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Is Your Car Accident Claim Barred by the Alabama Guest Passenger Statute?

distracted driving liabilityLet’s say your friend is giving you a ride to dinner and you are severely injured in an accident due to your friend’s negligence in carelessly failing to yield the right of way. Believe it or not, your friend is not liable to you for your injuries due to the Alabama Guest Passenger Statute. Many are surprised to learn that under the law, a passenger cannot sue his or her driver for injuries caused by the driver’s negligence because the passenger is classified as a “guest” in the driver’s car. Ala. Code § 32-1-2. If payment is provided to the driver, the rider is instead classified as a passenger, and the statute is inapplicable.

The Alabama Guest Passenger Statute is intended to protect drivers from negligence claims under the rationale that drivers should not be liable when providing rides free of charge to “guests.” Payment does not have to be in dollar form; it can be anything of tangible value provided to compensate the driver for the ride. While the law’s intentions are noble, the practical effect is that drivers are relieved from exercising ordinary care for their passengers. Normally, a driver is responsible after failing to exercise ordinary care such as running a red light or failing to yield the right of way. However, the statute relieves drivers from liability from their guests.   [Read more…]

A Warning to Company Drivers – Many Companies Waive Uninsured Motorist Coverage for their Employees

What happens if you’re in an accident while on the job?

Driving a company car, truck or van is a daily occurrence for many employees. As someone who drives as a part of their job, you’re at an increased risk to be involved in a motor vehicle accident simply by the fact you’re on the road a lot. So, what happens if you’re in a car accident while on the job?

If you’re involved in an automobile accident while on the job you have 2 types of legal claims available to you. The first is a workers’ compensation claim. In a nutshell, if you’re injured on the job workers comp is responsible for paying all your accident-related medical expenses. Moreover, they will also be obligated to pay you a portion of your average weekly wage while you’re out of work.

The second type of claim is a claim against the at-fault driver of the car accident, which is often known as a 3rd party case. Further, if the at-fault driver does not have any insurance coverage or if your injuries and damages in the wreck exceed the insurance policy limits of the at-fault driver you can make also make a claim for uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage.

[Read more…]

Alabama’s Non-Profit Millionaires

Non-Profit doesn’t have to mean penniless, as recent reporting from al.com and the Wall Street Journal informs us. In fact, over 2,700 individuals from across the United States received compensation from a non-profit in excess of $1 million during 2014, the last year consistent data is available. In Alabama, there were 13 non-profit officers, directors, or employees who topped the $1 million mark in total compensation.

Perhaps not surprisingly, those earning over $1 million from non-profits in Alabama were heavily clustered in the healthcare industry. Of the 13 Alabamians to make the list, 11 worked as hospital administrators or doctors. It’s worth noting that Huntsville Hospital System is a publicly owned not-for-profit, and salary information was not included in the research. Crestwood Hospital, a for-profit medical center, is also not included.

Even though healthcare dominated the list, the highest paid non-profit officer or employee was Southeastern Conference Commissioner Michael Slive. His base salary for 2014 was $3.56 million and total compensation was $3.66 million. The other non-healthcare officer who made the list is Jesse Thomas, who is Director of United Family Services Outreach in Montgomery.

Of the non-profit millionaires in Alabama, nine live in Birmingham, two live in Mobile, and two live in Montgomery. No one from Huntsville or north Alabama made the list. Even large or noteworthy Huntsville non-profits like the Huntsville Botanical Garden, Huntsville Hospital Foundation, and Huntsville Emergency Medical Services pay key employees well below $300,000, even though each of those organizations has revenues and assets in the multi-millions.

Tax-exempt organizations must make their annual 990 tax returns available for public inspection In order to keep tax-free status. To search additional 990 returns, use this tool from the Economic Research Institute.

Alabama A&M VP Pleads Guilty To Forgery Misdemeanor

Earlier this month, Alabama A&M Vice President, Kevin Rolle, pled guilty to possession of a forged instrument in the 3rd degree, which is a class A misdemeanor in Alabama. Mr. Rolle was originally charged with two felonies: Theft of Property 1st Degree, and Possession of Forged Instrument 2nd degree. However, the State of Alabama agreed to dismiss the theft charge and amend the felony forgery charge to a misdemeanor forgery charge. Mr. Rolle is scheduled for sentencing in May and faces up to a year in jail, but the judge is able to suspend that year and place Mr. Rolle on probation for up to 2 years.

Certainly, this is a shocking and scandalous case because it involves public official corruption and deception, but this case also highlights some important aspects of law that apply to all cases: Statute of Limitations. Below, I have explained some important issues regarding limitations on how long the prosecution has to file charges, using facts from Mr. Rolle’s case as an example.

Statute of Limitations – General Rules for Felonies & Misdemeanors

Unless there is an exception, all felonies must be prosecuted within five (5) years from the date of the offense. Code of Alabama §15-3-1. There are, however, numerous exceptions, including some offenses that have no statute of limitations at all. Code of Alabama §15-3-5 There are no limitations for prosecution on the following crimes: [Read more…]

What is the March of Dimes and how can you help?

Alabama has the 3rd highest premature birth rate in the entire country. The mission of the March of Dimes is to improve the health of babies by preventing birth defects, premature birth, and infant mortality.

How can you help?

Join Martinson & Beason, P.C. and the rest of “Team Will” for the Madison County March & Run for Babies on Saturday, April 22nd at Charger Park, UAH Campus or donate to the cause. Click here to learn more.

Click on the image below to view the full infographic

March of Dimes Alabama - Team Will

Click to view the full infographic

Martinson & Beason, P.C. Receives the 2016 Legacy Club Award

Martinson & Beason AwardCommonwealth Land Title Insurance Company has recognized Martinson & Beason, P.C. as one of the Top Ten Agents in Alabama with the 2016 Legacy Club Award. Our law firm has been issuing title insurance since May 21, 1951. We handle commercial and residential closings in North Alabama, and would be honored to assist you with any of your closing needs.

To find out more about Alabama Real Estate law and how M&B can assist you in your Huntsville real estate needs see our real estate practice area page.

M&B Partner Doug Martinson Makes Guest Appearance on Next Lawyer up Podcast

Doug Martinson, II - AttorneyMartinson & Beason, P.C. partner Doug Martinson recently sat down with fellow local attorney Ron Sykstus for an interview on Sykstus’ podcast, Next Lawyer Up, which features discussions with local attorneys from north Alabama.

The pair discussed various topics including the practice of law, Huntsville history, service to the community, hockey, and upcoming speakers for the Huntsville-Madison County Bar Association. Doug also shared Martinson & Beason history, including the firm’s formation in 1937, the move to the current location in the 1970s, and the growth of the firm over the years.

Sykstus is a partner with the prominent bankruptcy firm Bond & Botes, P.C., and practices primarily in the consumer bankruptcy and debt protection area of the law. Previous Next Lawyer Up guests have included Amy Tanner, Tommy Siniard, Allen & John Brinkley, Derek Simpson, and Taze Shepard.

The Next Lawyer Up podcast is available here.

New Doctors’ Days to Get Longer: What Does it Mean for Patients?

New doctors will soon be able to work up to 28 hours in a row on a single shift under a new regulation from the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME). The regulation applies to residents – doctors who have completed medical school but are not yet attending physicians. Under the current regulation, which went into effect in 2011, residents can only work a maximum of 16 hours in a single shift. The new regulation, set to take effect July 1st, 2017, allows regular shifts for residents of up to 24 hours, with a possible four hour extension if the resident is transitioning a patient to another doctor. However, the doctor’s hours are still limited to a maximum of 80 in one week.

While it is not uncommon for physicians to work very long hours, sleep deprivation can be detrimental to delivering quality healthcare. Lack of sleep can result in many harmful effects such as impaired brain activity, memory problems, cognitive dysfunction, moodiness, depression, weakened immune response, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, and an increase in the likelihood of accidents. In addition, extreme sleep deprivation, such as that allowed by the new regulation, can lead to ‘microsleeps’, in which people fall asleep for up to thirty seconds, potentially with their eyes open. [Read more…]

Man Steals Half a Million in Financial Elder Abuse Case

A Texas man was recently indicted in an appalling case of financial elder abuse that happened in Madison County, AL, according to a report from al.com. The federal indictment alleges that Dwayne Elllis Baptiste concocted a scheme to steal $545,000 from a retired Lockheed Martin employee who is now deceased. Baptiste became acquainted with the elderly man, Ralph Swinehart, as well as his son, Ronald Swinehart, in 2011. Both Swineharts died within a few days of each other in October of 2011. In order to carry out the scheme, Batiste filed a fraudulent Power of Attorney in Madison County Probate Court, and then proceeded to empty the senior Mr. Swinehart’s retirement accounts. If convicted, the maximum penalties for the crimes include 20 years in jail and a fine of up to $1 million.

Although this case involved a violation of federal law, Alabama has criminalized the exploitation of elderly people through the Protecting Alabama’s Elders Act. The law makes first degree intentional elder abuse a class A felony. Ala. Code § 38-9E-3. Financial abuse of an elderly person in the first degree, which includes cases of theft over $2,500, is a Class B felony under the law. Ala. Code § 38-9E-6. [Read more…]

Car Seat Safety – Protecting Your Child

Accidents can happen to anyone. It is critically important that your child is in the correct car seat and that it is also installed correctly to best prevent injuries in the case of an accident. Click below to view the full infographic to ensure your child is safe when riding in your car.



Martinson & Beason, P.C.