Hiring a Personal Injury Lawyer

The Basics of Personal Injury Law

The Basics of Personal Injury Law

The world may not be fair, but the justice system aims to make it as fair as possible for victims of crimes and those who have suffered due to someone else’s actions. Through the civil and criminal justice systems, people can be held responsible for their negligence. The criminal justice system imposes criminal penalties, such as fines and jail time, while the civil system allows those who have been wronged to seek direct compensation.

Have you been injured or suffered financial losses due to someone else’s action or inaction? If so, filing a personal injury claim may be the right choice for you.

What is Personal Injury?

Personal injury is an area of law that lets victims of negligence seek financial compensation for their injuries, financial losses, and pain and suffering. It is a fairly broad area of law, encompassing many types of accidents and incidents. Common personal injury cases include:

  • Car, truck, motorcycle, and other vehicle accidents
  • Slip and fall injuries
  • Dog bites and animal attacks
  • Medical malpractice
  • Assault and intentional violence
  • Defective product injuries

Who Can File a Claim?

In most cases, only the victim of the negligent act can file a personal injury claim against the neglectful party. If the victim is a minor, their guardian or parent may be able to seek damages on their behalf. If the victim dies as a result of the accident, their executor and surviving family members can file a claim against the liable party.

When Can a Victim Pursue Damages?

Each state has its own statute of limitations for personal injury cases. In Alabama, most personal injury cases have a two-year statute of limitations. Victims must file a claim against the liable party within two years of the date of the accident.

If the liable party is a governmental body, the laws are slightly different. A claim against a municipality must be filed no later than six months after the accident, and a claim against a county has a one-year statute of limitations.

Why is a Personal Injury Case the Right Choice?

For those unfamiliar with civil suits, a personal injury case may not seem like the right way to seek justice. If someone acted negligently or in a criminal manner, shouldn’t they be held liable through the criminal justice system? Shouldn’t they have to do more than just pay up?

However, in many cases, there is no law broken in a personal injury case. Consider, for example, a slip-and-fall injury caused by poorly installed handrails on someone’s home. The homeowner was negligent in not installing better handrails, but they did not commit a crime.

Even if a crime is committed, the criminal justice system does not always help the victim recover financially from their injuries. The perpetrator may have to pay fines or spend time in prison, but that does not help the victim pay off the thousands of dollars in medical bills they have accumulated because of the accident. In cases that involve a crime and financial damages, perpetrators may be held accountable by both the civil system and the criminal justice system.

How Does a Victim Start the Process?

After an accident, a victim should begin by speaking to an Alabama personal injury lawyer. Most of the time, these disputes are handled through negotiation and do not ever reach a courtroom. Many of these cases are handled by the liable party’s insurance company, which would much rather avoid the expenses of a lawsuit by paying a reasonable settlement. By working with an attorney, an individual can get a thorough understanding of how much their accident is worth, what a fair settlement would be, and how to move forward with their case.

It is important to connect with a personal injury lawyer as soon as possible after an accident. If the other party was negligent, it is likely that their insurance company will reach out to the victim fairly quickly. If the victim speaks with the insurance company, they could endanger their settlement, inadvertently weaken their case, or otherwise act against their own best interests.

Wondering if you can seek compensation for injuries with a personal injury case? We are here to help. Contact the team at Haygood, Cleveland, Pierce, Thompson & Short at 334-821-3892 to discuss your case.

personal injury journal

What is a Personal Injury Journal and Why Should I Use One?

There’s a lot to do after you have been hurt in a slip and fall accident, car crash, or another type of accident, so the thought of starting a journal might give you pause. However, starting a personal injury journal after you have suffered an injury can be extremely beneficial to your case.

Looking for options after someone else’s negligence has left you with injuries? Let us help. Reach out to the team at Haygood, Cleveland, Pierce, Thompson & Short online or call us at 334-821-3892.

Overview of Personal Injury Journals

A personal injury journal is a way to document the details of an accident and the ways in which an accident affects your life. The human memory is fallible, and no matter how much you think you’ll remember after an accident, you’re sure to forget important details. The personal injury journal paints a picture of your daily life post-accident, documenting the ways your injuries have hurt you and laying the groundwork for compensation.

What to Include in Your Entries

A personal injury journal is not the same as a general journal, so you should keep it structured and ensure that you include relevant information in each entry. Try to set aside time to document each day, and make sure you sign and date each entry. Each journal entry should touch on the following topics.

Describe the Accident

As soon as possible after an accident, jot down the details of the crash. Write down as much as you remember, including:

  • Time
  • Date
  • Weather conditions
  • What occurred immediately before the car accident
  • Any sensations you remember from the impact of the crash
  • Pain and other sensations you experienced after the accident
  • Communication with the other driver and/or passengers
  • Communication with the police officers or medical care providers

Describe Limitations and Pain

The goal of a personal injury journal is to highlight how an injury affects your life, so describe the limitations you experience each day in detail. If you are unable to do laundry because your new back injury prevents you from bending over and putting clothes in the washer, write that down. If you can’t stand long enough to cook dinner, take note of that. If you experience random pain spikes throughout the day, write down when they occur and how intense they are. You should also take note of any symptoms you experience each day, as well as any new or recurring issues.

Keep Notes on Medical Appointments

Until you heal completely, your life may be a revolving door of doctors, physician’s assistants, physical therapists, chiropractors, and other medical professionals. It is crucial that you keep the details of your recovery straight and don’t mix up different milestones in your recovery. Every time you go to an appointment, make a note of it in your journal. Take note of who you saw, the mileage to and from the appointment, any care instructions you received, and notes on your progress.

Why a Personal Injury Journal is Important for Your Case

A personal injury journal can be an essential piece of evidence in your personal injury case. If you are questioned by the other party’s insurance company or attorney, they will ask many specific, detailed questions about the timeline of your accident and the ways in which it has affected you. Without a personal injury journal, you run the risk of offering nondescript, vague answers. These answers can lower your settlement or even make them doubt your claims. When you have solid times, dates, and descriptions of your injuries to back up your claims, you significantly increase your likelihood of successfully recovering compensation.

We’re Here to Help You with Your Personal Injury Case

We know that you have a lot to do after an injury, and we don’t want you to do it alone. The team at Haygood, Cleveland, Pierce, Thompson & Short is here to support you. From communicating with the insurance company to representing you in court, we are with you every step of the way. To get started, reach out to us online or call us at 334-821-3892. We will set up a consultation and discuss your options with you to come up with a strong plan.

wrongful death attorney

Putting a Price on a Human Life: What is a Wrongful Death Lawsuit Worth in Alabama?

Negligence has become far too common in today’s world, and the carelessness of another party can lead to tragedy. This can take the form of distracted or drunk driving, incompetent medical care, or an unsafe condition on a piece of property.

If a wrongful or careless act took the life of someone you love, you may be able to seek compensation under the law through a wrongful death lawsuit. Where the accident occurred matters a great deal because Alabama’s laws regarding wrongful death are incredibly unique.

Wrongful Death According to Alabama Law

A wrongful death lawsuit is a civil action. The simplest way to think about it is that this is a personal injury case that the person harmed is unable to pursue because they lost their life. According to Alabama law, wrongful death is defined as the wrongful act, omission, or negligence caused by any party in which the person harmed could have commenced legal action if the wrongful act, omission, or negligence hadn’t caused death.

Some of the types of situations that have resulted in wrongful death actions include:

  • Auto and truck accidents
  • Medical malpractice
  • Nursing home abuse
  • Defective products
  • Premises liability
  • Dangerous drugs
  • Criminal acts

Can You File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?

Not everyone is eligible to file a wrongful death case in Alabama. It might seem logical that a family member could sue for wrongful death, but this isn’t always the case.

According to the state’s law, only the personal representative of the decedent’s estate can file this lawsuit. In other words, the executor of the estate is the only eligible party. In many cases, this is also the spouse or closest relative, but not always.

The law also says that any award is paid to the decedent’s heirs instead of to the estate. This means that it isn’t subject to any debts of the estate or to federal and state taxes.

What is a Wrongful Death Lawsuit Worth in Alabama?

In most states, a family member that files a wrongful death lawsuit is eligible to receive various damages that include such things as burial expenses, lost earning capacity, and loss of support and companionship. These are not available in an Alabama wrongful death case.

Interestingly, Alabama law regarding wrongful death damages is different than every other state in the nation. Since the purpose of the law is to punish wrongdoers and discourage future similar behavior, the only damages recoverable in these cases are punitive damages.

Juries in Alabama wrongful death cases can award punitive damages as they see fit, but they are not permitted to consider factors such as the value of the decedent’s life or compensation to the survivors. The only considerations allowed when determining awards are how bad the wrongdoer’s conduct was and the defendant’s net worth.

Proving a Wrongful Death Case

Wrongful death cases are challenging because the plaintiff must prove several things before being awarded punitive damages. Without the assistance of a qualified attorney, this could be an uphill battle. Some of the elements of proof that must be presented include:

  • Evidence of duty of care. The plaintiff will need to prove that the defendant owed the decedent a certain duty of care. For example, a driver has a duty not to get behind the wheel while intoxicated.
  • Breach of duty. The plaintiff must also show that the defendant breached their duty of care through an act of misconduct, willful wrongdoing, or negligence.
  • Causation between breach of duty and death. Lastly, the plaintiff will need to prove that there was a proximate cause between the breach of duty and the death.

Under limited circumstances, a surviving family member has the right to a “survival action.” In most cases, this happens when the decedent had a personal injury lawsuit filed prior to passing. A survivor may also be able to pursue a survival action if the at-fault party is deceased. This action would go against the estate of the defendant.

Speak with a Knowledgeable Alabama Wrongful Death Attorney

The attorneys at Haygood, Cleveland, Pierce, Thompson & Short, LLP, have the knowledge and experience necessary to effectively pursue a wrongful death lawsuit in Alabama. Our legal team is passionate about delivering justice to family members who have been wronged by another party’s negligence and understand the importance of pursuing these actions.

If you’ve been impacted by the loss of a family member by the wrongdoing or negligence of another party, put our experience to work on your behalf. Contact our Auburn office today at 334-821-3892 to schedule your free initial consultation.

What is the Difference Between Social Security Disability (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI)?

Signed into law on August 14, 1935 by President Roosevelt, the Social Security Act was designed to create a program to provide a continuous source of income and safety net for American workers after they retire.

In addition to retirees, Social Security supports people who are disabled, and provides survivor benefits when a spouse or parent has died. Monthly benefits began being paid in January 1940.

Social Security added survivor benefits in 1939 and in 1956, benefits for disabled workers were added. Social Security is funded by all American workers who file income taxes. That includes members of Congress, judges, political appointees, and even the President and Vice President.

A nine-digit Social Security number was issued to you as a child and is your connection to Social Security throughout your life.   

The retirement income you can receive from Social Security depends on how many years you worked and how much money you put into the system. Social Security income was never designed to be the only source of income after you retire, but to supplement your retirement savings. 

Contact www.ssaa.gov/benefits/retirement.com  to calculate your benefits.

What is Social Security Disability Income (SSDI)?

The government estimates that a 20-year-old worker has a 1-in-4 chance of becoming disabled before reaching full retirement age, so disability is more common than you may think.

Unlike Social Security retirement benefits, Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) provides a source of income to those who are facing health challenges that result in a disability. Social Security Disability Income (SSDI) is administered and funded by the Social Security Administration.

Social Security defines disability as an inability to work for a year or more due to a physical or mental condition. You must not be able to do the work you did before you were injured, and cannot do similar work due to the disability.  

To be considered disabled, the condition must last for at least a year or may be expected to result in your death. A short-term disability will not qualify you for disability benefits.

Just having a note from your doctor may not qualify you for disability benefits either. In fact, a large percentage of Social Security Disability claimants are denied benefits after filing their initial application.

More often than not, you will need to seek the assistance of an experienced Social Security Disability law firm to go before a judge to explain, based on detailed information about your medical condition, the reasons you should quality for disability benefits.

This is unfortunate, because you may feel you deserve to access what you paid into the system in your time of need, but the system is set up to challenge those who claim they are disabled, so you must be persistent to receive benefits in a timely manner.

Just how much you can claim depends on the years you worked and put into the system. Check SSDI charts to see how much you may qualify for.

What is Supplemental Security Income (SSI)?

Disability benefits are paid through SSDI and also SSI or Supplemental Security Income.

Unlike SSDI, Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is not funded by Social Security taxes but by general tax revenues. It provides a safety net to people who are disabled, blind, and elderly with little to no income. Disability benefits provide for basic needs such as food, clothing and shelter.

Some states supplement the SSI program with additional payments and generally the benefit amount will vary, depending on your income and living arrangements.

Disability and Children

Anyone under the age of 18 who is defined as disabled may be eligible for SSI disability benefits.

“Disability” is defined by the government as a child who is physically or mentally impaired with severe functional limitations. Those limitations are expected to last at least one year or may be expected to result in death.

For example, even blindness may quality as disability for either an adult or a child. If the child lives at home, a portion of their parent’s income may be considered a resource that offsets what the child can receive.

Navigating your disability benefits may require the skilled guidance of a law firm that understands the system. At the Law offices of Haygood Cleveland, we are here to help. Please contact us today at 334-731-7693 for a complimentary consultation.


Social Security history

Social Security Disability

Social Security- Understanding the Benefits

buying a house after bankruptcy

Can I Buy a House after Filing for Bankruptcy?

Can I Buy a House after Filing for Bankruptcy?

You may not realize it, but you may be able to get back into homeownership faster than you think after filing for bankruptcy. How long you have to wait to be able to obtain a mortgage may depend on the type of bankruptcy, where you get your loan, and how you handle money in the future.

Chapter 7 Bankruptcy

Chapter 7 means most, if not all, of your debts are cancelled. You may be required to liquidate some of your property to satisfy the creditors. The debtor does not have to file a repayment plan.  

After your filing, it may take up to six month to complete the bankruptcy process. You may be sent to credit counseling and a bankruptcy trustee will oversee that your creditors are paid as much as possible.

Meanwhile, with a stay in place, most creditors cannot collect what you owe them. 

After you file your Chapter 7 bankruptcy, you will likely need to wait at least two years from the discharge date to begin the process of obtaining a home loan, unless your loan is co-signed by a close relative or friend. The discharge date occurs when the court sends out discharge paperwork, around the time your case closes.   

The waiting period will be longer if your mortgage was foreclosed during the bankruptcy process. Regardless, you will have to be pre-qualified if you are considering obtaining a loan.  

It will be vital that you work on restoring your credit score, which has been lowered due to the filing. You must prove you have stabilized the financial situation that led to the bankruptcy. You may choose to re-establish your credit by opening, and paying on-time, new credit cards.    

Keep an eye on your credit score for free by checking www.annualcreditreport.com.

If you do work on improving your credit score, there may be some options to new home ownership within a couple years or so after your bankruptcy.

FHA Loan

A Federal Housing Authority (FHA) loan is an attractive option because it is geared toward buyers who have little to put down, as little as 3.5% of the purchase price.

The down payment is partially dependent on your credit score – the lower the score, the more down payment is required.  


Want to buy a home in the country? A Department of Agriculture (USDA) loan might make home ownership possible. The applicant will have to wait three years after the bankruptcy discharge to apply. 

Chapter 13 

It takes longer to wait for home ownership after filing a Chapter 13 bankruptcy. Because some debtors do not qualify for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, they may be forced to choose Chapter 13, which allows you to keep more of your property as long as you make regular payments.

The entire process can take three to five years during which time the debtor may be expected to repay some of his/her debts.

After about a year, if the individual has been making regular payments, he/she may be able to obtain an FHA loan. The court will make sure the person can handle a mortgage payment as well as adhere to the debt payment plan.  

VA Loan

For either type of bankruptcy, a Veteran’s Affairs loan could help put you back on the path to home ownership. A VA loan is available only to veterans and generally requires no down payment. After the bankruptcy is discharged, your credit history will be considered, however, a low credit score may disqualify you. 

Conventional Loan

A convention loan is always worth checking into, but you may need to wait two to four years after the bankruptcy is discharged. If you have a small down payment, you may have to pay private mortgage insurance (PMI) every month, and the interest rates and credit score requirements will be higher with a conventional loan.

Your credit score before bankruptcy may be a deciding factor on when and how soon after bankruptcy one can apply for a mortgage.

It is essential that you have a realistic picture of your new post-bankruptcy budget before buying a new home, taking into account all of the payments and debt that will not be discharged.

If you think you may be in the market for homeownership after filing for bankruptcy, our attorneys at Haygood, Cleveland, Pierce & Thompson will be able to guide you through the bankruptcy process and help ensure that you are positioned to obtain a new home in the shortest possible period of time after your bankruptcy is completed. Contact us today at 334-731-7693 for a consultation.


NOLO Press on Credit after bankruptcy

US Courts

Federal Bankruptcy Code on Chapter 7.

Hiring a Personal Injury Lawyer

When Should you Hire a Personal Injury Attorney?

If you have been injured in a car accident, motorcycle crash, slip and fall accident, or you have suffered any other type of personal injury, there is most likely a lot of uncertainty about the future. You have probably missed some time from work, incurred expenses for medical treatment, rehabilitation, and other costs related to your injury. When you are in this situation, you may wonder whether it is best to handle recovering compensation from the insurance company on your own, or to hire a personal injury attorney.

In deciding whether or not you should hire a personal injury attorney, there are several questions you need to answer about your situation:

How serious is your injury?

For injuries that are relatively minor, e.g., those in which you can make a full recovery within a few days to a couple of weeks or so, you might be able to handle the claim on your own. However, if you have a more severe injury that is debilitating and will require a long-term recovery process, it is strongly advisable to obtain legal representation. With a serious injury, the claim will be worth considerably more, accurately quantifying your losses will be far more challenging. Even if you have a less severe injury in which you have ongoing pain and you don’t yet know the full extent of it, it is still a good idea to at least speak with a personal injury attorney, so you understand your legal rights and what types of compensation you may be entitled to.

Is there a question about who is liable for your injuries?

There are some cases that are fairly straightforward, while others are more complicated. For example, if someone bumped into you from behind while you were driving, it might be pretty clear that they are the party at fault. On the other hand, if you were involved in an accident with a large commercial truck, there may be many contributing factors and several potential responsible parties. With more complex cases, a thorough investigation is required to determine the exact cause, and which parties to hold accountable. This may also require the use of expert witnesses to speak authoritatively to certain aspects of the case. An experienced personal injury lawyer can effectively handle these types of cases and help ensure that you receive the compensation you deserve.

How comfortable are you dealing with the insurance company?

Obtaining a settlement from the insurance company involves a lot of back and forth negotiation. To obtain the compensation you deserve, you need to have strong negotiating skills and at least a basic knowledge of the legal aspects of your case and what types of damages you should be able to recover. Keep in mind that insurance adjusters are trained negotiators, and they will often employ tactics such as contacting you early on in the process, expressing sympathy for what happened to you, and trying to build rapport. This is designed to make you believe that they are “on your side” and that they are going to “take care of you.” If you are not careful, however, you may end up with a lowball settlement offer that is far below what your claim is really worth. And if you are not willing (and able) to pursue litigation (if necessary) to compel them to pay full and fair compensation, they are less likely to increase their offer.

Has the insurance company disputed the validity of your claim?

Even when an incident is clearly the fault of another party, the insurance company may try to dispute the claim by either implying that your injuries are not as serious as they really are, that you are partially at fault for your injuries, or both. The goal of the insurance company is to minimize the amount that they pay, so they will look for any reason they can find to minimize or deny the claim.

If you were injured in Alabama and your insurance company is approaching the case this way, your right to recover compensation may be in jeopardy. Alabama is one of only a handful of states that applies the “contributory negligence” legal standard. Under contributory negligence, an injured party can be barred from recovering compensation if they are found to be even 1% at fault for the underlying incident that led to the injury. If the insurer has done anything to imply that they are seeking to deny the claim, get in touch with a personal injury lawyer right away.

Our Seasoned Alabama Personal Injury Attorneys are Here to Help

If you or a loved one has suffered an injury in Alabama and someone else was at fault, you deserve to be compensated. Whether you handle the case on your own or hire a personal injury attorney is a decision only you can make. At Haygood, Cleveland, Pierce & Thompson, LLP, we

have extensive experience successfully representing clients with even the most complex injury cases, and we meet with you to provide a free case assessment. This way, you will know exactly where you stand, so you can make the most informed decision on how to proceed. To schedule your free consultation with one of our attorneys, call our office today at (334) 731-7693. You may also send us a message through our online contact form.

Grounds for divorce in Alabama

What are Grounds for Divorce in Alabama?

If a couple in Alabama wants to split up, they can get legally separated or divorced. In order to get a divorce in Alabama, parties must meet certain requirements. For example, at least one spouse must be a resident of the Yellowhammer state and must have resided in the state for at least six months before filing. After the filing, there is a 30-day waiting period before the divorce can become effective.

Every divorce case in Alabama must declare grounds. Alabama recognizes both no-fault and fault-based divorces.

No-Fault Divorces

A no-fault divorce is the easiest to obtain. This type of divorce does not require either party to show proof that the other is responsible for the marriage breaking down, and it can be based on one of the following grounds:

  • The marriage is “irretrievably broken” to the point where attempts at reconciliation are futile (i.e., the spouses have irreconcilable differences);
  • The temperaments of the spouses are incompatible to the point where they can no longer live together (i.e., the spouses don’t get along anymore).

Irretrievable breakdown and incompatibility are the most common grounds used for a divorce in Alabama.

Fault-Based Divorces

If a spouse wants the court to grant a divorce based on the behavior of the other spouse, they can ask for a fault-based divorce. This type of divorce is more complicated, and it requires the plaintiff spouse to prove that the defendant spouse engaged in certain behaviors that warrant the divorce.

In Alabama, there are several acceptable grounds for a fault-based divorce. These include:

  • Either spouse committed adultery;
  • Commission of a crime against nature either before or after the marriage; 
  • Imprisonment for two years with a sentence of at least 7 years;
  • Habitual drunkenness or habitual use of certain controlled substances;
  • One of the spouses is physically or emotionally abusive;
  • Voluntary abandonment of the marriage for at least one year;
  • A mental illness that causes a spouse to be institutionalized for at least five consecutive years, and the spouse is incurably mentally incapacitated;
  • At the time of the marriage, the wife did not tell her husband that she was pregnant.

If you are considering a fault-based divorce, be prepared to present evidence to the court to substantiate your claims. In some cases, this may be fairly easy to do; such as when a spouse has abandoned the marriage for a year. However, if grounds for the divorce is something like adultery, this might be more difficult to prove. All of these factors should be taken into account when deciding grounds for your divorce.

No-Fault vs. Fault-Based Divorces in Alabama

The fact that Alabama allows no-fault divorces means that neither party can stop a divorce if the other is determined to go through with it. One spouse can slow it down and make it more unpleasant and expensive, and there are times when a court might even order a temporary separation before allowing a divorce to go through. But ultimately, a spouse who is determined can make a divorce happen, even if the other spouse fights them every step of the way.

In a large number of divorce cases, it makes sense to choose the no-fault option. There are some instances, however, when it might be beneficial for one spouse to seek a fault-based divorce. For example, one of the factors Alabama courts can consider when determining whether to award alimony (and how much is to be awarded) is the conduct of both spouses and whether that conduct led to the divorce. So, if adultery was the cause of the divorce, this may be one of the factors considered when the court decides if alimony should be awarded.

Speak with an Experienced Alabama Family Law Attorney

Dissolving a marriage is one of the most emotional and heart-wrenching actions individuals ever have to take. If you are considering a divorce, you need strong legal counsel by your side to ensure that your rights and interests are fully protected during the process. At Haygood, Cleveland, Pierce & Thompson, LLP, we have extensive experience representing clients for divorce and other family legal matters in Alabama. We understand that this is a difficult time, and we work closely with our clients to listen and understand their unique needs and concerns, so we can develop the legal solution that works best for them.

For a personalized consultation with one of our attorneys, call our office today at (334) 731-7693. You may also send us a message through our web contact form or stop by our Auburn office at your convenience.

Spinal Cord Injury - Haygood Cleveland Pierce Thompson & Short

Spinal Injuries: What you Need to Know

Injuries to the spinal cord can be permanent and debilitating. These types of injuries can cause permanent changes in your strength, sensation, and other bodily functions in the affected area(s). The spinal cord is a critical part of the body, because it regulates information from the brain and relays it to the rest of the body during movement and motor function. A serious disruption in this cycle can cause partial or total paralysis which, in many cases, is irreversible.

Statistics show that spinal injuries are on the rise in the United States. According to estimates:

  • There are approximately 17,500 new spinal cord injuries each year, not including individuals who are killed because of their injury;
  • Somewhere between 245,000 and 353,000 Americans are thought to be living with a spinal injury;
  • More than half of all spinal cord injuries occur among individuals ages 16 to 30;
  • More than 81% of spinal injury survivors are men.

Symptoms of Spinal Injuries

The ability of an injury victim to control movements in their limbs after a spinal cord injury depends on the severity of the injury and the specific location (along the spinal cord) where it occurred. The severity of the injury is commonly referred to as its “completeness”. A spinal cord injury may be grouped into either of these two categories:

  • Complete: Total loss of feeling and motor function in the affected area.
  • Incomplete: Partial loss of feeling and motor function in the affected area, but with some ability to still control movements. There are varying degrees of completeness that may be classified as “incomplete.”

There are also various types of paralysis that may result from a spinal injury:

  • Tetraplegia: Paralysis affecting the hands, arms, legs, trunk, and pelvic organs. This is also commonly referred to as quadriplegia.
  • Paraplegia: Paralysis affecting part or all of the legs, trunk, or pelvic organs.

There are several symptoms that may indicate that someone has suffered a spinal injury:

  • Difficulty breathing or coughing;
  • Numbness, tingling, or loss of sensation in the hands, fingers, feet, toes, and other parts of the body;
  • Difficulty with balance and coordination;
  • Total loss of movement;
  • Loss of control of the bowels or bladder;
  • Exaggerated reflex activities (e.g., spasms).

What Causes Spinal Cord Injuries?

There are numerous reasons spinal injuries occur, and many times, they happen because of someone else’s negligence or reckless actions. Some of the most common reasons for spinal cord injuries include:

  • Motor Vehicle Accidents: Auto accidents are the leading cause of spinal cord injuries in the United States, accounting for almost 40% of these types of injuries. Spinal injuries occur most often during serious vehicle crashes, and alcohol use is a factor in a large number of these cases.
  • Falls: Falling is the second-leading cause of spinal cord injuries overall, but it is the leading cause among individuals over the age of 65. Falls often occur because of unsafe premises in which a property owner or caretaker fails to take reasonable steps to remove a hazard or alert visitors of its presence.
  • Violent Acts: The third-leading cause of spinal cord injuries is violence. This can come in several forms, such as assault, knife and gunshot wounds.
  • Sports Injuries: Sports activities that involve collisions or other dangerous acts are the fourth-leading cause of spinal injuries. Examples include helmet-to-helmet football collisions and diving into shallow water.
  • Medical/Surgical: The fifth-leading cause of spinal cord injuries is medical/surgical factors. This may be certain diseases such as cancer or osteoarthritis, or various types of medical malpractice (such as surgical errors).

Speak with a Seasoned Alabama Personal Injury Lawyer

Spinal cord injuries can be debilitating and life-altering, often resulting in the loss of earning capacity and requiring ongoing medical care. These cases can be complicated and challenging to pursue, however, especially in a state like Alabama where the application of the contributory negligence doctrine can prevent an injury victim from recovering damages if they are determined to be even 1% at-fault for the incident that caused the injury. In such cases, you need skilled legal counsel in your corner advocating forcefully for your rights and interests.

At Haygood, Cleveland, Pierce & Thompson LLP, we have successfully represented countless personal injury victims in Alabama. We have extensive knowledge of this area of the law, and what it takes to overcome the state’s contributory negligence standard and ensure that responsible parties are held fully accountable. If you or someone close to you has suffered a spinal injury because of the reckless acts or omissions of another party, call us today at (334) 821-3892 for a free consultation. You may also send a secure and confidential message through our online contact form.

Can child neglect result in jail time? Haygood Cleveland Pierce Thompson & Short

Can Child Neglect Mean Jail Time?

The Alabama Department of Human Resources describes child neglect as failure of the parent or guardian to provide adequate food, shelter, clothing, education, or medical treatment to a child as well as general maltreatment of a child. Alabama law also requires people in a position of trust with the child to report suspected child abuse or neglect to the proper authorities. This includes teachers, doctors, religious workers, and childcare workers at a minimum. People in these positions could also face legal consequences for knowing of potential abuse or neglect and failing to report it.

Neglect is the Most Common Form of Child Abuse

When many people think of child abuse, visions of physical battering or sexual molestation come to mind. While these are indeed serious crimes, passive neglect of children is far more prevalent. Neglect is also a very serious crime with lasting consequences. In 2015, 70 percent of children who died due to mistreatment from parents or guardians died because of neglect. Below we explore some of the most common categories of neglect in greater detail.

  • Educational Neglect: This can occur when a parent or guardian doesn’t enroll a child in school or allows the child to miss many days when he or she is not ill. People do have the right to homeschool in all 50 states, but they must provide documentation on their lesson plans and show that their children are making adequate progress. Some families place a lower emphasis on education because they need the child at home to help earn an income.
  • Medical Neglect: This entails failing to seek timely medical care or outright refusing to obtain care that a child needs for his or her medical condition. The law makes some allowance for parents or guardians whose sincere religious beliefs prevent them from seeking certain medical treatments for their child. These parents or guardians are not automatically deemed negligent, but the court can still order them to obtain a certain medical treatment for a child when it determines that the treatment in his or her best interests.
  • Physical Neglect: As the most common form of child neglect, this can include failing to provide a child with adequate food, shelter, sanitary living conditions, and clothing. A parent or guardian who leaves a child alone for several days can be guilty of this, as can someone who habitually denies a child these basic rights.
  • Psychological Neglect: This is the hardest category of neglect to prove because all parents and guardians become frustrated at times and can act in less than ideal ways towards their children. Parents and guardians cross the line into psychological neglect when they resort to frequent humiliation, threats, ignoring the child’s basic need for love and attention, verbal abuse, and isolating the child from people who could offer him or her support.

Regardless of the type of neglect, the impact on the child’s physical, intellectual, and mental health can be devastating and last for a lifetime. The more severe the neglect, the more supportive services such as psychological counseling and remedial education the child will need to help overcome it.

A Person Guilty of Child Neglect May Face Jail Time

Reports of child neglect in Alabama should go to the Alabama Department of Human Resources or a local police department. Once the state receives a report, it assigns a worker to investigate the case. While the goal is typically to offer parenting help and keep the family together, this is not always possible. Sometimes the neglectful actions are so serious that the state must remove a child from the home of his or her parents or guardians and place the adult under arrest.

A conviction of neglect of a child can be either a misdemeanor or a felony depending on the severity and whether it’s a repeat offense. The maximum penalty for this charge is up to five years in jail. A judge can also impose a sentence of up to five years of probation and a fine not more than $5,000.

Has Child Neglect Affected Your Family?

Whether you or your partner face charges or you’re concerned about the well-being of a child outside of your home, we encourage you to contact us for help at 334-821-3892. Haygood, Cleveland, Pierce, Thompson & Short, Attorneys at Law, have skilled and dedicated criminal defense and family law attorneys on staff who will put their experience to work to secure the best outcome for you and your family.

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What Happens if I Receive a DUI on Campus?

As if getting arrested for DUI isn’t bad and stressful enough, doing so while a university student could magnify your troubles. Not only do DUI convictions in Alabama have severe and lasting consequences, but you could also jeopardize your education, which is another repercussion of an unfortunate mistake.

What Are the Penalties for DUI in Alabama?

Assuming this a first-time offense, you could still be in a lot of trouble with a DUI conviction. Even with a misdemeanor, you could face up to 12 months in jail, fines of up to $2,100, and mandatory probation lasting a minimum of two years.

Every person in the state with a DUI conviction is also required to attend a substance abuse course, and you may also receive an order for the installation of an ignition interlock device on your car.

It is important to note that DUI convictions in this state are not eligible for expungement, meaning this is something that will be on your record forever unless you are able to enter a pre-trial diversion program.

What Are the Consequences for DUIs on an Alabama Campus?

How your college campus handles your DUI charge is a separate issue from the case that the state of Alabama has against you for driving while under the influence. Most schools have a zero-tolerance policy concerning these matters and will take your DUI arrest seriously.

Your college has the right to take disciplinary action against you for a DUI arrest, and many will do this. By reviewing your university’s codes of conduct, you may be able to get an idea of what lies ahead. In most cases, you will face a disciplinary hearing and could be subject to sanctions.

For example, Auburn University specifies that a person could be in violation of the code of student conduct if they violate any federal, state, or local law. Sanctions might include written warnings, loss of privileges, suspension, and even expulsion from the university.

Another possible consequence of a DUI on campus is the loss of financial aid for school. If you are a scholarship recipient or receive other types of financial aid, some of those awards might come with a “morals clause” that penalizes you for bad behavior. For example, the grant or scholarship might represent a memorial fund, company, or politician that doesn’t want to be associated with people who get arrested.

If you live on campus, are a member of an elite campus organization, or play college sports, you could face even more penalties due to an arrest. You might be asked to move off campus, leave your club, and could also be kicked off of your sports team. Students who were planning study abroad programs, either for a major or voluntarily, may have to rethink those plans if they have pending criminal charges.

The Other Ways a College DUI Conviction Can Impact Your Life

Even if your DUI took place off campus, the police could report the charges to your university. If this happens, all the above issues still apply. Whether or not you can continue your education, having a DUI on your record can affect your future career and job prospects. You may not be able to qualify for certain professional licenses or pass a pre-employment background check with this in your past.

There is even the possibility of losing your present job because of your legal difficulties. Some employers are unkind to staff who have DUI or drug arrests. This could present you with even more financial strain during a period where you are facing fines and other legal costs.

Arrested for DUI on Campus? Speak with an Experienced Auburn DUI Attorney

Being arrested for DUI while in college is not just a financial hardship. This is an event that could cost you your freedom and put your future at risk. Everyone makes mistakes, and if an error in judgment has you facing some serious charges, this is not something that you want to handle on your own.

The Alabama DUI attorneys at Haygood, Cleveland, Pierce, Thompson, and Short, LLP, will take the necessary steps to protect your rights and freedom. We can represent your interests in your DUI case as well as during student conduct hearings at your university. Contact our Auburn office now at 334.821.3892 or reach us online to schedule a consultation.