Hare Wynn Announces New Associate

Hare Wynn announces the addition of Jonathan B. Fannin, associate attorney – to its Lexington, KY. office.

“We are pleased to add Jonathan to our team- he will help build on Hare Wynn’s current strength in nursing home abuse and wrongful death litigation, as well as the firm’s personal injury and consumer fraud practices,” said Matt Minner, Managing Partner of the firm’s Kentucky office.

Jonathan grew up in Morehead, Kentucky. He obtained his undergraduate degree in philosophy from Morehead State University in 2011 before going on to earn his Juris Doctor from the University of Kentucky College of Law in 2014.  Upon graduation, he accepted a position as a law clerk to the Honorable Justice Daniel J. Venters on the Kentucky Supreme Court.

Jonathan will work primarily in the areas of Personal Injury and Wrongful Death litigation.

Nine Hare Wynn Attorneys Named to 2018 Best Lawyers® in America List

 

Hare Wynn Newell & Newton; LLP is pleased to announce that nine lawyers have been named to the 2018 Edition of Best Lawyers, the oldest and most respected peer review  publication in the legal profession.  

Best Lawyers has published their list for over three decades, earning the respect of the profession, the media, and the public as the most reliable, unbiased source of legal referrals. Its first international list was published in 2006 and since then has grown to provide lists in over 70 countries.

Best Lawyers is the most effective tool in identifying critical legal expertise,” said CEO Steven Naifeh.”Inclusion on this list shows that an attorney is respected by his or her peers for professional success.”

Lawyers on the Best Lawyers in America list are divided by geographic region and practice areas. They are reviewed by their peers on the basis of professional expertise, and undergo an authentication process to make sure they are in current practice and in good standing.

Hare Wynn would like to congratulate the following attorneys named to the 2018 Best Lawyers in America list:

  • Leon Ashford:
    • Commercial Litigation
    • Bet-the-Company Litigation
    • Transportation Law
    • Personal Injury Litigation – Plaintiffs
    • Medical Malpractice Law – Plaintiffs
    • Leon Ashford – Product Liability Litigation – Plaintiffs
  • Michael Ermert:
    • Personal Injury Litigation – Plaintiffs
  • John Haley:
    • Commercial Litigation
    • Litigation – Securities
  • Bruce McKee:
    • Appellate Practice
  • Don McKenna:
    • Commercial Litigation
    • Mass Tort Litigation / Class Actions – Plaintiffs
  • Matthew Minner:
    • Personal Injury Litigation – Plaintiffs
  • James Moncus:
    • Commercial Litigation
  • Scott Powell:
    • Commercial Litigation
    • Bet-the-Company Litigation
    • Personal Injury Litigation – Plaintiffs
  • Shay Samples:
    • Personal Injury Litigation – Plaintiffs
    • Medical Malpractice Law – Plaintiffs

 

A GMO Company Pulled a Fast One on American Farmers – and Cost Them Billions

Syngenta

The debate over GMOs – genetically-modified organisms – isn’t just about consumer health.

It’s also about the lengths GMO companies will go to make money, even if it means hurting American farmers.

Take Syngenta, a Swiss maker of genetically-modified corn. In a relentless pursuit of profit at all costs, Syngenta sold two strains of genetically modified corn (Agrisure Viptera and Agrisure Duracade) to American farmers without the approval of one of our biggest export markets for corn: China.

Syngenta broadly marketed Viptera and Duracade corn to farmers across the United States, knowing that the corn containing the unapproved traits would be commingled with all other corn in the commodity corn system so that every shipment of corn bound for export markets would contain corn with those traits.

In 2013, China began rejecting shipments American corn because those shipments contained the unapproved traits Syngenta had broadly marketed.

The result: thanks to Syngenta, American farmers lost access to the Chinese market.  The resulting decrease in demand for American corn led to a drop in the price that American farmers received for every bushel of corn they sold. It is estimated that American corn farmers lost more than $5 Billion. All while Syngenta profited.

But they wouldn’t be off the hook for long.

Syngenta Falls in the First of Several Lawsuits

Understandably, corn farmers in Kansas had had enough.

Hare Wynn’s own Scott Powell, working with attorneys from three other firms, represented a class of over 7,000 Kansas corn farmers in a recent trial in Kansas.

They explained that Syngenta’s negligence resulted in serious economic harm and the loss of a major market for their product. They pointed to the price of corn dropping as a result of Syngenta’s negligence. They shared stories of loss, hardship, and betrayal.

The jury in their case saw the facts and listened to their stories, and in the end, delivered a historic verdict in the form of a $217.7 million award for the Kansas growers.

The lead attorneys released a statement after the verdict, saying, “This is only the beginning. We look forward to pursuing justice for thousands more corn farmers in the months ahead.”

Class actions for farmers in Arkansas, Missouri, Nebraska, Iowa, Illinois, South Dakota, and Ohio have been certified and set for trial in 2018. Syngenta may have realized short-term profit from their negligence, but a partnership between attorneys and fed-up farmers will result in justice served against a corporation that saw only dollar signs instead of real American families.

The lesson from this first trial is clear: when big corporations hurt American citizens, the legal system can ensure that justice is delivered. By joining forces, the 7,000 victorious farmers in Kansas – and thousands more whose turn at justice will come – demonstrated the power of the citizen to fight back – and win.

Tremendous economic damage was done by Switzerland-based Syngenta when the big corporation knowingly sold genetically modified strains of corn to American farmers before the corn was approved by China. The two strains, Agrisure Viptera and Agrisure Duracade, were rejected by China in 2013 after MIR162 – a genetic trait found in Viptera – was detected in the corn. At that point, MIR162 was not approved by China, but Syngenta didn’t bother to wait on the country’s approval before selling the corn to the U.S.

Because China is a major importer of United States corn, the blow to American farmers was crushing. The rejection of corn shipments resulted in massive losses totaling about $5 billion for farmers across the country – while Syngenta came out on top, letting the farmers take the fall for their corporate negligence.

But then the tables turned.

The Farmers Fight Back – and Win Big

Plaintiffs from Kansas filed a lawsuit against Syngenta in the first of eight such lawsuits. One of the attorneys who represented them was Hare Wynn’s own Scott Powell. After deliberation that lasted half a day, the jury awarded $217,700,000 in compensatory damages to more than 7,000 Kansas corn farmers – and lawsuits in other states will be on the docket soon.

The four attorneys who represented the plaintiffs – Don Downing of Gray, Ritter & Graham, P.C., Patrick Stueve of Stueve Siegel Hanson LLP, William Chaney of Gray Reed & McGraw LLP, and of course, Hare Wynn’s Scott Powell – issued a statement about the outcome:

“The verdict is great news for corn farmers in Kansas and corn growers throughout the country who were seriously hurt by Syngenta’s actions. This is only the beginning. We look forward to pursuing justice for thousands more corn farmers in the months ahead.”

Hare Wynn Is Dedicated to Justice

Fighting for the rights of those who have been victimized by negligence or recklessness is what we do best, and we are honored to have played a role in the Kansas farmers’ victory. Stay tuned for news on future verdicts in ongoing Syngenta litigation.

Hare Wynn Achieves Favorable Settlement for Dozens of Mayflower Residents

Hare Wynn Newell & Newton, a law firm with offices in Little Rock and Fayetteville, announced today that it has reached a favorable settlement on behalf of dozens of residents and homeowners in Mayflower adversely affected by the 2013 rupture of the Exxon Mobil Pegasus Pipeline.

The pipeline rupture on March 29, 2013, caused an estimated 150,000 gallons of abrasive Canadian tar sands oil to flow through the Northwoods subdivision of Mayflower, requiring dozens of homes to be evacuated. The oil reached waters associated with Lake Conway, a popular recreational lake in Faulkner County.

The spill displaced scores of Mayflower residents and disrupted the lives of hundreds of others.

The Exxon Pegasus pipeline was constructed, in large part, with pre-World War II materials and technology. Despite the pipeline’s age, Exxon reversed the direction of flow and pumped the heavy, coarse tar sands oil through the aging pipeline. The pipeline was unable to handle the pressure of the flow, resulting in a seam rupture and subsequent spill.

In 2013, Hare Wynn attorneys Shawn Daniels and Don McKenna filed suit against Exxon Mobil Corp. in Faulkner County Circuit Court for individuals who lived in close proximity to the spill. The matter was settled prior to trial.

Exxon Mobil has already paid more than $5 million to settle lawsuits brought by federal and state regulators.

The Danger of Overloaded Tractor-Trailers: Our Truck Accident Attorneys Weigh In

truck accident attorneys

Did you know that 18-wheelers can weigh 25 times as much as a passenger car? It’s true – and that weight difference can cause a lot of injury, or even death, in the event of an accident. The federal government has placed restrictions on the maximum weight limits of tractor-trailers in an effort to reduce the number of disastrous crashes involving big-rigs, yet nearly a third of all trucks are overloaded in spite of the regulations imposed on them and the risks they are taking.

Putting the Public in Danger

When a truck driver or a trucking company overloads a truck, several risks come into play:

  • Misplaced Center of Gravity. An overloaded tractor-trailer experiences an upward shift in its center of gravity, which makes it more likely to roll over and generally harder to control. If a truck has a rollover accident, multiple lanes can be blocked and the injuries can be numerous.
  • Faster Wearing of Tires. Too much weight causes tires to wear down faster, and tires can blow out under the increased pressure. Aside from the fact that a blown-out tire can cause an accident, the debris from the tire can cause a crash when drivers swerve to avoid getting hit by a tire piece or a steel belt.
  • Roadway Damage. Overweight trucks can wear down a road faster than usual, creating potholes and other surface issues that can pose a danger to other drivers – especially motorcyclists.

Taking the Risk

In spite of these risks, the U.S. Department of Transportation estimates that 1 in 3 tractor-trailers are overloaded, which increases the likelihood of big-rig crashes due to increased stop times and less stable centers of gravity.

Unfortunately, the penalties for overloaded trucks are so low that most companies will willingly take the risk. The numbers are based on a rate that was established in 1953 – hardly sufficient fines for today’s trucking companies who put lives at risk on the highway for the sake of profit and efficiency. Until the penalties are set where they should be, these dangers will likely be a reality for passengers all over the country – and Hare Wynn is ready to hold trucking companies responsible for any injuries their negligence causes.

If you’ve been injured in an accident involving a tractor-trailer, contact us today for a free consultation.

Congress May Prevent You from Seeking Justice in Court

cfpb arbitration rule

A new rule has just been announced by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau that prevents big banks and payday lenders from tricking customers into falling victim to shady business practices, then forbidding them from going to court in a class-action lawsuit.

While this long-awaited rule prohibiting arbitration clauses with class action bans in consumer financial services contracts is finally on the scene, it’s already being fought at every turn. The Chamber of Commerce, et al, instantly flew into action following the announcement, using every resource at their disposal to stop this rule from going into effect. Additionally, Congressman Jeb Hensarling of Texas – Chair of the House Financial Services Committee – has already called for a Congressional Review Act vote in an attempt to block the rule. If he is successful in this endeavor, no similar regulation would take effect in the future.

So what type of fight lies ahead in the wake of the CFPB’s rule and the resistance that is already rising up? Keep reading to find out what kinds of ramifications we can expect.

The Intent of the Rule

Before we can look ahead, we really should take a moment to look back. This rule was first proposed in May 2016 as a way to control the bad behavior of big banks and lenders with questionable practices.

Both of these types of entities have been using forced arbitration clauses for decades. By burying these clauses in the middle of a fine-print, multi-page agreement with a consumer, they could successfully prevent those consumers from joining forces to sue them in court. In other words, these banks and lenders were legally allowed to illegally trick their customers without the threat of a resulting lawsuit.

The reason banks and lenders push for arbitration is that the payout is so much lower than it would be in a trial — which, of course, works in favor of the financial institution and hurts the consumer. In the aftermath of a study that showed how harmful these arbitration clauses actually were to consumers, and the way it enabled these predatory financial institutions to break the law without consequences, the CFPB took action by issuing this rule that bans forced arbitration clauses in financial service contracts with class action bans.

Reactions to the CFPB Arbitration Rule

Bloomberg reports that during the public comment period, the bureau received almost 13,000 comments on the rule when it was proposed. Some of the commenters speculated that the rule would be abandoned due to pressure from politicians who were sympathetic to the industry.

But on July 10, the CFPB took a clear stance on their rule as something they believe to be necessary. Even though politics may look different than they did when the study was done, the evidence from that study hasn’t changed – which means there’s no reason the bureau should change its position.

The Wells Fargo Example

Back when Wells Fargo was caught setting up fake accounts that customers never wanted, the bank’s attorneys held up the arbitration clause in order to keep customers from taking their case to court. More than 2 million people were affected by Wells Fargo’s underhanded practices, yet Wells Fargo went on the record with United States senators saying that it “believes that the use of arbitration is a fair and efficient process that serves the needs of both parties.”

CNN, however, had a different perspective. In its coverage of the Wells Fargo situation, the news outlet said that forced arbitration clauses “help hide misbehavior by companies in private mediation rather than opening it up to scrutiny in public court documents.”

The practices could have been stopped in 2014 and again in 2015, when consumers filed class action lawsuits against Wells Fargo – but in both cases, the bank used that forced arbitration clause to protect their unsavory business practices and stay out of court.

The CFPB’s rule changes the way that banks have been able to hide their deceptive methods and avoid lawsuits – and it also holds payday lenders accountable for the same thing. But even though this rule sounds like something lawmakers would be eager to support, the truth is that they aren’t.

While we’re not entirely sure what the results will be of the Congressional Review Act that’s been called for, it’s also not clear that legislators will side with the banks and lenders, given how unpopular it would make them with voters. This, then, is the fight we anticipate: will the lawmakers who hung then-Wells Fargo CEO John Stumpf out to dry while loudly condemning his actions remain consistent in their claims and push the rule through in spite of the CRA, or will they side with Wall Street?

Here’s hoping for dignity and honor across the board.  

Tempe Smith Featured in Law360

Hare Wynn attorney, Tempe Smith was selected by Law360 to share her perspective on plaintiff work. Below is the article that was published:

Tempe D. Smith, a trial lawyer with Hare Wynn Newell & Newton LLP in Birmingham, Alabama, grew up in Richmond, Virginia, and has lived in Alabama ever since making the move to attend the University Of Alabama School Of Law.

Smith has practiced law for five years and joined Hare Wynn in 2015. Her practice focuses primarily on complex litigation, including class actions and mass tort cases. What she enjoys most about her job is meeting new people and applying her problem-solving skills to achieve favorable results. Seeing how her work affects her clients’ lives brings her much joy and satisfaction.

Recently, Smith was selected as one of Birmingham’s “Top Female Lawyers” by B-Metro Magazine and was selected as “Rising Star” in the “Top Attorney” category by Birmingham Magazine. In her spare time, Smith enjoys hanging out with friends and family, attending Alabama football games, and spending time at the lake or hiking.

Q: What’s the most rewarding aspect of working as a plaintiffs attorney?

A: The most rewarding aspect of working as a plaintiffs attorney is using my legal skills to solve problems for my clients. I enjoy helping my clients, but I also enjoy the satisfaction of investigating the facts of a case to discover what really happened and figuring out legally what relief my client is entitled to.

Q: What skill do you feel is most important for achieving success as a plaintiffs attorney?

A: People skills are some of the most important skills a plaintiffs attorney should have. A plaintiffs attorney needs to be able to relate to and work with all sorts of different people when resolving an issue for a client  including the client, insurance adjusters, defense counsel, witnesses, the judge and, of course, the jury.

Q: What advice would you offer to young lawyers interested in practicing as a plaintiffs attorney?

A: Be assertive. Unlike with big defense firms where associates are often hired after a summer clerkship, there is no typical path to follow to get a job at a plaintiffs firm. Young lawyers should look for any opportunity they can to improve their litigation skills so that when an opportunity arises they will bring something to the table. And, once they have been hired, young lawyers should continue to strive to make themselves indispensable to their firm.

Q: What’s one trend currently impacting your practice?

A: The recent increase in lawyer advertising has changed the landscape for plaintiffs firms. Plaintiffs firms simply cannot conduct business the way they did 50 years ago. With the evolution of technology and the rise of the digital age, it’s more important than ever for plaintiff firms to both create and follow a strategic marketing plan as part of their business model.

Q: What’s one thing defense attorneys don’t understand about practicing as a plaintiffs attorney?

A: Defense attorneys would be surprised at the money and effort plaintiffs’ attorneys spend to process and evaluate cases that they ultimately turn down. For example, on any particular case, we may order medical records, consult with experts, and conduct extensive research  all before deciding whether to take a case. For firms that rely mostly on contingency fees, performing this due diligence is critical.

2017 Kentucky Driver’s Safety Guide

kentucky driver's safety guide

Driving has become a casual affair, but it is important to stress the attention and precaution that needs to be put in place while driving on the Commonwealth’s often beautiful, but dangerous, roads. We need to be fully focused from the time we leave the house until we get to our destination.

Operating an automobile is one of the most dangerous tasks most of us do every single day, and it is extra risky in Kentucky. The Commonwealth has a fatality rate of 12.9 deaths per 100,000 people, according to the Centers for Disease Control. This far exceeds the national rate of 7.0 deaths and makes Kentucky the 9th deadliest state to drive in.

Residents of Kentucky can help make our roads safer by knowing the Commonwealth’s laws regarding driving and making an effort to practice safe driving. Help protect your family by staying informed.

This 2017 Kentucky Driver’s Safety guide will provide information about the rules of the road in our state, as well as advice on how to act purposefully to protect yourself and others while driving each day.

Kentucky’s Laws of the Road

While traffic laws are meant to keep drivers safe, they depend on everyone abiding by them. The more people that follow local, state, and federal traffic laws, the safer our roads become.

Learn more about some of Kentucky’s most fundamental automobile laws below.

Seat Belt Laws

Since seat belts were required by federal law in 1968 they have saved countless lives, but they are still not used by everyone. Since Kentucky passed its seat-belt law in 2006, seat belt use has gone up by 12% as of 2010.

In 2014, there were 672 fatalities on Kentucky roads. An alarming 521 of these were not wearing their seatbelts at the time of the collision. Whether on a highway or a neighborhood road, seat belts are a necessity to staying safe while driving. Most fatalities on the road actually occur under 25 miles from home while traveling under 40 mph.

Primary Seat Belt Law

Kentucky’s primary seat belt law dictates that drivers can be fined if any person in the car is not wearing a seat belt, including those in the back seat. It is important for the driver of a vehicle to take responsibility and enforce the law when driving.

Impaired Driving Laws

People driving while impaired is one of the biggest reasons for fatalities and injuries on our nation’s roads, and Kentucky is no exception.

In 2015, Kentucky had a total of 761 fatalities due to car wrecks, and 192 of these fatalities involved a driver with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.08 or higher, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

To combat these statistics, Kentucky has established multiple laws to decrease impaired driving and protect drivers across the state.

Legal Limit

Kentucky has different laws regarding BAC depending on the individual. For people under the age of 21, the state’s legal limit is 0.02 due to the Zero Alcohol Tolerance rule. The legal limit for adults over the age of 21 is 0.08, except for commercial drivers, whose limit is 0.04.

For those caught driving while impaired, the consequences are severe. First time offenders will see their license suspended for 30 – 120 days, could get two to 30 days of jail time, and could get sentenced with fines, community labor, and required substance abuse treatment. The punishments continue to increase (within a 10 year period). The fourth offense in this time would result in a Class D Felony, one year of substance abuse treatment, a minimum of 120 days spent in jail, and the suspension of your driver’s license for 60 months.

Refusing to take an alcohol or other tests from an officer can also result in penalties, mostly license suspensions. The first offense results in a license suspension of 30 – 120 days and continues to rise for each new refusal within the next five years.

Besides alcohol, it is illegal to drive under the influence of marijuana or other substances that impair the driver’s ability to operate a motor vehicle safely. If you pass a drunk or reckless driver on the road, inform the police by calling 911.

Move-Over Laws

Kentucky passed its Move-Over Law in 2003 to help protect drivers of emergency or public safety vehicles and those around them. The law instructs drivers to move parallel and as close as possible to the curb of the road, and not to block intersections. The official law can be read here but includes some of the following provisions:

  • Drivers may not follow the emergency vehicle within 500 feet of it passing.
  • Vehicles may not drive on any unprotected fire department hose unless an official from the fire department states otherwise.
  • When traveling towards a stationary emergency or public safety automobile with their lights on, move to a lane that is not adjacent to the still vehicle. If that is not possible slow down to a safe speed and pass cautiously.

These laws are crucial to protecting everyone around the scene and on the path to an emergency. Abiding by these rules protects our police officers, medical personnel, firefighters, and other drivers. Not abiding by these rules will result in a fine and possible jail time.

Laws Regarding Cell Phones

Cell phones are a wonderful invention, but have created a lot of trouble on the road, both in Kentucky and on a national level. There has been a large increase in injuries and fatalities due to distracted drivers which has led most states, including Kentucky, to pass laws to prevent this increase from continuing.

All Drivers Are Banned From Texting

As long as the vehicle is moving, all drivers on Kentucky roads are not allowed to read or write anything text related. This includes texting, emails, and chats. Drivers are fined $25 for the first offense and $50 after that.

Bus Drivers and Drivers Under 18

The rules are stricter for bus drivers and drivers under 18. For these cases, any use of the cell phone is prohibited unless it is a medical emergency or there is a need to call law enforcement.

Limit the Distractions

Speaking on the cell phone while driving is not illegal in Kentucky, but drivers still need to exercise great caution while on the road. Hands-free calls can be equally as distracting and harmful as texting or emails, and both can create symptoms that are similar to driving under the influence.

While not legally required, drivers should attempt to limit every use of technology while operating a vehicle. Stay focused on the road and only use your electronic device in an emergency.

Overtaking Vehicle Laws

Most people think they are clear on the rules when it comes to traveling on the interstate in Kentucky. One law that may surprise people involves driving in the left lane – it is illegal to drive in the left lane unless you are passing a car. This is to prevent slower drivers from reducing the speed of traffic. Vehicles need to also be a reasonable distance ahead of the car they just passed before switching back over.

Safety in Work Zones

In the United States there is a work zone fatality every 13 hours and an injury in a work zone every 13 minutes. This is unacceptable and can be greatly improved if drivers take precautions while traveling through construction. Pay attention to signs – they let you know when you are in a double fine (aka construction zone). Also, notice and cooperate with workers guiding traffic. Many drivers tend to think you can stay at the same speed if you are careful, but this is not the case. Slow down or pay a fine.

Safe Driving on the Road

While knowing and following the law is important, it is required to go beyond just the law to be a truly safe driver. Most accidents on our roads are preventable and could have been avoided if simple tips were followed.

Defensive Driving

There’s an old saying in football – the best offense is a good defense. They same could be said for driving. Drive defensively and look out for others and you have increased your chances of arriving to your destination without an accident.

The National Safety Council defines defensive driving as “driving to save lives, time, and money, in spite of the conditions around you and the actions of others.” To paraphrase, be aware of things going on around you and react accordingly to decrease your chances of crashing and keeping those around you safe.

Situational Awareness

Situational awareness, or knowing what is happening around your vehicle, is the most crucial requirement to defensive driving. There are many different steps to keeping situational awareness.

  • Prevent zoning out by consistently moving your eyes around the road and not focusing on one specific spot for too long.
  • While traveling on the interstate, pay attention to the on-ramps you pass and make room for oncoming cars.
  • Always use headlights. Cars with headlights on are significantly easier to see – even during the day.
  • Be aware of blind spots when changing lanes and take time to make sure the lane you are switching to is clear.
  • Help eliminate blind spots by adjusting side-view mirrors to where you can’t see your car. This puts all of the mirror view towards the road and decreases blind spots.
  • Pay attention to your mirrors often. Look every 6 to 8 seconds for continuous updates on what is happening around you.
  • Look in every direction before continuing after stopping at a stop light or sign.

Anticipating Situations

Assuming the role of a defensive driver requires that drivers are anticipating and prepared for various dangerous situations, including other drivers. While it is easy to do, it is not safe to assume that other drivers will behave normally. Don’t assume anything about another car – even the most basic tasks like stopping at a light. Here is some good advice to help anticipate upcoming situations:

  • Follow the three-second rule. Allow the car in front of you to have three seconds of space between you. This provides you with the proper amount of time to slow down in case something happens. Double this rule during inclement weather.
  • Start slowing down as soon as the car in front of you does.

Safe Driving Tactics

Besides defensive driving, it is important that we always have control of our own vehicles and are exercising caution while on the road. Here are some tips to assist you in improving your safe driving:

  • Semi-trucks – While we share the same roads, these should not be treat like normal cars. Be extra careful around larger trucks. If you are behind a semi-truck, check to see if you can see the driver in their mirrors. If you can’t see them, then they probably don’t see you either. Don’t spend too much time driving immediately next to a truck either. Staying back or driving past when the time is right will give you and the truck more space and make driving a smoother experience.
  • Hydroplaning – During wet weather reduce your speed to below 55 mph. This will decrease the risk of your car sliding out of control. If you do hydroplane don’t slam on your breaks; instead gradually slow down. If you are losing control of your car, don’t turn too hard in the other direction, as that could make matters worse. Steady the wheel and slowly turn back to the normal direction.
  • Animals – When an animal jumps in front of our car, a basic human reaction is to swerve to avoid hitting it. While that may save the animal’s life, it greatly increases the chance of you hurting yourself or someone else. Instead of swerving, slam on your brakes, honk your horn, and prepare for impact in case that does not work.

After an Accident

Unfortunately no matter how careful we are, accidents do happen. Even if you are doing everything right and staying aware of other drivers and your surroundings, it can be impossible to avoid at times. According to the National Safety Council, nearly 4.6 million people needed medical treatment after a crash in 2016 alone. If you are involved with an accident it is important that you know how to handle the situation. Here are some helpful steps:

  • Be prepared. If you have rehearsed a plan it will become way quicker and easier to perform when the situation actually occurs.
  • Contact 911 – whether it is for medical assistance or to report the accident, this needs to be one of the first things you do.
  • Check to see if you are injured.
  • If you can move your car further off the road, do it. If you are not able to move your car over, make it visible by using your flashers or flares/cones if you have any.
  • Check with the other vehicle and see if anyone needs assistance.
  • If any witnesses stopped, get their contact information before they leave. It could be helpful in the future.
  • Take pictures and videos of all relevant parts of the scene.
  • Exchange information with the other driver. This includes names, addresses, contact information, license number, plate number, and insurance information.
  • Talk to police once they arrive and give an accurate report.

Even after the actual moment of the crash there are important things to remember. This includes:

  • Visit a physician after the wreck. Some injuries might not show until after the accident.
  • Notify your insurance company not too long after the incident occurs. It is important not to wait too long so your policy is honored.
  • While not all cases need an attorney, it would be wise to reach out to your lawyer to get a basic feel for your situation and to be prepared in case something does happen.

While being involved in a wreck is never pleasant, it is a lot easier when you are informed and prepared for how to handle it. 

What’s the Most Dangerous Highway in Alabama?

dangerous highway

Driving is a dangerous activity – arguably the most dangerous thing we’ll do on a daily basis.

There are a lot of factors that go into why driving is dangerous. One of these factors is the road itself. Many injuries and fatalities occur on Alabama’s highways, from the big interstates that crisscross our state to state highways.

What, then, is the most dangerous highway in Alabama that has resulted in a disproportionately-high number of motor vehicle accidents, injuries, and deaths?

That would be the “Highway to Hell,” or US Highway 431.

US 431 was dubbed one of America’s most dangerous roads in 2000 by Reader’s Digest. Since then, the highway perennially makes lists of the most dangerous roadways not just in the U.S., but across the globe.  Statistics from state and federal agencies back up that assertion.

What makes US 431 so dangerous?  There are a few reasons:

  • Visibility is poor throughout much of the road.
  • The highway is mostly a two-lane road that suddenly switches to a four-lane road – and back to two lanes – at several critical stretches. (There’s even a one-lane stretch in Eufala.)
  • 431 cuts through many towns and cities, unlike interstates which often are elevated or otherwise separate from local traffic.
  • US 431 can be very curvy as it goes through hill country in central and northern Alabama.
  • The highway is lengthy, stretching for 556 miles from Kentucky to Dothan.

Throw in the fact that speeding is more dangerous on these types of highways (due to fewer straight stretches, more stop signs and traffic lights, and more intersections and merges) and you have a recipe for tragedy.

For more information on US 431, check out the full list from DrivingExperiences.com.

Avoiding Danger on the Highway

Accidents happen not just on US 431 but on roads and interstates all throughout Alabama. Most Alabama motor vehicle accidents are avoidable and are caused by negligence, recklessness, or inattentiveness.

You can help keep you and your family safe by:

  • Obeying all posted speed limits
  • Slowing down on curvy roads
  • Assuming the worst from the other drivers and driving defensively
  • Slowing down in rain and inclement weather
  • Keeping your vehicle well maintained in and good condition
  • Staying constantly aware of your surroundings
  • Avoiding using technology that can be distracting

For more information on staying safe on Alabama’s roads, check out the 2017 Alabama Driver’s Safety Guide.