One Dead, Two Injured in Saucier, Mississippi Crash

February 26th, 2014

Jennifer Stapel, an 18 year old college student at Mississippi’s Gulf Coast Community College, was driving herself and her friend, Brianna Medina, 19, back to the school’s Perkinston campus after a night spent watching a movie in Gulfport.  After this, Stapel remembers nothing.  Stapel woke up at Memorial Hospital at Gulfport, suffering from a broken ankle and a total inability to recall the accident that landed her there.

The events that lead to Stapel’s hospitalization are as follows: on February 8, 2014, Elaina Spradley Skinner, a twenty three year old woman, was driving south in the northbound lane of U.S. 49 in Saucier, Mississippi.  Her Honda Civic struck a Ford Taurus, but Skinner continued driving, colliding soon after with a Kia Rio at 1:37 a.m.  Stapel was the driver of the Rio, carrying along with her friend Brianna Medina.

The Deputy Coroner pronounced Skinner dead at the scene, a result of blunt force trauma to the head and chest.  The driver of the Taurus appeared uninjured, but the driver of the Rio, Jennifer Stapel and her passenger, Briana Medina, were both injured.  Medina’s injuries were severe, while Stapel’s were deemed not life threatening.

Brianna Medina is still recovering from her extensive injuries.  She suffered a cracked cheek bone, broken ankle, knee, and leg, lacerated diaphragm, injuries to her spleen and appendix, requiring removal of both, and a broken spine that has left her with no sensation in her legs.  Medina has had four surgeries, including a six hour long surgery on her leg and spine.  With Medina’s medical expenses mounting, her family has begin fundraising efforts for her care.

An investigation into the accident is ongoing, and a toxicology report of Elaina Skinner was ordered.

Jennifer Stapel has been released from the hospital and now anxiously awaits the recovery of her friend Brianna Medina.  Meanwhile, the family of the recently married Elaina Skinner is mourning the loss of their loved one.

This tragic accidents illustrates the many possibly dangers that await drivers on Mississippi roadways.  The following are a few tips designed to help drivers stay safe:

  • Obey all speed limits and signs
  • Wear your safety belt at all times
  • Never drive under the influence of drugs and alcohol
  • Avoid driving at times when impaired drivers may be on the road, such as late at night
  • Always use turn signals
  • Stay vigilant—keep your eyes moving, notice what is happening on the sides of you and in the rear view mirror every few seconds
  • Never drive distractedly—put away your mobile device, food, drink, or any other common distractions and focus on the roadway
  • Drive defensively—expect other drivers to make mistakes and think of what you would do if that happens
  • Drive with your headlights on at all time—a car is visible four times the distance with it’s headlights on
  • Do a safety check before taking off—look for any leaks, check that all lights are operational, and tires are properly inflated
  • Adjust all mirrors properly to avoid blind spots
  • Never speed—leave early to allow yourself sufficient time to arrive at your destination so that you will not feel the need to speed
  • Avoid the “no-zone” with trucks or buses—if you cannot see the driver, they cannot see you
  • Wait out inclement weather
  • Decrease your speed in the rain or snow
  • Leave yourself plenty of braking room, and remember as your speed increases, so does your braking distance

If you or a loved one has been injured in a car accident, the zealous Mississippi Accident Attorneys at Giddens Law Firm can help.  Giddens Law Firm has a proven track record of success for maximizing the recovery of our injured car accident clients.  Call us today at (601) 355-2022 to start us fighting for you.

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Dangerous Cycling: Bicycle Accidents in Mississippi

February 19th, 2014

Dr. Joe Campbell was riding his bicycle on Clarksdale Street in Clarksdale, Mississippi at approximately 6:00 a.m.  At the same time that Dr. Campbell was riding down the two-lane road, Christopher Brown drove the same road to work on Lee Drive.  The weather was overcast, having rained earlier, and the lighting not particularly good.  Brown was smoking a cigarette and had his window rolled down.  He claimed to have heard a thump and assumed he hit a bird.  He kept traveling.

A fellow motorist came upon the roadway and viewed a flashing light.  He stopped and discovered Dr. Campbell and his bicycle along the shoulder of the road.  The flashing light had been a strobe light attached to Campbell’s bike.  Dr. Campbell was immediately transported to the hospital but later died of his injuries.  Christopher Brown was convicted of a felony charge of leaving the scene of an accident which caused the death of another.  He challenged the conviction, claiming he could not see the road and thus lacked culpability.  The State Court of Appeals just recently issued a decision upholding the conviction, finding the evidence as to Dr. Campbell’s strobe light and orange flag contradicted Brown’s claims.

There are over 85 billion bicycle riders across the U.S., and thousands of bicycle accidents occur across the U.S. each year.  Over 90% of bicyclists killed on U.S. roadways die in crashes with motor vehicles.  Given the lack of protection afforded bicyclists, the following serious injuries often occur:

  • Broken leg
  • Fractured clavicle
  • Hand fracture
  • Brain injury
  • Head and neck injuries
  • Elbow fracture
  • Nerve damage
  • Paralysis
  • Joint dislocation
  • Jaw injuries or injuries to the teeth or tongue
  • Spinal cord injuries

While some bicycle accidents in Mississippi occur as a result of irresponsible biking, far more are due to negligence on the part of the driver of the motor vehicle.  Some of the most common causes of bicycle accidents include:

  • Motor vehicles merging or turning into the path of the bicyclist, often because they fail to adequately check mirrors and do not see the approaching bicyclist.  In fact, nearly half of all crashes involve cars making left hand turns in front of the bicyclist.
  • Unsafe passing of bicyclists by motorists who fail to accurately judge the space requirement.  This is particularly a problem on bridges and small shoulders, where the bicyclist has no room to move to avoid the accident.
  • Failure of motor vehicles to yield the right-of-way at a junction.  Often, this involves a motorist violating a sign or signal and entering the intersection or crosswalk, then striking an oncoming bicyclist.
  • Distracted driving on the part of the motorist.
  • The motorist fails to see a bicycle rider ahead on the road.
  • Motorist pulling away from a stop and failing to observe the passing bicyclist.

Bicycle riders injured in a car-bicycle crash may have the right to recover from the negligent automobile driver in a personal injury suit.  Possible compensatory damages will include:

  • Medical bills, including ER bills and ambulance transportation
  • Ongoing medical bills and physical therapy bills
  • Pain and suffering
  • Lost wages as well as future lost wages
  • Loss of consortium—brought on behalf of the spouse of the injured biker
  • Punitive damages may additionally be awarded in limited scenarios involving particularly egregious conduct.

If you or a loved one is injured in a bicycle accident, call Giddens Law Firm today.  Our experienced, dedicated attorney staff will pursue your claim to the fullest.  We have the resources, passion, and knowledge to maximize your recovery.  Call our team of qualified Mississippi Bicycle Accident Attorneys today at (601) 355-2022 to schedule a free consultation.

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Wintry Weather Causing Hazardous Conditions on Mississippi Roadways

February 15th, 2014

This past winter, the questions has often been posed: will this winter weather ever end?  Mississippi has seen an unprecedented amount of ice, snow, and wintery mix thus far this winter, and it seems the end is not yet in sight.  This inclement weather has caused numerous accidents, some fatal, and many closures of roads and bridges.

Recently, a chain-reaction accident occurring on the icy Mississippi River bridge in Vicksburg, Mississippi, lead to its closure.  A 4:00 a.m. on February 12, an 18 wheeler skidded on the icy bridge and pummeled into a railing.  At least four other tractor trailer rigs then proceeded to crash.  This multi-truck accident miraculously did not result in any injuries.  However, police determined a tanker involved in the crash was leaking flammable liquid.  This resulted in closure of the bridge, which runs between Vicksburg, Mississippi and Delta, Louisiana, for several hours.

Two fatalities have been attributed to the latest onslaught of winter weather.  David Watson, Senior, a 67 year old man from Carrollton, died in a single vehicle accident on Mississippi Highway 35 in Carroll County.  Watson’s car apparently hit an icy patch on the road then overturned several times.  Watson was pronounced dead at the scene of the accident.

That same day, Tara N. Pugh, a 27 year old from Reform, Alabama, died when her Jeep Wrangler skidded across an icy bridge on U.S. Highway 82 in Lowndes County, rolling down an embankment.

So far, this never ending winter shows no signs of letting up.  Punxsutawney Phil, the famous ground hog weather predictor, predicted six more weeks of winter, much to the disappointment of residents in Mississippi and across the U.S.

Throughout these final weeks of winter, we offer the following tips to stay safe during inclement weather on Mississippi’s roadways:

  1. Wait it out—whenever possible, postpone driving on the roads or highways when snow and icy conditions are at their worst.  No errand or even day at work is worth the very present risk of life.
  2. Exercise particular care on bridges—bridges are usually the first to ice when temperatures drop, and accidents on them can be especially dangerous.  Drive slowly and remain vigilant when crossing potentially icy bridges.  Better yet, if possible, avoid them entirely when ice is likely to be present.
  3. Get your car ready for the road—use front and rear defrosters along with a plastic ice scraper to remove any ice from your windshield before taking off.  Icy windshields can impair your ability to see the road.  Check your tire pressure and make sure your brake pads are in fine working condition
  4. Slow down—drive at a far slower speed than you normally would to allow for more braking distance between you and the cars around you.  It can take several more seconds to brake on slippery road surfaces, so slow speeds can save lives.
  5. Tackle a skid smartly—if your car begins to skid, do not panic.  Do not slam on the brakes.  Take your foot off the gas and steer into the direction you want to go.  Wait for your car to slow so that you regain control.
  6.  Drive defensively—anticipate a skid or accident up front, be alert and prepared to avoid any hazards.With some advance planning and extra precaution, we hope our Mississippi drivers can get through the last few weeks of winter accident free.

If you or a loved one is in an accident, the seasoned Mississippi Accident Attorneys at Giddens Law Firm are here to help.  Our qualified team of personal injury attorneys has a reputation for aggressive, dedicated, and intelligent representation.  We can tackle any motor vehicle accident, no matter how complex, and will put all efforts towards obtaining a maximum recovery for you.  Call Giddens Law Firm today at (601) 355-2022 to schedule a free consultation.

 

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Mississippi Church Floor Collapses, Injuring 70

February 14th, 2014

Recently, the second floor of the Freedom Baptist Church in Myrick, Mississippi collapsed, sending about 70 young parishioners tumbling through the floor.  The incident occurred during a youth worship service.  The drop was estimated at about 12 feet, but miraculously, no one suffered serious injury.  Nearly half of the churchgoers present did sustain minor injuries, including cuts, bruises, and lacerations.

Pastor Tommy Davis described the building as being about 35 to 40 feet tall and made of steel.  It resembles more of a high school gymnasium than a traditional church building, he states.  When the floor unexpectedly dropped out during the student service, Davis immediately thought of all the potential terrible results.  He speculated that the electricity flowing through wires or the gas through pipes could easily have sparked a fire.  Davis expressed his gratitude that the fall was not nearly as bad as it could have been.

Those present described hearing a rumbling sound right before the floor literally began crumbling beneath them.  Everyone started falling through the ceiling, creating a scene more akin to something you would watch in the movies than in real life.  At this time, it is not evident what caused the sudden collapse of the floor.

This incident comes several months after a highly publicized building collapse that occurred in Philadelphia.  Sadly, that accident had a far worse outcome.  In June of 2013, a vacant building in the process of demolition collapsed onto a Salvation Army thrift store, killing six people and trapping more than a dozen under the rubble.  As in the Mississippi floor collapse, an ominous rumble was the only foreshadowing sign of the collapse.  Search and rescue crews worked frantically to help those trapped, and saved many lives that would otherwise have been lost.  Many people were taken to the hospital and most were released within days of the incident.

The Philadelphia collapse was initially termed an “industrial accident” because it occurred on a demolition site.  Investigators reported there were no violations or complaints, though several local residents and shop employees claimed they worried about a possible collapse for days before the accident.  Months after the collapse, however, the contractor responsible for overseeing the demolition was charged with six counts of third-degree murder and another six counts of involuntary manslaughter.  It is alleged that a day before the crash, the contractor removed bricks and braces that had supported the wall even though the architect warned him not to.

Building collapses like the recent ones in Mississippi and Philadelphia can be frightening events, and often result in serious injury.  Potential causes of building collapses include:

  • Structural problems, including a lack of support beams or anchoring
  • Botched demolitions
  • Design defects
  • Foundation defects
  • Preventable fire or water damage
  • Failure to adhere to design specifications
  • Defective building materials
  • Sinkholes
  • Earthquakes
  • Construction and maintenance deficiencies
  • Improper renovation
  • Poor workmanship
  • Overlooked building deterioration
  • Unsafe excavation operations
  • Vehicular impact and collision
  • Heavy snow
  • Internal or external explosions

Victims of building collapses may be entitled to compensation under the law of premises liability, which obligates property owners, engineers, and architects to provide safe buildings and structures.

Building collapses involve complex legal issues and a thorough examination of architectural and engineering standards.  The experienced personal injury attorneys at Giddens Law Firm have the knowledge and skill to handle even the most challenging of building collapse cases.  The Mississippi Personal Injury Attorneys at Giddens Law Firm passionately fights for the full recovery of each of our accident victims.  Call us today at (601) 355-2022 to see how we can help you.

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Frequently Asked Questions about Mississippi Motorcycle Accidents

February 12th, 2014

Mississippi’s miles of endless highway make it an ideal spot for motorcycle enthusiasts.  However, along with the popularity of this mode of transportation comes a high risk of harm.  Motorcycle accidents can lead to serious injury because of the lack of structural protection afforded motorcyclists, as compared to drivers of motor vehicles.  Over 100,000 U.S. motorcycles a year are involved in crashes and more than 4,500 fatalities result.

Given the high rate of deaths and severe injuries, motorcycle accident victims and their families often require the assistance of a personal injury attorney to pursue a personal injury or wrongful death suit.  The following are some of the most frequent questions posed by motorcycle accident victims and their families.  Those with further questions are invited to contact us to schedule a consultation.

What are the most common causes of motorcycle accidents in Mississippi?

Motorcycle accidents are most commonly caused by driver error.  When the driver of the passenger vehicle fails to exercise reasonable care to avoid causing injury to the motorcyclist, the motorcyclist may have a valid personal injury claim.  Common causes of negligent driving include:

  • Distracted driving—driving while texting, talking on the cell phone, eating, grooming, and performing any other activity that takes one’s eyes off the road can lead to serious injury.  Distracted driving is a danger to all other vehicles on the road, but particularly so for the less visible drivers of motorcycles.
  • Unsafe lane changes—occurring often on highways, but also on any two lane streets, the driver of the motor vehicle does not see the motorcyclist because he or she does not adequately check rear view mirrors, side mirrors, and blind spots.  At times, the driver also fails to use proper signals.  The motorcyclist has no opportunity to avoid the crash that ensues.
  • Left hand turns into motorcyclists—often cited as the most common cause of motorcycle accidents, passenger vehicles frequently make a left hand turn into a motorcycle.  This leads to a collision or may result in the motorcyclist skidding to a halt.

Are all motorcycle accidents in Mississippi caused by driver error?

No, not all accidents are a result of driver error.  Sometimes, motorcycle collisions in our state are a result of equipment failure, defective roadways, or defective motorcycles.  When these sort of accidents arise, the manufacturer of the motorcycle may be liable for the injuries caused by the defective motorcycle.  Further, those responsible for the defective roadway may be liable under premises liability law.

What types of compensation are available to those in Mississippi injured in a motorcycle accident?

There is a wide range of potential damages available to motorcycle accident victims.  Exact recovery will depend upon the circumstances of the claim.  Common damages sought in a Mississippi Motorcycle Accident claim include:

  • Emergency room bills and hospital admissions bills
  • Ambulance or helicopter bills
  • Follow up physician bills
  • Physical therapy
  • Lost wages
  • Future lost wages
  • Pain and suffering
  • Future disability and impaired earning ability
  • Impaired quality of life
  • Loss of consortium (brought on behalf of the spouse of the injured victim due to a diminished marital relationship)

It may be possible to additionally seek punitive damages if the other driver’s conduct was particularly egregious; such when the accident results from the other driver’s intoxicated state.

At Giddens Law Firm, our goal is always to provide our clients with the excellence of legal services necessary to obtain results.  Our experienced Mississippi Motorcycle Accident Attorneys will diligently pursue all claims and seek to maximize your recovery.  For a free case analysis, call us today at (601) 355-2022.

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The Reasons for the Increase in Pedestrian Accidents in Mississippi

February 8th, 2014

A rash of recent pedestrian accidents across Mississippi serves to highlight the national increase in incidents involving pedestrians and motor vehicles.  Recently, Tony Harrison, a 42-year-old man from D’Iberville, was walking on the side of the Lamey Bridge Road at around 1:00 a.m.  Harrison was struck by a vehicle.  The driver of the offending car took off, but luckily Harrison was discovered and flown to the University of South Alabama Medical Center in Mobile.  Harrison remains in critical condition.  Meanwhile, police apprehended the hit-and-run driver.  They discovered the driver had only a learner’s permit, and was thus not authorized to be driving unsupervised or at this late hour of the night.  The teen involved has been charged with several crimes, and it remains to be seen whether he will be prosecuted in youth court or face felony charges as an adult.

Nationwide, pedestrian-vehicle fatalities have been on the rise the past few years.  This increase comes after the decades of decline.  In 1975, over 7,500 pedestrians were killed in traffic accidents across the U.S.  By 2009, that figure had dropped to 4,100.  Just two years later, however, the number again rose to 4,432.  Pedestrian accidents account for 14% of all traffic related deaths nationwide.  In Mississippi, over 50 pedestrians died in traffic accidents across the state, resulting in the rank of the tenth highest for pedestrian deaths.

The cause of the recent increase in the rate of pedestrian accidents is subject to much debate.  Most experts agree that the following factors appear to play a role in this national problem:

  1. Distracted driving—according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, distracted driving leads to numerous pedestrian deaths a year.  It is estimated to be the cause of 20% of all pedestrian accidents.  Distracted driving has become far more of a problem in recent years, due largely to the ever increasing Smartphone and tablet technology.  Drivers who do not pay attention to the road in front of them because they are talking on the cell phone, texting, emailing, web browsing, and the like, are increasingly likely not to notice those around them.  Pedestrians are among the least visible and most vulnerable to crashes involving distracted drivers.
  2. Distracted walking—another phenomenon that has become increasingly common as technology evolves is distracted walking.  Pedestrians who focus on their phones or tablets and engage in talking, texting, emailing, and the like may not hear the onslaught of approaching traffic or could even walk into harm’s way.  In fact, over 1,500 pedestrians each year are treated in ER rooms across the country for cell phone related injuries, from walking into traffic to falling off bridges.
  3. Increased congestion—large cities are statistically home to more pedestrian fatalities than more rural areas.  Drivers who run red lights, speed, and fail to stop for pedestrians pose significant threat to those walking in large cities plagued by congestion.  As the U.S. population continues to grow and cities gain in residents, congestion will likely cause more pedestrian accidents.

If you have been injured in a pedestrian accident, it is imperative you seek the assistance of a knowledgeable personal injury attorney as soon as possible after the crash.  At Giddens Law Firm, we will begin by thoroughly examining the facts of the accident and ascertaining whether driver negligence lead to your injuries.  Our attorney team has decades of experience representing pedestrians victims and will fight for your maximum recovery.  Call the Mississippi Pedestrian Accident Attorneys at Giddens Law Firm today at (601) 355-2022 to schedule a free consultation.

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Mississippi Lawmakers Continue to Battle Texting While Driving

February 4th, 2014

Despite strong national efforts to curb distracted driving, an estimate 421,000 people in the U.S. are injured in accidents blamed on distracted driving each year.  Another 3,000 individuals a year are killed in accidents involving a distracted driver.  Text messaging is known to be the most dangerous form of distracted driving, as it pulls the driver’s eyes off the road for an average of five seconds.  While five seconds may not seem like much time, when that five seconds occurs while driving a 2,500-4,000 pound vehicle at 40 plus miles per hour, on possibly crowded roadways, the results can be deadly.

Bobbie Ward experienced first-hand the tragic consequences of distracted driving.  Her daughter, Leigh Anne, went out for a bit and told her parents she would be home by 4:00 p.m.  The doorbell rang at around 4:30 that evening, but it wasn’t Leigh Anne at the door.  It was someone telling Bobbie Ward and her husband that Leigh Anne had been in an accident.  A distracted driver pummeled her vehicle so hard it knocked the car up into a tree.  Leigh Anne died in the accident, and the distracted driver is serving six years for reckless driving.  The Wards have now become starch proponents for stronger laws concerning texting and driving in Mississippi.

Currently, it is illegal for 15 and 16 year olds to text while driving in Mississippi.  No laws exist banning adult drivers from texting and driving.  Mississippi’s distracted driving laws are considered some of the weakest in the nation.  Many more states have taken a harsh stance on texting while driving, banning the practice amongst all drivers.  Still others have prohibited the use of any technology equipment while driving, including talking on the cell phone.  The Wards support passage of such a law, as do several community leaders.

Last legislative session, 12 bills that would have strengthened Mississippi’s texting while driving laws failed to gain traction.  This year, there is viable legislation gathering support from both sides of the aisle.  Representative Robert Johnson III is the chair of the Transportation Committee, and has fought for stricter texting while driving laws for years.  Johnson believes distracted driving is more dangerous than drunk driving, leading to more accidents overall.  Despite Johnson’s efforts, reform has not occurred.  Representative Gary Chism states legislation failed to pass due to concerns of too much government intervention.  As he put it, citizens are tired of the government telling them what they can and cannot do.

This year, however, change may be coming.  Rep. Chism, a Republican, is working with Rep. Johnson to pass a bipartisan bill.  House Bill 484 would make it illegal for anyone 18 and under to text and drive.  While the bill does not go as far as some others would like, it is lauded as a step in the right direction.

The Senate is also making progress towards stricter texting while driving laws.  Senate Bill 2434 states that anyone caught texting while driving can be charged with careless driving and fined up to $50.00.  The bill will also go to the House floor for more discussion.

Until the Governor signs anything into law, texting while driving is apt to continue on Mississippi roadways, much to the heartbreak of the Wards and all other family members who have lost a loved one to distracted driving.

At Giddens Law Firm, we understand the tragic consequences of distracted driving.  Our firm fights for justice for those injured in accidents involving distracted driving, and for the families of those who have lost a loved one due to this dangerous practice.  Call Giddens Law Firm today at (601) 355-2022 to speak with one of our knowledgeable Mississippi Automobile Accident Attorneys.

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Chemical Train Derailment Causes Evacuations in Mississippi

February 3rd, 2014

Recently, the derailment of an 85-car train carrying fuel oil and liquid fertilizer made headline news as it forced the evacuation of several residents.  The train was traveling from Jackson Mississippi to Mobile, Alabama, and derailed at 9:00 a.m. on Friday, January 31, 2014, in Augusta, Mississippi.  It was operated by Canadian National Railway Company.

Thankfully, no one was hurt during the incident and the rail cars did not ignite or explode.  Four of the rail cars did, however, begin leaking the fuel aboard.  About 50 people living within a half-mile radius had to be evacuated because of the leak.  Due to the highly flammable nature of the ethanol-based product, the nearby highway was also shut down in both directions.  No fires were sparked from the incident and clean up efforts progressed rapidly.

The cause of the derailment is currently under investigation.  At this time, it is not believed to be the product of a criminal act.

The accident follows a string of derailments involving trains transporting crude oil across the U.S. and Canada.  Several months earlier, a crude oil train derailed in Quebec’s provincial town of Lac-Mégantic.  The accident led to a fiery explosion and catastrophic results.  Forty-seven people were killed and many more injured.  Other derailments in Alabama and North Dakota resulted in large fires but no fatalities.

The rash of recent train derailments has raised questions as to the safety of hauling petroleum by train.  Investigators are re-examining the combustible properties of certain oils and the safety of the tanker cars.  It appears likely some measures will be taken in the near future to the diminish hazards involved with transporting oil via train.

Along with the recent train derailments involving combustible materials, commuter train crashes have also been in the news.  Notably, in December of 2013, a derailment occurring in the Bronx of New York City caused the train’s locomotive and several cars to topple over and left the lead car inches from the water.  Four people died and another 60 were injured.

Thousands of train accidents occur each year.  There are many potential causes of derailment, including:

  • Collisions with other trains
  • Collisions with other motor vehicles crossing the tracks
  • Poor or improper maintenance of tracks
  • Improper switch alignment
  • Mechanical failure of train cars or engines
  • Railroad crossing collisions
  • Failure to install adequate signals such as gates and lights
  • Improper training of train crews
  • Overworked or tired train crews
  • Improper removal of obstructions near railroad crossings
  • Excessive speed, particularly in poor weather conditions
  • Understaffed track maintenance departments

Following a train derailment, like the recent one in Mississippi, it is crucial to conduct a thorough investigation of all the facts in order to properly establish negligence.  The derailment and ensuing injury to one’s person may be the fault of more than one party, due to the type of material carried on the cars that could result in damage to individuals and property.

Though not as common as car accidents, train accidents can lead to deadly results.  These vehicles travel at high rates of speed and often haul dangerous or heavy materials.  If you or a loved one is injured in a train crash or a collision with a train, it is imperative you consult with an experienced train accident attorney as soon as possible.

Giddens Law Firm has devoted decades to fighting for the full recovery of accident victims.  At Giddens Law Firm, our passion and commitment to our clients is evident in all that we do.  From your initial consultation to that winning day at trial, the Mississippi Personal Injury Attorneys at Giddens Law Firm will provide you with the excellence of legal service your case deserves.  Call us today at (601) 355-2022 to schedule a free consultation.

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Mississippi Accident Attorney Discusses Common Causes of Traumatic Brain Injuries

February 2nd, 2014

Every 21 seconds, someone across America will suffer a traumatic brain injury.  Over 15 million people each year suffer this serious and sometimes fatal type of injury, Moreover, nearly 5.3 million live with permanent disabilities resulting from traumatic brain injury, or TBI.  A TBI can be one of two types.  The most common TBI results from an outside force impacting the head, causing the brain to move within the skull or the skull itself to crack.  Brain injury can also be acquired, resulting from a lack of oxygen to the brain.

TBIs can result from a wide range of incidents, with the most common causes in Mississippi including:

  • Car accidents—car accidents are the number one cause of accidental injury throughout Mississippi, and traumatic brain injuries occur at alarming rates as the result of car accidents.  Though seat belts have decreased such incidences, even seat belts cannot always protect against deadly head injury.  Those who receive brain injuries in a car accident can seek compensation from the at-fault driver.
  • Motorcycle collisions—traumatic brain injury occurs at high rates for those involved in motorcycle accidents.  The use helmets can diminish the risk of brain injury, but do not eliminate it.  Given the lesser protection afforded motorcycles than the passengers of motor vehicles, brain injuries are more likely to occur.  Motorcycle accident attorneys can pursue an action against the at-fault driver for all injuries sustained.
  • Truck accidents—accidents involving large commercial trucks are more likely to result in serious injury, such as traumatic brain injury, than crashes between two cars.  Truck drivers whose negligence leads to the brain injury of another can be held accountable in a personal injury suit.
  • Pedestrian and bicycle accidents—this group represents the most vulnerable of individuals on the roadways.  Pedestrians and bicyclists are often the victim of collisions with motor vehicles that fail to see these smaller road users.  Brain injured pedestrians and bicyclists have the right to compensation for their devastating injuries caused by the negligence of the driver of the motor vehicle.
  • Sports injuries—the recent high profile litigation against the NFL and other professional sports organizations has brought to light the grave potential for brain injury amongst sports players.  Traumatic brain injury doesn’t just occur in the major leagues; individuals playing any sport with the potential for contact with other players or the ball can become the victim of traumatic brain injury.  Youths involved in sports such as football, baseball, lacrosse, hockey, soccer, boxing, and cheerleading are all particularly vulnerable to traumatic brain injuries.   The organizers of sports activities can be held responsible for traumatic brain injuries that occur to players as a result of their negligence.
  • Violence—violent acts, such as domestic abuse, child abuse, gunshot wounds, and dog bites, accounts for approximately 10% of all traumatic brain injuries.  When these violent acts occur as a result of negligent security, victims may have an action against the property owner under premises liability law.  Those traumatically brain injured by animal attacks can pursue an action against the pet’s owner under strict liability law.
  • Drowning—near drowning can lead to acquired brain injury, and children suffer this injury most frequently.  If the near drowning occurs in the pool of a negligent owner, the property owner may be responsible.

Traumatic brain injury is considered a silent epidemic because so many suffer from this serious, often debilitating injury, but the public remains unaware of their plight.  If you or a loved one may have suffered a TBI, an experienced Mississippi Personal Injury Attorney at Giddens Law Firm can help.  Giddens Law Firm will aggressively fight for the maximum recovery of our brain injured clients.  Call us today at (601) 355-2022 to schedule a free consultation.

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Jackson Mississippi Personal Injury Attorney Re-Examinies the Legendary McDonald’s Hot Coffee Case

January 28th, 2014

The case of Stella Liebeck vs. McDonald’s, more commonly referred to as the hot coffee case, remains one of the most famous tort cases of all time. The case made national and even international headlines, spurred a whole reform movement in the arena of personal injury law, and became the punch line for late-night television, sitcoms, and even music videos.  Stella Lieback’s case became the most frequently cited example of how citizens take advantage of the American legal system.  It was viewed as the epitome of the frivolous lawsuit.  Most people asked to recite the facts of the case would say it involved a woman who ordered hot coffee, spilled it on herself, then sued and won millions of dollars from industry giant McDonald’s.  However, the reality of the case differs greatly from the story put forth by the media.

The following is a look at the reality behind the McDonald’s hot coffee case:  Back in 1992, Stella Liebeck was 79 years old.  She was riding in the passenger seat of her grandson’s car when the two went through the McDonald’s drive thru to pick up coffee.  Mrs. Liebeck’s grandson pulled over and came to a complete stop.  Mrs. Liebeck, who was not driving, attempted to remove the lid on her coffee so that she could add cream and sugar.  As she removed the lid, she spilled the entire cup on her lap.

  • Stella Liebeck received third degree burns over 6% of her skin and lesser burns over 16% of her body.  Graphic photographs of the burns can be found online.
  • She required skin grafts and debridement.
  • She spent eight days in the hospital.
  • Over the next two years, Mrs. Liebeck required ongoing treatment.
  • Mrs. Liebeck originally asked McDonald’s to settle the case for $20,000 but they rejected this proposal.
  • McDonald’s admitted to over 700 similar complaints during trial preparation.
  • McDonald’s revealed that it served its coffee at between 180 and 190 degrees, far exceeding the average temperature of coffee brewed at home, which is between 135 to 140 degrees.
  • The judge in the case ordered mediation, during which the mediator suggested McDonald’s settle the case for $225,000.  They again refused.
  • An expert at trial testified that had the coffee been served at 155 degrees or less, Mrs. Liebeck would not have been seriously burned.
  • Burn institutes had published warnings to the fast food industry to decrease the temperature of coffee served.
  • A doctor testified that 180 degree liquid causes third degree burns in less than 15 seconds.
  • A McDonald’s executive testified at trial that McDonald’s was aware of the danger that its coffee could cause serious burns but made the decision not to lower the temperature.
  • While the media reported Mrs. Liebeck received millions of dollars, she was in fact awarded less than $200,000 in actual damages.
  • The jury awarded $2.7 million in punitive damages but the award was later reduced to $480,000.
  • Mrs. Liebeck and McDonald’s ultimately reached a final settlement outside of court, and the exact payout is unknown but estimated to be in the ballpark of $600,000.

Mrs. Liebeck stated publically that her motivation for the suit was never financial.  Rather, she wanted Mc Donald’s to bring down the temperature of its coffee so that no one else got hurt.  Mrs. Liebeck was unable to speak out about the facts of the case because she signed a confidentiality agreement during settlement.

At John D. Giddens Law Firm, we have seen firsthand the tremendous positive impact personal injury suits can have on injured clients and society as a whole.  Punitive damages against large companies like McDonald’s are designed to punish companies for failing to protect their consumers.  Without such suits, millions more would be injured due to company negligence.  If you have experienced an injury at the hands of another individual or company, the Giddens Law Firm can help you achieve a full and complete recovery.   Contact us today at (601) 355-2022 to schedule a free and completely confidential initial consultation.

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