Injured... We can help!
Injured... We can help!
Injured... We can help!
Injured... We can help!
Injured... We can help!
Injured... We can help!

Signing Waiver

     “Please be careful” is a continuous warning parents relay to their children, but children are often faced with many risks that are outside of their—and their parents’ or guardians’—control.  This is especially true when minor children visit businesses that specifically cater as places of amusement, where things such as other rambunctious patrons, faulty equipment, poorly-trained employees, or dangerous premises can potentially cause injury, no matter how careful an individual child or their guardian may be.  Many parents and guardians question the validity of waivers they are often required to sign on behalf of their children. We are often asked, “Is this even legal?”; “Can they actually do that?” or “What does this mean?

     Adults, on the other hand, may feel more confident about their own safety, and might sign the paperwork to engage in an activity without even reading it.  By doing this, however, an adult may be giving up important legal rights—while at the same time placing themselves at the mercy of a for-profit business and its employees.

     When adults and children visit businesses offering activities that present a risk of injury, patrons are almost always required to sign a pre-injury release and waiver.  Businesses such as trampoline parks, climbing gyms, rafting companies, paintball parks, and other entertainment venues use these waivers both as an attempt to limit their liability for injuries and to discourage claims.  The most common forms describe the risks of engaging in the activity and require the participant to assume any and all responsibility for injuries or death, as well as releasing the business from liability and waiving the right to make any claims.

Winter RoadWeather conditions often impact drivers on the roadways in Alabama, and unfortunately, inclement weather often contributes to cause an increase in motor vehicle wrecks.  Rain, wintery conditions, and even bright sun or high wind may contribute to collisions.  It is important to note that every driver has a duty to use reasonable care at all times and in all conditions when operating a motor vehicle.  As such, drivers must take weather conditions into consideration and respond in a safe manner.   Using reasonable care in inclement weather may mean that a driver should travel at a speed less than the posted speed limit or should maintain a greater distance between vehicles.   Actions that may be perfectly acceptable or legal under ideal weather conditions may become unacceptable due to weather-related hazards.  When determining whether or not a driver was acting appropriately for the weather, the court may look at the kind of hazard posed by the weather, complicating factors such as traffic congestion and terrain, whether or not the driver knew to expect the adverse weather conditions, the type of vehicle driven, and the individual driver’s level of experience.

Under Alabama law, if a vehicle skids or slides on a roadway that is slippery because of ice or rain, the driver is not automatically responsible for a resulting collision.   The mere fact that a vehicle slid on the roadway into another vehicle is not enough to find the driver at fault.  The driver will only be held liable if there is proof that the driver acted unreasonably in light of the slippery conditions.  This proof most often comes from evidence the driver was aware of hazardous conditions and traveled at a speed too fast for the conditions or traveled into an area that the driver knew or should have known was unsafe.

Lack of visibility due to weather conditions, such as rain, snow, fog, or even bright sunlight, can also serve to contribute to a collision.  The fact that a driver was unable to see, however, is not necessarily a defense.  Under Alabama law, drivers have a responsibility to operate their vehicle safely for the visibility conditions, which may mean traveling below the posted speed limit, leaving a greater following distance, turning on their headlights, or even pulling off of the road and waiting until visibility improves.  If a crash occurs, the excuse of “I couldn’t see them” due to the weather is not an automatic defense.  Instead, it would be up to a judge and jury to determine whether or not the driver was acting reasonably in consideration of the weather.

Auto Insurance DocumentsAutomobile insurance policies in Alabama are designed to provide coverage to persons that are injured in motor vehicle wrecks or when a vehicle is damaged.   Every policy may contain one or more of several different types of coverage.  These coverages most often include liability coverage, medical payments coverage, collision coverage, and underinsured/uninsured motorist coverage.  Policies may also include provisions for rental insurance or loss of use.

Liability coverage is the type of coverage that is most familiar to most drivers.  Your liability coverage provides protection for you if you are the driver of a vehicle that is responsible for or “at fault” for a collision.  This coverage will pay for the damage caused to other vehicles and will provide compensation for bodily injury caused to other people by the wreck.  Keep in mind, however, that the amount your insurance company will pay for damages is not unlimited.  Alabama has a mandatory liability insurance law that requires a minimum coverage of $25,000 per person and $50,000 per incident for bodily injury and $25,000 per incident for damage to property.  A $25,000 per person policy limit means that the most anyone injured person can collect under the policy is $25,000.  If there are only two injured persons, they can each make a claim for up to $25,000.  However, if there are more than two persons injured, the most the carrier will pay for all claims is $50,000.

Unfortunately, the minimum coverage may not be sufficient to pay for all the harm suffered in a particular wreck.  Insurance carriers typically offer policies with per person bodily injury limits of $25,000, $50,000, $100,000, $250,000 and higher.  It is important to consider the value of your personal assets when deciding what limit of liability coverage is necessary to protect you and your family.  An injured person does not have to accept the policy limits to settle a claim.  In the event that the value of an injured person’s claim exceeds the liability policy limits, that person could decide to seek a judgment against your personal assets, including your wages, home, real estate, investment or retirement accounts, and other possessions.

Child with broken leg in cast Suffering an injury as an adult can be a traumatic experience.  But when your child is hurt by the negligence of another, the experience can be even worse. Not only is your child suffering, but parents may be burdened with substantial medical bills and may miss time from work to take care of an injured child.  In Alabama, when a child is injured by the negligence of another person or business, there are several legal issues you should be aware of when you consider whether to pursue legal action.

Who has the authority to bring legal action on behalf of a minor child?

Pursuant to Alabama Code § 6-5-390, a father or a mother who are married shall have an equal right to commence an action for an injury to a minor child.  When the parents of an injured child are unmarried (whether by divorce or otherwise), both parents may want to pursue the child’s claim. Alabama Code § 6-5-390 states that in the event the parents of the child are not married, the parent having “legal custody” of the child shall have the “exclusive right” to pursue the child’s personal injury claim.  In Miller v. Dismukes, 624 So. 2d 1038 (Ala. 1993), the Supreme Court of Alabama affirmed the dismissal of a lawsuit because the father who filed the claim did not have authority to bring the lawsuit under 6-5-390.  A divorce decree provided that that child’s mother had legal custody of the child, therefore, the father did not have the authority to file a claim.

Siniard 5 working groupIt can be difficult to know what to expect after you’ve hired an attorney to handle your personal injury case.  At Siniard, Timberlake & League we try to do everything we can to help you understand the process, what you’ll receive from us, and what we’ll need from you.

Here’s what you can expect after you’ve hired an attorney:

The attorney will request follow up information.

Broken glass       The saying goes that “kids will do the darnedest things,” and sometimes—especially with mischievous teens—this can include things like spray-painting walls, breaking windows and mailboxes, damaging electronics, or keying cars.  Besides being potential crimes, such activities may cause damage to property that is difficult and expensive to repair.   In Alabama, this type of activity can expose the parents and guardians of the minor children who caused the damage to legal liability for the cost of repairing or replacing any damaged property.

       Generally speaking, parents are not legally responsible for acts committed by their minor children, unless the parents were themselves somehow involved in causing the incident, such as when parents negligently entrust something like a car or firearm to a young person who is not responsible enough to handle it safely.  However, if a minor child conducts certain intentional acts, such as vandalism or graffiti, his or her parents will be financially responsible for any resulting damage.   Under Alabama’s Parental Responsibility Act, Alabama Code § 6-5-380, parents can be held legally liable for up to $1,000 in property damage caused by their child, plus legal fees and court costs.  This law applies not only to parents, but to any relative, legal guardian, or other adult who has care or control of the minor and with whom the child lives.  The law does not apply to foster parents and foster children, however.

       The Parental Responsibility Act applies to any property damage caused by the intentional, willful, or malicious acts of a minor child who is under 18 years of age.  It covers “real property” such as homes or buildings, and “personal property” such as automobiles, computers, or personal effects.  The law applies regardless of whether or not the property is owned by an individual person, a business, a private organization, a government entity (such as a school or municipal building), or even the State of Alabama itself.  Under the Act, the victim is entitled to compensation—from the child’s adult parent or guardian—for up to $1,000 worth of property damage plus the costs of bringing the action against the minor child and their parent or guardian.  The child, however, may be personally responsible for any other damage beyond the $1,000 covered under the Parental Responsibility Act, and if the parent or guardian directly contributed to the incident, such as negligently entrusting a car to the minor, then the adult’s legal liability would not be capped by the Act, either.

Backyard PoolUnder most circumstances, a landowner in Alabama has very minimal obligation to trespassers. Typically, a landowner is only required to refrain from creating traps or otherwise intentionally injuring anyone who is trespassing or on their land without permission.  With child trespassers, however, landowners owe a special duty to take reasonable steps to prevent injuries from hazards that may be considered an “attractive nuisance.”  An “attractive nuisance” is an artificial condition – meaning something made or done by human effort – that is potentially dangerous and that could potentially lure children onto the land.  The most common example of an attractive nuisance is a residential swimming pool, but Alabama courts have also held that a construction site, pit excavation, and utility tower could all also be considered attractive nuisances.  Alabama law places significant importance on the safety of children, and a landowner can be held liable for any injuries or deaths that occur if the landowner failed to take reasonable steps to keep children – even trespassers –  away from hazards presented by an attractive nuisance.

Under Alabama law, a landowner will be held liable for an injury to a child that occurs on their land if (1) the landowner knew or should have known that children would come onto the land; (2) the landowner knew or should have known that something on the land could pose an unreasonable risk of death or injury to a child; (3) that children were unlikely to appreciate the risk of the danger; and (4) that the landowner failed to take reasonable steps to secure the hazard and prevent injuries to children.  In an attractive nuisance case, the court might also look at the age, intelligence, and maturity of an injured child to determine whether or not the child should have appreciated the danger they faced.  In other words, the court is much more likely to find that a landowner is legally responsible if they failed to take reasonable steps to prevent a young child from accessing a swimming pool, than if a teenager intentionally climbed a fence and jumped into the pool without permission, despite knowing the potential risks.

It is also important to note that, under most circumstances, only a man-made “artificial condition” will be considered as an attractive nuisance, while “natural features” such as streams or caves normally will not be viewed as a potential attractive nuisance.  Making changes to the natural landscape, however, like digging an artificial pond or adding a ladder to access a cave entrance, could be considered as creating artificial conditions that may be attractive nuisances that could attract curious or mischievous children into a dangerous situation.

Work injury form
There are essentially three benefits provided to injured workers through Alabama’s Workers’ Compensation Act:

  1. Medical Benefits: As long as you are receiving treatment for an injury that arose out of and in the course of your employment and that is provided by a doctor authorized by your employer or its workers’ compensation insurance carrier, then you should not have to pay anything out of your pocket for your medical care. An injured worker cannot choose the doctor who will provide care for his or her injury. You must go to the doctor that is authorized and approved. If you are not satisfied with the approved treating physician (ATP), then you are allowed one opportunity during the course of your claim to choose a different doctor from a panel of four physicians provided by the employer or insurance carrier.
  1. Temporary Total Disability (TTD) or Temporary Partial Disability (TPD) Benefits: If you are unable to work as a result of your injury, you are entitled to Temporary Total Disability payments.  The payments should equal 2/3 of your average weekly wage (determined by reviewing your prior earnings over 52 weeks).  If you are able to work, but are not paid the same as your pre-injury wage, you are entitled to Temporary Partial Disability payments to increase your wages to 2/3 of your pre-injury average weekly wage.  Either of these benefits will be paid during the time of disability and normally cease when your approved treating physician states that you have reached maximum medical improvement (MMI).

Confused woman. Do I need a lawyerDear Siniard, Timberlake, & League,


Last week, I was involved in a car crash.  I was hit from behind and the impact caused a chain reaction.  In total there were four cars involved.  My vehicle was totaled as a result and I suffered severe burns and bruising from the airbag deployment.  As expected, I’ve also been really sore.  I did make a visit to the emergency room and am now seeing my family doctor.  Although I think I’ll be fine eventually, my family keeps urging me to consult a lawyer before I speak with the at fault driver’s insurance company.  I’m not sure if I need a lawyer and I’m concerned about how much it will cost if I do. 

 How do I decide if I should see a lawyer regarding the wreck?  

Woman with broken arm

 It’s no secret among lawyers in Alabama that our Workers’ Compensation Act provides very minimal benefits to workers who are injured on the job. In fact, Alabama law provides the nation’s lowest workers’ compensation benefits for amputations. Therefore, knowledgeable personal injury attorneys will always try to find another avenue to recover compensation in addition to workers’ compensation benefits.  This is especially important when a client suffers a severe or life changing injury on the job.  The circumstances of how an injury occurred may allow a lawyer to recover additional compensation for an injured worker.    While the majority of injured workers will be limited to workers’ compensation benefits, there a few exceptions in which additional compensation may be pursued:

  • When the injury was caused by the negligence of a “third party”

        Under Alabama law, you cannot sue your employer or even a co-worker for simple negligence if you were injured on the job.  This is the case even when an injury is clearly the fault of the employer or a co-worker.  However, if the person/entity who negligently injured you was not your employer or co-worker (i.e. a “third party”), you can bring a claim against that person/entity for compensation in addition to workers’ compensation benefits. The most common situation involves an automobile wreck. For example, if you are a delivery driver and another person runs a red light and injures you while you are making deliveries, you would be entitled to both workers’ compensation benefits and damages from the other driver. Other examples include injury by a defective product while on the job or being injured on a job site by someone acting as an independent contractor.