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 Speeding Trucks - Haygood Cleveland Pierce Thompson & Short

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.

Can social media negatively impact your divorce? Haygood Cleveland Pierce Thompson & Short

Your Divorce and Social Media

Social media is now a regular part of many people’s lives. Unfortunately, it is also playing a growing role in some divorce cases for a variety of reasons. Although you may think that the things that you share on social media shouldn’t have any relevance in court, there are times when these posts can have an impact on your ongoing divorce case.

Social Media and Divorce

How can social media impact your divorce? The truth is that there have now been many instances where a spouse’s social media activity has either helped or hurt various issues in a divorce case.

  1. Custody and Visitation. Family law courts will make custody and visitation decisions that they believe are in the best interests of the children. If this is a contentious issue between you and the other parent, what you post on social media could impact your case.

If you consistently share photos taken at nightclubs at 2 a.m. on weeknights, it’s not going to appear as if you are the responsible parent. Likewise, repeated bad mouthing of your children’s other parent on social media is also not something that the family court views favorably.

  1. Spousal Support. When the courts determine whether they will award spousal support, one of the factors they consider is the need for that support. A spouse isn’t necessarily entitled to spousal support just because the other spouse can afford to pay it, but rather, it is awarded based on a calculated need.

This is where a social media account could hurt a spouse’s case. If you are claiming that you have a “need” for support, but your social media account is full of images of exotic vacations, fine dining entrees, and designer clothing, it may hurt your case.

  1. Sources of Income. When there are issues of spousal or child support, a spouse may attempt to hide some of their income to reduce the amount that family law courts will order as monthly payments. A social media post could reveal that a spouse is running another business or generating income in some undisclosed way, which would impact the case.
  2. Property & Assets. Sometimes one or both spouses will attempt to hide assets and other property that is supposed to be divided during the divorce process. A spouse could be revealed for doing this if they post images or share something else on social media that exposes this concealed property.
  3. Character & Credibility.If a judge is facing a tough decision regarding a variety of issues involved in a divorce, the decision could come down to the character and credibility of one spouse versus the other. In these cases, an attorney may submit social media posts as evidence to persuade the court.

How You Can Protect Yourself During Your Divorce in Alabama

If you are going through a divorce, regardless of whether you agree or disagree with your spouse on most issues, you can take some steps to protect your rights and financial well-being. Several things you should do regarding social media include:

  • Disable or shut down your account. If you have a pending family law case, we recommend that you consider shutting down or disabling your social media accounts until the matter is concluded.
  • Verify your privacy settings. If you do keep your account active, tighten your privacy settings to limit the people who can view your activity.
  • Change your password. Immediately change your password to something that your spouse won’t know.
  • Delete any potentially damaging information. Remove posts and images that could potentially be used against you. Also, “unfriend” people that you don’t know or who are mutual friends of your spouse.
  • Think twice before you post. Think several times before you post any images or “check-ins” about how the post could impact your family law case.

If you know that there is something on social media that could impact your case, speak with your divorce attorney about this immediately, keeping them in the dark about any issues could only make matters worse.

The experience Alabama divorce attorneys at the law offices of Haygood, Cleveland, Pierce, & Thompson, LLP, understand family law issues and will take the steps necessary to safeguard your rights. Contact our Auburn office now at 334.821.3892 or reach out to us online to schedule a consultation.

Title IX Attorneys - Haygood Cleveland Pierce & Thompson

Title IX: Where Do We Go from Here?

In September 2017, the Department of Education withdrew two Obama-era guidance documents pertaining to Title IX and how colleges and universities are to conduct investigations of sexual misconduct. In its place, the DOE’s Office for Civil Rights released an interim question and answer document with temporary guidelines. New guidelines will be established through a “notice and comment” period expected to begin in March.

What is Title IX?

Title IX is a law passed in 1972 that applies to all schools and school districts from K-12 as well as all colleges and universities (both public and private) that receive government funding. Private schools that do not receive government funding are not subject to the provisions of Title IX. Colleges and universities that are subject to this law are required to establish policies by which they are to handle investigations of discrimination, sexual harassment, and sexual assault complaints.

In 2011, the Obama Administration published guidelines that directed colleges and universities to hire a Title IX Coordinator to administer investigations and provide a grievance process that both sides could use to present evidence and allow witnesses to testify. Perhaps the most controversial aspect of the 2011 guidance was the requirement that schools apply a lower burden of proof – “preponderance of evidence” – to Title IX investigations. In other words, in a school investigation, the accused is subject to punishment if it is “more likely than not” that the allegations are true, rather than the criminal standard of “beyond reasonable doubt.”

What Has Changed Under the New Interim Title IX Guidelines?

In reversing the previous guidelines, Secretary of Education Betsy Devos cited concerns that students accused of sexual misconduct may be denied due process, and that these guidelines were implemented without a “notice and comment” period in which interested parties would have been given the opportunity to express their thoughts and opinions. The new interim guidelines provide schools more flexibility in how they handle Title IX investigations with the goal of a more fair and equitable process for both sides.

Under the new interim guidelines, schools have the option to implement a higher standard of proof in Title IX cases. They can now apply either the previously recommended “preponderance of evidence” standard, or a “clear and convincing evidence” standard. The standard applied is left to the discretion of each school, but schools are now invited (and almost encouraged) to apply the higher “clear and convincing evidence” standard during the investigation of Title IX cases.

Other important changes under the interim Title IX guidelines include:

  • Investigations are to be administered by someone who has no clear biases or conflicts of interest;
  • Informal dispute resolutions such as mediation are now permitted if voluntarily agreed to by all parties;
  • Schools now have the option not to allow an appeals process, or to allow only the responding party to appeal.

What is the Difference Between “Preponderance of Evidence” and “Clear and Convincing Evidence”?

The standard of proof a school decides to apply to Title IX cases could greatly impact the chances for a falsely accused student to obtain a favorable outcome during an investigation. Under “preponderance of evidence”, an accused student can face disciplinary action even if there is a 49% chance that the allegations against them are not true. “Clear and convincing” means that it is highly probable or reasonably certain that the allegations are true. It is still below the criminal standard of “beyond reasonable doubt”, but it at least gives accused students a fairer process to work under.

Going forward, it is now more important than ever to fully understand the specific policies of the college or university that conducts the Title IX investigation. For those who are accused, it is strongly advisable to work with an attorney with extensive Title IX defense experience. Otherwise, it may be difficult to successfully navigate the complexities of the process.

Since schools have the option to choose which standard of proof they will use, many will be inclined to keep their current policies in place at least until more permanent guidance is issued by the Department of Education. However, there is one footnote in the DOE’s interim question and answer document that could prompt schools to consider adopting the “clear and convincing evidence” standard:

The standard of evidence for evaluating a claim of sexual misconduct should be consistent with the standard the school applies in other student misconduct cases. In a recent decision, a court concluded that a school denied “basic fairness” to a responding party by, among other things, applying a lower standard of evidence only in cases of alleged sexual misconduct…The lower standard may thus be seen, in context, as part of an effort to tilt the playing field against accused students, which is particularly troublesome in light of the elimination of other basic rights of the accused. When a school applies special procedures in sexual misconduct cases, it suggests a discriminatory purpose and should be avoided.

In other words, the DOE is essentially saying that if a school is applying the “preponderance of evidence” standard only in sexual misconduct cases, this could create unwanted legal exposure and could be seen by a court as a discriminatory practice.

Contact an Experienced Alabama Title IX Attorney

If you have a matter related to a Title IX violation, you should immediately contact an experienced Alabama Title IX attorney to make certain your rights are protected. Contact the skilled Title IX attorneys at Haygood Cleveland Pierce Thompson & Short at (334) 821-3892, or online, for an initial consultation.

How to file for divorce in Alabama - Haygood Cleveland Pierce Thompson & Short

How to File for Divorce in Alabama

If you live in Alabama and you’re considering filing for divorce, keep in mind that either you or your spouse must have been a legal resident of the county where you intend to file for at least six months. Alabama allows petitioners for divorce to file either a fault or no-fault divorce. For legal purposes, the spouse who files for divorce is the plaintiff and the spouse who responds to the complaint is the respondent.

Common Reasons to File a Fault Divorce

If you file a fault divorce and the family law judge agrees with your reasoning, he or she may make the divorce settlement more agreeable to you than your spouse. Typical reasons that people consider this approach include:

  • Abandonment
  • Adultery
  • Couple has lived apart for at least two years
  • Deviant sexual behavior
  • Domestic violence
  • General incompatibility
  • Habitual use of drugs or drunkenness
  • One spouse has already served two or more years of a minimum seven-year prison sentence
  • One spouse has been confined to a mental facility for at least five years and does not have a reasonable hope of recovery

When you retain legal counsel from Haygood, Cleveland, Pierce & Thompson, we can advise you on whether filing at-fault divorce is in your best interest.

Complete a Complaint for an Alabama Divorce

After deciding whether to file a fault or no-fault divorce, the next step is to complete a form called a Complaint for Divorce. You also need to select the right complaint form for your situation. The simplest type of complaint is one for a couple with no minor children who don’t have assets or debts they’re asking the courts to divide. However, one purpose of the form is determining how much court involvement you need to proceed with the divorce. This could include issues such as child custody, child support, alimony, and division of debts and property.

When completing the complaint, be sure to include the full name and address of yourself and your spouse, if known. You should also include the date of birth for each of you as well as the date of your legal marriage, the approximate date of your separation, and how long you have lived apart. After completing the form, you need to sign it in the presence of a notary public.

Filing and Serving Your Divorce Forms

After a notary public has stamped and signed your document, you need to file it with the circuit court or the clerk’s office in the same county. You will need to hand a copy of your signed complaint to a clerk rather than mail it. He or she should date stamp your Complaint for Divorce and notate that the court has filed it. If you’re not sure how to go about this, look for a family law self-help desk in the court building.

Next, you need to serve the completed form on your spouse. The simplest way to do this is when your spouse or his or her attorney agree to accept the paperwork directly. If you go this route, make sure that the attorney or your spouse signs and dates a form called Acknowledgement of Receipt. This should be available from the circuit court.

Another option is to hire a process server to deliver the paperwork and obtain a signature. This person must return to the courthouse and request that the county clerk notate your file of the accepted delivery. In situations where a spouse refuses to accept or sign a complaint, family court may send it by certified mail. It’s only when these options fail, or you simply can’t locate your spouse, that you need to post a notice several times in a local publication.

Be Prepared to Make a Full Financial Disclosure

Depending on your county of residence, both you and your spouse may need to provide the other with the following financial information:

  • Assets
  • Bank statements
  • Credit card statements
  • Debt
  • Income
  • Personal financial statements
  • Tax returns

Get Legal Help Before You File

The experienced family law attorneys at Haygood, Cleveland, Pierce & Thompson are here to help you through a stressful and emotionally challenging situation. We encourage you to contact us at 334-821-3892 to request a free consultation before you take the first step in your divorce.

Distracted Driving in Alabama - Haygood Cleveland Pierce Thompson & Short

How to Combat Distracted Driving

Driving has certainly changed over the past 10 to 20 years. It used to be that all you needed to feel concerned with was driving safely while getting from Point A to Point B. With smartphones, mapping devices, highly technological sounds systems in the car, and other types of distractions going on today, getting around safely is more of a challenge.

Not only do you need to fight your own urge to become distracted, you need to be on alert for other drivers who may be paying more attention to a distraction inside of the car than the road. Here are three clues to watch for that indicates someone you’re sharing the road with may be distracted behind the wheel:

  1. Sudden or erratic braking: A driver who isn’t paying attention to the road ahead won’t notice that cars in front of him or her are stopping until it nearly becomes too late to avoid a collision. Look for someone who frequently slams on the brakes or even appears to brake when it isn’t necessary.
  2. Drifting away from the center line: A driver who rides too close to the lane divider on either side, crosses lanes, or frequently swerves to avoid crossing lanes is probably not paying close enough attention to the task of driving. Try to maneuver your own vehicle as far away from the offending car as possible as the driver is most likely engaging in multi-tasking while behind the wheel.
  3. Lingering too long at a stop light or stop sign: If a light turns green and the driver in front of you doesn’t accelerate right away, he or she could be reading a text message, talking on a cell phone, or changing the radio station instead. The only thing you can really do is honk to get the driver’s attention and wait for him or her to proceed through the intersection.

If you suspect that a driver’s erratic behavior is due to distraction, you can call 9-1-1 to report it to the local police. However, you must wait until you’re in a safe location with your own vehicle stopped before you do so. Although it can be frustrating to share the road with distracted drivers, you must never take matters into your own hands and act aggressively towards the other driver. You need only take steps to ensure your own safety, contact the local authorities, and leave it at that.

How Not to Allow Yourself to Become Distracted Behind the Wheel

With so many things vying for your attention as you drive, it’s important to resolve not to give into them. Placing your smartphone on silent mode as soon as you get into the car is perhaps one of the most important things you can do. You don’t need text, email, and social media notifications while you’re driving anyway. The only time you should ever use a cell phone as a driver is after pulling over to report an emergency. Here are some other tips to consider:

  • Program your GPS before you leave home. If you find yourself lost anyway, never try to adjust the GPS while you’re driving. You should pull over and re-enter the information instead.
  • Don’t eat or drink while driving: When it seems like there’s a drive-thru restaurant on every corner, it can be hard to resist the urge to pull into one. Keep in mind that it’s hard to navigate a steering wheel when you’re holding food or a beverage with one hand. Hot coffee is especially dangerous.
  • Get ready for the day at home: Make sure you brush your hair and teeth, shave or apply make-up, and complete all other grooming tasks before you slip into the driver’s seat.
  • Know your car’s controls: You might reach to adjust the temperature only to discover the knob is not where you thought it was. In the few seconds it takes you to adjust, you could collide with another vehicle.

Help for Victims of Distracted Driving

Perhaps you do everything right and still ended up severely injured due to someone else’s distracted driving. Haygood, Cleveland, Pierce & Thompson, Attorneys at Law, are here to help. We encourage you to contact us at 334-821-3892 to learn more about the process of filing a personal injury lawsuit.