You’ve been injured through no fault of your own. Now what? The immediate concern is for medical treatment, but you also will require financial assistance during this difficult time. A personal injury law firm can help guide you through the difficulties of the legal system to receive the compensation you deserve.

You may have been injured in an auto, trucking, or motorcycle accident. You may be hurt on-the-job or due to the defective design of a drug or medical device.

If there is an at-fault party that contributed to your injury, we can help you present the best case most likely to bring a resolution in an attempt to make you whole.  

Having experienced legal counsel in your corner is especially important as we navigate through this coronavirus pandemic. The courts have limited hours and social distancing guidelines, and some insurance companies are looking to take advantage of the situation by dragging out injury claims and pressuring financially strapped victims to settle for far less than they deserve.

Now more than ever, the Cochran Firm – Birmingham is here to provide the legal guidance you need during this difficult time. Contact us today for a free consultation to get the process started.

Preparing Your Personal Injury Case

Once you are injured through the negligence of another, you have two years to file a personal injury lawsuit under Alabama law.  This is the statute of limitations and if you file outside the two years, you will not be able to file a lawsuit. 

Time is not on your side. That’s why a complimentary consultation is such an important first step to resolving your injury.  

We will help map out a strategy that includes finding the right medical care, gathering police and witness reports, photos, medical reports, and hiring the right experts to help explain to a jury exactly what happened to cause your accident.

This is an essential component of a negligence case. We will need to explain to a jury how the defendant, the side you are suing, was negligent to the extent that it caused your injuries.

The Expert Witness

Let’s say you were injured by a big rig. This is happening a lot more these days as truck drivers are overworked and scrambling to meet unrealistic deadlines to keep the stores stocked with essential supplies.

What caused the accident? Let’s say the driver of the big truck drove through an intersection against the light and hit the rear of your car. Your car is totaled, and you and your passengers suffered injuries from the collision.

When we hire an expert, we will qualify him as an “expert” on the basis of his/her qualifications, expertise, and experience. The expert will be someone with a professional opinion to communicate to the jury with authority about the factors of negligence that caused the accident.

His knowledge will help clarify to the jury truthful insight when there are disputed matters.  

A number of different experts might be brought into the case, depending on the facts, evidence, and specific circumstances:

  • A Medical Expert – Can help explain to the jury your soft tissue injuries and the pain and suffering you are enduring as well as the treatment you will need.

  • An Accident Reconstructionist – This individual will help explain to the jury how the accident happened breaking down the series of events that led to the collision and pinpointing the at-fault party. We may find that the intersection was especially dangerous and has been the scene of an unusual number of collisions. Perhaps the timing of the lights is not adequate or the visibility at the scene is inadequate. An accident reconstructionist can create for a jury a picture of the probable cause of your accident.

  • A Life Care Plan – In the case of a seriously injured person, they require a life care plan expert who estimates what it will take to properly care for you for the rest of your life. This expert is usually certified in the area of life care planning. He or she will be able to testify about your future medical costs including surgery, rehabilitation, housing, medication, and related costs of your injury. 

This is important information that a jury will need in rendering its decision and in awarding you damages.

Bringing an expert into a case will be expensive, but it can be an invaluable move to help the jury understand what the facts show with authority. Ultimately, an expert witness may never take the stand but will instead render an expert report that lays out the facts of the case in a way that makes them indisputable.

When you are facing injury and loss from an accident and you believe it is not your fault, please contact the Cochran Firm – Birmingham at (205) 994-8555. Our attorneys have experience in all areas of the law and we can help guide you during this stressful time. Call us for a complimentary consultation to review your case.

Approximately one in three of us who drive will be involved in an auto accident in our lifetime. If you’ve been in an auto accident through no fault of your own, you are experiencing injury, pain and suffering, lost wages, medical bills, and property damage from your wrecked automobile you may remember every single detail of that horrible day.

With the passage of time, things may become less clear, and you may start to forget some of the things you have experienced.

So now what? 

If you sustained moderate to severe injuries, you will definitely want to contact an experienced personal injury law firm that specializes in auto accidents. They can advise you on each step to take to get your ducks in the row and make sure you do not miss any deadlines to file a personal injury lawsuit.

The Cochran Firm – Birmingham will also investigate the cause of your accident and determine whether you are eligible for compensation from the other side. Do not hesitate to make that call, because evidence tends to disappear the longer you wait.

Journaling After an Auto Accident

It’s at this time you will need strong evidence to make your case. That’s where journaling after your accident can come in very handy.

It works like this – if you write a daily entry in a journal, we will be able to show this to a jury or to the lawyer for the other side’s insurance company. It is impossible to remember every single detail when you look back at an accident and its aftermath. Keep writing until you are on the road to recovery.

Even the day of the accident should be chronicled, because time has a way of making memories fuzzy.

An example of journaling is this – on such and such a date, you may have experienced excruciating pain and heard from the doctor that your injuries will take a year before they subside. Or maybe you were told your injuries are permanent.   

How did that make you feel? Did you share it with your family and what was their reaction? What plans did the family have to make to accommodate your injury.  Will you lose your home? A car?  A vacation? Will someone have to do without college or buying an automobile?

What medications were you prescribed and what was their cost? Did they seem to work? What were your symptoms before going to the doctor following your auto accident?

One accident can have a devastating domino effect on your entire family. How are they reacting? Put all of that in your journal. All of these recollections go into the pain and suffering component of your personal injury case. 

It will also give you a substantiated record of all medical appointments you have made and the time that this accident has cost you.  Time is translated to dollars and will provide the necessary evidence of your financial loss.

Some other reasons to keep a personal injury journal include:

Keep the Record of Your Own Words

If you have to testify at trial, what were you feeling on any specific date?  With a journal, you have instant recollection.

And the incident that led to the accident should be chronicled.  What were the road conditions? The time of day and daylight. Was there traffic? How heavy was it and how fast was it going? How fast were you going? What do you remember just prior to the auto accident? Who did you speak to at the scene? Do you have their names and numbers?

There are many things to be considered for compensation other than material losses. 

What were you feeling on any given day? What was the degree of pain you experienced after the accident?

When you were recovering what could you NOT do? For example:

  • Maybe you could not move, work, or take care of your family
  • You may have lost income as a result of your accident
  • You could not participate in simple social activities as you had before
  • Because you were restricted at work, you faced job loss
  • Your family had to do without schooling, medicine, food, a trip anything can be affected after an auto accident

Your Alabama Auto Accident Law Firm

If you have been hurt in an Alabama auto accident, the Cochran Firm – Birmingham will discuss with you a plan going forward. We will fight for your best interests including compensation for your pain and suffering and property damage as well as lost wages and medical bills.

Our auto accident attorneys have a reputation for taking care of their clients in a time of need. Please do not hesitate to give our office a call. There is no obligation, and together we will come up with a game plan to help you take the next steps in your road to recovery. Contact our Birmingham office at (205) 994-8555 or reach out to us online.

TBI is also known as traumatic brain injury and it is not a diagnosis you or a loved one wants to receive. A TBI results from some sort of injury to the head.  You could have been thrown from an automobile during the crash or hit your head on the steering wheel. You could experience a fall on-the-job. 

Sometimes, people are hit on the head from falling machinery, even violence, or a sports injury can lead to a TBI. You may be injured in a motorcycle or ATV accident.

Regardless of what caused your TBI, it will likely be a long road to recovery and caretakers have a long road as well.

TBI and Recovery

Every year, an estimated 1.5 million Americans sustain a traumatic brain injury which resulted in 2.5 million emergency room visits in 2013. Among those, 80,000 to 90,000 will experience long-term disability.

For young children, TBI is a leading cause of death, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

There is not just the initial blow to the brain, but a secondary one if your brain ricochets inside the skull so you may have two areas of injury. Once the brain suffers this sort of trauma, it can begin to bleed internally. Pressure builds up inside the skull with nowhere for the blood to go.

Symptoms may include confusion, dizziness, headache, altered heart rate, and even death.  Immediate medical attention is vital to determine the extent of injury. The patient may receive a CAT (CT) scan to determine if there is a brain bleed.  If there is, quick action is necessary, even though the patient may feel fine.

If a loved one is hospitalized with a TBI, it will be very important to follow doctor’s orders. The victim may not remember the accident. He may get easily agitated. He may experience personality changes and want to leave the hospital.

As the caregiver, you will need to understand that the brain has changed as a result of the injury. The goal will be to return the individual to normal functioning but both of you will need to be patient.

The patient may experience:

  • Difficulty with Normal Brain Functioning – Cognition may be altered as well as memory and reasoning

  • Behavioral Changes – The patient may exhibit aggression and personality changes. He may display anxiety or become depressed

  • Sensory Changes – A TBI may result in difficulty hearing, smelling, taste, and touch

In order to reduce agitation and anxiety you may want to limit stimulation in the room.  Limit visitors if they do not seem to be welcome by the patient.  Turn off the television and reduce too much stimulation at one time.

Do not use complicated words or long sentences. Please avoid drugs and alcohol.

According to a recent study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), only about half of patients reported seeing a medical practitioner three months following the injury.

The researchers conclude many patients with traumatic brain injury do not receive adequate follow-up care.

If the TBI victim is a student, his school will have to understand the challenges facing this child and together you will need to reach out the resources available in your community. 

They may include rehabilitation, assessments, physical, occupational, and speech therapy.

The sad news is that 22% of patients with mild TBI remain functionally impaired one year after the initial injury.

An Experienced Personal Injury Law Firm

While everyone hopes the TBI victim will return back to his old self, there may be permanent changes to the brain and its functioning.

Seeking the help of an experienced personal injury law firm may begin the process of determining the at-fault party for the accident that led to the TBI.

There may be avenues to seek compensation to pay for present and future medical care that includes pain and suffering, lost income, and the medical and costs of rehabilitation. The insurance provider for the other side will argue that you contributed to your own accident and should be prevented from recovering.

Our compassionate lawyers have seen this all before and will aggressively advocate for your legal rights to recovery. Please call our Birmingham office at (205) 994-8555 or toll free at 1-800 The Firm for a free initial consultation.

Each year, there are more than 11 million motor vehicle accidents in United States. This averages out to more than 30,000 accidents each and every day. Alabama is ranked the third deadliest state in the nation for fatal car crashes (according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety), with 19.4 deaths per hundred thousand population reported in 2017.

It is estimated that approximately 94% of all auto accidents are caused by some type of human error. This means that more than nine out of every 10 accidents are preventable. The other 6% result from uncontrollable factors such as poor weather or a deer running in front of an oncoming vehicle.

Of the accidents that are preventable, there are several reasons why they occur. Here are five common causes of car accidents:

Distracted Driving

Distracted driving has become a leading cause of auto accidents in recent years. A large-scale study conducted by Virginia Tech that was published in 2016 found that two-thirds of drivers are dealing with some type of distraction during the seconds prior to a car accident. Of course, motorists have always had distractions, but the widespread use of smartphones has made the problem far worse.

Texting while driving and similar activities distract drivers in three ways; manually, visually, and cognitively. This takes the driver’s attention completely away from the road, which puts them at much greater risk of a crash. In fact, taking your eyes off of the road for just five seconds to send or receive a text while driving at 55 mph is similar to driving the entire length of a football field blindfolded.

Exceeding the Speed Limit

Just about every driver has gone over the speed limit at one time or another, but there are some motorists who do this routinely. There is a reason for the posted speed limits, and when drivers exceed them, they put themselves at greater risk of an accident. The faster someone drives, the less time they have to react to a potential road hazard. And this is why speeding is so deadly.

Aggressive/Reckless Driving

A large number of accidents are caused by motorists who are overly aggressive or even reckless with their driving habits. Excessive speeding is one common form of reckless driving. Others include running stop signs and stop lights, weaving back and forth between lanes, straddling the center line in the road, illegal/unsafe passing maneuvers, illegal/improper turns, wrong-way driving, tailgating, and street racing.

Drunk Driving

Driving while intoxicated is another one of the leading causes of motor vehicle accidents. Despite more than three decades of high-profile public awareness campaigns that highlight the dangers of drunk driving, far too many people ignore the warnings and get behind the wheel after having too much to drink. Chemically impaired driving causes motorists to lose focus and react more slowly to adverse conditions on the road. Alcohol and drugs also alter an individual’s mindset, which can result in reckless driving behavior. Either one of these extremes puts drunk drivers and everyone else on the road in greater danger.

Drowsy Driving

One driving behavior that does not get as much attention as those previously mentioned is drowsy driving. Driving while drowsy or fatigued is not illegal, but that does not mean it is not dangerous. According to the National Safety Council (NSC), there are approximately 100,000 police-reported crashes that involve a drowsy driver, resulting in 71,000 injuries in more than 1,550 fatalities. The NSC goes on to say that these numbers are underreported, because drowsiness is often not listed as a cause of accident on the police report. A more accurate estimate by AAA puts the number of annual drowsy driving-related crashes at 328,000, with 109,000 of them resulting in injury and 6,400 of them being fatal.

We all know that falling asleep at the wheel can be disastrous, but even if a tired driver does not fall asleep, they still lose focus, making it easier to miss important things that are happening on the road, and making it harder to react when danger arises. Drowsy driving is most common with individuals who get six hours or less of sleep per night, and the groups that are at the highest risk include commercial vehicle drivers, those who work long shifts that go into the evening and overnight hours, those with untreated sleep disorders, and those who travel frequently between time zones.

Injured in an Auto Accident in Alabama? Speak with a Skilled and Knowledgeable Attorney

Car accidents can happen to anyone, and most of them are preventable. If you or a loved one suffered injury in a motor vehicle accident that was someone else’s fault, you deserve to be fully compensated. If the accident happened in Alabama, call the Cochran Law Firm – Birmingham. Our firm has an established track record successfully representing those who have been injured through no fault of their own, and we are ready to go to work for you!

Call our office today at 1-800 – THE FIRM or 205-994-8555 or message us online to schedule a free consultation with one of our experienced accident injury lawyers.

During a typical week, we spend a lot of time on the property of other parties. Many of us work 40 or more hours in week, and outside of work, we go shopping, go out with friends, take vacations, or just go for a walk in the park. And during the holidays, this type of outside activity increases significantly.

So, what happens if we get hurt on someone else’s property? If you were injured on the property of another party, it may be possible to hold the owner or caretaker liable for damages under the legal theory known as “premises liability”. There are several types of incidents that may fall under this theory, such as:

  • Slip and fall accidents
  • Swimming pool accidents
  • Escalator and elevator accidents
  • Fires and explosions
  • Being exposed to a toxic substance
  • Injuries resulting from negligent security

Although you may be able to sue if you get hurt on someone else’s property, whether or not you will be successful with your claim depends on a number of different factors; and no matter what the circumstances, these types of cases can be complicated and challenging to pursue.

Property owners and caretakers are likely to forcefully defend against your claim in order to avoid paying out damages. And for this reason, it is always best to have your case thoroughly reviewed by an experienced personal injury lawyer as soon as possible, so you can be advised of your legal rights and options and make the most informed decision on how you wish to proceed.

Important Considerations with Premises Liability Cases

If you suffered a slip and fall injury or another type of injury on someone else’s property, you must prove several elements in order to recover damages:

  • The defendant owed you a duty of reasonable care;
  • The defendant breached their duty;
  • This breach was the proximate cause of your injuries;
  • Your injuries resulted in compensable losses.

In order to determine if these elements can be proven, there are several questions that need to be answered. Here are some of the most important:

Did you have a right to be on the property?

Owners and caretakers do not owe the same duty of care to every person who enters their property. This will depend on what type of visitor you were, and this will fall into one of three categories:

  • Invitees: An invitee is someone who has explicit or implied permission to enter a property, usually for the financial benefit of the owner or proprietor, and the highest duty of care is owed to this type of visitor. Examples of invitees include customers of restaurants, bars, grocery stores, and retail establishments, hotel and resort guests, tenants or lessees of residential or commercial property, and any other area that is open to the general public.
  • Licensees: A licensee is someone who still has explicit or implied permission to enter a property, but they generally do so for their own benefit. Examples of licensees include delivery carriers, neighbors, and social guests. A slightly lower duty of care is owed to licensees; owners or caretakers are required to take reasonable steps to protect these types of visitors from known dangers, but they are not necessarily required to inspect the property regularly to uncover an unknown danger.
  • Trespassers: Trespassers have no legal right to be on the property. As such, owners and caretakers owe the lowest duty of care to visitors in this category. Their only obligation with regards to adult trespassers is to refrain from purposeful or malicious conduct or entrapment that may harm them.

Was there a failure to remedy a known dangerous condition?

One of the arguments that the other side is likely to make is that they were not aware of the hazardous condition that caused your injury. So then the question becomes, did the defendant know, or should they have known, about the hazard?

For example, if you suffered a slip and fall injury because of a sticky substance that spilled on the floor of a grocery store by another shopper a couple minutes earlier, then the store may argue that they did not have time to clean it up. However, if the spill occurred an hour or two earlier, then it would be reasonable to expect that their employees would have noticed the spill, cleaned it up, or at the very least put signs or cones around it to warn other shoppers. Which leads into our next question…

Should you have known about the dangerous condition?

Another argument an owner or caretaker might make is that the hazard was clearly marked with a cone, sign, or something similar, or that the hazard was “open and obvious” to a reasonable person. If the property owner or caretaker can show that they took reasonable steps to warn visitors of the hazard, then pursuing a premises liability claim will be an uphill battle.

Were you partially at fault for your injuries?

One way the other side will argue that you were at fault is by claiming that the hazard was clearly visible. They may also argue that the injury was partially your fault for other reasons, such as not watching where you were going (e.g., looking down at your phone while you were walking) or being in an area of the property that is restricted or where visitors do not normally go.

If they can show that you are partially at fault, this could prevent you from recovering damages in a state like Alabama, where they apply the “contributory negligence” legal doctrine. Under contributory negligence, you must prove that the other side was 100% at fault for your injuries in order to obtain compensation. And this brings us to our final question…

What kind of proof do you have to substantiate your claim?

If you get hurt on someone else’s property, it is very important to obtain extensive documentation in order to successfully file a claim. Right after the accident, you should take multiple photos of the scene from various angles, which will show the hazard and how you got injured. If you are physically unable to take photos, have someone else do that for you. You should also obtain statements and contact information from any individuals who witnessed the event, and seek immediate medical attention, so you can receive proper treatment and the extent of your injuries can be fully documented. Finally, obtain strong legal counsel as early as possible in the process, so your right to recover compensation can be preserved.

Contact a Skilled Premises Liability Lawyer in Alabama

If you or someone close to you suffered injury on the property of another party in Alabama, call the Cochran Law Firm – Birmingham, 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. If we determine that you do have a case, we will fight hard for the full and fair compensation you deserve.

Call our office today at 1-800 – THE FIRM or 205-994-8555 or message us through our online contact form to schedule your complimentary consultation. You may also visit our office in person at your convenience.

When someone is injured in a car accident, they will most often be dealing with an insurance company in order to recover compensation. But what many people fail to realize is that insurance companies are not on their side, and they do not have their best interests at heart.

Your goal is to be fairly compensated for your injuries, and their goal is to pay out as little as possible for your claim. Since you and the insurance company have conflicting interests, you should view them as an adversary, and always treat everything they do with healthy skepticism.

Insurers are known for using various tactics and tricks to diminish the value of an accident victim’s claim or even deny the claim altogether. They hope to capitalize on the claimant’s inexperience with the process in order to weaken their claim, so they can protect and enhance their own bottom line.

Here are five common tactics used by insurance companies in auto accident cases:

Making Misleading Promises

Insurance claims adjusters are known for contacting car accident victims very soon after a claim is filed under the pretense of finding out “how you are doing” and empathizing with your situation.  It is important to understand that, while they may act like your best friend, this is a common tactic that is designed to build rapport and earn your trust. The adjuster may also tell you things like, “don’t worry, you will be taking care of”. They may even try to persuade you that you don’t need a lawyer because they are already “looking out for you.”

It is fine to have a polite and courteous relationship with the adjuster, but always remember that they work for the insurance company, and that their best interests are not aligned with yours. As such, NEVER admit any fault for the accident, apologize, or give them any information that may weaken your case.

Asking for a Recorded Statement

After the insurance company has earned your trust, they might ask you for a recorded statement about the accident. This will be presented as a formality that is needed to process the claim. In reality, the purpose of this statement is to get you on record admitting that you may have been partially at fault for the accident and/or to get you to make definitive statements about your injuries before knowing their full extent. Questions will often be worded in a way that is designed to get you to admit that things that could undermine your claim.

This could be devastating if the accident took place in a state like Alabama, where they apply the “contributory negligence” legal standard. Under contributory negligence, an injured party can be barred from recovering damages if they are found to be even 1% at fault for the accident. No matter what they tell you, NEVER agree to give a recorded statement without first speaking with an attorney.

Asking for a Medical Release

Another common request that is unnecessary and could be damaging to your claim is asking for a medical release. They might tell you that they need you to authorize a release in order to get your medical bills paid. But the release they will ask you to sign will almost always be the broadest authorization possible, allowing them to delve into your entire medical history and obtain information that is irrelevant to your claim. They want this information so they can look for any reason to say that your injury (or at least the severity of your injury) resulted from a preexisting medical condition. Again, do not sign a medical release without first consulting with an experienced attorney.

Spying on You

In this day and age, you need to be very careful how you go about your business after an injury claim has been filed. Insurance companies have been known to hire private investigators to follow claimants around and look for evidence that they are exaggerating their injuries. Be sure to follow all of your doctor’s orders and refrain from any physical activities you are told not to participate in. Along these same lines, be very careful about social media posts. Ideally, shut down your social media accounts entirely until your claim is settled. If you cannot quit social media cold turkey, at the very least avoid posting any photos or status updates, even those that are not related to your injuries. For example, if you post a photo smiling, laughing, and looking happy on a family vacation, that could be used against you, even if you are not shown doing any strenuous physical activity. Bottom line: assume you are always being watched and act accordingly.

Presenting a Quick Settlement Offer

Insurance companies know that, after an accident, finances are usually very tight for victims and their families. They will often try to take advantage of your state by making a quick settlement offer. This offer may seem appealing, and you may be tempted to take the quick money. The problem is that, in almost all cases, the offer is for far less than your claim is really worth. Before accepting any type of offer from the insurance company, you should at least talk with a lawyer about your claim. A skilled personal injury lawyer can thoroughly review the facts and circumstances of your case and let you whether or not the insurance company’s offer is fair. That way, you can make the most informed decision on how you wish to proceed.

Contact the Cochran Law Firm – Birmingham, for Strong Legal Guidance

If you or someone close to you was injured in an auto accident that was the fault of another person or party, there are numerous pitfalls and traps insurance companies will set that could cause you to lose out on the compensation you deserve. With so much at stake, it makes sense to have someone in your corner who knows how to successfully overcome these tactics and get you the settlement you deserve.

At the Cochran Law Firm – Birmingham, we are experienced advocates fighting hard on behalf of those who have been injured through no fault of their own. We work closely with our clients, providing the strong legal guidance needed to help ensure that they are able to recover maximum compensation for their injuries.

To schedule a free consultation with one of our attorneys, call our office today at (205) 994-8885 or 1-800 – THE FIRM. You may also message us online or visit our office in person at your convenience.

During the fall and winter, the days get shorter, and sun glare can become a much bigger problem when we drive. During the late spring and summer months, the sun is usually up before we leave for work, and it goes down later in the evening after we have already returned home.

During this time of year, bright sunlight can disrupt our peak drive times when we commute to and from work. In Alabama, this problem is most prevalent during the months of November through February. Sun glare can have a blinding effect at times, making it far more difficult to handle what would otherwise be routine traffic situations.

Who is At Fault for a Sun Glare Accident?

As mentioned previously, bright sunlight can severely disrupt our driving, making it more challenging to handle various situations, such as:

  • Noticing when cars in front of you slow down and apply their brakes;
  • Seeing pedestrians and bicyclists that cross the street in front of you;
  • Noticing vehicles, motorcycles, bicycles, and other objects that enter your blind spot;
  • Seeing the lines and other markings on the road that help you stay in your lane, merge into traffic, and exit from traffic.

In all of these scenarios, the situation becomes far more hazardous when sun glare enters the picture. But when the bright sunlight shining through your windshield causes an accident with injuries, who is to blame?

Some people may want to argue that sun glare is an “act of God”, and that they are not responsible for a crash when it is caused by the sun. Unfortunately for them, this is not a valid legal argument.

An “act of God” is an extraordinary natural event that could not have been avoided. Examples of events that may fit into this category include hurricanes, flooding, mudslides, and earthquakes. These are not “everyday” occurrences, and if one of these types of events causes a vehicle accident, the “act of God” defense might have some validity.

Sunlight, on the other hand, is an “everyday” occurrence. The sun rises every morning and sets every evening, and it is not extremely difficult to predict when these events will happen.

We know that during this season, there is a pretty good chance we will run into bright sunlight if we drive east during the morning and west during the late afternoon. As such, it is our responsibility as drivers to exercise reasonable care to prepare for this, just as with any other foreseeable event.

Tips to Help Prevent Sun Glare Accidents

Here are some steps you can take to prepare for bright sunlight and help reduce the chances that it will result in an accident:

  • Wear Polarized Sunglasses: You should have a good pair of sunglasses to protect you from bright sunlight, and polarized sunglasses are best for this purpose. Although they will not give you perfect vision when the bright sun shines through your windshield, they will at least significantly reduce the glare and allow you to see much better.
  • Clean Your Windshield: Marks and streaks on your windshield can make driving in bright sunlight much worse. Clean your windshield thoroughly before you drive, and make sure you have plenty of washer fluid in case it gets dirty again on the road. Also, replace your wiper blades if they are contributing to the marks and streaks.
  • Consider Using Extra Sun Visors: Turn your sun visors to the sides as necessary to block out the sun glare. You may also want to look into purchasing sun visor extenders that provide additional protection from bright sunlight as you drive.
  • Drive Slowly and Allow Plenty of Space: When sun glare makes it difficult to see what is in front of you, slow down and allow yourself plenty of room to deal with any adverse road conditions that may arise.
  • Avoid Distracted Driving: You should always do everything possible to avoid distractions while you drive, such as messages and your cell phone, GPS, food and drink, etc. This is especially true when you encounter bright sunlight.
  • Adjust Your Drive Time and Route: Sometimes, a small adjustment in the time you leave for work in the morning or come home in the afternoon can make a big difference in how much you have to deal with sun glare. You might also be able to change the route you drive so you are doing more north/south driving and less east/west driving.

Injured in a Sun Glare Accident in Alabama? Contact the Cochran Firm, Birmingham for Assistance

Even if you do everything possible to avoid accidents caused by bright sunlight, you cannot control the actions of others on the road. If you or a loved one suffered injury in an auto accident that was caused by another person or party, you need strong legal counsel by your side fighting hard for maximum compensation.

If the accident occurred in Alabama, call the Cochran Firm, Birmingham at 1-800 The Firm or 205-994-8555 or message us online to schedule a free, no obligation consultation. We will meet with you to thoroughly assess your case and inform you of your legal rights and options.

If you have filed a worker’s compensation or personal injury claim, the insurance company may request that you submit to an independent medical exam (IME). This type of request is not unusual, but it is somewhat adversarial. The insurance company is essentially requesting a “second opinion” that will either confirm or contradict what your treating physician is saying.

One thing that is important to understand about IMEs is that they are rarely “independent”. It may be true that the examiner does not work for the insurance company, but they typically have a relationship with them, and they will usually have performed numerous other exams for this insurer in the past.

This means that the examiner probably receives steady business from the insurance company, which, at the very least, is likely to make them far more conservative in their findings.

The goal of the insurance company is to pay out as little as possible for your claim. This is done by either finding a way to deny the claim outright or to diminish the value of the claim. With this in mind, the examiner will be probably be very skeptical regarding the findings of your treating physician, and you will need to be well-prepared to answer some potentially difficult questions during your exam.

How to Prepare for your IME

There are a number of important things to keep in mind when preparing for your independent medical examination:

Take Time to Organize Your Records and Documentation

Before you attend your IME, spend some time getting organized and familiar with all of the details regarding your injury and the underlying accident or event that caused it. Go over all the documentation you have, statements you have made in the past, police reports, and any other facts and pieces of evidence. Make sure you have an in-depth understanding of what happened and how you got hurt.

Along the same lines, make sure you are intimately familiar with your medical history. The examiner may have some or all of this information, and they may try to use it to say that your injury and/or resulting condition already existed before the accident. Make sure to go over all of this information with your attorney (if you have one), so you are ready to give clear and accurate answers about how you got injured as well as your overall medical history.

Understand that You are Being Watched

When you are in the middle of a personal injury or worker’s compensation claim, it is important to realize that the insurance company is watching you. This will be especially true when you walk into the examiner’s office. The minute you show up on their video surveillance cameras, they will be observing your physical movements and mannerisms to judge if they are consistent with what you are claiming. This is not something to get too nervous about, just be aware that you are being watched.

Show Up and Be Early

There are some who may want to skip their IME because they are afraid of what might happen there. This would be a big mistake, because you need to attend your IME (if one has been scheduled for you) in order to continue processing your claim. In fact, not showing up could result in your claim being denied and/or your benefits being suspended.

Because this exam is so important, it is best to leave for your appointment well ahead of time to account for any traffic delays. Try to arrive at least 15 to 30 minutes before your appointment, so you have time to park, fill out any necessary forms, and relax. The last thing you want to do is walk into your IME hurried, anxious, and running late.

Bring Someone Along with You to the Exam

It is always a good idea to bring someone with you to your IME. Having someone along will help ensure that you get to your appointment on time and get situated in the examiner’s office. You will also have another person who can attest to what happened during your exam, how you were treated, the types of questions you were asked, etc. If possible, try to bring a nurse or another type of health professional who could later testify more authoritatively about what went on during your IME.

Be Polite, Concise, and Honest

The best way to conduct yourself during your IME is to be polite and courteous with the examiner and everyone else in the office. That said, understand that these people are not on your side, and you do not have to give them any more information than they ask for. Be clear and concise and give direct answers to their questions. Finally, answer honestly and accurately, and avoid exaggerations that may be inconsistent with what you have said previously as this could damage your credibility.

Document your Visit

After the exam is over, create a full report of what happened for your own records and to give to your attorney. Note the questions you were asked, what exams and tests were performed, the opinions expressed by the examiner, and other important details. Create this report as soon as possible after the exam while everything is fresh in your mind.

Consult with Your Attorney for Additional Guidance

IMEs can be intimidating, but with thorough preparation, you can get through your exam without too much problem. If you are at the point during your claim where an independent medical exam is being requested, this is a good time to retain strong legal counsel if you haven’t already done so.

If your injury occurred in Alabama, contact the Cochran Firm, Birmingham for assistance. Call our office today at 1-800 The Firm or 205-994-8555 or message us online to schedule a free consultation and case assessment with one of our experienced attorneys. We look forward to serving you!

When it comes to auto accidents, ones involving a commercial truck can be the most devastating to those driving in a passenger vehicle. That’s largely because of the size differential.

A large truck is defined as a medium or heavy truck weighing more than 10,000 pounds, while a tractor-trailer used for heavy hauling can weigh up to 80,000 pounds.

A commercial truck can also include a delivery vehicle or even a 15-passenger van. Compared to a passenger vehicle weighing about 5,000 pounds. When these two vehicles collide, occupants of the passenger vehicle are almost certain to take the brunt of it.

In 2017, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) found that 79% of the large trucks that were involved in fatal traffic crashes weighed in excess of 26,000 pounds.  

Large trucks accounted for 9% of all vehicles involved in deadly crashes that year, with a total of 4,761 individuals killed in fatal commercial truck crashes.  

An accident with a commercial truck is not the same as an auto accident, and the attorneys at the Cochran Law Firm understand that. It is our goal to protect your rights while holding the other side responsible, so you can be compensated for your injuries and expenses. 

Commercial Truck Accident Causes

Since taking your car almost anywhere you need to go is a simple fact of everyday life, you are sure to encounter many commercial vehicles sharing the road.  And according to federal statistics from NHTSA, there are about 500,000 large truck accidents every year in the U.S.

Accident Causes

  • Speeding
  • Driver fatigue or impairment
  • Distracted driving
  • Poorly loaded cargo
  • Sudden lane changes
  • Tailgating

It bears repeating that trucks need extra time to stop and following too close and a sudden lane change may be all that’s needed to cause an accident with a commercial truck.

Trucks may have been loaded in a hurry without properly securing the load. Due to the conditions of the road, sometimes loads shift contributing to the trucking accident.

Truck drivers operate on a schedule and are supposed to limit their time on the road under the federal hours-of-service rules and restrictions. When we look further, we often find that the truck driver has violated those rules.

Suing the Responsible Party in a Truck Accident

We may find that there are multiple layers we need to uncover in a serious commercial trucking accident.

Tired Driver – If the cause of the accident points to a tired driver, we will explore his hours of service to make sure he had not exceeded his allotted time on the road. The Cochran firm will also check to see if there is a second set of books that may tell a more realistic picture about how long that driver had been on the road.

Unrealistic deadlines – We will explore the entity who hired the driver. Had the driver been given an extraordinarily impossible deadline to get goods to their location?  Did the carrier or transport company have a history of these unrealistic expectations?

Loading a Commercial Vehicle – If during transport the load shifted, that could contribute to a truck jackknife. Were the weight limits followed?

The Truck Manufacturer – Was any portion of the truck under recall? Defective parts can be a contributing factor in an accident and put everyone at risk.

Commercial Truck Accident Lawyers

The experienced truck accident lawyers at The Cochran Firm will discuss your accident in a complimentary consultation.

You may experience:

  • A traumatic brain injury
  • Spinal cord injury
  • Loss of limbs
  • A burn injury
  • Broken bones
  • Other serious injuries

Once we determine the cause of the accident and the at-fault party, we can begin to determine who will compensate you for your injuries. That might include medical bills, the cost of rehabilitation, lost wages, and compensation for non-economic losses such as pain and suffering, emotional distress, and diminished quality of life.

We may seek funeral expenses in a wrongful death case.

Call The Cochran Firm, Birmingham at (205) 994-8555 or 1-800 The Firm to reach one of our experienced commercial truck accident attorneys. We are ready to go to work for you and get started protecting your rights. 

You have been injured in a car accident in Alabama. You are not alone. You are among the 156,993 crashes that occur on Alabama roads every year, one every four minutes.  

Your anxiety level may rise as you wonder who will pay your bills, fix your lost vehicle, and cover your salary while you are in rehab.

These are questions that need to be answered by an experienced personal injury firm such as The Cochran firm of Birmingham, Alabama. Make sure The Cochran Firm is by your side during this stressful time because this is not a time to try and make it alone.

Your Alabama Car Accident

Following your car crash, let’s hope you do not have serious injuries.  You may have a fender bender and decide to have it fixed on your own without contacting insurance. That is the best outcome, but it doesn’t always happen that way.

There were 948 fatal car accidents in Alabama in 2017, and more than 47,000 injuries, according to the University of Alabama Center for Advanced Public Safety.

Speeding is a leading cause of fatal car accidents.

Now comes the question – who is responsible to pay your medical bills after you’ve been in an Alabama car accident?

Driver Negligence

Drivers have a duty of care when they get behind the wheel. They are expected not to drive distracted, on drugs or alcohol, not to speed, or text behind the wheel.  When they fail to live up to those standards, they can be considered negligent.

When you file a personal injury claim in Alabama, the degree of negligence will be applied to the at-fault party. Alabama is an at-fault state, meaning the individual who caused the crash is responsible for compensating you for your medical bills, pain and suffering and property damage and lost wages.

But it isn’t quite that simple.

Suing the At-Fault Driver

Many people say they do not want to file a lawsuit against another driver, but remember, you are suing their insurance carrier. That is the reason we all carry auto insurance. If your car accident resulted in damage exceeding $250, a police report must be filed. It will be up to that investigation to determine the at-fault driver.

In order to cover your losses, Alabama requires drivers to carry a minimum of $25,000 in bodily injury coverage. For two or more injured people, the bodily injury coverage is $50,000. To cover property damage, which includes your car, the minimum insurance coverage is $25,000.

You have two years to file a claim to cover your losses from the at-fault driver under Alabama’s statute of limitations following the car accident.  You can attempt to negotiate with the other drivers’ insurance carrier yourself, but you can rest assured they will not be working in your favor.  

This is when you need the assistance of an experienced, aggressive personal injury car accident firm such as The Cochran Firm. We can help you file a personal injury claim to make sure you receive the compensation you deserve through our efforts with the other sides’ insurance adjusters. 

Contributory Negligence

Another hurdle to clear will be the degree to which you contributed to the accident. Contributory negligence means that even if you were 1% at fault for the accident, the concept of contributory negligence can be used to prevent you from collecting against the at-fault party.

Alabama is unique in this aspect as the concept of contributory negligence is only used in three other states as well as the District of Columbia.

This is where things can become complicated. The other side will always try to use contributory negligence against you.  If it is found that you contributed any degree to the accident, you can be barred from recovering any damages at all.  This can leave you with mounting medical bills, a loss of income, and a damaged vehicle.

It is generally not a good idea to try and negotiate with the insurance carrier for the other side on your own, no matter how reasonable they seem.  Their offer is not going to be the best one.  The Cochran Firm will advocate aggressively for you to make sure you receive all of the compensation you deserve.