Posted On: August 26, 2009

Injured in an Alabama Auto Accident: Whose Car Was that Anyway?

When it comes to automobile accidents, liability can go beyond just simply the driver of a car or truck, but also to the vehicle's owner. As a Birmingham personal injury lawyer, I have represented enough car, truck and SUV accident victims to know that an incompetent driver is just one piece in the liability puzzle. For any driver, passenger or pedestrian hurt by the actions of another driver, you know the monetary, physical and psychological costs of such accidents.

But whether you have been injured by a drunk driver, an inexperienced driver or just someone who was distracted from the primary responsibility of operating a motor vehicle, the owner of that vehicle also has a responsibility NOT to lend or otherwise offer the use of his or her car to an incompetent driver.

If you or I lend our vehicle to another person, we are each subject to liability for compensatory and punitive damages if that driver causes a crash that results in personal injury to another. The key here is competency.

Every vehicle owner has a legal duty to the driving public, as well as the pedestrians and bicycle riders who share the road with automobiles, not to provide a vehicle to someone who is not competent to drive that car or truck. You must also understand that incompetency takes many forms, such as inexperience (a new driver or someone who is not licensed for that type of vehicle), intoxication (drunk or otherwise impaired from alcohol, illicit drugs, or even prescription medication), or someone with a bad driving record (even Aunt Millie, if she has too many speeding tickets).

So what do you have to look for? The factors that contribute to a cause of action for negligent and/or wanton entrustment of a vehicle are the following:

(1) The entrustment of a vehicle; (2) to an incompetent driver; (3) with the knowledge that the person is incompetent to operate a motor vehicle; (4) proximate cause; and finally (5) damages caused by that person in the operation of the vehicle.

In Alabama, the test would be whether or not the person who entrusted their motor vehicle knew that they were providing their car or truck to an incompetent driver; or from the circumstances could have or should have known of that driver’s incompetence ahead of time. A personal injury attorney will certainly try to prove this by showing specific acts of incompetency that the person giving the keys knew or should have known about.

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Tags: Alabama injury lawyer, auto accident, Brimingham personal injury attorney, incompetence, liability, person injury, vehicle ownership

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Posted On: August 12, 2009

Multiple Injuries, One Fatality Related to Honda Airbag Modules Recalled in Alabama, Nationwide

An automobile accident is bad enough when another driver makes an error causing you serious injury, but no one expects that the safety equipment designed to protect you in a car crash will actually be the cause of physical injuries or possibly death. Yet, this is why Honda is recalling nearly 500,000 of its Civic and Accord models, as well as some Acura cars, many of which are being driven in Birmingham, Mobile, Huntsville and other cities throughout Alabama.

As a Birmingham personal injury lawyer, I’ve handled many automotive defective equipment cases, but this one is perhaps worse in that it involves a car part that is supposed to save lives, not kill people. According to reports, the defective components are part of these cars’ steering wheel airbag system. During operation, portions of the airbag inflation system can break off and be propelled at the driver or passengers.

One fatality has already been reported, as well as several other non-fatal injuries, which involve this specific airbag defect. Back in November of last year, Honda announced it would recall some of its 2001 model year Accord and Civic sedans, but now the company has expanded that recall to include another 440,000 cars.

According to news reports, the potentially life-threatening defect is part is the vehicle’s driver-side airbag inflator assembly, which can rupture as a result of excessive air pressure and potentially cause metal fragments to shoot out through the airbag, possibly hitting vehicle occupants.

I know there are many people who drive Honda cars and I worry for them if this defect is not fixed soon. Being an Alabama personal injury attorney, I understand how this type of vehicle problem can only make an already bad automobile crash much worse. Nobody can imagine that an automotive safety system will actually hurt them, but in this case it could easily happen, which is why Honda is now recalling the affected vehicles.

The safety recall covers a number of 2001 and 2002 Accords, 2001 Civics and some 2002 and 2003 Acura TL models. The driver's side airbag is the defective component that needs to be replaced on the affected vehicles. Owners can check to see if their vehicle is affected by visiting Honda’s owner website and logging on. Honda has encouraged its customers to wait until they receive a recall notice before going to a dealership, since it may take a while for the parts to be in stock.


Honda recalls 440,000 cars for airbag risk, MSNBC.com, July 31, 2009

Tags: Accord, Acura, airbag, Alabama injury lawyer, Automobile Recall, Birmingham product liability attorney, Civic, defective equipment, Honda, injury, product liability, wrongful death

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