Posted On: June 17, 2009

Alabama Man Sentenced for 2005 Injury Accident that Nearly Killed 16-year-old Girl

A former school board member and bank president from Marshall County was sentenced this week for a 2005 DUI accident that sent a 16-yeal-old girl to the hospital with life threatening injuries. Conrad Hamilton, 65, who pled guilty this past March to felony assault, ran a stop sign at Alabama 69 and Fourth Street NE on Christmas Eve and smashed into the vehicle in which Tiffany Hill was riding.

The accident left the Arab High School student unconscious and on full life support with severe brain injuries. According to reports, she was in the hospital for three weeks, 10 of those in the ICU. Upon returning home, her parents noticed a tremendous change in the girl. Her brain trauma had left her with the mental capacity of a seven-year-old and required her to be on medication to prevent seizures.

Because of the accident, Hill missed the second half of her sophomore year and had to repeat the grade, as well as enroll in special education classes. According to recent reports, she still has some short-term memory loss and although she graduated high school, she has a hard time with reading and comprehension. She also experiences bad headaches everyday.

I’ve counseled clients who have been injured due to someone else’s negligence and the stories are too sad to relate. Many times, the penalties that our legal system hands out are insufficient from the family’s standpoint. This is why it is so important to retain a skilled legal professional. As an experienced Birmingham personal injury attorney, I aggressively represent my clients to the utmost of my abilities.

In this case, the judge said he had a difficult decision to make, because the defendant was not only remorseful, but also a respected member of the community. Nevertheless, Mr. Hamilton made a conscious choice to drive drunk that December night and the judge let that fact, along with the young victim’s extensive injuries, guide his decision.

In the end, the judge sentenced Hamilton to a suspended six-year jail term with the Alabama Department of Corrections; three years probation; six months in the county jail; 500 hours of community service; fines and court costs; and an order to complete a Marshall County Court Referral program.

The judge also added another 12-month jail sentence at the end of Hamilton's probation, saying that whether or not Hamilton has to serve the additional 12 months would depend on his conduct during the probationary period.

It’s a shame that the victim and her family had to wait three years for closure in this case, yet their pain will continue regardless of the punishment the court recently handed down, which is why I have made it my mission to help clients with similar personal injury stories.

Hamilton sentenced to six months in the Marshall County Jail,, June 8, 2009

Tags: accident, brain, defense, dui, ICU, jail, medication, mental capacity, personal injury, seizure, sentence

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Posted On: June 3, 2009

Potential for Injuries at Alabama Theme Parks Not Amusing

Summer is here and soon school will be letting out. Every Alabama family knows with summer vacation comes that annual trek to the amusement park. Whether it’s a facility in Huntsville or Bessemer, Auburn or Dothan, for most folks the thought of broken bones, closed-head injuries or even accidental death are hardly things that come readily to mind while strolling down those colorful and noisy midways.

As a Birmingham personal injury attorney, I enjoy some controlled excitement from time to time, but a recent article got me thinking about theme park safety. Amid the smell of cotton candy and sounds of children having a great time, there could be danger lurking. Exercise caution the next time you go.

Some people worry all the time about being injured on roller coasters, but most don’t give it a second thought. But beneath their glossy, candy-colored exteriors, rides may be shoddily maintained, which can easily turn a roller coaster ride deadly. And although amusement park owners point to an impressive-sounding 0.00057-percent industry accident rate, experts say that number is misleading because the actual accident reporting is left to the parks themselves. Underreporting may be the norm since the more they report, the more fines they incur and the more trouble they get into.

The most chilling news is that not all amusement parks are inspected equally. Some states, Alabama among them, do not regulate rides at all. Others such as Mississippi and Washington, D.C., regulate traveling carnivals but not permanent ones. Among the safest states are Florida and Pennsylvania, both of which employ full-time inspectors who do nothing but evaluate amusement rides for safety.

Unfortunately, better legislative attention only comes following a tragedy. In California, legislation to regulate theme parks was introduced after a 1997 disaster at Waterworld USA, where a waterslide collapsed and killed one high school student while injuring 32 others after they attempted to climb on together. As a result, California now has permanent theme park regulations.

Drowning is not the only threat at water parks. A 22-year-old broke his neck after going down head first on a waterslide at a New Jersey park. The six-foot-two, 225-pound man either hit the bottom of the pool with his head or simply the force of hitting the water snapped his neck back. Regardless, he is now a quadriplegic -- the park settled his personal injury suit for $4 million.

According to experts, waterslides can turn riders into human projectiles hurtling at speed up to 25 miles per hour and requiring levels of physical competence that are simply unnecessary for riding even the scariest roller coaster. While the physical challenge is clearly part of the fun, it also increases the level of risk. The danger lies many times in the illusion that a water ride is safe, and because parks sell their rides as amusements that are entertaining and fun.

10 Things Theme Parks Won't Tell You,, May 29, 2009

Tags: amusment, injury, law suit, roller coaster, theme park, wrongful death

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