% of all motor vehicle accidents. Right turns, on the other hand, are only a factor in 3.1% of intersection crossing accidents, and 1.2% of overall accidents.

UPS is the largest private ground courier in the world. They have thousands of trucks out on the roads every day delivering packages. Because the company has to invest so much time and resources into making their deliveries, they have studied carefully the various factors that can help them save money and reduce the chances of an accident. One policy UPS has had since the 1970s is that their routes are designed so that their drivers almost never take left turns.

UPS has found that by avoiding left turns whenever possible, they are able to reduce the number of miles driven per route and save 10 million gallons of fuel per year. They are also able to minimize their exposure to the potential hazards of making left turns, keeping their drivers safer and saving the company money on insurance premiums at the same time.

Why are Left Turn Accidents So Dangerous?

As we talked about earlier, vehicles that are making a left turn are going against the grain of the traffic, and when this occurs, there are a lot more things that could go wrong. Some of the dangers of left turn accidents include:

  • Facing Oncoming Traffic: When you make a left turn at a stoplight, you are turning into the face of oncoming traffic. This type of maneuver increases the chances of a collision with a car that you are crossing in front of.
  • Increased Acceleration Necessary: In order to complete the left turn, you will need to increase your acceleration as you get through the intersection. This is one reason why left turns burn so much more fuel (along with the fact that the vehicle idles longer at the intersection). In addition, left turn drivers have to be a lot more skilled at judging the speed of an approaching vehicle and how much they will need to accelerate to complete the turn safely. Finally, if something were to go wrong with the engine while trying to accelerate, this could cause the car to get stuck in the middle of the intersection where a crash would be more likely.
  • Potential for Obstructed View: With certain types of vehicles, particularly larger ones where the driver sits up higher like full-size trucks and SUVs, it is more difficult to get a clear view of oncoming traffic. This makes it easier to miss motorcycles, bicycles, and pedestrians that are crossing because of their smaller profiles.

Who is At Fault in a Left Turn Accident?

Because of all the difficulties that go into making a left turn, the driver who is turning will often be the one who is assumed to be at fault if there is an accident. While this might be a correct assumption in a lot of cases, it is not always true.

There are times when the left turn driver might not be the one at fault in a crash. Here are some examples:

  • The left turn driver has a green arrow and the vehicle coming from the opposite direction runs a red light.
  • The vehicle coming from the opposite direction exceeds the speed limit and arrives at the intersection before they should have.
  • The driver of the other vehicle involved in the crash was sending or receiving a text on their phone and not watching where they were going when the collision occurred.
  • The driver of the other vehicle was legally intoxicated.

Injured in a Left Turn Accident in Alabama? Contact an Experienced Auto Accident Lawyer

Left turn drivers are often thought to be responsible when an accident occurs at a traffic crossing, but this is not always the case. As with every car accident, there are factors and circumstances that are unique to each case. If you or someone close to you got injured in a vehicle accident, you need strong legal counsel in your corner working hard to navigate the complexities of your case and recover the full and fair compensation you deserve.

If your accident occurred in Alabama, contact Hedge Copeland, P.C. for assistance. Message us online or call our office today at (251) 432-8844 for a free consultation and case assessment with one of our attorneys.

Can You Sue if You Get COVID-19 at Work?

Businesses are gradually reopening in a number of states after the COVID-19 lockdowns. After the lockdown, the opening of businesses raises two vital questions: Is it mandatory for employers to ensure that the workplace is sanitary and safe? And will they be held accountable if workers contract coronavirus at the workplace?

The brief answer to the above questions is that while medical care professionals must abide by federal safety guidelines for protection against the virus, the federal law does not make it mandatory for other businesses to do the same.

Also, sick employees seeking compensation usually through worker’s comp must show that they contracted the Covid-19 illness at the workplace, which can be quite challenging to prove. 

According to guidelines by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), employers must create a work environment that is “free from recognized hazards that are causing or are likely to cause death or serious physical harm” to workers.

To be able to meet the above standard, OSHA advises businesses to follow the guidelines of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), such as instructing employees to maintain a distance of six feet from colleagues or customers, disinfecting surfaces, taking temperatures, and providing hand sanitizers, face masks, and barriers when necessary.

According to Debbie Berkowitz, Worker Safety and Health Program Director for the National Employment Law Project, OSHA is enforcing guidance issued by the CDC and performing inspections in response to deaths in hospitals, but not otherwise.   

Berkowitz reveals that 4,000 COVID-19 related complaints have been filed against businesses that do not provide sanitary workplaces, but OSHA has not issued any fines or citations. She says that OSHA instead is nudging businesses towards the voluntary guidelines.

The Labor Department, which encompasses OSHA, responded to criticism with a statement that OSHA will consult CDC guidelines as well as its own guidance as it assesses if a workplace is “free from recognized hazards.” According to this statement, OSHA will issue a citation and impose a civil monetary penalty on offenders.

Challenging for Employees to Prove Liability

Across the United States, workers or their families can claim monetary damages if employees contract an illness or death. However, in a majority of states, employees who are eligible to make a claim through worker’s compensation (a form of insurance), must follow that path and give up the right to sue, attorneys say.

Further, it can be challenging to win such claims. The employee will have to prove they contracted the virus in the workplace, which is setting the bar very high during a pandemic.

The CEO of the Workers Compensation Research Institute, John Ruser, says that while it is known that certain groups of employees are at a higher risk of contracting the virus, it is still possible that they may catch it outside the workplace. It would be very difficult for the employee to prove that contracting the illness was workplace related.

If several employees at a workplace contract coronavirus, the claim for worker’s compensation could be stronger.

Torrent of Lawsuits

Some employees and their legal teams are approaching the courts and are the pioneers of what could be a significant surge in lawsuits related to the pandemic.

When a Walmart employee in Illinois contracted and died from coronavirus, their family sued the company, alleging that the retailer did not undertake adequate measures to protect its workers from the virus. 

The family of the employee, Wando Evans, expresses several concerns, such as Walmart did not take appropriate measures to enforce social distancing protocols, effectively sanitize the store, or equip workers with proper protective equipment.

Meanwhile, in Missouri, a nonprofit workers’ advocacy group brought a lawsuit against Smithfield Foods on behalf of its employees after a COVID-19 outbreak in a plant owned by the company lead to many employees becoming infected.

In the lawsuit, the workers’ group alleges that Smithfield employees were made to work without proper protective gear in close proximity to each other. They were not given the breaks to wash their hands, were discouraged from taking sick leave, and offered bonuses for working when sick.

In addition, the lawsuit alleges that Smithfield had not put in place a plan for testing and contract-tracing employees exposed to the virus.

Businesses Strive to Limit Liability

In anticipation of such lawsuits and a potpourri of state laws, the US Chamber of Commerce, along with many business groups, is asking Congress to determine a federal standard that sets a limit on the liability for enterprises following CDC guidance.

According to Harold Kim, the President of the chamber’s Institute for Legal Reform, they are seeking a concise policy that will offer business-owners the confidence to reopen their enterprises without being under the perennial threat of liability. For instance, businesses that check worker’s temperatures could have a distinct set of criteria for what comprises an illness.

Legal Counsel from an Experienced Personal Injury Lawyer

If you believe you may have a workplace injury claim, it is important to speak with a skilled and knowledgeable Alabama personal injury attorney. The seasoned attorneys at Hedge Copeland, P.C., will consult with you to thoroughly assess your case and advise you of your legal rights and options.

If you end up retaining our services, we will work hard to investigate the evidence and build a strong case for you. We will represent you in court, handle the insurance company, and make sure that you get fair compensation for your losses.

For a no-charge case review, message us online or call (251) 432-8844 today. We accept all personal injury cases on a contingency basis, so you do not pay attorney fees unless we win your case.  

Pedestrian Accidents May Increase During COVID-19 Shutdowns

The coronavirus pandemic has most of us working out of our homes these days. Essential workers are still going out, but the rest of us are telecommuting. This has reduced vehicle traffic, which should result in fewer auto accidents. On the flipside, however, more people being at home means more people going out for walks. We also have some people going out for drives just to get out of the house.

The increased number of people walking of course heightens the risk of pedestrian accidents, and these accidents can result in some of the most serious and catastrophic injuries. Unlike vehicle occupants, someone who is out walking does not have a steel cage to protect them, so when they are struck by a car or truck, there is not much that separates their body from hitting the pavement. To make matters worse, with fewer cars on the road, those that are out there will be traveling at higher speeds, which increases the likelihood of deadly collisions.

Tips for Preventing Pedestrian Accidents during the Coronavirus or Anytime

Both motorists and pedestrians need to be aware of the heightened danger of a collision when there are more people walking:

For Pedestrians

  • Be Seen: Do everything you can to stay visible, so drivers on the road can see you. If you are walking during the day, put on brightly colored clothing. If you are walking at night, put on lightly colored or reflective clothing. Walk in well-lit areas whenever possible, and always try to make eye contact with drivers before you walk across the road in front of them.
  • Be Predictable: Be familiar with all of the traffic laws and rules wherever you are walking and follow them. For example, do not cross the road in places where it is illegal, dangerous, or unexpected. Stick to designated crosswalks and places where it is safe and legal, and always make sure that traffic is clear before you cross.
  • Be Alert: Pay attention to where you are walking and do your best to avoid unnecessary distractions. Most of us like to stay connected using our smartphones, but it is not a good idea to send and receive electronic messages while you are walking. If you need to send a text, stop walking and resume walking when you are done. Also, if you are listening to music, keep it low enough so you can still hear vehicles that are passing nearby.
  • Be Sober: Alcohol is a factor in approximately half of all pedestrian accidents. Most of these accidents are caused by a drunk driver, but about one-third of them involve an intoxicated pedestrian.

For Motorists

  • Be Aware: Be mindful of higher pedestrian traffic, especially when you are driving around in your own neighborhood.
  • Be Lawful: Follow all of the rules of the road. Avoid excessive speeding and other forms of aggressive or reckless driving, such as running stop signs, going through red lights, making dangerous turns, and not yielding the right-of-way.
  • Be Awake: A surprising number of motorists drive while they are drowsy or fatigued, and this behavior is most likely to happen during the late evening or early morning hours. Drowsy driving can result in a motorist falling asleep at the wheel, which can cause deadly consequences for themselves and others on the road. But even if this does not happen, a sleepy driver still tends to make poorer driving decisions.
  • Be Alert: Walking while distracted by a smartphone can be dangerous, but distracted driving is even worse. Texting while driving and other forms of electronic activity on a smartphone distract drivers in three ways; manually, visually, and cognitively. The end result is that the driver’s entire focus is directed on their phone and away from the road. This can cause drivers to miss important details, such as someone crossing the road in front of them.
  • Be Sober: Alcohol and driving never mix well. Numerous studies have shown that driving while intoxicated greatly increases the risk of causing an accident, and there have been countless tragic and senseless deaths over the years because of drunk driving. Stay sober when you drive – for your own safety and the safety of everyone else on the road.

Injured in a Pedestrian Accident in Alabama? Hedge Copeland is Here to Help

If you or a loved one suffered injury in a pedestrian accident that was caused by someone else, you may be entitled to compensation. After seeking medical attention, the next step should be to speak with an experienced attorney to evaluate your case and discuss your legal rights and options.

During this difficult time for our country, we here at Hedge Copeland want you to know that we are still open and fully operational. We are taking all the precautions and following all the social distancing guidelines, but we have the technology and resources to continue providing the skilled personalized representation our clients have always received.

For a free consultation with one of our attorneys, message us online or call us today at 251 – 432 – 8844. We are ready to serve you!

The Hidden Dangers of Sun Glare Accidents

You are driving along one day – maybe you are going to work or dropping off your child at school, and everything seems fine. Suddenly, a blast of bright sunlight penetrates your windshield. You lower your visor to try to block it out, but the glare from the sun is blinding. And as you drive along, you tread carefully hoping and praying that you do not crash into anyone or anything because you could not see very well in front of you.

Sun glare can pop up when we least expect it, and it can make what starts out as an easy and routine drive far more challenging. This becomes a much bigger problem during the late fall and winter months when the days are shortened, and sunrise and sunset tends to coincide with our morning and evening drive times. If you are not careful, bright sunlight can quickly result in disastrous consequences.

How Common are Sun Glare Accidents?

It is difficult to determine the exact number of accidents that are caused each year by sun glare. The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) puts the official number at around 300, but AAA and other organizations believe it is much higher. The challenge is that bright sunlight is not usually listed as a cause of accident on a police report, because drivers are very hesitant to admit to being blinded by the glare of the sun.

A 20-year study from 1995 to 2014 by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) gives us a better idea of just how dangerous sun glare can be. According to the study, bright sunlight is a contributing factor in approximately one-third of all auto accidents that occur during daylight hours. The results of this study suggest that sun glare is a far greater hazard for drivers than most people realize.

Am I At Fault for a Sun Glare Accident?

There is no doubt that bright sunlight can severely disrupt your driving, and it can make it far more difficult to notice cars that hit their brakes and slow down in front of you, pedestrians and bicyclists that cross the street in front of you, and vehicles and objects that enter your blind spot. But since this is all caused by the sun, some people wonder if they would be considered at fault if the disrupting sun glare caused an accident. After all, isn’t bright sunlight “act of God”?

Unfortunately for the driver, “act of God” is not a valid defense for causing a sun glare accident. When we talk about “acts of God”, we are talking about extraordinary natural events that could not have been foreseen and could not have been avoided. Examples may include earthquakes, mudslides, or a deer jumping in front of your car.

Although the sun shining is a natural event, it is also an everyday occurrence that is very predictable. The sun rises and sets at certain times each day, and anyone can find out when that will happen by simply watching a weather report. For this reason, it is our responsibility to exercise reasonable care to prepare for the possibility of bright sunlight, just like we would with any other predictable event.

How to Prevent Accidents Caused by Bright Sunlight

There are several things you can do to make sure you are prepared in the event that you suddenly encounter sun glare:

  • Clean your windshield and make sure it is free of marks and streaks before driving;
  • Be sure you have functional wiper blades and plenty of washer fluid, so you can keep your windshield clean as you drive;
  • Where polarized sunglasses whenever you drive to help reduce the glare;
  • Consider purchasing sun visor extenders that will help you block out more of the sun as you drive;
  • When bright sunlight hits your windshield, drive slowly and allow plenty of space to deal with any problems that may lie ahead;
  • If possible, modify your driving route and drive time to do less East/West driving and minimize your exposure to sun glare;
  • As always, avoid unnecessary distractions such as making phone calls and texting on your cell phone while driving.

Injured in a Sun Glare Accident in Alabama? Contact Hedge Copeland for Assistance

In spite of our best efforts, we cannot control the negligent actions of others. If you or a loved one suffered injury in a sun glare accident that was caused by another driver, you deserve to be fully compensated. If the accident occurred in Alabama, call Hedge Copeland today at 251 – 432 – 8844 or message us online for a free consultation and case assessment. We will meet with you to thoroughly evaluate your case and advise you of your legal rights and options.