Safe Driving Tips During the Thanksgiving Holiday

This holiday season, many Americans will hit the road to reunite with family and friends to spend one of the most celebrated holidays in the United States-Thanksgiving. People planning to travel 50 miles or more will have plenty of company on crowded highways and roads this Thanksgiving.

The AAA association reports that millions of people travel 50 miles or more from their residences to visit family and friends every year to celebrate Thanksgiving. The following are some time-tested safe driving suggestions for Thanksgiving holiday travel:

Trip-Ready Vehicle

Firstly, it is crucial to make sure that your vehicle is in top-notch condition and ready for the trip before hitting the road this Thanksgiving. Examine the fluid levels in your vehicle, namely the automatic transmission fluid, radiator fluid, brake fluid, and window washer fluid. Make sure that there is enough gas in your vehicle and check your tire pressure. At this time of the year, frost may accumulate on your windows, so clean your windscreen. Do not drive in inclement weather conditions.

Pack Some Supplies and Food

People with small kids will need to stock up on enough snacks for the trip. It is a good idea to pack some CDs or DVDs to keep children entertained during the journey. Also, pack an emergency first-aid kit and some bottled water as well as a flash tight. Depending on the area of the country you will be traveling to, check the weather forecast. It may already be cold in some regions of the country. So, pack a blanket to be sure.

Check the Load Capacity of Your Vehicle

Check your vehicle load capacity, which can be found in most vehicles on the driver door’s inside frame. Do not overload your vehicle. You can weigh your packed luggage and supplies and add that to the weight of all the occupants of the car to make sure you stay within the load limit of your vehicle.

Use a GPS Navigation System

Today, most cell phones have GPS. It is a good idea to use such software to map your route. The GPS will suggest a good path and will forewarn you about traffic conditions and possible crashes on the road ahead. It can also point you towards the nearest rest-stops and gas stations along the way.

Secure Your Pets

If you plan to travel with a pet, make sure that it is secured with harnesses or within an animal cage. Animals can cause a significant distraction for the person behind the wheel. Ensure that all your pets are secured in a safe manner, as this will help the driver remain focused on the road.

Wear Seat Belts

All occupants in your vehicle, including the driver, must wear seat belts. This is a requirement in most, if not all, states in the country. Young kids must be safely secured in their child seats and belted according to age requirements.

Heed All Traffic Signs

A crucial driving tip for Thanksgiving holiday travel is for the driver to follow all road traffic signs. Thanksgiving driving warrants a lot of patience. The roads will be busy, and you should be prepared for some delays during the trip. Do not drive over the speed limit as speeding is one of the foremost reasons for road accidents on interstates and highways.

Stay Focused on the Road

It is essential to avoid distractions, such as texting and driving, when behind the wheel. Such behaviors are as risky as drunk driving. Speaking on the phone when driving is also a bad idea, and doing so is banned in certain states, while others only allow you to talk with a hands-free device when driving.

Check your Emergency Aid Kit

Your emergency kit should include items such as a flashlight, fire extinguisher, battery-powered radio, maps, non-perishable food items, bottled water, blanket, flares, and tire-repair kit. It is also best to leave early to avoid anxiety about reaching and to have a buffer for delays. Tempestuous weather or traffic conditions can also change road conditions.

Get Plenty of Rest

Before you set off on your journey, you should get adequate rest as this will allow you to remain alert on the road. According to the National Sleep Foundation, 60 percent of Americans have driven while feeling sleepy in the previous year.

Remember that tiredness or fatigue affects driving capabilities in the same way as drinking alcohol does. It impacts response times, coordination, and focus. Thus, get ample sleep before starting your travels. Also, do not drink alcohol on the night before you hit the road to avoid “morning-after” effects.

Work with an Experienced and Trusted Attorney

If you or a loved one has sustained injuries in a car crash, the skilled attorneys at Zach Peagler Law Firm can help. Our lawyers understand the intricacies of vehicle accident cases and will assist you in navigating the complex personal injury claims process.

Our goal is to maximize your recovery, and to achieve, this we will leave no stone unturned to thoroughly investigate the facts and circumstances of your car wreck. If the crash occurred due to another party’s negligence, we ensure that they are held responsible for compensatory damages for medical expenses, income loss, pain and suffering, and emotional turmoil.

To schedule a no-obligation consultation with an experienced personal injury attorney, call today at (205) 871-9990.

 

Negligent Entrustment and Third-Party Liability

At the core of every personal injury case is the question of liability: who is responsible for the victim’s injuries? In many cases, the answer is clear-cut. The person who drove the car, owned the property, or shot the gun is entirely liable for harm to the victim.

In other cases, it’s more complicated. Negligent entrustment is an excellent example, since it brings a third party and their share of liability into the equation. Learn more about negligent entrustment and when it applies, and when you are ready to move forward with your case, contact Zach Peagler Law Firm at (205) 871-9990 to set up a consultation.

What Is Third-Party Liability?

Third party liability refers to blame that lies with someone not directly involved with an accident. While negligent entrustment can refer to both automobile accident cases and firearms cases, we will focus on automobile accidents for this explanation. In many car accidents, liability lies with one or both drivers.

In some situations, a third party has some or all of the blame. The third party may be:

  • Manufacturer of a defective car
  • Manufacturer of a defective car component
  • Government agency responsible for unclear signage or poorly maintained roads
  • A passenger who distracted the driver or grabbed the wheel
  • In the case of negligent entrustment, the owner of the vehicle when the owner and driver are not the same person

Required Elements of a Negligent Entrustment Claim

To some, negligent entrustment seems fairly easy to claim. If the driver of a vehicle is not the same person as the owner, the owner must be negligent. That, however, isn’t true. For negligent entrustment to even be an option in a case, the victim and their legal team must prove four elements:

  1. The driver was incompetent and/or dangerous
  2. The owner of the vehicle gave permission, explicitly or implicitly, for the driver to use the car
  3. The vehicle owner knew or could reasonably have been expected to know that the driver was dangerous
  4. The driver’s incompetence directly led to or worsened the victim’s injuries

Defenses Against Negligent Entrustment

The majority of defenses against negligent entrustment focus on the fact that some of these elements are difficult to prove. If your attorney goes the route of negligent entrustment for your case, they will likely be prepared for these defenses against their claim:

The driver was not incompetent. While the driver may have made an error in judgment, they may not be completely incompetent. For a driver to be considered incompetent, there must be clear evidence pointing to this claim that existed prior to the accident. For example. A driver with six speeding tickets over the previous two years may be deemed dangerous. A driver with four DUIs may be considered incompetent. A driver who causes an accident but does not have a history of dangerous decision-making is unlikely to be deemed incompetent.

Permission was not given. A negligent entrustment case requires proof that the driver had permission to use the vehicle. If the driver stole the car or intentionally hid its use from the owner, it’s likely that they drove it without the owner’s consent. This would relieve the owner of liability.

The vehicle owner did not know of the negligence. The vehicle owner may claim ignorance of the driver’s history of dangerous driving behavior. To combat this, an attorney must prove that the owner knew or should have known about the driver’s risk profile. If someone lends a car to a casual friend, they may not know that the friend has a history of DUIs and speeding tickets. Then this defense may hold up. However, if someone lends their car to a sister whom they’ve driven to their DUI cases four times in the last five years, it’s obvious that they knew about the driver’s risk profile.

Why You Need an Attorney

Negligent entrustment cases are often extremely difficult to prove. Failure to prove any one of the elements listed above will lead to this part of the case being dismissed, limiting your ability to claim compensation. An attorney knows the uphill battle injured individuals face with a negligent entrustment claim, so they can create the strongest case possible if all of the provable elements are present.

Reach Out to Zach Peagler Law Firm Now

If you have been hurt in a car accident, you need an attorney dedicated to representing your best interests as you seek compensation. That is where we step in. Schedule a consultation with Zach Peagler Law Firm now by calling us at (205) 871-9990 or getting in touch with us via our contact form.

How Catastrophic Injuries Impact Families

Thousands of people experience catastrophic injuries each year due to someone else’s negligence. Often, victims face exorbitant medical expenses, long-term rehabilitation costs, and loss of income due to their ability to work like before after an accident.

Still, the financial aspect of catastrophic injuries is just one part of the story. The human cost of such tragic incidents is often overseen. Injury victims suffer significant physical and emotional discomfort that can persist for months or even years. Sometimes such injuries can have a permanent effect on the victim.

It is difficult to imagine the physical pain and suffering that an injury victim undergoes on a daily basis. Persistent pain means trouble sleeping, mobility problems, and the inability to engage in pursuits that they once enjoyed.

The possibility of a massive upheaval in your life without an end in sight can seem almost impossible to cope with. But such intangible costs are quite real, and it is not possible to put a dollar amount on them.

The Human Cost of Catastrophic Injuries to the Victims’ Families

While the effect of a catastrophic injury is bad enough for the victim, the suffering does not end there. The victims’ families also experience deep emotional and economic pain due to a loved one’s injury. These types of injuries impact the children the hardest as they must deal with the reality of a parent with a medical condition that prevents them from working and putting food on the table.

Such injuries can also change the family dynamic by reversing roles. For instance, a parent who experiences a traumatic brain injury (TBI) might require continuous assistance to get through the day. In such cases, the spouse and kids are thrust into a caregiving role, which many people are not emotionally equipped to deal with.

Single parent households suffer even more devastating consequences. The children depend on one parent for everything, and when they suddenly get hurt, money is even tighter, and the duty to care for the incapacitated parent may fall entirely on the children.

The victim’s spouse will face the loss of companionship and difficulty in maintaining a meaningful physical relationship, which can lead to serious emotional turmoil.

Making Modifications in the Home for the Injury Victim

Until a person with a catastrophic injury may resume their regular routine at home, the full impact of the injury may not be obvious. When the realization of certain limitations gradually sets in, it can be unsettling for the victim, and behavioral issues might develop.

An increased insight is an indication of recovery, but the family will need to be more supportive and vigilant to ensure the comfort and safety of their loved ones during this period. For instance, a brain injury victim may have lost the ability to set-up and initiate activities.

A catastrophic injury victim can benefit from a carefully organized home, which can help reduce frustration by offering motivation and choices. Doing so is especially vital if the patient has suffered a brain injury.

If the patient experiences physical problems and mobility issues, home modifications can enable more efficient care. Many times, out of necessity, the family will need to implement a home-based behavioral plan. While this is challenging, it is not impossible to accomplish. The likelihood of a plan being successful is higher if you undertake the following:

  • Create a daily routine (with consistent times for various activities)
  • Ensure that all family members comprehend and reinforce the plan
  • Allow the brain injury patient some control and choices
  • Develop strategies to make up for deficits (for instance, day planners, calendars, medication dispensers, etc.)

Considerations for Spouses and Children of Catastrophic Injury Victims

There is an additional responsibility for the spouse and kids of catastrophic injury victims to care for people who may once have been heading the household. Now, the provider requires extensive support systems. Such situations may disturb family dynamic, with dire emotional consequences.

The uninjured partner may experience resentment as they must now, out of necessity, provide for the household while still undertaking all previous duties. These situations can test a relationship and create indignation between the children caring for a parent with a serious injury.

Families can seek professional guidance to resolve these problems and start the process of rebuilding the family structure. Seek support from others in similar predicaments through senior centers, support groups, day centers sponsored by civic and religious organizations, and professional counselors, among others. However, arranging the funds to provide services, likely for a lifetime, can be a daunting proposition.

Consult a Seasoned Catastrophic Injury Attorney Today

At Zach Peagler Law Firm, we will fight tirelessly on your behalf to ensure that you get the compensation you deserve for your catastrophic injuries. Our multi-faceted legal team has the resources, skills, and fortitude to secure a favorable outcome in your personal injury case. We aim to pursue maximum compensatory damages to reduce the financial burden on you and your loved ones. For a free case review, call today at (205) 871-9990.

 

Avoiding a Pedestrian Accident During the Coronavirus Shutdown

Pedestrians in Alabama and elsewhere are at a higher risk of accidents and injuries because they do not have the protections such as airbags, seatbelt, or crumple zones that a car driver has. Moreover, many of the cars and bigger vehicles are built in such a way that a driver may sometimes fail to notice a pedestrian.

 

During the Covid-19 shutdown, traffic on most of the roads in Alabama has reduced to a trickle as people are largely staying indoors. However, some car drivers as well as pedestrians still need to come out for buying essential goods or visiting a doctor or hospital for a medical emergency. Many others are going out for walks to get out of the house and get some exercise. This exposes pedestrians to the risk of accidents even during this period of relatively low vehicular traffic.

 

Empty Roads can be Deceptive

 

Both car drivers and pedestrians should exercise extra caution when the roads are mostly empty. In such situations, it is easy to let down your guard in the belief that there is no risk of causing a car accident or getting injured as a pedestrian. Car drivers will typically tend to drive at higher speeds or indulge in distracted driving when they feel that there is minimal traffic.

 

Similarly, a pedestrian may get careless or distracted while crossing the road or use their smartphone while walking. Reduced sense of alertness in these situations can exponentially increase the risk of accidents. Therefore, it is prudent to be more careful rather than less careful during the shutdowns in coronavirus affected areas of Alabama.

 

Safety Tips for Drivers

 

Drive Slow in Pedestrian Areas

 

When you slow down your vehicle when you see a pedestrian in your path, you get extra time to react if the pedestrian does something unpredictable. An extra fraction of a second for a car driver can mean the difference between life and death for a pedestrian.

 

Show Your Patience with Elderly and Infirm

 

While most seniors and people with underlying medical conditions are mostly staying at home to minimize their risk of Covid-19 exposure, but medical emergencies can force them to come out to visit a local doctor or healthcare center.

 

They may need extra time for crossing the street or may even have a weak eyesight or hearing and may not see or hear you. Keep distance and show your patience in order to protect them on the road.

 

Try to Make Eye Contact

 

You can communicate through your eyes with a pedestrian while driving your car. The pedestrian will want to ensure that you have noticed them before they start crossing the street. Eye contact will help you both to know who is going to take which road and avoid confusion, which could otherwise result in a serious accident.

 

Do not Drink and Drive

 

Your reaction time will slow down if you are driving under the influence of alcohol. You could face severe penalties, including jail time, if you injure a pedestrian while you were driving drunk in Alabama.

 

Safety Tips for Pedestrians

 

Stick to Areas Designated for Pedestrians

 

The Alabama Department of Transportation is working hard to improve road safety for drivers as well as pedestrians. At many places across the state, landscape strips are provided that separate pedestrian and vehicular traffic.

 

There are also markings to guide pedestrians to the designated areas for crossing the road. For your own safety, you should stick to these areas when you are on foot in Alabama.

 

Do not Assume that a Car Driver has Seen You

 

Car drivers often do not pay as much attention as they should to protect pedestrians. During these times of Covid-19 shutdown, in particular, chances are that many drivers may be even less attentive than usual, or some of them could be even driving under the influence of liquor or drugs.

 

Therefore, even when you have the right of way, your best bet for your own safety is to cross an intersection only when you are sure that the traffic has come to a halt.

 

Be Mindful of the Vehicle Behind a Stopped Car

 

Although the car right in front you may notice you and stop, there is no guarantee that the vehicle behind will stop as well. Particularly during the coronavirus shutdown days in Alabama, a car driver behind may be less than cautious and try to drive around the vehicle in the front and hit you. Be mindful of this possibility as you are walking through a crosswalk.

 

Step Away if You Stop Your Car on a Highway

 

Your risk of a catastrophic pedestrian accident and injury is high when you have to stop your car on the side of a highway for some reason. If another driver traveling at a high speed fails to notice you on shoulder of the road, they could hit you. Leave as much space as you can between yourself and the roadway to give you and an oncoming driver extra time to avoid a crash.

 

Free Case Evaluation from an Experienced Personal Injury Lawyer

 

At Zach Peagler law firm in Birmingham, AL our skilled personal injury attorneys have the knowledge, resources, and dedication to provide you robust legal representation. We will create an effective legal strategy to help you obtain your rightful damages in a pedestrian personal injury case. For a free case evaluation, call us today at (205) 871-9990.

 

The Impact of Social Media During a Personal Injury Case

Nearly everyone uses social media these days. People view it as a way to keep up on current events, stay connected with those closest to them, share updates on what is going on in their lives, and share their thoughts and opinions. But many of us fail to consider the consequences of what we say in these forums.

Most of the time, being active on social media will not cause problems in your life, as long as you are not being too provocative or controversial, in which case you might run into problems with your current employer or a company you are trying to get hired by.

Social media activity can also become very problematic if you are involved in a legal proceeding. For example, you get into a car accident, and the first thing you do is post a picture of the wreckage and make some comments about the accident. You describe how it happened – e.g., how the other driver swerved into your lane and how you wish you would have noticed them sooner and maybe the accident could have been avoided.

You talk about how you are feeling after the accident. You got a few bumps and bruises and you’re limping a little bit, but you have an optimistic outlook and you reassure your family and friends that everything is going to be okay.

At first glance, all of this might seem totally fine and normal. But if you examine this scenario a little closer, you will find that a post like this could seriously jeopardize any legal claim you might make for damages.

First of all, comments about how the accident happened are never a good idea, because they could be twisted around and used by the other side to try to pin some of the blame for the accident on you. You may be one of those people who is naturally apologetic but implying that you might share even some of the fault for an accident could be very costly.

This is especially true in a state like Alabama, where they apply the “contributory negligence” legal doctrine to personal injury cases. Under contributory negligence, if an injured party is found to have “contributed” in any way to the underlying accident (even 1%), they can be barred from recovering damages.

Another problem with a post like the one described in this scenario is if you comment on your physical condition. Yes, you want people close to you to know that you will be okay, but you may not always know the full extent of your injuries immediately after an accident. The adrenaline rush you experience after a traumatic event like a vehicle crash can sometimes mask the pain initially, then you might feel it coming on after a few hours or even after a day or two.

So, if you comment on your medical condition on your social media page before you know exactly what it is, this could also be used against you to argue that you are exaggerating your injuries. Along these same lines, any posts that show you out to eat, on vacation, or otherwise enjoying life could be used to argue that the accident did not really cause any emotional trauma or diminished quality of life like you are claiming.

What If I have Strict Privacy Settings?

You might be thinking that none of what is mentioned above applies to you because you have the strongest privacy settings and the other side will never be able to see your social media posts. Don’t count on it! Insurance companies are very tech savvy, and they expend a lot of resources investigating claimants and trying to come up with information that can be used to diminish the value of their claim.

Insurance investigators have ways of uncovering your social media posts that you may not have thought of. For example, they could create familiar profiles and become friends with your friends in order to gain access to see your posts. And even if this or something similar does not happen, all electronic activity is discoverable in a legal case, and it can be subpoenaed by the other side if it comes to that.

The bottom line is, if you are involved in any type of legal proceeding, whether it is a personal injury claim, defending a DUI arrest, getting a divorce, or whatever else, always assume that anything you do electronically will be seen by the opposing side. And act accordingly.

How Should I Handle Social Media if I am Involved in a Legal Proceeding?

Ideally, we recommend suspending all social media activity while your legal case is ongoing. By suspending your accounts, you will not accidentally post something that could hurt you – or get tagged in someone else’s photo. When your case is over, you can reactivate your social media accounts and resume life as normal.

If you absolutely must remain on social media, keep your activity to a bare minimum. Do not post any photos or status updates or comment on anyone else’s posts. Also, adjust your settings to make sure others cannot tag you in their photos without your approval. Be careful what you say in private conversations, because these can be subpoenaed as well.

Really the only good way to use social media when you have a legal case going on is to browse, read news, and see what other people are posting. Always refrain from posting anything yourself.

Contact a Seasoned Birmingham, AL Attorney

If you have a personal injury or criminal matter and you are in the Birmingham area, the Zach Peagler Law Firm is here to help. Call our office today at (205) 871-9990 or message us online to schedule a complementary consultation with our experienced attorney.

How a Criminal Record can Affect Your Personal Injury Case

There are many individuals who have made mistakes in their past that have resulted in some kind of criminal history. It could be traffic violations, a DUI conviction, some minor drug charges from when you were younger and hanging around with the wrong crowd, or any number of other things. Although you do your best to put your past behind you, sometimes a criminal record can come back to haunt you.

One instance when a criminal history could affect you is if you are involved in a civil action in which you are pursuing monetary damages against another party that injured you. To be clear, you have every right to sue someone for damages regardless of what is in your background, and the personal injury case should stand on its own merits. Unfortunately, however, things do not always work out this way.

Your criminal history could be used against you during a personal injury claim, especially if the case ends up at trial. With significant monetary damages at stake, the other side will certainly try to use your history against you if they find out about it, and if they believe it can help undermine your case. Whether they will be able to do so successfully depends largely on the nature of your criminal offense, how long ago it happened, the effectiveness of your legal strategy, and other specific circumstances regarding your case.

How Can My Criminal History be Used Against Me in a PI Case?

First of all, it is important to note that your criminal record might not come up at all during your personal injury claim. And if you are working with a skilled and knowledgeable personal injury lawyer, this will definitely be their goal. Also, the only reason the other side should ever bring up a past criminal matter is if it has some relevance to the case at hand.

With a personal injury lawsuit, it is generally in the best interests of both parties to settle the claim before it ever reaches a courtroom. So, in most cases, a settlement is negotiated between the parties without the need for a trial. All that said, an experienced personal injury attorney will prepare to litigate the case (if necessary) in the event that the other side is not willing to be reasonable.

If the case does make it to trial, then your criminal background could be brought up to the jury if there is some element of dishonesty related to your conviction. For example, if you were convicted for shoplifting or insurance fraud, then this is likely to be used to try to damage your credibility if you testify in court. If, on the other hand, your conviction was for something like drunk driving or minor drug possession, then this should not be harmful to your case.

What to Do if you Have a Criminal Record and You’re Involved in a Personal Injury Lawsuit

The first thing you should do if you have a criminal conviction in your past is to be upfront with your attorney and let them know about it. Your attorney needs to know all of the facts, so they can prepare the strongest possible case on your behalf. By having this information ahead of time, they can go over all of the “what if” scenarios with you to help ensure that you are fully prepared for what the other side might do during a trial. Along the same lines, if you are not sure if you have a conviction on your record, review your criminal history so you are aware of everything that could be out there.

Another thing your lawyer will most likely advise you to do is be upfront about your criminal record if you are asked about it by the other side. Defense attorneys are trained to catch witnesses in a lie in order to discredit them – this is commonly known as “impeaching the witness”. Answer all questions from the opposing counsel honestly. In addition, your legal counsel might decide to bring up the criminal conviction before the other side can ask about it, so you can frame it in the proper context for the jury.

In some cases, it might make sense to waive your right to a jury trial and have your case heard by a judge. This might be applicable if you have been convicted of a felony or a fairly serious theft crime, in which case a jury is likely to view you unfavorably. In these situations, you may be better off with a judge, because they tend to be less susceptible to emotional arguments.

Finally, there are some instances in which you may be able to have your criminal record expunged and removed from public view before your personal injury case gets to trial. In Alabama, certain criminal offenses are eligible for expungement; such as non-convictions for traffic violations, municipal violations, ordinance violations, misdemeanors, and nonviolent felonies.

Contact an Experienced Birmingham, AL Personal Injury Attorney

Having a criminal record should not in any way hinder you from pursuing just compensation if you have suffered a personal injury that was someone else’s fault. The first step is to have your case thoroughly reviewed by a seasoned attorney, so you fully understand your legal rights and options.

At the Zach Peagler Law Firm, we have extensive experience with both personal injury and criminal law, the complexities of each, and how the two areas of law intersect. To schedule a free consultation with our attorney, message us online or call our office today at (205) 871-9990. We look forward to serving you!