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.

Sources:

Social Security history
https://www.ssa.gov/history/hfaq.html

Social Security Disability
https://www.ssa.gov/pubs/EN-05-10029.pdf

Social Security- Understanding the Benefits
https://www.ssa.gov/pubs/EN-05-10024.pdf

bankruptcy attorney in alabama

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.  

USDA Loan

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.

Sources:

NOLO Press on Credit after bankruptcy
https://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/improving-credit-after-bankruptcy

US Courts
https://www.uscourts.gov/services-forms/bankruptcy/bankruptcy-basics/chapter-7-bankruptcy-basics

Federal Bankruptcy Code on Chapter 7.
https://www.uscourts.gov/services-forms/bankruptcy/bankruptcy-basics/chapter-7-bankruptcy-basics

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.

dui lawyer

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.

Pool Safety in Alabama Pools - Haygood Cleveland Pierce Thompson & Short

Pool Safety and Children – Who is Responsible for Accidents?

When the dog days of summer hit in Alabama, jumping into a swimming pool is one of the best ways to cool off. While taking a dip can help you beat the heat and produce hours of family fun, swimming pools also pose a danger for everyone, particularly children.

Unfortunately, a day of relaxation could end in tragedy if a child is hurt or, worse, killed in a pool-related accident. If a homeowner or business fails to create safe conditions or warn visitors of known hazards, they could be held responsible for the damages associated with these heart-breaking incidents.

Why Pool Safety is Essential

The Centers for Disease Control reports that as many as one person each day loses their life to a drowning accident in this country. Of those fatalities, 77% impact children under the age of 5. Drowning is now the fifth leading cause of death in the U.S., and it is the number one accident-related killer among children ages 1-4.

Drowning is a significant public health concern in the U.S. and throughout Alabama. Sadly, young children are often the victims of drowning accidents because they are magnetically drawn to swimming pools.

The Serious Nature of Pool Accidents

Instead of the violent incidents that we witness in the movies, drowning victims often quietly and quickly disappear under the surface and may not be noticed immediately unless someone is paying attention.

If death does not occur from drowning, there are near-drowning accidents that can result in significant injury and impairment. Stanford University reports that near-drowning victims can suffer from moderate to severe brain injuries as well as sustain damage to their central nervous system. Other injuries related to near-drowning accidents can include kidney impairment, lung damage, liver damage, and myocardial injury.

Common Causes of Pool-Related Injuries

Swimming pools can be found on either public or private property. There are hazards that exist whether the pool is in a backyard, recreation center, hotel, gym, or apartment complex. Some of the most common hazards and causes of pool-related accidents include:

  • Defective equipment. Defective equipment, particularly pool drains, are common causes of serious injuries including broken bones, amputations, drowning, and fatalities.
  • Poor maintenance. Lack of or poor pool maintenance can lead to cloudy water, unsafe chemicals, and malfunctioning equipment such as filters and lights.
  • Unsafe design. The way that swimming pool is designed must be safe, or it can lead to injury or death. This includes the mechanical functions as well as safety fences, gates, and locks.
  • Poorly trained staff. Lifeguards who are not sufficiently trained will not be able to respond appropriately in an emergency.
  • Standing water. Wet surfaces around a pool can lead to severe slip and fall accidents and injuries.

Who is Liable for a Swimming Pool Accident?

Depending on the circumstances of the accident, one or more parties could be held liable when an injury occurs in a swimming pool. These include:

  • Property owners. In most cases, the property owner is responsible for taking reasonable precautions to keep swimmers free from harm. Even if a child was a trespasser, the property owner could still be liable since the pool is considered an “attractive nuisance.”
  • Manufacturers. A company that manufactures swimming pool materials, equipment, and chemicals could be held liable if there is a defect.
  • Pool service companies. A third-party pool service company could be liable if they created any hazards while working.
  • Businesses. Other potentially responsible parties who may not be property owners include schools, daycares, fitness centers, and summer camps.

Speak with an Experienced Alabama Pool Accident Lawyer

If your child has been involved in a serious swimming pool accident due to the negligence of another party, you have the right to pursue compensation for your losses. These are tragic events that can be emotionally and financially devastating, but the experienced Alabama personal injury attorneys at Haygood, Cleveland, Pierce & Thompson LLP can help your family deal with the complex legal issues associated with your case.

Our firm has extensive history in helping victims collect the compensation they are due, and your family should focus on healing instead of fighting these battles alone. Contact our Auburn office now at 334-821-3892 or reach us online to schedule a free consultation.

Dangers of Trucks

The Dangers of Speeding Trucks

When speeding trucks get into accidents, the results can be catastrophic. Because of the size and weight of these trucks, the property damage, injuries, and loss of life resulting from truck crashes are often significant.

According to the latest Alabama Crash Facts report, there were over 8,900 accidents involving trucks in 2016 in this state, which was the highest number in the past ten years. Those crashes resulted in 2,345 injuries and 157 deaths on Alabama’s roads.

Some of the top contributing causes of those accidents include driving too fast for conditions, driving over the speed limit, failure to yield right of way, and unseen objects. Many of these causes, and others listed, could be avoided if the truck were not speeding.

Why Do Commercial Trucks Speed?

In many cases in the United States, the speed limits for trucks could be lower than that of a passenger vehicle. However, even with lower limits, large commercial trucks still speed. Why do they do this? The answer is – money.

Most commercial truck drivers are paid by the mile and not the hours they work. So, if they drive at a safe speed or are caught in a traffic jam, they will make less money each day. This prompts some to drive at unsafe speeds and still others to take to the roads when Federal rules say that they should be off duty or resting.

Common Accidents When Truck Drivers Speed

In over half of large truck accidents, excessive speed is either a contributing factor or listed as the cause of the accident. Large trucks don’t stop as quickly as passenger vehicles, which is one of the main arguments for slower speeds. They also have less maneuverability, and the crashes that do occur are quite severe. Some of the common accidents include:

  • Loss of control. A truck driving at an unsafe speed could be unable to stop or may lose control of their vehicle in other ways.
  • Curves. Speeding trucks heading into curves can quickly jackknife and swing into other lanes of traffic.
  • Weather conditions. Driving too fast for conditions can cause a truck to hydroplane, jackknife, or rollover.
  • Blind spots. A truck that is speeding will have greater difficulty keeping track of other vehicles in their blind spots, leading to lane change crashes.
  • Loads. Heavy or uneven loads are more likely to shift with reckless driving.

Injuries Resulting from Speeding Truck Accidents

Speeding trucks cost lives. This is a fact according to a study commissioned by the Department of Transportation, one of the agencies that would like to see speed limiters mandated on commercial trucks. The DOT concluded that a 60-mph speed limit for trucks could prevent as many as 498 highway deaths each year in the U.S.

When these trucks cause or are involved in crashes with passenger vehicles, the results can be severe and life-changing. Some of the injuries include:

  • Head and traumatic brain injury
  • Spinal cord injuries
  • Broken bones
  • Internal injuries
  • Amputations
  • Fatalities

If you or a loved one have been involved in one of these accidents, you may suffer a variety of damages that include medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and wrongful death.

Do You Have a Truck Accident Case?

Commercial truck accident cases are different than those involving passenger vehicles. While many of these trucks have a black box that records speed, getting access to this information may be difficult. Trucking companies and their insurers will be eager to protect their bottom lines, so they might be quick to get rid of evidence or attempt to offer you a settlement for much less than your case is worth.

When you’ve been seriously injured in a speeding truck accident, you may be left struggling to recover emotionally, physically, and financially. If a truck driver or any other party was negligent or behaved recklessly, you deserve to be compensated for your losses.

At the law office of Haygood, Cleveland, Pierce & Thompson, LLP, our experienced and aggressive Alabama personal injuries attorneys have over 50 years experience helping victims hold negligent parties accountable for their actions. We will thoroughly review your case and outline your options, giving you the best possible chance to collect the compensation you need and deserve.

Contact our Auburn office now to schedule a free consultation. Reach us at 334.821.3892 or connect with us online.