>> Tiffany Bittner: Hello and welcome into “Lawcall.” Here’s what’s coming up this evening. We’re going to be taking your phone calls about trucking accidents and motor vehicle accidents. Are there any differences between a traffic accident and one involving an 18 wheeler? We’re going to answer that. And who is responsible, the driver or the company that he or she works for? We’re going to take your questions tonight. So give us a call 855 law 1955. Plus, if you think that you’ve got an injury claim, you’d better act now. We’re going to talk about the statute of limitations and if you find yourself in a position where you’re facing a divorce, just know that you don’t have to end your marriage in a courtroom. We’re going to explain what divorce mediation is all about. But first tonight, personal injury attorney Kirby Farris is here to take a look at one of your email questions from Tasha. She says “I was behind an 18 wheeler and it strayed from the road, blowing rocks back onto my car. It was so loud when it hit I ran off the road, injured myself and damaged my car. The trucking company says that I was following too close and they’re not responsible. Is there true?” Again, that’s from Tasha. What do you think after hearing her question?
>> Kirby Farris: There’s a lot of moving parts in that. That is an excellent question. I’m sorry that happened to you. But let’s start by following too close. Alabama has a law on that, a rule. It says you have to leave 20 feet for every 10 miles an hour that you’re traveling. So basically one car length for every 10 miles an hour. If you’re driving 50 miles an hour you need about five car lengths between you and the car in front of you. That’s a good rule of thumb to determine whether you’re following too closely or not. Normally the rule for debris flying off a road is that the driver of the car that throws the debris from the road is not responsible for damage. However, in this case if the trucker acted negligently and allowed his rig to get offer the road and throw a lot of debris, and Tasha, if you weren’t following too close, then you very well may have a claim and I’m sorry you had to go through that.
>> Tiffany Bittner: For more information you can head to Kirby’s website, it’s deliveringjustice.com or you can go to wbrc.com and click on the “Lawcall” link. In tonight’s sidebar ken Riley explains why you need to act now if you have a personal injury claim.
>> Ken Riley: If your injury happened recently, it’s not too late. Not yet. But time is running out. The statute of limitations sets a limit on how long you can wait to file a personal injury claim n. Alabama that deadline is usually two years. Some injuries are obvious like a broker arm. Others might be subtler like a hairline fracture that doesn’t cause problems for a few months or weeks. Maybe it will get better on its own or maybe it won’t. If you decide to wait to see if it gets better before exploring your legal options, you’re playing with fire. As soon as that two-year window closes your chances of recovering is gone forever. As soon as there’s any indication of an injury, get legal advice immediately. Otherwise you may suffer for an injury you will never be compensated for. If you have a question, send it along to Lawcalltv.com. I’m ken Riley of Farris, Riley & Pitt in Birmingham.
>> Tiffany Bittner: Welcome in. We hope your holiday has been great. Had a great Christmas with your family and friends and glad you tuned in to watch “Lawcall.” We want you to be a part of our show and what that means is picking up the phone and giving us a call if you’ve got a question. Tonight our topic is we’re saying motor vehicle accidents and then we’re sort of emphasizing accidents involving an 18 wheeler because it’s a little bit different than just two cars colliding. So if you have been in an accident with an 18 wheeler or just an accident in general and you need some information, tonight is the perfect show for you. We’ve got our good friend Kirby Farris here to help answer your phone calls and questions. And Kirby, a lot of folks on the holidays traveling back and forth, through the next week.
>> Kirby Farris: Yeah, you had a ton of people out on the road travel to go see family, shopping, people unfortunately get in a little bit of a hurry during the holidays. Then you have a lot of product being moved during the holidays. Stores are very busy this time of year. A lot of things moving out there. Weather is often a factor. Although it wasn’t this weekend.
>> Tiffany Bittner: Yeah.
>> Kirby Farris: But it can be a factor this time of year. We tend to see more accidents unfortunately this time of year in our firm. We wanted to put some emphasis on 18 wheeler accidents tonight because different set of rules. You know, if you’re in a car wreck in Alabama, Alabama law applies to that. But when you’re in a wreck involving an 18 wheeler often there’s a body of federal law that applies to that and it can be very different. You often find yourself in federal court when you’re involved in 18 wheeler accident. And unfortunately the injuries are often much more severe.
>> Tiffany Bittner: And the companies are not necessarily locally based. They’re going to be across state lines.
>> Kirby Farris: Exactly. That’s what ends up putting you in federal court so often. So you have different rules. Unfortunately, you generally have more injuries and we’re certainly not picking on truck drivers because the vast majority of them do an outstanding job.
>> Tiffany Bittner: Sure. If you have questions, give us a call. We’ve got Jesse who’s called you tonight from jasper. Wants to ask a question. Hey, Jesse.
>> Caller: Hey, baby.
>> Kirby Farris: Hi Jesse.
>> Caller: How are you?
>> Kirby Farris: Doing great. How are you?
>> Caller: I’m great. Thanks for asking. My son got killed, the lady was driving a ford pickup truck and she was under the influence of narcotics and she killed my son at a red light. He was stopped at a red light. And I’d like to know what this was five years ago, I think. But there was a rookie cop come out there and he didn’t secure the area and there was people walking around looking at my son and he was all broke up and metal stuck in his head two or three times and just busted all to pieces. And this cop didn’t secure the scene.
>> Tiffany Bittner: Okay. Mr. Jesse, do have you a specific question or do you want to know if there’s something to be done about how the case was handled?
>> Caller: Well, I’d like to know if there’s a statute of limitations on suing the city.
>> Tiffany Bittner: Certainly.
>> Kirby Farris: That’s a great question. Suing a municipality is very different. There are a couple of different rules that apply to that. And this one is very important. If you ever have a claim against a municipality, you need to know that there is a six-month window. Normally in Alabama you have two years to file a lawsuit. But with a municipality you have to file what’s called a notice of claim within six months. And if you don’t do that, you lose your claim altogether. There’s still a two-year window for filing a lawsuit, but you have to file a notice with a municipality. So anytime you have a claim like Jesse where you’re questioning something that a municipal government, police department, fire department, does, keep in mind you only have six months to do to get that initial paperwork filed. Otherwise you lose your claim.
>> Tiffany Bittner: Thank you for calling, Mr. Jesse. And we’re so sorry for your loss. Angela is up next. Hey, Angela. Welcome in. Hey, Angela. Hello? One more time.
>> Caller: Yes.
>> Tiffany Bittner: There you go. Hey. Go ahead. We can hear you. Go ahead with your question.
>> Caller: Okay. I just wanted to know, my fiancé had an accident in February with a truck, another truck driver backed into him and when we thought we were fine at first but a couple of weeks passed on by and he started having problems driving, started just about passing out, started getting nervous and everything. And so we got pulled we stopped in Pennsylvania and they had to get him to a doctor and they found out he had a concussion. And they was helping him and everything, his job was, was helping him and everything and they went so f . Now they found out he’s not able to work anymore, they said to contact the lawyer I meant the truck driver that hit him. And it’s been so long and I just wanted to know whether the statute of limitations of getting in touch with them.
>> Tiffany Bittner: So it was last February, is that what you said?
>> Caller: Yes.
>> Tiffany Bittner: Okay.
>> Kirby Farris: It depends on what state you were in. In Alabama it’s two years. The shortest statute of limitations I know of, I don’t know all 50 but the shortest one I know is Tennessee and it’s one year. So we’re still within even a one-year statute of limitations. So I think you are still fine on the statute of limitations but you need to get to see a lawyer right away. I’ve actually handled that exact same case. A truck backing into another truck in a parking lot. And we have learned that, especially from the NFL, that concussions are serious injuries. You know, when I was young and playing sports, we didn’t think much about them. But they are very serious injuries, we’ve learned. And I would encourage y’all to get to see a lawyer right away and when you see a lawyer, ask the question if they handle trucking cases. Because again, like we were talking about earlier, Tiffany, those are specific. They’re grounded in different law, and you need
>> Tiffany Bittner: Unique to deal with.
>> Kirby Farris: Yeah a little bit and you need to deal with a law firm that understands trucking litigation.
>> Tiffany Bittner: When we come back we’ll take more of your calls and questions. The number’s right there on your screen. Stay with us.
>> Fox 6, WBRC with Tiffany Bittner and from the Birmingham law firm of Farris, Riley & Pitt: personal injury attorney Kirby Farris, a proven advocate known for his aggressive courtroom skills; personal injury attorney Ken Riley, practical, professional, recognized by Birmingham magazine as one of Birmingham’s top attorneys; and personal injury attorney Brett Turnbull with numerous recoveries of over $1 million. Plus legal insight from Tuscaloosa attorney Bob Prince, of Prince, Glover & Hayes. Plus guest attorneys from across Alabama. Your rights, your calls, live.
>> Tiffany Bittner: You may have heard about the use of mediation in legal battles but how does it work? Tuscaloosa attorney Bob Prince explains in tonight’s legal brief.
>> Bob Prince: Mediation can be used to solve a variety of disputes without resort to go a trial. In particular, mediators are getting a lot more calls in recent years about divorces. In many cases the parties are much happier coming to a mutual agreement rather than letting an unattached third party like a judge decide what becomes of their assets and arrangements with their children. But there are some things to keep in mind. Mediation isn’t necessarily a magic solution. It’s strictly voluntary. The mediator doesn’t have binding authority and if the mediation isn’t successful, the case can still be tried. Mediation fees are normally billed on an hourly basis, although some mediators may set a flat fee for services. The total cost will depend on how long it takes for the parties to come to an agreement. Still, for many people, mediation has turned an uncomfortable legal dispute into an outcome that everyone can live with. That’s your legal brief for tonight. I’m Tuscaloosa attorney Bob Prince. Back to you guys.
>> Tiffany Bittner: We’re talking about motor vehicle accidents and we’re emphasizing accidents involving 18 wheelers so that’s our focus tonight. If you have a question, give us a call. A minute ago we heard from someone who had been in an accident and they were out of state and initially they didn’t feel like they were hurt. And so my question I guess to you tonight Kirby is, that’s sort of a familiar situation where people are in accidents, you don’t feel like you’re hurt and then you realize you did sustain some injuries a week later, a couple of weeks later you start realizing that there’s something to that. So how do you handle that?
>> Kirby Farris: You know, Tiffany, Angela made a great point. I’m glad she mentioned that because we see that all the time. We’ll see people that really don’t want to be hurt. You know, you’re in an accident, you’re shaken up. You do hurt, but you think it’s going to get better. We all want to believe that. But then you end up having to go see a doctor. If you’ve been in an accident and you are experiencing some problems, the best thing you can do for yourself is go get checked out. You need to do that before you do anything else. We have seen so many times people have a, you know, a neck problem after an accident. They don’t think is serious and six months later they end up learning they have a herniated disc and having to have surgery. So get yourself checked out, if you’re experiencing pain after an accident.
>> Tiffany Bittner: Yeah. Important to know. We’ve got Gwen calling from Brookwood tonight. Hey, Gwen.
>> Caller: Hi.
>> Tiffany Bittner: What’s going on?
>> Caller: This is a little bit off-course from what you’re talking about but I had a question. I live in a rural area and I’ve had my windshield broken one time and we have these big dump trucks that carry rocks, big rocks, with no cover, no tags, and we as you mentioned before, you have to stay a certain length behind these trucks. And what is our legal recourse when they throw rocks and hit windshields?
>> Kirby Farris: That’s a great question. Like we talked about a few minutes ago, what the state law is, it’s 20 feet or about a car length for every 10 miles an hour. I think Gwen was talking about she probably lives in a rural area she was describing. If you’re there and you have a 30, 35 mile per hour speed limit then you need to leave about three car lengths between you and those trucks you’re following. But still, sometimes rocks come off those trucks if they’re hauling gravel. The rule in Alabama is this, if a rock comes or anything comes off of a truck, comes off of the truck itself and strikes your car, then that truck and that company is liable for repairing whatever damage is done to your car. Now, if a rock comes up off the roadway, there’s a gravel in the roadway, another vehicle hits it, slings that gravel up on your car, then that driver is not responsible for that. They can’t help that. But you are supposed to secure your load on a truck such that it doesn’t throw gravel or other things onto other motorist’s cars.
>> Tiffany Bittner: How do you prove that? If you’re going down the road, I guess she’s saying some of these trucks don’t have tags.
>> Kirby Farris: Got to have tags. She probably hasn’t been able to see exactly where the tag is on the truck. The thing to do is if it breaks your windshield, get the tag number, who owns the truck, the time and where you are.
>> Tiffany Bittner: Location.
>> Kirby Farris: So you can show the company or the insurance company I was here, you did have a truck here, and I’m telling you that rock came off the truck.
>> Tiffany Bittner: Okay. Judson is our next caller from McCalla. Welcome into “Lawcall.”
>> Caller: Hello. I’ve got a question. I was my wife and I were out shopping the other day and we were at a building construction we were going past a building construction site and the contractor’s truck was sitting halfway out into the street. It was very narrow. I was easing by him and all of a sudden the driver gets in the truck and begins to pull off and scratches or dents scratches and dented my fender. I went to my body shop and it was below $1,000 to get it fixed. I didn’t know whether to pursue it or to not pursue it with the company. Of course, the driver denied having any place in it. He said that his truck was still and that I hit him. Which I didn’t. But it is my word against his. And I was just wondering what would you recommend.
>> Tiffany Bittner: Sure.
>> Kirby Farris: That’s a great question. Unfortunately what you’re going to be left with is a deductible if you pursue that under your own insurance. You’ll have to pay something to get your car fixed when you didn’t do anything wrong. So I would encourage you to find out who the insurance carrier is, make a claim with the insurance carrier for that contractor. My suspicion is that because that is in insurance terms a fairly insignificant claim that they may accept that claim and take care of it for you and prevent you from having to pay a deductible that you really shouldn’t have to pay in that circumstance.
>> Tiffany Bittner: Okay. Let’s take a break. When we come back we’ll have more of your calls and questions. Some great questions tonight. So stick around. We’ll be right back.
>> Tiffany Bittner: Okay, here are our upcoming dockets. January 3, all about injuries. January 10, ask us anything. That’s always a fun interesting show. Tune in and watch or call us if you have a question. And then January 17 will be can my boss do that. So please, make sure that you’re a part of all of those shows. Join us, watch us, call us. Whatever you want to do, make sure you’re a part of it. If you’ve been watching to want, please get in touch with Bob Prince, he’s in Tuscaloosa, 800 536 1105. Or Princelaw.net if you have questions for him. Kirby Farris is with Farris, Riley & Pitt. They’re here in Birmingham and they work across the state. So if you’re watching, no matter where you’re watching from, give them a call 324 1212. That’s his website phone number. Website is deliveringjustice.com. And you can find them if you get this information, you can always look them up on Facebook and they’re on twitter. So make sure you get in touch with the law firms that you see. They always say that if they can’t help you with whatever case or claim that you may have, then they can point new the direction of someone who can. So that’s a good tool, right?
>> Kirby Farris: We’re always glad to help people this any way we can. It’s the last show of the year and I want to tell you thank you for doing this with us. It’s been a great year.
>> Tiffany Bittner: Hard to believe, January, looking at the calendar, as we get ready to move into January. It’s hard to believe it’s January. It doesn’t feel like it, it’s warm outside but hopefully that will change soon. Back to business tonight. David from Birmingham, he’s calling us. David, we want to hear from you, sir.
>> Caller: Yes.
>> Tiffany Bittner: Hey there.
>> Kirby Farris: Hey, David.
>> Caller: Hey. I have a wrongful death case which is past mediation and I have a question whether the funeral expenses can be paid out of that expense from the wrongful death.
>> Tiffany Bittner: Okay.
>> Kirby Farris: Normally they can. In a wrongful death case, Alabama has a very, very unique wrongful death law. Alabama’s wrongful death law does not take into account things like lost wages. Alabama law case that the value of everybody’s life should be treated equally and that we should look at the conducted of the offending party or the defendant to determine what kind of award should be given in a wrongful death case. And often when you when you’re going through the process of a wrongful death case and finishing up the probate work, often the court will allow you to take the funeral expenses out.
>> Tiffany Bittner: We know the funeral expenses can be quite expensive so that would help. Lisa is up next in Jasper. Hey, Lisa.
>> Caller: Hey.
>> Tiffany Bittner: Hi there.
>> Kirby Farris: Hey, Lisa.
>> Caller: Hey.
>> Tiffany Bittner: What’s going on?
>> Caller: Not much.
>> Tiffany Bittner: Tell us what’s on your mind.
>> Caller: Well, my husband was in a car wreck, truck wreck, I’m sorry, involving another big truck. And then what happened was he was driving down the road and this other truck was parked on the shoulder. And she decided to cut across two lanes of traffic and cut him off and it caused him to broadside her. Well, the insurance company is trying to say that it was his fault, that he didn’t have control of his truck. And that he rear-ended her. But we have pictures that show that he clearly t boned her in the trailer and that she was clearly 90 the middle her truck was obviously across the lane and it’s messing up his insurance really bad because the insurance company said that he was at fault. Now, the police report says that he was not at fault. And there was people that witnessed what happened. What can we do to correct this?
>> Kirby Farris: Was he injured, Lisa?
>> Caller: Was he injured?
>> Kirby Farris: Yes, ma’am.
>> Caller: No. I mean, it you know, it banged him up pretty bad. You know, he’s sore and all from it. But other than his pride and it totaling out the truck, it didn’t injure him.
>> Kirby Farris: There’s a lot you can do about that. We actually are working on a case that’s almost identical to the case you’re describing now where a truck came off the side of the road into our lane of travel. Generally what we have to do in those cases is hire an expert that has the ability to reconstruct accidents based on the damage to the vehicles where the impact points are. It’s a real science. And these guys are extraordinary at it. And that may have to be used in your husband’s case. But he needs to get to see a lawyer because there is something that can be done about that. And he’s got, I’m sure, lost wages going on and I have seen the cost of the trucks and trailers. It’s extraordinary. So get in to see a lawyer, Lisa. That can be helped.
>> Tiffany Bittner: All right. Have a great New Year’s, New Year’s Eve, New Year’s Day. We’ll see you next weekend in 2016. Hard to believe, isn’t it?
>> Kirby Farris: It is. Thanks, Tiffany.
>> Tiffany Bittner: Have a great night, everybody. See you then.